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Carmina Gadelica, Volume 2, by Alexander Carmicheal, [1900], at


Cailleach, a woman, a single woman, an old woman, a carlin, a woman without offspring, a nun; the counterpart of 'bodach,' carle; also a supernatural of malign influence dwelling in dark caves, woods, and corries; a period of time.

'Cailleach uisg,' water woman, water carlin; akin to the 'bean nigh,' 'uraisg,' 'peallaidh,' and many other water divinities with which the old Highlanders invested their lakes, streams, and waterfalls. The term 'Cailleach uisg' is applied to a diseased potato containing only water. According to some people, 'cailleach' as a period of time is the first week of April, and is represented as a wild hag with a venomous temper, hurrying about with a magic wand in her withered hand switching the grass and keeping down vegetation, to the detriment of man and beast. When, however, the grass upborne by the warm sun, the gentle dew, and the fragrant rain overcomes the 'Cailleach,' she flies into a terrible temper, and throwing away her wand into the root of a whin bush, she disappears in a whirling cloud of angry passion till the beginning of April comes again, saying as she goes:--

Dh’ fhag e mhan mi, dh’ fhag e ’n ard mi,
Dh’ fhag e eadar mo dha lamh mi,
Dh’ fhag e bial mi, dh’ fhag e cul mi,
Dh’ fhag e eadar mo dha shul mi.

Dh’ fhag e shios mi, dh’ fhag e shuas mi,
Dh’ fhag e eadar mo dha chluasmi,
Dh’ fhag e thall mi, dh’ fhag e bhos mi,
Dh’ fhag e eadar mo dha chos mi.

Thilg mi ’n slacan druidh donai
Am bun preis crin cruaidh conuis,
Far nach fas fionn na foinnidh,
Ach fracan froinnidh feurach.'


It escaped me below, it escaped me above,
It escaped me between my two hands,
It escaped me before, it escaped me behind,
It escaped me between my two eyes.

It escaped me down, it escaped me up,
It escaped me between my two ears,
It escaped me thither, it escaped me hither,
It escaped me between my two feet.p. 240

I threw my druidic evil wand
Into the base of a withered hard whin bush,
Where shall not grow 'fionn' nor 'foinnidh,'
But fragments of grassy 'froinnidh.'


Caim, cam, a loop, a curve, a circle, a sanctuary, an imaginary circle described with the hand round himself by a person in fear, danger, or distress.

'Caim,' a sanctuary, is a term of frequent occurrence among the people, as--'caim Dhe,' the sanctuary of God; 'caim Chriosd,' the encompassing of Christ; 'caim Mhoire mhin,' the encircling of the gentle Mary, and many other forms. 'Rinn mi caim Mhoire orm fein,' I made the sanctuary of Mary on myself. 'Rinn mi caim na Cro-Naoimhe,' I made the sanctuary of the Sacred Heart. This making of the sanctuary is not confined to illiterates nor to Catholics. A distinguished scholar and rigid Protestant told me that he often found himself unconsciously making the 'caim.'

I had the following story from a woman who evidently accepted it in its literal aspect:--

A maiden, tending her father's flocks, met a 'lasgaire loinneil,' handsome young man, on the lone hillside. The man pressed his suit upon the maiden; but though pleased with his appearance, and charmed with his manner, she kept shy of him, and tried to evade him. He asked her to lift some of the sheep droppings rolling down towards them, and to satisfy him she did so, and lo! they became balls of glittering gold, shining and sparkling in the bright light of the sun, like the fireflies of night. The youth told the maiden that this was only a small part of what he could do for her; and, pressing his suit the harder, asked her to meet him again.

But through her long downcast eyelashes the girl thought that she could discern what seemed like hoofs instead of feet, with clay in their crevices and earth on their edges, and there appeared also to be fragments of 'rabhagach,' water-reeds, in his moist hair, and she feared in her heart that he might be the 'each-uisge,' water-horse, of which her mother had warned her. The maiden was sore afraid, and, fearing to say 'No,' tremblingly promised to meet the man again.

On getting home the girl told her mother, and her mother told her father, and her father told the 'pears-eaglais,' priest. 'It is the devil with his lures,' said the good priest, 'and we must meet

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him stoutly. I myself will go with thee and with thy daughter, and I will bring the Book, and we will make the blessed sanctuary.'

They went, and the priest took the Book, and made the 'caim' in Name of the Sacred Three, and of the sanctified saints, and of the sinless angels.

Presently the young man arrived, clothed from head to heel in finest garb and gaudiest array, and right full of seductive smiles and enticing words. He tried to come near them, and went round and round three successive times, but could not come through the 'caim Chriosda chaoimh'--sanctuary of Christ the kindly.

And again, and again, and yet again the prideful young man tried to come near, but again, and again, and yet again failed because of the blessed 'caim.' Then the big cock crowed, and the young man, defeated, fled with a roar, flames of forkling fire more deadly than the fangs of the serpent issuing from his ears, eyes, nostrils, and heels, and showing his form anew.

The affrighted girl, trembling like the leaf of the aspen tree, looked in her hand, and to! the erstwhile pellets of glittering gold were become filth, and in disgust she threw them away.

'Is e’n tarbh baoidhre bh’ann, a ghraidh mo chridhe, agus caim Iosa Mhic Mhoire mhin bhi eadar sinne agus e agus gach gniomh graineil agus gach bair duaichnidh.'--'It was the bull of lust, thou love of my heart, and may the sanctuary of Jesus the Son of the gentle Mary be between us and him and each unsightly thing and unseemly strife.'

'Cam' and its inflections occur in the names of many places widely apart, as 'Caim,' a bay, and also a stream, in Arasaig, and the hamlet of 'Bun-na-caime'; 'Caim,' a river in Rannoch; 'Cam,' the river upon which Cambridge stands; and 'Camel,' 'cam-thuil,' crooked flood, a river in Cornwall.

From 'cam' comes 'cambar,' a place of burial.

There is a place of burial called 'Cambar' in the island of St Kilda, and another in the island of Bearnaray, Harris.

The daughter of a widow in North Uist died in Bearnaray. The weather being stormy and the people unable to bury the girl among her kindred, the distressed mother appealed to Columba:--

'A Chalum-chille an Sannda,
Nar leig mo laogh an Chambar!


Oh! Columba in Sannda,
Allow not my love to Cambar.


There is a dedication to Columba in Sannda, North Uist, in which three chiefs of the Macdonalds of the Isles are buried,

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including 'Gilleaspa Dubh,' Black Archibald, who murdered his two brothers to clear his own path to the chiefship.


Caimeineach, caimineach, saving, economical; from 'caimein,' 'caimin,' small.


Caimhleachadh, cuingleachadh, restraining, confining, hemming in, entrapping; 'caimh,' 'caimhil,' to confine; 'caimhleachadh chaorach,' hemming in sheep; 'caimleachadh bhreac,' guddling trout.


Caimir, a fold, a stockade in which flocks were safeguarded; a sanctuary.


Cain, white, clear, bright, fair, pure.


Cairbre. This is a frequent name in Gaelic lore. In Gaelic mythology, 'Cairbre' is the name of the hero who carried the souls of the men slain in battle to 'flathanas,' heaven.

'Cairbre' means a charioteer, from 'cairb,' a chariot, a thing that carries.

It was customary to place a wax candle, a gold coin, a hammer, and a pair of scales with the body in the grave. The candle was to light the pilgrim 'thar abhuinn dubh a bhais,' across the black river of death, the coin to pay 'duals a asgair,' the services of the ferryman; the hammer, 'chon bualadh dorus nam flathas,' to knock at the door of heaven; and the scales, 'chon cothromachadh an anama,' to weigh the soul.

Some years ago the Atlantic waves exposed to view a grave in Cladh Aruinn, an ancient burial-plot in the small island of Keilligrey, in the Sound of Harris. The grave contained a large skeleton, a small hammer, and a pair of small scales.

Candlesticks have also been found in graves.

