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Feaghan Geleash/Scott’s Lamentation/Lament for MacLeod of Raasay
Both Feaghan Geleash and Scott’s Lamentation for the Baron of Loughmoe were taken down from the playing of Denis O’Hampsey by Edward Bunting at the Belfast Harp Meeting in 1792. These pieces show the important formal face of the poet and harper in the clan courts, who were required to mark formal occasions with a poem or piece of music. Scott’s Lamentation was composed for the Baron of Loughmore in 1599, a good six years before the Baron’s death. A harp lament like this was meant to show the cream of a harper’s craft, and it was customary to have one at the ready in this fashion. They were always preceded by a prelude – and here I have chosen to use the famed “Feaghann Geleash” the only tuning prelude (though it is only partial) in existence. It is notable that it does not embody the expected tragic sadness, but instead seems to celebrate the life and personal qualities of the deceased.

The Lament for MacLeod of Raasay comes from the work of 17th century Scottish Gaelic poet Mary MacLeod (c.1615-1707). The tune is printed in the Angus Fraser MS. This formal lament was written for Iaian Garbh Mac Gille Chaluim (John MacLeod), 7th of Raasay, Chieftain from 1648 until his untimely death: he was drowned along with some 20 of his clansmen when his ship capsized during a trip to a christening in Lewis on Easter Monday, 1671. Greatly mourned by his kinsmen, his own sister composed a lament for him every Friday for a year after his death, some of which are still sung today. MacLeod was known for his great courage and strength, and Mary uses her strong gifts of rhythm and rhyme to emulate his admired qualities in this moving elegy.


Iain Garbh Mac Ghille Chaluim
Mo bheud ‘s mo chràdh
Mar dh’èirich dhà
‘n fhear ghleusda ghràidh
Bha treun ‘s an spàirn
‘s nach fhaicear gu bràth an Ratharsair.

Bu tù ‘m fear curanta m`or
Bu mhath spionnadh is treòir
O d’uilinn gu d’dhòrn
O d’mhullach gu d’bhròig,
Mhic Mhuire, mo leòn
Thu bhi ‘n innis nan ròn ‘s nach faighear thu.

Bu tu sealgair an fhèidh
Leis an deargta na beinn;
Bhiodh coin earbsach air èill
Aig an Albannach threun;
Càit’ am faca mi fhèin
Aon duine fon ghrèin
A dheanadh riut euchd flathasach?

Spealp nach dìobradh
‘n cath no strì thu,
Casan dìreach fada fìnealt;
Mo chreach dhìobhail
Chaidh thu dhìth oirn
Le neart sine,
Làmh nach diobradh caitheadh oirr’.

‘S e dh’fhàg silteach mo shùil
Faicinn d’fhearainn gun surd,
‘s do bhaile gun smùid,
Fo charraig nan sùgh,
Dheagh Mhic Chaluim nan tùr a Ratharsair.

Mo bheud ‘s mo bhròn
Mar dh’èirich dò,
Muir beucach mòr
a’ leum mu d’bhòrd,
Thu fhèin ‘s do sheòid
Nuair reub ur seòil
Nach d’fheud sibh treòir a chaitheadh or’.

for MacLeod of Raasay
My loss and my anguish
That which has befallen
The clever, well-loved man,
Strong in battle,
Who will no more be seen in Raasay.

You were a great warrior,
Vigorous and strong,
From your elbow to your fist;
From your crown to your shoe,
Son of Mary, it is my distress that you are in the
Resting place of the seals and will not be found.

You were a hunter of the deer
By whom hides were reddened;
Trusty hounds would the mighty Scotsman
Hold on leash;
Where have I beheld
Beneath the sun one man
Who would vie with you in a princely feat?

A proud gallant you were,
Who did not shrink in battle or strife,
Your limbs straight, long and shapely;
Alas, I am sadly bereft,
You were lost to us,
By strength of tempest,
You whose hand would not fail to drive her onwards.

What has made me weep
Is seeing your land cheerless
And your homestead without smoke,
Under the towered rock,
Excellent Mhic Gille Chaluim of Raasay.

It is injury and sorrow to me
What has befallen him;
A great roaring sea
Leaping about your boat;
You and your stout crew,
When your sails ripped,
That you could not bend your might upon it.

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