Alastair mac Mhaigstir
and his involvement with the Journal

Tim Roberton & Ronnie Black


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A chance visit to a London gallery by Tim Roberton of the Moidart Local History Group led to the identification of a precious Jacobite
manuscript as the work of the leading Gaelic poet Alexander MacDonald (c. 1698-1770). An account of the '45, written in English, it belongs to the
Drambuie Collection, part of which is now on show at the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

Ronnie Black's Lecture to the Moidart Local History Group
A lecture was given by Ronald Black to members of the Moidart Local History Group on Monday 13 November 2006. He is a well known academic, formerly a lecturer in Celtic in Glasgow and Edinburgh universities and is current Gaelic Editor of The Scotsman. In addition to numerous academic articles he is author or editor of: Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair: The Ardnamurchan Years, An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse, An Lasair: Anthology of 18th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse, Eilein na h-Oige: The Poems of Fr Allan McDonald and The Gaelic Otherworld.

A copy of the lecture (in Adobe Acrobat format, 18mb) is available by clicking here.

Gaelic

 

English

Cunntas luachmhor eachdraidheil aig prìomh bhàrd Gàidhlig air a lorg
Alasdair H Caimbeul Prìomh Aithrisear Gàidhlig

The Scotsman 30 Dec 2006

THA i a' toirt iomradh air an là a thàinig am Prionnsa Teàrlach Eideard
Stiùbhart gu tìr an Alba. Tha i a' toirt sealladh pearsanta iongantach air
ar-a-mach nan Seumasach suas gu Latha Chùil Lodair fhèin. Tha i nas prìseile
ann an dòigh na obair-ealain sam bith bhon linn sin. Ach fad 190 bliadhna
cha robh fios aig sgoilearan gun robh an làmh-sgrìobhainn luachmhor seo
fhathast ann am bith, ged a chaidh i 'na pàirt de Chruinneachadh Drambuie, a
tha ri fhaicinn a-nis ann an taisbeanadh ann an Dùn Èideann.

Chaidh lethbhreac de leabhar-latha le "Oifigear Gaidhealach ann an arm a'
Phrionnsa" fhoillseachadh ann an 1817 anns na Lockhart Papers. Bha e on uair
sin air aon de na prìomh theacsaichean do sgoilearan eachdraidh na
h-ar-a-mach. Ge-tà, bha sgoilearan riamh air tòir na làmh-sgrìobhainn
tùsail, agus an-uiridh leag dithis duine sùil air làmh-sgrìobhainn anns a'
chruinneachadh aig Drambuie, a bha ga thaisbeanadh ann an Gailearaidh
Fleming ann an Lunnainn, 's bha aon dhiubh an amharas gur e an aon
leabhar-latha a nochd am measg phàipearan Lockhart. Tha Tim Roberton o
Chomann Eachdraidh Mhùideirt a' mìneachadh: "Bha mi fhèin 's mo bhean a'
tadhal air a' Ghailearaidh. Chunna mi an leabhar-latha seo agus leum na
faclan 'Ceann Loch Mùideart' a-mach ás an duilleig - tha taigh againn an-sin
anns am bi sinn a' fuireach bho àm gu àm.

"As dèidh dhomh faighneachd dhen duine a bha a' coimhead as dèidh
Cruinneachadh Drambuie, fhuair mi a-mach gun robh fear air an robh Stuart
Kendall a' faighneachd mun aon leabhar 's gun robh esan air dealbhan a
thogail de gach duilleig dheth. Bhruidhinn sinn ri chèile agus dh'aontaich
sinn gun toireadh muinntir a' chomainn sùil air na duilleagan 's gun
dèanamaid coimeas eadar an làmh-sgrìobhainn aig Drambuie agus an
leabhar-latha mar a nochd e anns na Lockhart Papers.

"Fhuair sinn gun robh eadar-dhealachaidhean beaga an-siud 's an-seo, mar
litreachadh, no rudan beaga a dhìth, ach gun robh 'n dà sgrìobhainn cho
coltach ri chèile 's gun robh sinn cha mhòr cinnteach gur e an
làmh-sgrìobhainn tùsail de leabhar-latha Lockhart a bh' ann."