When the news reached the people of Lismore that their beloved St Moluag was dead, twenty-four of the strongest men of the island travelled to Ardclach and brought home the body and buried it beneath the altar of his church in the centre of the churchyard. About the close of last century, while opening a grave about this place, a tripod gold candlestick was found. Calcined bones, stones, and wood came up in the debris where the tripod was discovered. The church, crowded with people, had been burned by the Norsemen. The tripod may have formed part of the altar furnishing of the church, or it may have been buried with St Moluag. It is said to have been plain, but beautifully formed. The people gave the candlestick to the highly popular General Campbell of Lochnell. What became

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of it at the dispersion of the general's extensive collection is not known. Some of his things went to the British Museum. The authorities of the Museum allowed the writer to examine candlesticks in their possession, some of which had been found in graves, but they did not know whether the candlestick of St Moluag was among them.


Cairc, flesh, a person.


Cairde, convenient, suitable, appropriate; as being of kin.


Caisean-uchd, a strip of skin from the breast of a sheep killed at Christmas, New Year, and other sacred festivals. The strip is oval, and no knife must be used in removing it from the flesh. It is carried by the carollers when they visit the houses of the townland, and when lit by the head of the house it is given to each person in turn to smell, going sunwise. Should it go out, it is a bad omen for the person in whose hand it becomes extinguished.

The inhaling of the fumes of the burning skin and wool is a talisman to safeguard the family from fairies, witches, demons, and other uncanny creatures, during the year.

Two such strips were placed face to face to form a bag. Probably this was the 'uilim,' the sacred bag for alms. (Vol. i. p. 126 ff.)


Caithris, wake, watch, harass; the labour required of a crofter holding under a tacksman.

Throughout the Highlands and Islands the chiefs and proprietors generally rented out large tracts of land to relatives, connections, and friends. These were called 'fir gabhail,' gavelkind men, 'fir baile,' townland men, tacksmen, in Ireland middlemen. The tacksmen retained the best land in their own immediate possession, sub-letting the remainder to tenants of varying degrees at exorbitant rents. Besides exacting high rents, the tacksman exacted labour--so many days from each crofter throughout the year. It would not be profitable, were it possible, to describe these things here. The reader interested can find them in Travels in the Western Isles, by the Rev. John Lane Buchanan, and other works.

The lot of the crofter holding under the proprietor might be hard enough, but that of the crofter holding under the tacksman was infinitely harder. This wrung from the hearts of the people

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many sayings, as, 'Gille ghille is measa na’n diobhal'--The servant of the servant is worse than the devil.

'Is don an gabhalach,
Ach tha don an donuis
Anns an ath-ghabhalach.'


Bad is the tenancy,
But the evilness of the evil one
Is in the sub-tenancy.

In many extensive districts cleared of people the proprietor was able to say that he never had crofters in these places. This was true in word but not in spirit, the crofters having been the sub-tenants, or the sub-sub-tenants, of the proprietor's tenant.


Calanas, wool or flax or silk working, from the raw material to the finished cloth. The women of the Highlands are famous at 'calanas,' the first crow of the old cock being their call to morning prayer and 'eident calanas.' There are crofter houses in the West in which from ten to twenty pairs of blankets are laid past apart from the current requirements of the household. These become useful when the daughters of the family are getting married. (Vol. i. p. 294 ff.)


Calum-cille, St Columba, was probably the greatest man that Ireland ever produced. He was a man of splendid presence, and had a magnificent voice, and a wonderful fascination over the minds of men. For several centuries Columba was the patron saint of Scotland, till superseded in the south by St Andrew, through the influence of Margaret, the Saxon wife of Malcolm Canmore. He is still virtually the patron saint of the Highlands, and is held in the highest veneration. Thursday of the second week of June is sacred to Columba, and by implication every Thursday throughout the year is propitious for man, beast, and enterprise. This is expressed in many sayings. Even the furies, the fairies, the witches, the people of the evil eye, and of druidry, were powerless for evil on Thursday. Oblation cakes are baked for St Columba's Day as for other festivals. (Vol. i. pp. 162, 163.)

St Columba's reliquary, the 'breac-beannach,' speckled peaked one, was intrusted to the keeping of the Abbey of Arbroath, and from about 1420 its custodians were the Irvines of Drum in Aberdeenshire. It is now at Monymusk.


Caoibean, the five or six inches of warp uncrossed by the weft at the beginning of the web; 'caob,' a piece.


Caoineag, caointeag, caoineachag, caointeachag, caoinheag, weeper,

p. 245

mourner; from 'caoin,' weep, and 'caoidh,' mourn. These names are applied to the naiad who foretells the death of and weeps for those slain in combat. Unlike 'nigheag,' 'caoineag' cannot be approached nor questioned. She is seldom seen, but often heard in the hill, in the glen, and in the corrie, by the lake, by the stream, and by the waterfall. Her mourning and weeping cause much trepidation to night-farers, and much anxiety to parents whose sons are in the wars. When a mournful cry is heard, and the remark is made, 'Co tha sid?'--Who is that? the answer invariably is, 'Co ach caoineachag'--Who but 'caoineachag.' 'Co ach caoineachag bheag a bhroin'--Who but little 'caoineachag' of the sorrow. The sorrowing of 'caoineachag' was much feared before a foray, an expedition, or an impending battle. It is said that she was heard during several successive nights before the Massacre of Glencoe. This roused the suspicions of the people, and notwithstanding the assurance of the peace and friendship of the soldiery, many of the people left the glen and thus escaped the fate of those who remained. Fragments of the dirges sung by 'caoineachag' before the massacre are current in that valley of the dark shadow of death:--

'Tha caoineachag bheag a bhroin,
A dortadh deoir a sula,
A gul ’s a caoidh cor Clann Domhuill,
Fath mo leoin! nach d’ eisd an cumha.'

'Tha caoidh us caoineadh am beinn a cheo,
Tha gul is glaodhaich am beinn a cheo,
Tha bur is baoghal, tha murt is maoghal,
Tha full ga taomadh am beinn a cheo.'


Little 'caoineachag' of the sorrow
Is pouring the tears of her eyes,
Weeping and wailing the fate of Clandonald.
Alas my grief! that ye did not heed her cries.

There is gloom and grief in the mount of mist,
There is weeping and calling in the mount of mist,
There is death and danger, there is maul and murder,
There is blood spilling in the mount of mist.


Caor, red, red berries, red sparkles, red bodies of a globular form; probably from 'cra,' red, crimson. 'Caora teine,' fire sparkles; 'tha an duine na chaoire dearga teine,' the man is in red sparkles of fire. 'Caor,' is specially applied to the berry of the mountain ash, it being the most common. The berry as well as the wood of the mountain ash was used to safeguard animals, and especially to avert mishap to bearing animals--

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'Lair dhubh bhreabach,
Feadh nan creagan,
Lair dhubh bhreabach,
  ’S i na ruith.'
  *       *       *       *
'Lan an duirn de chaora dearga
Chum a teanacsa,
  ’S i na ruith.'


A black mare a-kicking,
Among the rocks,
A black mare a-kicking,
  And she a-running.
  *       *       *       *
A handful of red rowan berries
To safeguard her,
  And she a-running.


Caorrann, caorrunn, rowan, mountain ash.

The rowan was sacred, and used in many forms about the homestead. 'Failean caorruinn,' a rowan sucker, or 'fleasg caorruinn,' a rowan wand, was placed over the lintels of the barn, byre, stable, sheep-fold, and lamb-cot, as a safeguard against witchcraft and malicious spirits. A twig of rowan was coiled into a circlet and placed beneath the milk boynes to keep the milk from being spirited away. A fire of rowan was sacred, and therefore the festival cakes were cooked with rowan faggots or other sacred wood.

A coffin, or a bier, or the spokes on which it was carried, was treated with especial reverence if made of the mountain ash.

'A chraobh chaorrainn sin ’s an dorus,
Theid thu fotham-sa dh’an chill,
Cuirear m’ aghaidh ri Dundealgan,
’S deantar dhomh-sa carbad grinn.'

Thou rowan tree before the door,
Thou shalt go under me to the burial place,
My face shall be put toward Dundealgan,
And a beautiful bier shall be made for me.



