Oran do Ghilleasbuig òig Heisgir
A song for young Gillespie of Heiskir
Anna Dhòmhnallach; arr. Mackinnon, Lyon, Watson
A eulogy on Gillesbuig MacLean of Heiskir, composed by his foster sister, Anna Dhòmhnallach, house keeper at Balranald, North Uist. Gillespie was a descendant of the last Lord of the Isles, a fine sailor and had a holding on Heisgeir until he broke off his engagement to Susan MacDonald of Vallay. This was a punishable offence and MacDonald’s brother, Major Alexander MacDonald, who was factor of North Uist, forced Gillespie to leave Uist. He emigrated to Canada in disgrace, where his son became Chief Justice of Upper Canada (now Ontario).
A complete text can be found in the MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry. It also appears in KC Craig’s Orain Luaidh (Màiri Nighean Alasdair) as “Gura mise fo Mhulad”, and in “From the Farthest Hebrides” edited by Donald A Fergusson, 1978.
Ach ‘Illeasbuig òig Heisgir
Bu tu ‘n aoibhneas nan nìghneag
Hòro ho hùg hòireannan,
Fallain gun till thu
Hòro ho hùg hòireannan.
Mo chèist fear a chùil bhuidhe
Nì am bruthach a dhìreadh
Mo ghaol fear a chùil dualaich
‘s nan cuileanan rìomhach
Bu tu sgiobair na fairge
Ri lath’ gailbheach ‘s droch shìde
Nuair a nochdadh do bharca
chite dearrsadh gun till às
Dalta cìche mo mhàthair
‘s iad ag ràdh nach tìll thu
Their gach neach air am beag e
‘s gum beadradh a mhìll e
Tha Luchd gabhail do leisgeul
aig an eaglais nan sìneadh
Iad gad dhìteadh a Bhalaidh
‘s do bhràthrean na h-Innsibh
Gur e mis’ tha fo mhulad
‘n tìr a Mhurain ‘s an t-sìobain
‘S e do thuras ‘Illeabaig
thug an leagadh do m’inntinn
Alas young Gillespie of Heisgir
You were the delight of the young girls
Hòro ho hùg hòireannan
May you return in good health
Hòro ho hùg hòireannan.
My choice, the man with the fair hair
Who can climb the hill
My love, the man with the curly hair
And beautiful tresses.
You were a fine skipper of the seas
On a fearsome day in bad weather
When your boat appeared
Its brightness could be seen from land
Foster child of my mother
And they say that you’ll not return
All who dislike him say
That it was the flirting that ruined him
Those who would excuse you
Are laid beside the church
They are condemning you in Vallay
and your brothers in the Indies.
It is I who am sad
In the land of marram and spindrift
It is your journey, Gilleasbuig
That has given such a blow to my spirits.