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Carmina Gadelica, Volume 1, by Alexander Carmicheal, [1900], at


p. 288

p. 289




THE marking of the lambs is done on Thursday, being St Columba's Day. Upon no account would the people mark their lambs on Friday, or in any manner draw blood on that day. Nor till lately would they use iron in any form on Friday.

A blacksmith in Benbecula, a Protestant, an excellent man and an admirable tradesman, never opened his smithy on Friday. He maintained that 'that was the least he could do to honour his Master.'

When the lambs are marked, the people collect the bits taken out of their ears, and carefully bury them beyond the reach of beast or bird. They say that a plant, which they call 'gearradh-chluasach,' literally ear-cuts, ear-clips, grows from them. This plant is generally found growing where a carcase has been buried, and when ripe, it is cut, tied up in a bunch, and suspended from the 'casan ceanghail,' couple above the door of the lamb-cot, and dedicated to


'Moire mhin-gheal nan grasa buan,
Air shealbh chaorach air ghaol uan.'


The fair-white Mary of lasting graces,
For luck of sheep and love of lambs.


The marks made on the ears of sheep and lambs are varied and descriptive in name, as:--'barr,' 'beum,' 'cluigean,' 'cliopan,' p. 289 'cliopadh,' 'crocan,' 'corran,' 'duile,' 'meaghlan,' 'meangan,' 'sgolta,' 'slios,' 'snathad,' 'sulag,' 'toll.' These marks and their modifications are said to number over 250 in the island of Benbecula, in the island of North Uist over 480, and in the island of South Uist over 500. The people know all these marks and modifications at a glance.

When a man marries, it is considered a good omen of the union when the marks on his own sheep and those on the sheep brought him by his wife are nearly alike, and the necessary change easily effected.



Na lom mo cheann,
’S na loisg mo chnamhan.'



Do not clip my head,
And do not burn my bones.


The small native sheep have a long tuft of wool called 'sguman' coming down the face. They are hardy, picturesque little animals, almost wholly free from the innumerable diseases which the larger but softer breeds of sheep have brought in their train. The sheep is regarded with a veneration which is not extended to the cow or other animals.



p. 288


p. 289


BIDH mo sgian ur, geur, glan, gun mheirg,
Mo bhreacan fo m’ ghlun le mo luirich dheirg,
Cuiream deiseil mo chleibh an ceud bheum gu sealbh,
An ath fhear na dheigh leis a ghrein mar ni falbh.

Uan firionn gun ghaoid, air aon dath, gun chearb,
Leig a mach ris an raon, fhuil chraobhach na tearb,
Ma mhaireas a chraobh air an fhraoch le barr dearg,
Bith mo shealbhan gun ghaoid fad ’s nach caochail mi ’n t-ainm.

An Triuir ta shuas an Cathair nam buadh,
Bhi buachailleachd mo threuid is mo bhuair,
’G an iomachair ri teas, ri gaillinn ’s ri fuachd,
Le beannachd nam buadh ’g an saodadh a nuas
Bho ’n tulaich ud shuas gu airidh.


MY knife will be new, keen, clean, without stain,
My plaid beneath my knee with my red robe,
I will put sunwise round my breast the first cut for luck,
The next one after that with the sun as it moves.

A male lamb without blemish, of one colour, without defect,
Allow thou out on the plain, nor his flowing blood check,
If the froth remains on the heather with red top,
My flock will be without flaw as long as I change not the name.

The Three who are above in the City of glory,
Be shepherding my flock and my kine,
Tending them duly in heat, in storm, and in cold,
With the blessing of power driving them down
From yonder height to the sheiling fold.


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p. 291


Ainm Airil is ailne snuadh,
Ainm Ghabril fadh an Uain,
Ainm Raphael flath nam buadh,
’G an cuartach is ’g an tearnadh.

Ainm Mhuiril is Mhuire Oigh,
Ainm Pheadail agus Phoil,
Ainm Sheumais agus Eoin,
Gach aingheal ’s ostal air an toir,
’G an gleidheadh beo le ’n alach,
    ’G an gleidheadh beo le ’n alach.


The name of Ariel of beauteous bloom,
The name of Gabriel herald of the Lamb,
The name of Raphael prince of power,
Surrounding them and saving them.

The name of Muriel and of Mary Virgin,
The name of Peter and of Paul,
The name of James and of John,
Each angel and apostle on their track,
Keeping them alive and their progeny,
    Keeping them alive and their progeny.



Next: 108. The Clipping Blessing. Am Beannachd Lombaidh