Carr, cairr, flesh, coarse flesh, the flesh of the seal and the whale, which is of a peculiarly rich carmine colour; the udder, the glandular organ in which the milk of mammals is collected; shingle on mountain-tops.

'Is fearr a bhi dubh na bhi donn,
Is fearr a bhi donn na bhi ban,
Is fearr a bhi ban na bhi ruadh,
Ni bheil air an ruadh
Ach gur fearr e bhi shuas na charr.'


Better be black than be brown,
Better be brown than be fair,
Better be fair than be red,
Nothing can be said for the red
But that ’tis better to be there than the flesh.


Cas-chrom, bent-spade, the name of a spade much used in the Western Isles; from 'cas,' leg, and 'crom,' bent. The 'cas-chrom' is well adapted for ground of tough surface, but not for ground already broken in and pulverised.


Cat-cinn, inflorescence on shrubs and trees; spots in the hair of animals.


Cāthadh, cleaning corn in the barn with two open doors opposite each

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other to cause a draught. If the corn is winnowed outside, 'fasgnadh' is the word used.


Cathadh, cabha, cabhnadh, snow, snow-wreath, snow-drift, 'cabha-lair,' ground-drift; 'cabha-sian,' a visible storm of rain, a white sheet of rain; 'cabha-mara,' sea-drift.


Cathu, cathudh, an offensive smell, especially from fish newly salted, or from skate when becoming 'high.'


, in cruinne-cē, this present world.


, spouse, companion, friend, devotee. 'Thu thou dhomh-sa mo ragha ce'--You to give me my choice spouse. A form of 'ceile,' spouse, partner.


, Keith, St Keith.


Ceabhar, ce’ar, sky, cloud, upper clouds, slight wind; 'ceairidh,' 'ciridh,' cirrus clouds.

The term is used in the story of the 'Gobhar Ghlas,' Grey Goat. During the absence of the goat the fox discovered the two kids carefully hid under the grass in the hollow by the mother when she left for the foraging. The fox ate the kids, and while they were still bleating in his stomach the goat returned. In answer to the distressful cry and reproachful looks of the mother the fox said:--

'Air an dreighinn, air an dris,
Air an uisge ruith ’s an eas,
Air an adhar os do chionn,
Air an talamh os do bhonn,
Air a ghrian anns an iarm,
Air a ghealach seachad siar,
Air na reultai anns a chi’ar,
  Ni ’m facas riamh do chuid meann.'


By the thorn, by the bramble,
By the water in the waterfall,
By the sky above thine head,
By the earth beneath thy foot,
By the sun in the firmament,
By the moon in its westing,
By the stars in the lift,
  I never saw thy set of kids.

This is a form of asseveration common among boys at play. One boy says to another: 'Tog do lamh agus thoir do mhionnan'--Lift thine hand and give thine oath. The boy thus commanded repeats the lines of the fox. This oath is called 'mionnan a mhadaidh ruaidh,' the asseveration of the red dog; and 'mionnan a mhadaidh ruaidh dh’an ghobhair ghlais,' the asseveration of the red dog to the grey goat.


Ceacharra, obstreperous, unmanageable; 'duine ceacharra,' head-strong man. M.Ir., 'cecharda,' miry; dirty; stingy.


Ceal, same, similar, similar colour, hue.


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Ceal, cliff, ridge; 'na cealaichean,' ridge of cliffs.


Ceal, end, finish, complete. 'Cuir ceal air,' put an end to it.


Cearr-dubhan, the sacred beetle, the wrong or left-sided little black one. 'Cearradan,' 'cearrdaman,' 'cearraman,' 'cearran,' 'cearnabhan,' 'ceard-dubhan,' seem to be forms of the 'cearr-dubhan.' It is also called 'cearr-fhiollan,' 'ceard-fhiollan,' 'cearrallan,' left-sided insect. Possibly the name should be 'gearr-dubhan,' 'gearr-daolan,' thick-set black one, broad little beetle. (Vol. ii. p. 188 ff.)

'Co ard ’s gun seol an cearr-dubhan,
Is ann ’s a ghlar a thuiteas e.'

However high the beetle soars,
It is in the filth it falls.



Ceasg, floss; an animal with long flossy hair or wool, a sheep; a supernatural creature of great beauty, half-woman half-grilse; a fresh-water mermaid, with hair long and flossy. 'Ceasg lin,' a tuft of fine lint; 'ceasg sioda,' a tuft of fine silk; 'ceasg cloimhe,' a tuft of fine wool.


Ceigeach, shaggy, having long matted hair; a sheep, a goat.

'Thug e leis a chul na creige
Chaora cheigeach an robh bhrigh.'

'Dhannsadh na gobhair cheigeach,
  Mheigeach, bhailgean,
Dhannsadh ’s na minn bheaga,
  ’S bheiceadh ri na cailbhean.'


He took with him behind the rock
The shaggy sheep of substance.

Dance would the shaggy goats,
  Bleatful, spotted,
Dance would the little kids,
  And curtsey to the wattles.


Ceitein, May, as now understood. There were at least four periods of time called 'Ceitein.' These were the 'Ceitein Earraich,' the Spring Ceitein; 'Ceitein Samhraidh,' the summer Ceitein; 'Ceitein Oinnsich,' foolish woman's Ceitein; and 'Ceitein Geamhraidh,' the winter Ceitein. Probably there was a 'Ceitein Foghraidh,' autumn Ceitein, although it is not now known among the people; or 'Ceitein Oinnsich,' Ceitein of the foolish woman, is probably a mistake for 'Ceitein Oinich,' liberal Ceitein, the Ceitein of autumn, when Nature was generous and food abundant.


'Ceud Diluain an raithe,' the first Monday of the quarter. This was a lucky day, a day of good omen for the people. In order to appease any evil spirits that might be hovering about in the air above or lurking about in the earth beneath, a living creature was thrust outside by the first person who rose in the morning, and the door shut again. The awaiting spirits seized the propitiatory sacrifice thus offered to them, which was generally a cock or hen, a drake or duck, or a cat, rarely a dog. If this

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offering to the night spirits were neglected, some mishap would occur.

'A chiad Diluain dh’an gheamhradh fhuar
Is daor a phaigh mi duais nan sealg--
Fear buidhe, ban, bu ro-ghlan snuadh
Air taobh na beinne fuar ’s e marbh.'


The first Monday of the cold winter
Dearly did I pay the reward of the chase--
The yellow-haired man of brightest hue
On the side of the mountain cold and dead.


Ceus-chrann, ceus-chrannd, passion-flower, crucifying tree; from 'ceus,' crucify, and 'crann,' tree. The people say that drops of the sacred blood fell upon the plant at the foot of the Cross, and that hence the semblance of the cross on the flower and the name given to the plant.


Cillorn, cilleorn, an urn, a sacred vessel.


Ciob, sheep; hence 'ciobair,' shepherd. The sheep has several names. as 'caora,' 'cire,' 'ceasg,' 'ai.' These are generic terms, the different kinds, sexes, and ages having special names. Modern critics of Highlanders allege that there were no sheep in the Highlands till they were introduced by Lowland farmers towards the end of the eighteenth century. The statement is as much opposed to truth as innumerable other statements from the same sources. Don Pedro de Agala, who wrote in 1498, speaks of the vast flocks of sheep in Scotland, and especially in the Highlands. Cosmo Innes and other writers confirm the statement. It is surprising, indeed, to find that there were such flocks of sheep, considering the destruction to which they were exposed by wild-cats, pole-cats, marten-cats, foxes, wolves, and birds of prey. During the Commonwealth, a tax of one mark was levied on every sheep in Scotland. This pressed heavily on those who had large flocks of sheep. 'Iain dubh nan cath'--Black John of the battles, as Highlanders loved to call Montrose--abolished this impost. For this relief a grateful Highlander praises Montrose's great commander, Alexander Macdonald, better known to Highlanders as 'Alastair mac Cholla Chiotaich'--Alexander, son of left-handed Coll:--

'Dia leat, Alastair ’ic Cholla,
Is mor do thromad am measg dhaona,
Gloir dh’an Mhac thu thighinn a dh’Alba,
Cha phaigh sinne marg air shealbh chaora.'


