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


Tachar, tacar, heap, quantity, fruitage. 'Fhuair thu tachar eisg'--Thou hast got a heap of fish. 'Fhuair mi tachar ian'--I got a number of birds.


Tachradh, produce, substance; from 'tachar,' quantity.


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Tāchran, tācharan, a kelpie, a water-sprite, a dwarf--one of the many supernatural beings with which the Gaidheal peopled the glens and woods, streams and lakes.

A place in Islay is called 'Clachan an tacharain,' the ford of the kelpie; and one in Perth is called 'Poll an tacharain,' the pool of the kelpie.

The term occurs in the touching lament of a Kintail woman whose husband was slain by Donald Macdonald, known as 'Domhull odhar,' dun Donald, 'an tacharan,' the dwarf, and Finlay Macrae, known as 'Fionnladh dubh nam fiadh,' black Finlay of the deer:

'Is olc a fhuaradh Tacharan
Is Fionnladh dubh nam fiadh
A dh’ fhag mo ghaol an cadha cumhan,
Far nach eirich grian.

'Dh’ fhag iad mo thaigh mor gun tugha,
Mo shabhal tur gun dion,
An dubhra trath ’s t-anamoch ann,
’S mo chlann air bheag dh’an bhiadh.'


Ill have done the Dwarf
And black Finlay of the deer--
They left my love in narrow pass,
Where no sunshine shall appear.

They reft my big house of its thatch,
My barn made wholly bare,
In the gloomy winter night-watch,
And my children on little fare.

Their neighbours alleged that the people of Corrsabal, in Islay, wished to secure as a man-servant--

'Bolanach do gheinneanach,
Do bhalach math laidir,
Dheanadh gniamh ceatharnaich,
’S nach itheadh ach biadh tacharain.'


A sturdy stumpy of a fellow,
A youth of exceeding strength,
Who would do the work of a hero,
Nor eat but the food of a dwarf.

'Tachran cuthaig,' 'tachan cuthaig,' the page of the cuckoo--generally the meadow-pipit. When the cuckoo sings, the pipit emits a hissing sound resembling 'tach! tach! tach!' This may have originated the name in this case.


Taghan, polecat, foumart. The polecat is detested for its destructiveness and evil odour. It is now nearly extinct in the Highlands.


Tail, taileadh, sail, saileadh, cause, sake of, on account of. 'Fhuair mise trod air taileadh do ghnothaich'--I got a scolding on account of thy business. 'Tha mi air taileadh mo ghnothaich fhein'--I am after my own business.


Taimhlisg, traduce, contemn. 'Is tu an taimhlisg'; this might mean a traducing person or one worthy of being traduced.


Tairbhein, teirbhein, tailbhein, teilbhein, surfeit; also a bloody flux in cattle; possibly from 'dairb' or 'deirb,' water-insect, spider, which when swallowed is supposed to cause bleeding.


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Talmaich, honour, obeisance; from 'talm,' to obey, to honour.


Tarbh boidhre, a monster, a demon, a god capable of changing himself into many forms--a man, a bull, a horse, or other animal with supernatural powers.


Tarman, torman, ptarmigan, preferably 'tarmigan,' murmur-bird; from 'tarm,' or 'torm,' murmur, and 'ian,' bird. Derivatives--'tarmach,' 'tormach,' 'tarmachan,' 'tormachan,' murmuring bird.

The tarmigan is ruddy, mottled grey in summer, changing to pure snow-white in winter. It confines itself to the summits of high hills, never coming down to the glens except under severe pressure of continued snow. Like a true patriot it contests its country inch by inch against the invading enemy and, if defeated, is never discomfited.

To the uninitiated the tarmigan is indistinguishable from its habitat. In 1877 the writer went up to examine the beach-like shingly appearance of the summit of a hill in Harris. On the top of the mountain my companion drew my attention to tarmigans among the stones before us. I could hear the murmur, but could not see the birds, nor differentiate between them and the shingle before us, till they began to move, then to run, and ultimately to fly. The atmosphere was clear, the sun was bright, and not a breath of air on the hill nor a speck of cloud in the sky, but my companion said that a snowstorm was coming on. He insisted on immediate descent, and, incredulous, I reluctantly followed. In less than an hour the bright sun began to disappear, and the sky began to darken and blacken, and in less than another hour a raging storm of snow was on, lasting three days and three nights without intermission.