A rèir coltais cheannaich an companaidh Drambuie e ann an 1993 an uair a
chaidh stuth bho Chaisteal Fingask a reic aig rup. Sann leis na Threiplands
a tha an caisteal. Tha làrach-lìn a' chomainn eachdraidh a' mìneachadh: "Tha
e air a chlàradh gun tàinig na Threiplands an toiseach gu Fingask aig
deireadh na 16mh linn. Dà linn as dèidh sin, cheumnaich an Dotair Stuart
Threipland bho Roinn Eòlas-Leighis Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann ann an 1742. Chaill
athair - Sir David Threipland - an oighreachd aige, Fingask, as dèidh na
h-ar-a-mach ann an 1715 ... agus mar sin cha b'e cùis iongnaidh a bh' ann
gun deach an Dotair Stuart Threipland 'na chomhairliche-leighis dhan
Phrionnsa ann an 1745. Bha e còmhla ris a' Phrionnsa eadar Derby 's Cùil
Lodair agus an uair sin chaidh e am falach mus do theich e dhan Fhraing."

Bha ceangal làidir cuideachd aig na Lockharts, aig an robh na pàipearan, ri
iomairt a' Phrionnsa. Bha Seòras Lockhart ann an arm a' Phrionnsa mar
aide-de-camp, 's bha Anthony Aufrere, a dh'fhoillsich na Lockhart Papers,
pòst' aig boireannach aig an robh dlùth chàirdeas do Sheòras.

Tha sgoilearan air a bhith dhen bheachd air son iomadh bliadhna gur e am
bàrd ainmeil Alastair mac Mhaighstir Alastair a sgrìobh na nochd sna
Lockhart Papers. A rèir Raghnaill MhicilleDhuibh se làmh-sgrìobhainn air
leth inntinneach agus prìseil a th' ann. "Chan eil an teagamh as lugha
agamsa nach e mac Mhgr Alastair a sgrìobh an leabhar tha seo. Tha
luchd-eòlais mar Iain Latharna Caimbeul aonaichte mu dheidhinn sin o chuir
Compton MacCoinnich a chorrag air a' chùis ann an 1932. Bha fios againn bho
na Lockhart Papers gun deach sgrìobhadair an leabhair 'na fhear-teagaisg
Gàidhlig dhan Phrionnsa 's bha seo coltach ris a' bhàrd oir bha e 'na
mhaighstir-sgoile agus sgrìobh e an aon fhaclair Gàidhlig a bha ri fhaotainn
aig an àm.

"Seo a-nis an dearbhadh cinnteach gur e am bàrd a sgrìobh e. Tha sinn eòlach
air an làimh aige bho iomadh litir agus receipt ris na chuir e ainm, agus
seo i! Chan e sin a-mhàin, ach anns an dara loidhne mu dheireadh den chiad
duilleig chì sinn 'my Brother' ri taobh 'Æneas Macdonald of Dalely'. Cha do
nochd 'my Brother' sna Lockhart Papers oir chaidh a dhubhadh ás. Nist, cha
robh aig Aonghas Beag, Fear Dhail Eilghe, ach dà bhràthair - Alastair am
bàrd, agus Lachlann aig an robh taca Dhrèamasdail ann an Uibhist a-Deas. Tha
sin a' toirt na roghainn a-nuas gu dithist!

"Tha mi uabhasach toilichte mu dheidhinn na thachair oir anns na 70an thug
mi greis a' siubhal an leabhair seo ann an Oxford agus àiteachan eile. Bha
mi air mo dhòchas a chall. A-nise gabhaidh eachdraidh beatha a' bhàird a
sgrìobhadh gu ceart."

Tha ceist no dhà ri fhreagairt fhathast, a rèir Mhgr Roberton. Ciamar a
fhuair na Threiplands greim air an làmh-sgrìobhainn? Dè cho fad 's a bha i
aig na Lockharts a rinn lethbhreac dhith? Ciamar a fhuair iad an leabhar on
ùghdar?

Tha dà rud cinnteach ge-tà. Tha leabhar-là cho cudromach ri làmh-sgrìobhainn
sam bith o linn Bliadhna Theàrlaich air a bhith sa Chruinneachadh aig
Drambuie gun fhiosd dhaib' fhèin fad iomadh bliadhna - 's gu fortanach a-nis
tha e aithnichte mar chunntas a sgrìobh Alastair Mac Mhaighstir Alastair.

Tha pàirt dhen chruinneachadh aig Drambuie ri fhaicinn ann an Gailearaidh
Nàiseanta nan Dealbhan Daoine ann an Dùn Èideann. A rèir neach-labhairt on
Ghailearaidh chan eil an làmh-sgrìobhainn am measg nan glainneachan fìnealta
's nan dealbhan grinn a tha iad a' taisbeanadh an-dràsta, ach thuirt e gu
robh iad an dòchas barrachd dhen chruinneachadh a shealltainn an uair a
bhios crìoch air a cur air obair-leasachaidh a thèid a dhèanamh air a'
Ghailearaidh ann an ùine nach bi fada.