God be with thee, Alexander son of Coll,
Great is thy weight among men,
Praise to the Son that thou hast come to Alban,
We shall not pay a mark for our sheep flocks.

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[paragraph continues] Highlanders regard the sheep as blessed because Christ speaks of himself as the Shepherd, and of His people as His sheep. On this account they treat the sheep with loving care, and speak of it as of a familiar friend.


Ciob, club-rush, flaky peat.


Ciosan, diminutive of 'cios,' a basket. Scottish 'cassie.' The 'ciosan' is made of reeds, rushes, rib-grass, bent, bent roots, straw, hazel, birch, or willow. It is made in two forms. One form is small and circular, like a bee-hive. This is called 'ciosan mine,' meal basket. The other form is large and spherical, with an opening in the side. This is called 'ciosan cloimhe,' wool cassie. In Argyll this form is called 'murlag' and 'murlach.' Another form of wool basket is called 'ciarachan.' It is open at the top, bulges out in the middle, and again tapers in towards the base. Another kind of basket is called 'maois,' Anglicised maize. It is flat, oblong, or circular, and now made of willow, but formerly of reeds or rushes. Perhaps the term 'maois,' for basket, is from 'Maois,' Moses, the law-giver, whose cradle was made of bulrushes. The 'maois' is now made of one uniform size, and is principally used as a measure for herrings.

The Shetland Isles, like the Outer Isles, being destitute of wood, the 'ciosan' there, called 'cassie,' 'caizie,' is made of the stems of thistles, dockens, and ragwort.


Cir, cire, ciridh, sheep, a cud-chewing animal; in use in the Outer Hebrides, and in the Isle of Man.


Cir, comb. The comb was an article of importance in olden times. It is mentioned in the old tales and represented on the sculptured stones, and is found in the ancient cists among the bones of the dead. When thus found it indicates that the grave was that of a lady, probably of rank. Bride is frequently represented combing her golden hair, sometimes with a comb of gold and sometimes with a comb of silver.


Cith, cithe, cuithe, cuidhe, a mass, a quantity, a shower, a drizzle; 'cithe buirn,' a bank of water; 'cithe sneachd,' a bank of snow; 'cithe ceo,' a bank of fog; 'an cithe,' the mass, the world mass.


Citheal, probably a form of 'ciall,' reason, prudence, wisdom.


Citheal, cidheal, cibheal, ciall, giall, jaw, jaw-bone.


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Clacharan, cloichirean, wheatear, stone-bird. The wheatear is facetiously called 'fear na Feill Padruig,' bird of the Feast of Patrick, because he appears then. The people speak of the wheatear as 'siant,' sained, as, they say, he lies dormant during winter. Ornithologists are not agreed on this point. It has not been the privilege of the writer to see the wheatear dormant, but he has conversed with several reliable men who assured him that they had so seen it.

Donald MacMurdoch, crofter, Bailemeadhonach, Islay, said that he and his boys were clearing away a fail-dyke in mid-winter, when they came upon great numbers of wheatears in hollows in the turf. The birds were stiff and cold, and to all appearance dead. The boys took home a bonnetful of the wheatears and placed them on the floor round the fire. By degrees the apparently dead birds began to show signs of returning life, and to rise to their feet, and to flap their wings, and to fly about, though evidently weak and dazed. Many flew out at the open door to fall with the falling snow, others died, while some lived for several days. Donald MacMurdoch is a most intelligent man, and a very observant naturalist.

Donald MacColl, foxhunter, Glencreran, said that one winter, early in the century, a long stretch of undermined bank fell down on the road. Among the débris of roots, moss, and gravel there were masses of wheatears, apparently dead. There had been long-continued frost, followed by a sudden thaw and abnormal heat. The birds exposed to the warmth of the sun showed signs of reviving life. Boys and girls took home many of the dormant birds and brought them to life before their home fires. People from distant places came to see the strange phenomenon. Donald MacColl visited the place several times, and he was an entirely trustworthy man and a minute observer.


Clar, clarsach, harp, harp stave. The harp was common throughout the Highlands and Islands down to modern times. The poems and proverbs are full of sayings about harps and harpers:--

'Piobair an aona phuirt,
’S clarsair an t-seana phuirt.'

'Chan eil tend am chlarsaich,
Bho ’n a dh’ fhag mo run mi.'

'Dheanadh Eoghan clarsaichean
Nan cuireadh cacha ceol annt.'


The piper of the one tune,
And the harper of the old tune.

There is not a chord in my harp,
Since my lover has left me.

Eoghan would make harps
If others would put melody in them.

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All the chief families and religious houses had harpers attached to them. The harpers, like the other officials, were paid in kind. A piece of land at Torrloisg, in Mull, is called 'Peighinn a chlarsair,' the harper's pennyland. Another piece of land at Cnoc-an-torrain, in North Uist, is called 'Croft nan clarsair,' the croft of the harpers, while a family of Macdonalds are known as 'Gann a chlarsair,' the children of the harper, and 'Na clarsairean,' the harpers. A place near Beauly is called 'Carn a chlarsair,' the cairn of the harper. Probably this harper was attached to the Priory of Beauly or to Castle Brahan. In Lismore there is a place called 'Croit nan clarsair,' the croft of the harpers, and a well called 'Tobar nan clarsair,' the well of the harpers. It is likely that the harpers in Lismore were attached to the church of St Moluag, the cathedral of the See of Argyll and the Isles, and built during the episcopate of Bishop Carmichael, generally called an 't-Easbuig Ban,' the fair-haired bishop.

'Cadal a chlarsair
Seachd raidhean gun fhaireach.'

'Cadal a chlarsair leisg
Seachd raidhean na bliadhn.'

'C’ait am bheil na puirt
Nach ursgeil an clarsair?'


The sleep of the harper
Seven quarters without knowing.

The sleep of the lazy harper
Seven quarters of the year.

Where may be the tunes
The harper will not recall?

[paragraph continues] The last harper of note in the Highlands was Roderick Morrison, harper to Macleod of Macleod. He was a man of good family and education, and was known as a celebrated musician, not only throughout Scotland, but in England and Ireland.


Cleachd, hair, ringlet, fillet of hair, wool, or lint; the hair dressed. An old song says:--

'Chuir i suas a gruag an cleachd,
’S bha shnuagh air dhreach an oir.'


She put up her hair in form,
And its hue was of the lustre of gold.


Cleid, quip, prank, trick, fillip, sharp stroke.


Cleit, a ridge, a backbone, a door bar, land surrounded by the sea at high-water, an island, a rock, a cliff; from Norse Klettr, a rock, a cliff, an eminence. 'Cleit' often occurs as a prefix and as a suffix in place-names. 'Ormacleit,' Orm's ridge, in South Uist; 'Cleite na dubhcha,' ridge of the black dye, in Harris; 'Na Cleitean,' the ridges, in Kintyre; the 'Clett Rock' in Caithness;

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[paragraph continues] 'Cleite Gādaig,' cliff of 'Gadag,' St Kilda. This term occurs in the 'Banais Ioirteach,' St Kilda Wedding:--

'Is truagh nach robh mi ’s giullachan
Air mullach Cleite Gadaig,
Acuinn air a sunnaradh,
Is mise bhi gu h-aird oirr.'


Would were I and manikin
On crest of Cleite Gadaig,
His harness well established,
And I in charge of it.

[paragraph continues] 'Cleite na comhla,' bar of the door; 'cleit,' a hut, store, the name in St Kilda for the small structures in which the people store birds, peats, and provender.


Cliath, stockade, wattle, creel, pannier, hurdle, hamper, harrow.

In olden times 'cliath' included a strong stockade, constructed of wood or wattle, to safeguard 'meanbh chrodh,' small cattle, and sheep, from the ravages of wild animals.

When 'caol,' oziers, were unattainable and the enclosure was built of stones, it was called 'cro,' pen.


