Isle of Lewis Gaelic songs Donald A Matheson

CD Gaelic Traditional Songs of the Islands by Donald Angus Matheson from Barvas, Isle of Lewis is a 15 track treasure chest of unaccompanied songs of pure quality Westside Gaelic. 

Dòmhnall Angaidh Matheson has a store of original material in his unmistakable big voice. The genre of the songs in this collection harks back to those songs sung in homes in villages in the Isle of Lewis until the 1970s. 

Rating the local Westside bards amongst the best, Dòmhnall Angaidh has remained true to his dualchas with the majority of song writers on the CD being from the Westside. 

Oidhche Banais Mairi’s Dòmhnall by Norman Finlayson Brue paints a vivid picture of a banais taighe and the effects of the celebratory cask “Gun cuimhne againn an còmhnaidh cò an ceann bu choir bhith an arda”. National news and local affairs exhausted, his friend advised him “Lean mise s gu faigh mi bràmar dhut, a chumas blath thu an còmhnaidh” Climbing stone dykes to distant pipe music they arrived at the bràmar’s house:

Thòisich mi ri còmhradh rithe ‘s mi an dòchas gum biodh feum ann.

Mi ag innse dhith cho glic ’s a bha mi, ‘s nach bithinn tric ri ceilidh,

Nach bithinn a miugh anmoch, ‘s nach robh mi falbh le t-eile.

Wending his way home following the night of revelry he was surprised to find the midday sun overhead “Cha robh fhiosam an e Latha Dròbh no Fèill a bh’ann, no an duigh, no an dè, no màireach.

Dòmhnall Angaidh has many fans among the Leòdhsaich abroad and his rendition of the words of An Dachaigh Fàs by Murdo Morrison, Shader,will bring a tear to many coming home for the New Year.

Nach toileach mi gluast’ bho fhuair mi cothrom na slàinte,

Mi nise toirt cuairt thar chuan gu dachaigh mo ghràidh,

Far na dh’ fhag mi an t-sluagh bhon fhuair mi fasgadh ’s blaths,

Aig deas no aig tuath cha d’fhuair mi comann na b’fheàrr.

Although written a long time ago the sentiments still relate to homecoming in 2012. This collection also has cianalas for days and friends gone by in Margaret Curly MacDonald’s Mullach Thaboist

Nuair a chuimhnicheas mise air a’ bhaile,

‘S air na taighean an diugh falamh, ‘s bha làn,

‘S na companaich àlainn a bha againn,

‘S iad gun sgeul orra an diugh aig a’ bhàs.

The faith which underpins this community is in Catriona Campbell’s O se Iosa Fear mo Ghràidh. Cuimhneachan is a  community milestones recorded by the village bard Norman MacLeod Shader.

Air feasgar fuar An Shamhainn. chaidh sluagh nam bailtean thoirt cruinn,

Cha b’ann gu cuirm, neo gu ceolraidh, òrain no seinn,

Ach a cuimhneachadh sùinn, a chaidh thairis air sàl,

S nach do thill gu beòlais, ach a thuit anns na blàr.

The day of dedication of the Westside War Memorial described by the bard will be commemorated. Respect for all those who served, is the reason the singer learned the song. The track serves to remind us, about the Island men serving at the front now in 2012.

Meanwhile lyrics from Willie (Teddy) Campbell’s Eilean m’àraich. “ Tha cuan a’ lionadh s tha cuan a’ trathadh. Sin mar a tha e, bho laithean cian”. A reminder that some things don’t change.

One gem in particular on this CD are the traditional words which emulated the pipe tune which is better known in Gaidhlig as Geol’ Iain Tharmoid. The Westside version is hilarious:

Cha robh daoine bha as a’ bhaile, ach duine a bha às a chiall, ann an Geol’ Iain Tharmoid

Bha na deargadan, uidhir ri na geoithe, ann an Geol’Iain Tharmoid.

Dòmhnall Angaidh is one of the few singers maintaining the Lewis traditional style and his CD Traditional Songs of The Islands is a joy to listen to.


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