My companion said that he knew by the peculiar plaint and mode of flight of the tarmigans that a snowstorm was approaching.


Tarmach-de, tarmachan-de, the white butterfly, rarely the white-and-black butterfly.


Teanga, tongue, voice, speech, oratory. 'Teanga Chaluim-chille,' the oratory of Columba (vol. i. p. 56). Columba had a powerful voice 'clearly heard at fifteen hundred paces.' It is said that he could be heard in Mull when preaching in Iona, more than a mile across the sea. Probably the famous Dr Macdonald, Ferintosh, 'the Apostle of the North,' was the greatest Gaelic orator since Columba, to whom he has been likened. Dr Macdonald and the

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late Sir John A. Macdonald, Premier of Canada, another orator of renown, were sons of two crofter brothers evicted from Sutherlandshire.


Teanacsa, avert, safeguard, ward away. 'Teanacsa gorta,' avert famine; 'teanacsa dosgain,' ward away misfortune from cattle, protect from danger, distress, or difficulty.


Teasdam, I preserve, secure, keep, help, assist.


Teilg, teilig, a chord, string of a lyre, of a harp, or other stringed instrument.


Teilin, teilinn, a musical instrument, a stringed instrument. Welsh 'telu,' a harp.


Teine, fire. (Vol. i. p. 174.)

'Cha loisg teine, grian, no gealach mi.'


No fire, no sun, no moon, shall burn me.

Similar immunity from fire is mentioned in an Arthurian ballad taken down in Uist:--

'Cha loisg teine ’s cha dearg arm air an fhear,
Ach a chlaidhe geal glan fein.'


No fire shall burn, no arm can hurt the man,
But his own white sword of light

[paragraph continues] --therefore while he slept his enemy killed him with his own sword.


Tein-ēigin, neid-fire, need-fire, forced fire, fire produced by the friction of wood or iron against wood.

The fire of purification was kindled from the neid-fire, while the domestic fire on the hearth was rekindled from the purification fire on the knoll. Among other names, the purification fire was called 'Teine Bheuil,' fire of Beul, and 'Teine mor Bheuil,' great fire of Beul. The fire of Beul was divided into two fires between which people and cattle rushed australly for purposes of purification. The ordeal was trying, as may be inferred from phrases still current. 'Is teodha so na teine teodha Bheuil'--Hotter is this than the hot fire of Beul. Replying to his grandchild, an old man in Lewis said:--'A Mhoire! mhicean, bu dhurra dhomh-sa sin a dheana dhusa na dhol eadar dha theine mhor Bheuil'--Mary! sonnie, it were worse for me to do that for thee than to go between the two great fires of Beul.

The neid-fire was resorted to in imminent or actual calamity upon the first day of the quarter, and to ensure success in great or important events.

The writer conversed with several persons who saw the neid-fire

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made, and who joined in the ceremony. As mentioned elsewhere, a woman in Arran said that her father, and the other men of the townland, made the neid-fire on the knoll on 'La buidhe Bealltain'--Yellow Day of Beltane. They fed the fire from 'cuaile mor conaidh caoin'--great bundles of sacred faggots brought to the knoll on Beltane Eve. When the sacred fire became kindled, the people rushed home and brought their herds and drove them through and round the fire of purification, to sain them from the 'bana bhuitseach mhor Nic Creafain,'--the great arch witch daughter Cranford, Mac Creafain, now Crawford.

That was in the second decade of the nineteenth century.

John Macphail, Middlequarter, North Uist, said that the last occasion on which the neid-fire was made in North Uist was 'bliadhna an t-sneachda bhuidhe'--the year of the yellow snow--1829 (?). The snow lay so deep and remained so long on the ground, that it became yellow. Some suggest that the snow was originally yellow, as snow is occasionally red. This extraordinary continuance of snow caused much want and suffering throughout the Isles.

The people of North Uist extinguished their own fires and generated a purification fire at Sail Dharaich, Sollas. The fire was produced from an oak log by rapidly boring with an auger. This was accomplished by the exertions of 'naoi naoinear ciad ginealach mac'--the nine nines of first-begotten sons. From the neid-fire produced on the knoll the people of the parish obtained fire for their dwellings. Many cults and ceremonies were observed on the occasion, cults and ceremonies in which Pagan and Christian beliefs intermingled.