Cloimh-chat, catkin, cat-wool, the inflorescence of the birch, the beech, the willow, and other trees. The catkin wool was twined into a three-plied cord, and that into a circle, and placed under the milk boyne to safeguard the milk against unseen powers. The triple cord symbolised the Trinity, and the circle eternity.


Clomh, clomhadh, counteract, subdue, surmount, overcome.


Cnoc, knoll, hill, council, court, wisdom, sense. The Celts held their meetings in the open air, and the word for the knoll on which the meetings were held came to denote the meeting itself.

Trial by jury was not known in England before the Norman Conquest, some say not before the time of Henry III. In Scotland trial by jury was common long before this. Cutting a cross on a tree, digging a trench on a hill, or erecting a stone on a plain, denoted that the king in person signified the decision of the council. In the Highlands the jury were the clansmen and the judge the chief of the clan. In some districts the chiefs appointed judges to act for them. These were called 'breitheamh,' Anglicised 'brehon.' The office was as a rule hereditary. The best known of these 'brehons' were the Morrisons of the Western Isles, generally called 'Na breithimh Leodhsach,' the Lewis brehons, who are still spoken of with admiration. These hereditary jurisdictions were abolished after the ’45, the chiefs being compensated.

The origin of the Council of St Kilda goes back beyond

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tradition to the peopling of the island itself; while the rules of the council are inelastic as brass. Woe betide the crofter who would propose an iota of change on the ways of the fathers! The 'mod,' council, meets on the 'cnoc,' knoll, every morning except Sunday. All are allowed to attend, but only householders to speak.

The discussions are varied, animated, and forcible, all affecting the immediate interests of the people. Perhaps the matter before the little community is when to begin to manure or till the ground, sow seed, cut turf, pluck sheep, shear corn, lift eggs, kill birds, or go a-fishing. What one does all do. All. speak together, every man his loudest, irrespective of his neighbour, as he strides to and fro on the knoll; and the lung-power of the people of St Kilda being of the most admirable quality, the confusion of voices is great.

But the lung-power of even a St Kilda man has its limits, and these having at length been reached, the confusion of voices subsides, and the people peaceably and promptly decide their action for the day, hastily go in to breakfast, and leisurely come out to work.

An observer would think, not unreasonably, that these people were quarrelsome and ill-tempered; quite the reverse, however. The members of this simple, lovable little community are most kind and attached one to the other, the joy of one, or the grief of another, being the joy or the grief of all.

'Escaped the severed world by happy stealth,
A skiff their navy and a rock their wealth,
Rough as the stormy elements they brave,
Fearless they ride upon the heaving wave.'

The 'cnoc' is often spoken of in prose and poetry,--'Cnoc na comhairle,' hill of counsel; 'cnoc na droch comhairle,' hill of evil counsel; 'duine cnocach,' a shrewd man; 'duine cnocach cruaidh,' a shrewd hard man; 'cho glic ri cnoc,' as wise as a council knoll; 'cho glic ri leanabh cnoc ais,' as wise as the child of the knoll of wisdom.

'An la bhathas a roinn na ceil
Cha robh mi fein air a chnoc,
Nan d’fhuair mise mo chuid fhein
Cha robhas anns an tein s' a nochd.'


The day that sense was apportioned
I myself was not on the hillock,
Had I received mine own share
I would not be in this strait to-night.

'Cnoc' in the text (Vol. i. p. 6) implies wisdom, good sense, intelligence.

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I came to know this in a curious manner, after I had despaired of getting at the true meaning.

Lachlan Macdonald, crofter, Benbecula, a man of great natural intelligence, ability and industry, often praised my wife, and on one occasion added, 'She was on the knoll the day that sense was portioned.' I paid no heed to the phrase at the time; but some sixteen years afterwards I went from Edinburgh to the Outer Hebrides and various other places, to try to ascertain the meanings of words and phrases occurring in these poems.

The following summary is translated and condensed from Lachlan Macdonald's prose poetry:--

'Bha righinn na toinisg a tuinne
An Grianan Aluinn una chroinn,
Far am faiceadh i ’n saoghal uile,
’S far nach faiceadh fuidir a loinn.'


The maiden-queen of wisdom dwelt
In Beauteous Bower of the single tree,
Where she could see the whole world,
And where no fool could her beauty see.

'Great grief was on the queen of fairy-land at seeing the want of wisdom in the daughters of men. And the fairy queen put her lips to the fairy flax, and every blade and plant, every frond and flower, and every bush and tree throughout the wide world breathed an invitation to the daughters of men to come to the knoll, and that she, the fairy queen, would give them wisdom.

'Much commotion followed this invitation, the whole woman-world heaving and moving like the hill of the ant, the byke of the wasp, or the hive of the bee. The proud scorned, the foolish laughed, but the thoughtful sighed. Some said that they were wiser than the fairy queen herself, others that they had wisdom enough already. But many dames and damsels came to the knoll, some to see, some to be seen, and some to seek wisdom. Presently the queen of fairy-land appeared, holding in her hand the 'copan Moire,' cup of Mary, the blue-eyed limpet-shell, containing the 'ais' of wisdom.

'The lovely little queen was arrayed in all the beauteous irridescent hues of silver, emerald green, and mother-of-pearl.

'"Loveliness shone around her like light,
Her steps were the music of songs."

'With a grace of form and a charm of manner all her own the fairy queen held up the 'copan Moire,' and invited all the women of the world to come and partake of the 'ais.' A derisive wave moved over maids and matrons, like a wave of light over the green and golden corn. But to all who sought wisdom in their hearts the fairy queen gave of the 'ais'; to each according to

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her faith and desire, till none was left. Many came to the knoll too late and there was no wisdom left for them. That is why some women are wise and some are otherwise. "And by my father's hand, and by my grandfather's hand, and by mine own two hands to free them, your lady must have been there on the knoll when the queen of fairy-land distributed the 'ais' of wisdom, and the gracious queen must have given to her a goodly portion from the beautiful cup of the lovely Mary of grace."'


Coibhi. Coibhe. Coivi. the traditional archdruid of the Celts.

'Ge faisge leac ri lar,
Is faisge lamh Choibhi.'


Though near be the stone to the ground,
Yet nearer is the hand of Coivi.

[Really 'Coimhdhe,' God, the Lord.]


Coich, coc, coch, cochul, a case, seed-vessel, husk, sheath, shrine, screen. 'Coich anama,' soul-shrine; 'coich na cno,' the sheath of the nut.


Coig, five. One of the sacred numbers, but not so common as three, seven, and nine. 'Crog nan coig miar,' hand of five fingers; 'cas nan coig miar,' foot of five toes; 'fuamhaire mor nan coig ceann, nan coig meal, agus nan coig muineal,' the big giant of the five heads, the five humps, and the five necks.

'Car nan coig cuart,' the turn of the five circuits--a lucky circuit. When a boy is making a hole in the ground for a ball, he swings round on his heel five times.

'Tha coig coigeamh an Eirinn agus coig coigeamh an Sratheireann, ach is fearr aon choigeamh Eireann na coig coigeamh Srath-eireann'--There are five-fifths in Erin and five-fifths in Stratherin (Strathdearn), but better is one-fifth of Erin than the five-fifths of Stratherin.


Coitchionn, coitcinn, caitcinn, general, communal, a common grazing. In the island of Tiree 'caitcinn' is the form of the term. Possibly the Cathkins Braes, near Glasgow, may have been the common grazing of the surrounding villages.


Conair, a blessing, a crown, a path, a course, a haven, a plant, a circle, a rosary.

'Iomhaidh is conair Moire,' image and rosary of Mary; 'Conair meangain,' a plant mentioned in the 'Muilearteach.'


Conal, conall, love, friendship, the guardian spirit of childhood, the Cupid of the Gael.

A child had got lost in the mist and was benighted on the wild moor, when a storm came on. But the good Conal took

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the child by the hand and led him to safety. The following verse is part of a poem composed to the protecting spirit:--

'Fhuaradh dha-san blaths is conail,
  Oidhche nan seachd sian,
Fhuair Conal dha-san creagan,
  Fo’n do ghabh e dian.'

Found for him were warmth and love,
  On the night of the seven elements,
Conal found for him a bower,
  Whereunder he was sheltered.



