Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

© Ronald Black, 2015

Adv. MS 72.2.15

(Gaelic MSS.LXV). WILLIAM MACMURCHY’S POEMS.

Mackinnon, pp.104-5, 176, 180, 192, 212-16; Mackechnie, p.245; TGSI, vol.16, p.291.


18th cent. 49 ff. 11 x 20 cms. Watermark: “coat of arms”. Scribe: William MacMurchy (see Adv.MS.72.2.12). MacMurchy also wrote versions of fourteen of the poems in this manuscript in what are now Adv.MS.73.2.2 (thence printed in Reliquiae Celticae, vol. 2, pp. 310-420) and the Inverneill MS (photostat, NLS MS.14981). A number of the poems are plainly by the scribe himself. After William MacMurchy’s death his papers passed through the hands of Provost James Maxwell of Campbeltown, William’s brother Neil (a weaver in Paisley, d.1807), and William’s grandson in Glasgow, from which last the remains were obtained for the Highland Society of Scotland by the Rev. Robert Boog of Paisley in November, 1808, through the instrumentality of Neil’s son James, a Paisley manufacturer. (Adv.MS.73.2.26; Ingliston MS. A.i.17, no.14). These consisted of Adv.MS.72.2.8, Adv.MS.72.2.12 and the present manuscript. £10 appears to have been paid to William’s grandson for them (Ingliston MS. A.i.11, no.3). Boog writes of the scribe: “What he had picked up and thought worthy of preservation, he appears to have committed to writing, and in the Irish character: many volumes thus formed he seems to have had: and of those, the small volume in the leather cover, now sent, is a specimen”. (Ingliston MS. A.i.17, no.14.)

The manuscript was among the six given to Ewen MacLachlan for examination on the visit to Edinburgh in July 1811 with which he began his work for the Society. He described it in his “Celtic Analysis” (Adv.MS.72.3.4, p.71), likening its form to that of a music book. Rebound and laminated in 1967; the former binding of skin-covered boards is now separate, and bears the inscription (anonymous 18th-cent. hand) “yr most Excellent good sir appel…..” Perished at corners with some textual loss, mainly at beginning and end. At p.46 is written “Counnty of Lonnderry you the underr pescnnly”, with “County of Londonderry” added above. “Command” appears at pp.39 (in a large formal style perhaps imitating that at Adv.MS.72.2.8, p.292) and 46. With some minor exceptions, the script is Gaelic. Writing is from both ends, with 6 ff. completely blank in between. MacLachlan labelled the ends A and B, gave each its own pagination, and headed each (on inside cover) “Miscellaneous Poetry, Scots and Irish”. An additional leaf, formerly placed at end B, is now bound in before A, viz.:

p.

i Some Gaelic words and their English meanings.

ii Ocagan is m[ise Suibhne], 3 qq. Suibhne’s lament.

ii.7 Gu bennuigh Dia an bhruighin, 4 qq. “Cuid Nolluic”.

End A

1 Neimnech cneadh chríche Mháine, 34 qq. “Marbna Eignechain Ui Cellaigh”. Possibly incomplete, the next leaf having been cut out prior to pagination.

3 Soridh soir uam gu Cinntire, 40 qq. In praise of Kintyre. Cf. Bàrdachd Ghàidhlig, p.183.

6 Eoin mac Ailein. A Gialasbuig mo bennacht red bheó, 8 stt. “Moladh na pi[obadh]”.

7 Lachlann Mac a leoin. Gioasbuig mo mollacht rem bheo, 7½ stt. “Eascaoin molaidh na (piobadh)”. In the Inverneill MS the poet’s name is given as “Lachluinn Mc Mc Iain”.

8 [Sìleas na Ceapaich]. Ailastar a Gleanna Garadh, 8½ stt. On Alasdair Dubh of Glengarry, d. 1721 or 1724. Cf. C. Ó Baoill, Bàrdachd Shìlis na Ceapaich (S.G.T.S., Edinburgh, 1972), p. 70.

9 Cho ghárdechas gun chloinn Domnaill, 12 qq. Cf. A. and A. Macdonald, The Macdonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry (Inverness, 1911), p. 7. Bears no relationship to the BDL poem Ní h-éibhneas gun Chloinn Domhnaill.

10 Nach truadh leibh na scéla so, 11¾ stt. Lament for Sir Hector Roy MacLean of Duart, killed at Inverkeithing, 1651. Cf. R. MacDonald, Comh-chruinneachidh Orranaigh Gaidhealach (Edinburgh, 1776), p. 178.

12 O ro ghruagach Creig na Tulaich, 23 qq. Cf. Acc.2152, no.12b.

13 m A chleirigh chanfas na sailm, 48 qq.

16 Diú gach connidh fearrna fliuch, 1 q.

17 Chualas alladh gan bhith scriophte, 56 ll. A playful satire on the scribe by a fellow-poet called Lachunn, cf. p.7 and next item.

