Manuscript containing William MacMurchy’s poems. Edit




  • 18th century. (Creation)


  • 49 Leaves (Whole)



  • Conditions Governing Access

    Normal access conditions apply.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Presented, 1925, by the Faculty of Advocates to the nation on the foundation of the National Library of Scotland.

  • Custodial History

    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, died 1807), and William’s grandson in Glasgow, from which last the remains were obtained for the Highland Society of Scotland by the Reverend 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, number 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, number 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, number 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.

  • Physical Description

    Rebound and laminated in 1967; the former binding of skin-covered boards is now separate, and bears the inscription (anonymous 18th-century hand) ‘yr most Excellent good sir appel...’ Perished at the corners with some textual loss, chiefly at the beginning and end.

  • Arrangement

    49 folios.

  • Scope and Contents

    The manuscript contains a ‘coat of arms’ watermark. The scribe of the manuscript is 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’, volume 2, pages 310-420) and the Inverneill MS (photostat, National Library of Scotland MS.14981). A number of the poems are plainly by the scribe himself.

    Ewen MacLachlan described it in his ‘Celtic Analysis’ (Adv.MS.72.3.4, page 71), likening its form to that of a music book.

    At page 46 is written ‘Counnty of Lonnderry you the underr pescnnly’, with ‘County of Londonderry’ added above. ‘Command’ appears at pages 39 (in a large formal style perhaps imitating that at Adv.MS.72.2.8, page 292) and 46. With some minor exceptions, the script is Gaelic. Writing is from both ends, with 6 folios completely blank in between. Ewen 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, namely:

    (i) Some Gaelic words and their English meanings. (Page i.)

    (ii) ‘Ocagan is m[ise Suibhne]’, 3 quatrains. Suibhne’s lament. (Page ii.)

    (iii) ‘Gu bennuigh Dia an bhruighin’, 4 quatrains. ‘Cuid Nolluic’. (Page ii, line 7.)

    End A

    (i) “Neimnech cneadh chríche Mháine”, 34 quatrains. ‘Marbna Eignechain Ui Cellaigh’. Possibly incomplete, the next leaf having been cut out prior to pagination. (Page 1.)

    (ii) ‘Soridh soir uam gu Cinntire’, 40 quatrains. In praise of Kintyre. Cf. “Bàrdachd Ghàidhlig”, page 183. (Page 3.)

    (iii) Eoin mac Ailein. “A Gialasbuig mo bennacht red bheó”, 8 stanzas. ‘Moladh na pi[obadh]’. (Page 6.)

    (iv) Lachlann Mac a leoin. ‘Gioasbuig mo mollacht rem bheo’, 7½ stanzas. ‘Eascaoin molaidh na (piobadh)’. In the Inverneill manuscript the poet’s name is given as ‘Lachluinn Mc Mc Iain’. (Page 7.)

    (v) [Sìleas na Ceapaich]. ‘Ailastar a Gleanna Garadh’, 8½ stanzas. On Alasdair Dubh of Glengarry, died 1721 or 1724. Cf. C. Ó Baoill, “Bàrdachd Shìlis na Ceapaich”, page 70. (Page 8.)

    (vi) “Cho ghárdechas gun chloinn Domnaill”, 12 quatrains. Cf. A and A Macdonald, ‘The Macdonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry’, page 7. Bears no relationship to the Book of the Dean of Lismore poem “Ní h-éibhneas gun Chloinn Domhnaill”. (Page 9.)

    (vii) “Nach truadh leibh na scéla so”, 11¾ stanzas. Lament for Sir Hector Roy MacLean of Duart, killed at Inverkeithing, 1651. Cf. MacDonald, ‘Comh-chruinneachidh Orranaigh Gaidhealach’ page 178. (Page 10.)

    (viii) ‘O ro ghruagach Creig na Tulaich’, 23 quatrains. Cf. Acc.2152, number 12b. (Page 12.)