Conal, conall, fruitage, fruitfulness, endowment, corn, ear of corn.


Cormag, Carmag, Cormac, St Cormac. There were several saints of this name, the most celebrated being the learned Cormac, king of Munster, who wrote a Gaelic Glossary much prized by Celtic scholars. Probably the Cormac of these poems was the friend of Columba.


Corrachd, a promise, a very sacred promise, a death promise, entreaty. Irish 'coraidheacht,' bail, security, guarantee, recognisance. The word occurs in the following song. A young maiden in Uist promised a young man that she would meet him on the machair. But the maiden rued her promise and remained at home. The young man was 'lifted,' and when moving with the 'hosts' in the sky above the girl's home, he was heard to sing:--

'Mhorag bheag an cum thu rium cath?
Bheil thu nochd air son na corrachd?
Mhorag bheag an cum thu rium cath?
  Gu bheil an gath dha d’ ionnsuidh.

Bheil thu nochd air son na corrachd?
Bheil thu nochd air son na coinneamh?
Bheil thu nochd air son a chath?
  ’S an t-saighead grad dha d’ ionnsuidh.


Morag wilt thou hold battle with me?
Wilt thou to-night keep thy promise?
Morag wilt thou hold battle with me?
  And that the dart is towards thee.

Art thou this night for the promise?
Art thou this night for the tryst?
Art thou this night for the battle?
  And that the arrow is fast towards thee.



Crā, blood; hence red. 'Cra-dhearg,' blood-red; 'cra-dhubh,' dark red; 'cra-gheal,' light red. 'Cra' enters into place and animal names, as 'Cra-leacainn,' red slope, the name of a place situated near Loch Fyne; 'cra-rionnach,' red mackerel, tunny fish; 'cra-chluasach,' red-eared; 'cra-chu,' red dog, the fox; 'cra-fhaoileag,' red gull, the black-headed gull generally called 'ceann-dubh' and 'ceann-dubhan,' black-headed; 'cra-ghiadh,' red goose, shell-drake. This beautiful bird is common in the Outer Isles--Uist being known as 'Uibhist nan cra-ghiadh,' Uist of the shell-drakes.

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John Macdonald, 'Ian Lom,' poet-laureate to Charles II., says:--

'Dol gu uidhe chuain fhiadhaich,
Mar bu chubhaidh dhuinn iarraidh,
Gu Uibhist bheag riabhach
  Nan cra-ghiadh.'


Going the way of the ocean wild,
Pleasantly as we could desire,
To brindled little Uist
  Of the shell-drakes.

[paragraph continues] And again Alexander Macdonald, 'Mac Mhaighstir Alastair,' poet-laureate to Prince Charlie, says:--

'Cuiribh fothaibh an rudha ud,
Le fallus mhailghean a sruthadh
’S togaibh siuil rithe bho Uibhist
  Nan cra-ghiadh.'


Place behind you yonder point,
With the sweat of eyebrows pouring,
And lift sails to her from Uist
  Of the shell-drakes.


Crean, crion, quake, tremble, suffer, upheave, tear up, excavate.


Creodach, paralysis of the limbs in horses.


Creubh, person, body, corpse. When Macdonald of the Isles died in Edinburgh his wraith appeared to his people at Duntulm the following night, and said:--

'Bha mi ’n Dun-eideann an de,
Tha mi ’m thalla fein an nochd,
’S meud a ghoinebhein anns a ghrein,
Chan eil ann mo chreubh a lochd.'


I was in Edinburgh yestreen,
I am in mine own hall to-night,
And as much as the mote in the sun,
There is not of harm in my corpse.


Crios, girdle. The girdle is much spoken of and prized.

When the young wife of the king of Lochlann, a daughter of the king of France, eloped with generous Ailde of the golden hair, Fionn sent a princess (according to some versions his own daughter) to offer compensation to the injured husband. The damsel mentioned to the king the many things he would receive in atonement, and among them the girdle--

'Gheobh tu siud is ceud crios,
Cha teid slios mu’n teid iad aog,
Leighisidh iad leatrom is sgios--
Seudan riomhach nam ban saor.'


Thou wilt get that and an hundred girdles,
Nor loin round which they go shall die,
They will relieve burden and lassitude--
The lustrous jewels of the noble women.

'Crios-feile,' kilt girdle, a leather or woven strap used to keep the kilt in position. A similar strap is used by women in the Isles when working on the strand, in the field, or travelling the moors.


Crioslachan, a bag suspended from the 'crios' or girdle. 'Crioslachan chno,' a girdleful of nuts. There are no nuts now in the Outer Isles, but abundance of nut shells. These are found underlying peat-moss and glacial deposits. Rock underlying peat-moss is

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corroded, while that under glacial deposit is perfectly preserved and highly polished, the striæ speaking as clearly as do Egyptian cylinders.


Crithionn, crithinn, aspen; from 'crith,' to quiver. Highlanders will not use aspen in any form either on land or sea. It is said that the first poem composed by Ross, the Gaelic Burns, was on the aspen and the willow. When a child he was in a boat which was driven by storm upon a shelterless, uninhabited island. The thole-pins broke, and no wood to replace them grew in the island except 'caoldubh,' black willow, and aspen. Tradition says that the white willow was transformed into black willow because of the wickedness that went on among it, and that the aspen was 'crossed' for its want of reverence to Christ. The boatmen would use neither aspen nor black willow for oar-pins, and the people had to remain on the island till rescued. William Ross, then a child, said:--

'Is meinig a thachair ann an eilean
Far nach beirear earba,
Gun dad ann ach seileach salach,
’S crithionn grad an tairmisg.'


Alas, to fall upon an isle    [mairg
Where hind is never born,
Where nothing is but willow vile,
And aspen worthless, forbidden.


Cro, cot, fold, hiding-place, place of protection; 'cro-laogh,' calves' cot; 'cro-sheilg,' a hiding-place for hunters; 'cro-dhion,' sanctuary; 'cro-chuile,' a recessed pen, a pen in the hollow between two or more hills, a place-name.

An Uist song says:--

'Cha teid mi do chro nan gobhar,
Cha teid mi do chro nan uan,
Cha teid mi do chro nan caorach,
Bho ’n dh’ fhalbh mo ghaol uam.'


I will not go to the fold of the goats,
I will not go to the fold of the lambs,
I will not go to the fold of the sheep,
Since my lover is gone from me.

'Crothadh,' enclosing; 'crothadh uan,' enclosing lambs; 'crothadh arbhair,' enclosing corn, ingathering crop.


Cro, heart, death, occasionally and mistakenly used for 'cra,' blood; 'cro-leapa,' bier, death-bed; 'cro-leine,' shroud; 'Cro Naomh,' Sacred Heart.

A lament of intense passion and great beauty, composed by a hapless maiden on her slain lover--'Seathan mac Righ Eireann,' John. son of the King of Ireland.--says:--

'Cha tugainn dh’ an Mhoire mhin thu,
Cha tugainn a dh’ Iosa Criosd thu,
Cha tugainn dh’ an Chro Naoimh thu.'


I would not give thee to the gentle Mary,
I would not give thee to Jesus Christ,
I would not give thee to the Holy Heart.

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A well at Drimmore, in South Uist, is called 'Tobar Cro Naomh,' Well of the Holy Heart. All who drank of its refreshing and curative waters placed a votive offering in the cairn beside the well. Another well of the same name is in Sannda, in North Uist. This one, however, cannot be located, the extensive and once populous district being now almost uninhabited.

A ruin at Gauslan, in Lewis, is called 'Teampull Cro Naomh,' Temple of the Holy Heart. It is situated above the shore, and measures eighteen feet by nine. Tradition says that it was built as a 'nasgadh deirce,' vow-offering, by a Saxon who, when in peril in the North Sea, vowed that if saved he would build a temple to Christ wherever he might be cast ashore. He was cast upon the wild coast of Gauslan, and built the temple on the spot where he offered up prayer for his deliverance. In recent years the tenant of the farm removed the stones of the temple to build a fold for his cattle.


