Simon Chadwick - Old Gaelic Laments

Track 4: Òran do Iain Breac MacLeod


 A song to Iain MacLeod of Dunvegan, by Ruaidhri Dall Mac Mhuirich (c.1656-c.1714), also known as Rory Dall Morrison, An Clarsair Dall (the Blind Harper). This poem by Rory Dall is included in William Matheson’s book, The Blind Harper, which is a really good comprehennsive biography of Rory Dall Morrison and an excellent scholarly edition and translation of all his poems. I was amazed to find not one but two different versions of this song continued in the oral tradition through to the 20th century. This setting is a more unusual one, with a tune that is close to the English folk song I know as "Dives and Lazarus". I find its minor and modal feel to perfectly suit the lamenting theme of the song. It is kind of half in joke though, because the cause of all this sadness and angst is that Iain is away in Edinburgh “amongst the foreigners”.

  Here are some links to archive recordings of this song, recorded in the 1950s from old tradition bearers:
Margaret Ross sings Oran do Iain Breac Mac Leòid in a field recording from 1953
Calum Johnston sings Oran do Iain Breac Mac Leòid in a field recording from 1953. This is the version I have based mine on.



© Simon Chadwick 2012 -