    (ix) ‘A chleirigh chanfas na sailm’, 48 quatrains. (Middle of page 13.)

    (x) “Diú gach connidh fearrna fliuch”, 1 quatrain. (Middle of page 16.)

    (xi) ‘Chualas alladh gan bhith scriophte’, 56 lines. A playful satire on the scribe by a fellow-poet called Lachunn, cf. page 7 and next item. (Page 17.)

    (xii) ‘A Lachuinn scuir dod bhardachd’, 52 lines. William MacMurchy’s reply to the above, subscribed ‘Finid / Collum Collumbus’. (Page 20.)

    (xiii) “Bidh duine mpéin is e beo”, 5 quatrains. (Page 22.)

    (xiv) ‘Tochar do iarr ormsa ben’, 24 lines. A lyric with supernatural undertones. (Middle of page 22.)

    (xv) ‘A caillech a tainic an tir’, 20 lines. Do. (Page 23.)

    (xvi) ‘Folbamuid is gluaisamud’, 62 lines. 'A flyting between a man and woman'. (Page 24.)

    (xvii) ‘A mharcidh ud na bi eadmur’, 16 quatrains. To a jealous husband. (Page 26.)

    (xviii) ‘Nuar do chualas turas Finn’, 36 quatrains + prose. Cath Ghabhra. (Middle of page 27.)

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

    (xx) “La da nraib Padraic ‘na m[húr]”, 30 quatrains. (Page 32.)

    (xxi) “Lá da nrabhmar an Fian uile”, 31 quatrains. (Page 34.)

    (xxii) “‘S cian o chualas alladh Bostain”, 21 quatrains. Satire by the scribe on ‘Bostan’ Mac Cairbre, a merchant, Cf. page 40. (Page 36.)

    (xxiii) [Alexander MacDonald]. ‘Theith a nsgadan sa mbradan sa ntiasg’, 2 stanzas in Roman script. Stanzas 7 and 9 of “Òran a’ Gheamhraidh”. (Middle of page 37.)

    (xxiv) [Alexander MacDonald]. “Tarruing Sol rí na mplanaid sna nrell”, 8 stanzas of “Òran a’ Gheamhraidh” (written as quatrains) = stanzas 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5, and 10 of other editions + 1 additional stanza beginning ‘Tuitigh duillech gearr uaine na chraobh’ between stanzas 2 and 3. Cf. “Éigse”, volume 9, page 58. (Page 38.)

    (xxv) “Saoil mi bhith comfada ndéislaimh”, 19 quatrains. “Mr Mac Cairbre’s satir in retn to my Satyr”. Cf. page 36. (Middle of page 40.)

    (xxvi) “Failt ort Uilliam ghrinn mhic an Tóisigh sin”, 12½ quatrains. ‘Uiscebeatha’. (Middle of page 43.)

    (xxvii) ‘Truadh an sgeal, sin truad an scel’, 5 quatrains. On truth. Printed in Mackechnie and McGlynn, ‘The owl remembers’, page 40. (Middle of page 45.)

    (xxviii) Note of 9 (probably Kintyre) names, beginning John Gilliss. (Page 46.)

    (xxix) [Alexander MacDonald of Ardnabie]. ‘Duisg a cholan as do chadal’, 4 stanzas. Cf. MacDonald, ‘Comh-chruinneachidh Orranaigh Gaidhealach’ (Edinburgh, 1776), page 223. (Page 47.)

    (xxx) ‘Gur binn lem na sceala so’, 4 stanzas. Song of welcome to Prince Charles, 1745. (Page 48, line 5.)

    (xxxi) Blank. (Pages 49, 50.)

    (xxxii) ‘Guma hiomlan do ghaisgech’, 7 stanzas. In praise of one who had been valiant in the Stuart cause, described as the son of ‘Donall croda Mac Ben’. (Page 51.)

    (xxxiii) ‘Ceud contrachd ort a mifortuin’, 14 stanzas. On the hard times which have befallen the poet. (Page 52.)