Crodh-mara, sea-cows. 'Cra-chluasach,' crimson-eared, and 'corc-chluasach,' purple-eared, are terms applied to a species of cattle with red ears which are alleged to be descended from sea-cows. Some of these cattle have one or both ears scalloped, and are hence called 'torc-chluasach,' notch-eared. Probably these red-eared cattle are descended from the old Caledonian white cattle, whose ears were red. The Caledonian cattle are also called 'earc iucna,' notched cattle.

Several sea-cows came ashore at Struth, Obbe, Harris. The sea-maiden was tending the sea-cows, and singing the following song as she sent them back to the sea and away through the Sound of Harris:--

'Chualas nuall an cuan Canach,
Bo a Tiriodh, bo a Barraidh,
Bo a Ile, ’s bo a Arainn,
’S a Cinntire uain a bharraich.

Caillear, caillear, caillear Cuachag,
Caillear Gumag, caillear Guamag,
Caillear Guileag, caillear Guaillionn,
’S caillear Cruinneag dhonn na buaile.



A low is heard in the sea of Canna,
A cow from Tiree, a cow from Barra,
A cow from Islay, a cow from Arran,
And from green Kintyre of birches.

Lost, lost, lost will be 'Cuachag,'
Lost will be 'Gumag,' lost will be 'Guamag,'
Lost will be 'Guileag,' lost will be 'Guaillionn,'
And brown 'Cruinneag' of the cattle-fold.


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Theid mi, theid mi, theid mi Mhuile,
Theid mi dh’ Eire nam fear fuileach,
Theid mi Mhannain bheag nan culaidh,
S theid mi ceum dh’an Fhraing ’s cha chunnart.

Caillear, caillear, caillear Gorag,
Caillear Dubhag, caillear Dothag,
Caillear Muileag, caillear Moileag,
’S caillear Muirneag dhonn an orfhuilt.'


I will go, I will go, I will go to Mull,
I will go to Eirin of the bloody men,
I will go to little Man of the wherries,
And I will go to France and no mishap.

Lost, lost, lost will be 'Gorag,'
Lost will be 'Dubhag,' lost will be 'Dothag,'
Lost will be 'Muileag,' lost will be 'Moileag,'
And brown 'Muirneag' of the golden hair.


Crūb, crūba, pl. crubanan, crubachan, bed recess. The 'crub' is a recess in the thickness of the wall. The entrance to it is a small opening a little above the floor; from 'crub,' crouch.

The 'crub' is not now seen except in the old dwelling-houses of St Kilda or in the old sheiling bothies of Lewis.


Cruit, harp. Gaelic, 'croit,' 'cruit'; Irish, 'crot,' 'croit'; Welsh, 'crwth.' Probably the name is from 'crot,' curve. 'Cruit' and 'clar,' or 'clarsach,' are now used synonymously, but the names meant two different instruments. Probably 'cruit' was applied to the small harp used by ladies, and 'clar,' or 'clarsach,' to the large pedal harp used chiefly by men.

'Cuir do cheanna nall ’n a mo dhail,
’S gun seinninn dhut clar is cruit.'


Place thine head near me hither,
That I may play thee pedal harp and small harp.

[paragraph continues] In the island of Luing there is an old fort called 'Dun-cruit,' fort of the harp, and a glen near Oban called 'Gleann-cruitein,' which may mean the glen of the harper, or the glen of the king-fisher. ('Cruitein,' crouched one; 'biora cruitein,' water crouched one; and 'bior an iasgair,' fisher point, are the Gaelic names of the beautiful kingfisher.) In Colonsay there is a place called 'Lag a chruiteir,' hollow of the harper; and in Loch Roag, Lewis, a place called 'An Cruitear,' the harper.


Cruth, form, feature, symmetry. The old Highlanders placed much value upon form, not only in woman but in man. They said that the father gave form, the mother mind, to the child. There are many proverbs among the people bearing upon these physiological matters.

'Tus ratha rogha dealbh,
Uirghill mhaith is deagh labhraidh.'


The beginning of prosperity choice form,
Good speech and good delivery.


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Cruthach, placenta of mare.


Cuanal, flocks, cattle, horses, sheep, and goats; generally the younger generations.


Cuart, circuit; 'cuart claidh,' circuiting the burying-ground; 'cuart Mhicheil,' Michael circuiting, the circuit made round the burying-ground on St Michael's Day; 'cuart cladaich,' shore circuit; 'cuart time,' time circuit 'cuart duine,' man's life. (Vol. i. p. 198 ff.)


Cuartachadh, circuiting, encompassing, surrounding, making a sanctuary. 'Cuartachadh a chlaidh,' circuiting the burying-ground; 'Cuartachadh cladh nan athraichean,' circuiting the burying-ground of the fathers. This is done on St Michael's Day, and is probably a remnant of ancestor-worship, while 'dol deiseil a chlaidh,' going sunwise round the burial-ground, represents sun-worship. 'Cuartachadh teaghlaich,' encompassing the family. This is the term used for family worship in the counties of Ross, Cromarty, Sutherland, and Caithness. 'Cuartachadh baile,' circuiting the townland. Being tenants at will, and liable to eviction, the crofters erected no fences round their fields; consequently when the crops were in the ground they had to guard them by night and by day from their own and their neighbours' herds. During the day the townland herdsman tends the animals and keeps them from the crops, but by night the townland is patrolled by a man from each of two families taken in rotation. These men are called 'cuartaiche,' circuiters. If the townland be a large one this duty coming at long intervals is not much felt, but in a small townland the night watching becomes oppressive. In crofting townlands adjoining deer forests, geese, duck, or other game resorts, the men patrol their crops all night to safeguard them, and kindle fires where incursions are most feared. Should damage result through the remissness of these two men, the two families represented are responsible and make reparation. The damage done is appraised by men set apart and sworn for the purpose.

The security of land tenure given by the recent Crofters Act is putting an end to the necessity for circuiting the townland crops, as already fences, houses, drains, and other land improvements are rapidly progressing.


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Cuat, a lover, a sweetheart, a bosom friend. The word is common in the Western Isles.


Cu-fasach, cu-fasaich, wolf, lit. wilderness dog.


Cugallach, precarious, unstable, uncertain.

'Is cugallach an t-sealg,
Is cearbadach an t-iasg,
Cuir do mhuinighin anns an talamh,
  Cha d’ fhag e fear falamh riamh.'


Precarious is the hunting,
Unreliable the fishing,
Place thy trustance in the land,
  It never left man empty.

This sentiment is characteristic of the Celt, who is a man of the land primarily and a man of the sea secondarily--a landsman of choice and a seaman of necessity. Nevertheless, when the Celt does take to the sea, probably he is unexcelled as a boatman, as a mariner, or as a navigator. It is computed that two-thirds of the seafaring men of the Clyde are Celts and of Celtic descent, and probably these will compare favourably with their class elsewhere. An impression prevails in many places that the islesmen of the West are not boatmen equal to the coastmen of the East. That is not my experience, extending over a long period of close observation of both. Of the two the islander is the more daring, more active, and more expert boatman. This was many times acknowledged to me by East Coast men fishing on the West Coast.

The East Coast man is a fisherman by choice inherited through many generations and many centuries; the West Coast man is a fisher from compulsion. The sea of the West Coast is more tidal, more stormy, and more dangerous than that of the East Coast, and the natives do not take to it from choice. They have many sayings against it:--'Is corrach gob an dubhan'--Unstable the point of the fish-hook.

'Is math an cobhair an t-iasg,
Ach is don an sobhal an t-iasg.'


Good is the help of the fishing,
But a bad barn is the fishing.


Cugan, food, choice food, dainty.

'Cha tig cugan air cuid cait.'

'Cugan a chait chaothaich.'


No cream comes on the cat's portion.

The choice food of the wild-cat.


Cugar, cugarbhad, male cat, male wild-cat, hero, gallant, champion. 'Cugarbhad Mor sigh nan cat,'--Great Cugarvad, king of the cats, is the title of a weird story full of graphic scenes and elliptical runes, interesting to the mythologist and the grammarian.


