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Litir bho Iain MacGill​ì​osa á New Zealand

from K​ō​terana by Iain Fraser

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about

John Gillies, originally from Skye, emigrated in 1857. This song, sung by Calum Alex Macmillan, is a setting of his poem written in Otago and sent back to Scotland. Many thanks to Dani Pickering for sending me the poem.

lyrics

Nuair dh’fhàg mi Albainn thuathach
Le cabhlach luath nan crannagan
Chaidh sinn tre theas is fuachd
A bha uamhasach ri tachairt orr'
’S ge b’ iomadh tonn a bhuail sinn,
A bhagair falach cuain oirnn,
Thug Dia na throcair bhuan sinn
A-steach on chuan don chala seo.

Gur mòr an t-adhbhar smaointinn
Na daoine caomh bha maille rium,
Bha uasal, fialaidh, faoilidh,
Gur gann tha aon ra fhàgail dhiubh;
Chaidh iomadh aon gu bàs dhiubh,
Is sgapadh cuid ’s gach ceàrn dhiubh,
’S na tallachan bha blàth ac’
Tha ‘n-diugh nan làraich fhalamh iad.


Tha sinn am port Dhùn Éidinn,
’N Otago ann an acarsaid,
Is chì mi sealladh ceutach,
Air coill’ is slèibh is gleannanaibh;
Is ged nach faic mi sràidean
Le caisteil, is stìopaill àrda,
Tha coill’ is tìr fo bhlàth ann
’Am bheachd-s’ an àill’ toirt barrachd orr'.

Thoir soraidh uam san uair seo
Gu Albainn thuath nam breacanan –
Gu bràithrean ’s càirdean suairce
Rin robh e cruaidh leam dealachadh;
’S ge mór an t-astar cuain
A ta eadrainn air an uair seo,
Mo cheangal riu chan fhuasgail
Gus ’m bris an uaigh na bannaibh ud

When I left northerly Scotland
With the swift fleet of the masts
We went through heat and cold
That was terrible to encounter
And although many waves beat on us
That threatened to hide us under the seas
God in his mercy saved us
From the ocean to this harbour.

It is a cause for contemplation,
That the kind people who had lived with me
Who were noble, generous, and hospitable:
Hardly one of them is left behind (on the land);
Many of them have died
And some of them have been scattered to every corner,
And the halls that they had kept warm
Are today empty ruins.

We are in Port Dunedin
In Otago in a harbour
And I see a lovely sight
Of forest and mountain and wee glens;
And although I cannot see streets
With a castle and high steeples
There is a blooming forest and landscape
That excels it in beauty, in my opinion.

Take my greetings at this time
To northernly Scotland of the tartans –
To beloved brothers and kin
With whom parting was difficult;
Although the ocean’s distance
Between us is great at this time,
My connection to them cannot be undone
Until the grave breaks the bonds

credits

from K​ō​terana, released April 14, 2023

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Iain Fraser Scotland, UK

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Iain Fraser & Donald Knox
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Iain Fraser is fascinated by the fiddle’s rhythmic and emotional capabilities and draws his material from 18th Century Scottish tunes to new self-penned compositions and from the multiple regional music styles of the British Isles to those of North America and Europe.
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