Ma sibh ag iarraidh an còrr fhaicinn agus barrachd a leughadh mu obair
Chomann Eachdraidh Mùideart, thoiribh sùil air www.moidart.org.uk.

 

Valuable historical account by leading Gaelic poet found
Alasdair H Campbell Chief Gaelic Reporter

The Scotsman 30 Dec 2006

It tells of the day Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland.
It presents a remarkable personal view of the Jacobite rebellion up
to the Battle of Culloden itself. It is more precious in a way than
any work of art from that period. But for 190 years scholars were
unaware that this valuable manuscript still existed, although it
became part of the Drambuie Collection, which is now to be seen in an
exhibition in Edinburgh.

A copy of a journal by "A Highland officer in the Prince's army" was
published in 1817 in the 'Lockhart Papers'. Since then it has been
one of the principal texts for scholars of the history of the
rebellion. However, scholars have always been in pursuit of the
original manuscript, and last year two individuals spotted a
manuscript in the Drambuie collection, which was being exhibited in
the Fleming Gallery in London, and one of them suspected that it was
the same journal that had appeared amongst the Lockhart papers. Tim
Roberton of the Moidart Local History Group explains: "My wife and I
were visiting the Gallery. I saw this journal and the word
'Kinlochmoidart' leapt out of the page - we have a house there where
we stay from time to time.

"On asking the curator of the Drambuie Collection, I found out that a
man called Stuart Kendall had been asking about the same book and
that he had taken photographs of every page of it. We spoke to each
other and agreed that the members of the group should look at the
leaves and that we should carry out a comparison between the Drambuie
manuscript and the journal as it appeared in the 'Lockhart Papers'.

"We found that there were small differences here and there, such as
spelling, or little things missing, but that the two accounts were so
similar to each other that we were virtually certain that it was the
original manuscript of the Lockhart journal."

It seems that the Drambuie company purchased it in 1993 when material
from Fingask Castle was sold by auction. The castle belongs to the
Threipland family. The history group's website explains: "It is
recorded that the Threiplands first came to Fingask at the end of the
16th century. Two centuries later, Dr Stuart Threipland graduated
from the Medical Department of Edinburgh University in 1742. His
father - Sir David Threipland - lost his estate, Fingask, after the
rebellion in 1715 . . . and therefore it was no surprise that Dr
Stuart Threipland became a medical adviser to the Prince in 1745. He
was with the Prince between Derby and Culloden and then went into
hiding before fleeing to France."

The Lockharts, who had possession of the papers, also had a strong
connection with the Prince's enterprise. George Lockhart was in the
Prince's army as an aide-de-camp,and Anthony Aufrere, who published
the Lockhart Papers, was married to a woman who was closely related
to George.

Scholars have believed for many years that it was the celebrated poet
Alexander MacDonald who wrote what appeared in the 'Lockhart Papers'.
According to Ronald Black it is an extremely interesting and precious
manuscript. "I don't have the slightest doubt but that MacDonald
wrote this book. Specialists like John Lorne Campbell have been
united about that since Compton MacKenzie put his finger on the
matter in 1932. We knew from the 'Lockhart Papers' that the writer of
the book became the Prince's Gaelic tutor and this was like the poet
because he was a schoolmaster and had written the only Gaelic
dictionary that was available at the time.

"Here now is positive proof that it's the poet who wrote it. We know
his hand from many letters and receipts that he signed, and this is
it! Not only that,but in the second-last line of the first page we
see 'my Brother' beside 'Æneas Macdonald of Dalely'. 'My Brother'
didn't appear in the "Lockhart Papers" because it had been scored
through. Now, Aonghas Beag, the Tacksman of Dalilea, only had two
brothers - Alexander the poet, and Lachlan who had the tack of
Dremisdale in South Uist. That brings the choice down to two!

"I'm delighted about what has happened because in the 70s I spent a
while searching for this book in Oxford and other places. I had lost
hope. Now the poet's biography can be properly written."

One or two questions remain to be answered, according to Mr Roberton.
How did the Threiplands get hold of the manuscript? How long did the
Lockharts who copied it have it in their possession? How did they get
the book from the author?

Two things are certain however. A journal as important as any
manuscript from the period of the '45 has been in the Drambuie
Collection unknown to themselves for many years - and fortunately it
is now recognised as an account written by Alexander MacDonald.

Part of the Drambuie collection is to be seen in the National
Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. According to a spokesperson for the
Gallery the manuscript is not amongst the delicate glasses and
splendid pictures currently on exhibition, but he said that they
hoped to show more of the collection when development work that is to
be carried out shortly in the Gallery is finished.

If you want to see more and find out more about the work of the
Moidart Local History Group, look at www.moidart.org.uk.


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