'Sail Dharaich,' Oak Log, obtained its name from the log of oak for the neid-fire being there. A fragment of this log riddled with auger holes marks a grave in 'Cladh Sgealoir,' the burying-ground of 'Sgealoir,' in the neighbourhood.

Mr Alexander Mackay, Edinburgh, a native of Reay, Sutherland, says:--'My father was the skipper of a fishing crew. Before beginning operations for the season, the crew of the boat met at night in our house to settle accounts for the past, and to plan operations for the new season. My mother and the rest of us were sent to bed. I lay in the kitchen, and was listening and watching, though they thought I was asleep. After the men had settled their past affairs and future plans, they put out the fire on the hearth, not a spark being allowed to live. They then rubbed

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two pieces of wood one against another so rapidly as to produce fire, the men joining in one after the other, and working with the utmost energy and never allowing the friction to relax. From this friction-fire they rekindled the fire on the hearth, from which all the men present carried away a kindling to their own homes.

'Whether their success was due to their skill, their industry, their perseverance, or to the neid-fire, I do not know, but I know that they were much the most successful crew in the place. They met on Saturday, and went to church on Sunday like the good men and the good Christians they were--a little of their Pagan faith mingling with their Christian belief. I have reason to believe that other crews in the place as well as my father's crew practised the neid-fire.'

A man at Helmsdale, Sutherland, saw the 'tein-eigin' made in his boyhood.

The neid-fire was made in North Uist about the year 1829, in Arran about 1820, in Helmsdale about 1818, in Reay about 1830.


Teiric, hake, herring hake, herring eke or eek. A triangular frame with spikes upon which herrings are hung up to dry in the smoke within or in the sun without.


Teōm, dole, gift, bribe, alms. 'Teom eisg,' dole of fish; 'teom deora,' alms of poor; 'teom an t-sionnaich,' bribe of the fox; 'co toinnte ri teom an t-sionnaich,' as twisted as the gift of the fox; 'teom Aegir,' dole of Aigir, a miserly dole.


Teōm, cunning, skilful, expert.


Tiur, tiuir, tiubhair, teor, teorr, mark, stamp, impress, the mark of the sea upon the shore, the refuse left by the tide upon the beach.

'Is truagh, a Righ! nach mi bha lamh riut
Ge b’e eilb na ob an traigh thu,
Ged a b’ann an tiur an lain e.'


Would, O King! that I were anear thee,
On whatever sandbank or creek thou art stranded,
Even were it in the impress of the tide.


Todh, todha, rope, a particular kind of rope, tow; 'todha na croiche,' rope of the gallows. 'Biodh Bach fear a deanamh todha dha f hein'--Let every man be making a (hanging) rope for himself.


Torc, a cleft, a notch, a scallop, an indentation; also a monarch's necklace.


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Torcan, dim. of 'torc,' a cleft.


Torcan, a species of bere, a bi-forked carrot, the carduus benedictus. 'Ladies bathing themselves in a decoction of the "turcan" shall only bear sons.'--Kilkenny Arch. Soc. Jour., vol. v. p. 306 ff.


Trasd, probably the same as Ir. 'trost,' a trip or fall; onrush; a thrust (vol. ii. p. 48).


Treann, to cut, to lop, to trim, to shape.


Tri, tiur, teor, three, an especially sacred number as representing the Trinity.

'Tri maighdeana beaga caomh,
Rugadh ’s an aon oidhche ri Criosd.'


Three lovely little maidens,
Born the same night with Christ.

The three maidens are Faith, Hope, and Charity. (Vol. ii. p. 56.)


Tri cnamhan seann duine, three bones of an old man (vol. ii. p. 38). This may mean the southernwood, which is called 'lus an t-seann duine,' the plant of the old man; but more probably the phrase is to be taken literally.


Triall, the procession of people and herds to the summer shelling (vol. i. p. 190).


Trithean, Trithion, Triune, Trinity, three-one, three in one; from 'tri,' three, and 'aon,' one. This form of the word is not now used in writing or in speaking, but it occurs in place-names at Loch Harport and at Glendale, in the island of Skye, in the island of Lismore, and possibly elsewhere.


Tuillis, overloading the stomach, especially with liquids. Akin to 'teilbhein.'


Tul, fire, hearth, heap; the stem of 'tulach,' a heap, a knoll, a house.


Tulach, knoll, hillock, house, ruins.


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