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Cu-gearr, short dog, wolf; from 'cu,' dog, and 'gearr,' short. Several names are applied to the wolf, as 'cu-faol,' 'faol-chu,' 'madadh-alla,' 'alla-mhadadh,' wild-dog; 'cu-coille,' 'coille-chu,' wood dog; 'madadh-mor,' 'mor-mhadadh,' big dog; 'blad,' mouth; 'bladair,' mouther.

In 1427, Parliament passed an Act calling upon all barons to exterminate the wolf. It was not, however, till 1743 that the wolf became extinct in Scotland. This was effected near Feith-ghiuthais by Macqueen of Poll-lōchaig on Findhorn, chief of that name. Macqueen died in 1797.


Cuid, property, share. The clothes of the deceased became the perquisite of the clergy. Those of the rich went to the higher clergy, and those of the poor to the lower clergy. Angry disputations sometimes occurred over the clothes of the dead, even over those of the dying, leading to unbecoming scenes and to many satirical sayings.

'An sagart ’s an cleireach
A sadadh a cheile ’s a mhod.'

'Cha ghreann ri mo re
Do shagart no chleir,
Ach ’s greann gu brath
Dha m’ Dhomhallan gradhach fein.'


The priest and the clerk
Dusting each other in court.

This cloth is not, in my time,
For priest nor for cleric,
But cloth it is for evermore
For mine own little Donald beloved.


Cuileagan, feast, feast in secret; from 'cuil,' a corner.


Cuilidh, treasury, secret place, retreat, sanctuary; from 'cull,' a magazine, repository. 'Cuilidh rath,' treasury of prosperity; 'cuilidh Mhoire,' treasury of Mary, applied in the Barra Isles to the sea, from which the people derive most of their livelihood. 'Cuilidh mhic Ciaran,' the treasury of the son of Ciaran in na h-Eileacha Naomha.


Cuisil, caisil, caisiol, a fort, a stronghold, a case, a bier, a coffin.

The bier on which the dead and dying were removed from the battlefield was called 'caisil-chro,' 'cuisil-chra,' blood bier.

The want of wood in the Isles necessitated the people burying their dead either without coffins or in stone cists. It was only when the American timber trade began and wood was cast on their wild shores, or could be got from the South, that the use of coffins became general. Before then there was a 'cro-leapa, dead-bed, in every townland to convey the body to the grave. Old men in Lewis speak of the last 'cro-leapa' being buried with the last body carried in it.


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Cuithe, fold, cattlefold, enclosure, cattle enclosure, a stronghold.

'Cha teid mi dh’an Chuithe Chreagach,
Is beag mo cheist air Anndra,
B’annsa liom am fleasgach fearail,
  Na fear breac he seann-chrodh.'


I will not go to 'Cuithe Creagach,'
But little is my love for Andrew,
Rather would I the manly youth,
  Than a pock-marked man with old cows.

I do not know where 'Cuithe Creagach,' rocky fold, is. A cognate name, 'Cuithe Clachach,' stony fold, is in Middlequarter, North Uist. 'Cuithe Fhraing,' Quiraing, enclosure of Francis, in Skye, is well known.


Culag, a person behind another person on horse-back, generally a woman sitting sideways behind a man.


Culait, culaist, back place, back wing to a dwelling. The 'culaist' and the 'cultaigh' are synonymous terms in Lewis, where this adjunct to the dwelling is frequent. It is used for keeping farm produce, farm gear, fishing gear, or for sleeping, and often for all these purposes.


Curach, corach, curachan, coracle, little coracle. The coracle is a boat whose framework, called 'crannaghail,' is made of wicker, lath, or cane, and covered with skin, canvas, or rubber.

Columba is supposed to have come to Scotland in a boat of this description. On landing in Iona, Columba, it is said, buried his boat above the beach, to remove the temptation of returning to Ireland. The place where the boat was buried is called 'Port a Churaich,' Port of the Coracle. There is a raised ridge, the shape of an up-turned boat, covered, like the surrounding machar, with short green grass. The ridge is called 'An Curach,' the coracle.

The coracle is often mentioned in old songs:--

'Chan f haic mi bata no curach
A Tir a mhurain a seoladh.'


I see neither boat nor coracle
From the Land of the bent-grass sailing.

[paragraph continues] (The people of neighbouring islands called Uist 'Tir a mhurain,' the land of the bent-grass, and the people 'Muranaich,' bent-grass people. Even the people on the east side, where there is no bent, apply the name to those on the west, where this grass grows.)

A small grassless island on the east side of Barra is called 'An Curachan,' the little coracle. The shell of the beautiful blue valilla is poetically called 'curachan na mna sith,' little coracle of the fairy woman.

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'The fairy woman of the green kirtle, and of the lovely locks of gold, could steer her little fair blue coracle adroitly and wisely on the crest of the black-blue green-white waves, though the wind of the hill should be tearing the goat from the rock, the beard from the buck, and the heath from the hill.'


Currachd sagairt, possibly monkshood, usually called 'currachd manaich.'


Curran cruaidh, hemlock, lit. hard carrot. In Uist the hemlock is called 'curran cruaidh '; in Lochaber, 'mungach mear '; in Harris, 'de-theodha'; and in Lismore, 'ith-teodha.'

In his Gaelic Names of Plants, Cameron suggests that 'iteodha' means feather-foliaged. Probably 'ith-teodha' means hot-eating, from 'ith,' eat, and 'teodha,' hot, the plant causing a burning sensation in the throat.

The old Highlanders used a plaster of hemlock for the extraction of cancer. The plaster was applied to the part affected. It is said to have been effective in the earlier stages of the disease, extracting the cancer with its innumerable roots and rootlets, and leaving a hollow where it had been. The process of extraction is said to have been extremely painful, the sound of the tearing out of the roots of the cancer being like the snapping of linen thread.

Cu-sith, fairy dog, dog of the spirit-world. This indicates the belief of the ancient Celts in animals as well as men of the spirit-world.

When Clanranald resided at Nunton, in Benbecula, two men were tending calves one night in a building known as 'an tigh fada,' the long house. They sat talking of many things before the brightly burning fire, when suddenly two strange dogs rushed into and right round the house, to the consternation of the men and the terror of the calves. The dogs were leashed together on a leash of silver bespangled with gold and brilliant stones that sparkled in the bright moonbeams and the light of the fire. A voice was heard in the air without calling:--

'Sitheach-seang, sitheach-seang!
Siubhal-bheann, siubhal-bheann!
Dubh-sith, dubh-sith!
Cuile-rath, cuile-rath!
Cu-gorm, cu-gorm!
Sireadh-thall, sireadh-thall!'


Slender-fay, slender-fay!
Mountain-traveller, mountain-traveller!
Black-fairy, black-fairy!
Lucky-treasure, lucky-treasure!
Grey-hound, grey-hound!
Seek-beyond, seek-beyond!

[paragraph continues] When the dogs were thus recalled they rushed out, the men

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following as soon as they had recovered their scattered wits. And there in the bright blue sky they beheld a multitudinous host of spirits, with hounds on leash and hawks on hand. The air was filled with music like the tinkling of innumerable silver bells, mingled with the voices of the 'sluagh,' hosts, calling to their hounds. The men were so astonished that they could only remember a few of the names they heard.

These were the spirits of the departed on a hunting expedition, travelling westwards beyond the 'Isle of the nuns,' beyond the 'Isle of the monks,' beyond the Isle of 'Hirt,' beyond the Isle of 'Rockal,' and away and away towards 'Tir fo thuinn,' the Land under waves; 'Tir na h-oige,' the Land of youth; and Tir na h-aoise,' the Land of age, beneath the great western sea.

'Turas math dhaibh agus deagh shealg--’s O Righ na gile ’s na greine ’s nan corracha reula cubhra! is iad fein a chuir an gniomh ’s an giamh, ’s barrachd ’s ni ’s leoir, air fir ’s air laoigh ChlannRaghail.'--Fortune follow them and luck of game--and oh, King of the sun, and of the moon, and of the bright effulgent stars! it was they who put fear and fright, and more than enough, on the men and the calves of Clanranald.


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