Ortha nan Gaidheal


THE Feast Day of Mary the Great is the 15th day of August, Early in the morning of this day the people go into their fields and pluck ears of corn, generally bere, to make the 'Moilean Moire.' These ears are laid on a rock exposed to the sun, to dry. When dry, they are husked in the hand, winnowed in a fan, ground in a quern, kneaded on a sheep-skin, and formed into a bannock, which is called 'Moilean Moire,' the fatling of Mary. The bannock is toasted before a fire of fagots of rowan, or some other sacred wood. Then the husbandman breaks the bannock and gives a bit to his wife and to each of his children, in order according to their ages, and the family raise the 'Iolach Mhoirc Mhathar,' the Pæan of Mary Mother who promised to shield them, and who did and will shield them from scath till the day of death. While singing thus, the family walk sunwise round the fire, the father leading, the mother following, and the children following according to age.

After going round the fire, the man puts the embers of the fagot-fire, with bits of old iron, into a pot, which he carries sunwise round the outside of his house, sometimes round his steadings and his fields, and his flocks gathered in for the purpose. He is followed without as within by his household, all singing the praise of Mary Mother the while.

The scene is striking and picturesque, the family being arrayed in their brightest and singing their best.

Niall MacFhionnlaigh, A' Chiste Ghàidhlig, a chuir na teacsaichean seo gu léir bho Carmina Gadelica air an làrach-lìn aig Sabhal Mór Ostaig ann an 1995
2001-04-09 CPD