    (xxxvi) ‘The Demensions of an harp’. Printed in “An Gàidheal”, volume 30, page 108. Under this is the note ‘Widow black who keeps a pinnery in Frances Street sells all kinds of harp wire’. (Page 54.)

    (xxxv) [Alexander MacDonald]. ‘Moch s me geirigh sa mhaduinn’, 24 stanzas. “Òran an t-Samhraidh”. Stanzas 17-21 and 24 are additional to those in published edition. (Page 55.)

    (xxxvi) “Edoil a d’fhearab an Achaidh”, 34 lines. ‘Tuiremh’. A lover’s lament. (Middle of page 58.)

    (xxxvii) “Mac Ui Mhaolchiarain mo ghrádh”, 10 quatrains. ‘Caoi Mhic Ui Maolciarain’. (Page 59, line 7.)

    (xxxviii) ‘Mile failte dhuitsi a chait’, 10 quatrains. ‘An Cat’. Elegy on a cat. (Page 61, line 6.)

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

    (xl) “Ta tighearna ‘s tír”, 6½ stanzas. On the accession of Alexander MacAllister of Loup, 1698. (Page 63.)

    ‘A’ ends with page 64.

    End B.

    (i) ‘Sud agaibh laoi na ncuig rann’, 16 quatrains. Religious. (Page 1.)

    (ii) “[Is] trom vs is tuirsech atá mi”, 3 stanzas. “Marbhna Maigistir Eóin Mhic Illeóin”. (?) On revisiting the ruined church of Killean, Kintyre, which collapsed in 1770, during the ministry succeeding that of the Reverend John MacLean (died 1743). (Middle of page 2.)

    (iii) Page 3 blank.

    (iv) Alphabet, written twice, upside-down. (Page 4.)

    (v) 160 proverbs, headed ‘Gnafhocaill Ghaoidheilge’. The first is “S fearr guth na mith, s fearr mith na míchomhairle”. (Page 5.)

    (vi) “O as eittrom s as aighrach a siublann sí”, 4½ stanzas. ‘Oran Connachtach’. On ‘Caitlion Ni Uillegan’. (Page 11.)

    (v) Blank. (Pages 12-18.)

    (vi) “S goirt a nuall s’ aig cuan Gaoidheal”, 5 stanzas. Elegy. (Page 19.)

    ‘B’ ends with page 20.

  • Bibliography

    The manuscript has been previously catalogued in: John Mackechnie, ‘Catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts in selected libraries in Great Britain and Ireland’ (Boston, 1973), page 245, and Donald Mackinnon, “Descriptive catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Scotland” (Edinburgh, 1912), pages 104-105, 176, 180, 192, 212-216.

    See also ‘Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness’, volume 16 (Inverness, 1889-1890), page 291.

    “An Gàidheal = The Gael: the official magazine of An Comunn Gaidhealach”, volume 30 (Glasgow, 1935).

    “Éigse”, volume 9 (Dublin, 1958-1961).

    Ó Baoill, Colm. “Bàrdachd Shìlis na Ceapaich”, in ‘Scottish Gaelic Text Society’, volume 13 (Edinburgh, 1972).

    Macdonald, A and A. ‘The Macdonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry’ (Inverness, 1911).

    MacDonald, Ronald. ‘Comh-chruinneachidh Orranaigh Gaidhealach’ (Edinburgh, 1776).

    Mackechnie, John and Patrick McGlynn, ‘The owl remembers’ (Stirling, 1933).

    ‘Reliquiae Celticae, texts papers and studies in Gaelic literature and philology left by the late Reverend Alexander Cameron, L.L.D.’, volume 2, ‘Poetry, History, and Philology’ (Inverness, 1894), edited by Alexander Macbain, and the Reverend John Kennedy.

    Watson, William J. “Bàrdachd Ghàidhlig = Specimens of Gaelic poetry: 1550-1900” (Glasgow, 1918).