20 A Lachuinn scuir dod bhardachd, 52 ll. William MacMurchy’s reply to the above, subscribed “Finid / Collum Collumbus”.

22 Bidh duine mpéin is e beo, 5 qq.

22 m Tochar do iarr ormsa ben, 24 ll. A lyric with supernatural undertones.

23 A caillech a tainic an tir, 20 ll. Do.

24 Folbamuid is gluaisamud, 62 ll. A flyting between a man and woman.

26 A mharcidh ud na bi eadmur, 16 qq. To a jealous husband.

27 m Nuar do chualas turas Finn, 36 qq. + prose. Cath Ghabhra.

30 Ó Dála. A Chuinn Ui Neill a rell eolais, 14 qq. (?) On the Conn O Neill, son of Hugh O Neill, Earl of Tyrone, left behind after the Flight of the Earls, 1607.

32 La da nraib Padraic ‘na m[húr], 30 qq.

34 Lá da nrabhmar an Fian uile, 31 qq.

36 ‘S cian o chualas alladh Bostain, 21 qq. Satire by the scribe on “Bostan” Mac Cairbre, a merchant, Cf. p.40.

37 m [Alexander MacDonald]. Theith a nsgadan sa mbradan sa ntiasg, 2 stt. in Roman script. Stt. 7 and 9 of “Òran a’ Gheamhraidh”.

38 [Idem]. Tarruing Sol rí na mplanaid sna nrell, 8 stt. of “Òran a’ Gheamhraidh” (written as qq.) = stt. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5, and 10 of other edd. + 1 additional st. beg. Tuitigh duillech gearr uaine na chraobh between stt. 2 and 3. Cf. Éigse, vol.9, p. 58.

40 m Saoil mi bhith comfada ndéislaimh, 19 qq. “Mr Mac Cairbre’s satir in retn to my Satyr”. Cf. p.36.

43 m Failt ort Uilliam ghrinn mhic an Tóisigh sin, 12½ qq. “Uiscebeatha”.

45 m Truadh an sgeal, sin truad an scel, 5 q. On truth. Printed in J. Mackechnie and P. McGlynn, The Owl Remembers (Stirling, 1933), p. 40.

46 Note of 9 (probably Kintyre) names, beg. John Gilliss.

47 [Alexander MacDonald of Ardnabie]. Duisg a cholan as do chadal, 4 qtt. Cf. R. MacDonald, Comh-chruinneachidh Orranaigh Gaidhealach (Edinburgh, 1776), p. 223.

48.5 Gur binn lem na sceala so, 4 stt. Song of welcome to Prince Charles, 1745. Pp. 49, 50 blank.

51 Guma hiomlan do ghaisgech, 7 stt. In praise of one who had been valiant in the Stuart cause, described as the son of “Donall croda Mac Ben”.

52 Ceud contrachd ort a mifortuin, 14 stt. On the hard times which have befallen the poet.

54 “The Demensions of an harp”. Printed in An Gàidheal, vol. 30 (Glasgow,1935), p.108. Under this is the note “Widow black who keeps a pinnery in Frances Street sells all kinds of harp wire”.

55 [Alexander MacDonald]. Moch s me geirigh sa mhaduinn, 24 stt. “Òran an t-Samhraidh”. Stt. 17-21 and 24 are additional to those in published edd.

58 m Edoil a d’fhearab an Achaidh, 34 ll. “Tuiremh”. A lover’s lament.

59.7 Mac Ui Mhaolchiarain mo ghrádh, 10 qq. “Caoi Mhic Ui Maolciarain”.

61.6 Mile failte dhuitsi a chait, 10 qq. “An Cat”. Elegy on a cat.

62 Lines attrib. to Aonghas nan Aor: (a) “an Dunstaiphnis”, beg. Caol mo sgenan re ham longaidh, 6 ll.; (b) “an Oilen an Stalcair”, beg. Cuirt mor a bhig bhig, 4 ll.; (c) “an Airdchatan”, beg. Ma theid thu dh’ Airdcatain anun, 6 ll.

63 Ta tighearna ‘s tír, 6½ stt. On the accession of Alexander MacAllister of Loup, 1698.

“A” ends with p. 64.

End B

1 Sud agaibh laoi na ncuig rann, 16 qq. Religious.

2 m [Is] trom vs is tuirsech atá mi, 3 stt. “Marbhna Maigistir Eóin Mhic Illeóin”. (?) On revisiting the ruined church of Killean, Kintyre, which collapsed in 1770, during the ministry succeeding that of Rev. John MacLean (d. 1743). P. 3 blank.

4 Alphabet, written twice, upside-down.

5 160 proverbs, headed “Gnafhocaill Ghaoidheilge”. The first is “S fearr guth na mith, s fearr mith na míchomhairle”.

11 O as eittrom s as aighrach a siublann sí, 4½ stt. “Oran Connachtach”. On “Caitlion Ni Uillegan”. 12-18 blank.

19 S goirt a nuall s’ aig cuan Gaoidheal, 5 stt. Elegy.

“B” ends with p. 20.

© Ronald Black, 2015