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Loch Maree and Beinn Airigh Charr viewed from Slattadale, Wester Ross by Gordon C. Harrison

Songs of Wester Ross

Loch Maree

Loch Maree

Give to me a rifle and set me on the trail
High hills before me, the early sunshine pale
Rising o`er the maiden and reflecting on Firemore
High on the hillside the royal rivals roar.

Show me Airigh `n Eilean, below me Loch Maree,
Leave me to my solitude and let me wander free
To climb the rocky mountains and search the glen below
For a fine ten pointer or a royal `o`.

Take me where the falcon and the wild eagle soar
One mile north from the bothy at Carnmore.
On lofty Beinn a Chaisgein I will stalk the royal stag
And thrill to the call of the wild grey lag.
Over heather moorland a wandering I will go
Slioch in the distance beneath a vale of snow
Forever standing guard over bonny Loch Maree
Home of the wild deer so beautiful and free.

Take me where I faintly see the distant Isle of Lewis
Show me all this world and there`s one place I would choose
To represent the beauty of my homeland fair
The Loch Maree islands from the heights of Ardlair.

When the light is fading and the day is wearing through
You`ll find me heading west to the village of Poolewe
Farewell to bonny Kernsary my wandering footsteps guide
Through the pale woods of Inveran by the riverside. 


It`s the blue mountains that are pulling me away
On the road that leads to youthful memory
By the corries and the glens, the rivers and the burns
By Lochluichart, Achnasheen and Loch Maree.

Sure the heather on the hills and the rowans in the glens
And the wild cry of the seabirds by the tide
Make me wish that all the world was as happy and as free
As that little bit of land called Riverside. 
There`s a wee place that nestles closely to my heart
Where the river joins Loch Ewe to Loch Maree
Where the eagle soars aloft and the wild deer roam the hills
And the air is scented sweetly by the sea.

Sure by Kinlochewe and Slattadale and Gairloch I will go
My heart is light, my joy I cannot hide.
But if you`re thinking in your inner heart it`s needless to be glad
Then you`ve never been to bonnie Riverside. 

By The Shores of Loch Ewe
By The Shores of Loch Ewe

By the shores of Loch Ewe let me wander and roam
Beside my own dear ones, my croft and my home
In my own native country where friends are so true
How peaceful to walk by the shores of Loch Ewe.

From the still of the morning at break of the day
Till the sun goes to rest with its glorious display
There nature presents her marvellous view
Each day and each night by the shores of Loch Ewe.

By the shores of Loch Ewe let me wander and roam
Beside my own dear ones my croft and my home
In my own native country where friends are so true
How peaceful to walk by the shores of Loch Ewe.

Poaching Days
Poaching Days

I remember poaching days in the hills of Kernsary
Walking tall where the shadows fall and the deer run far and free
Going away on a winter`s day and leaving cares behind
Going where the bold ones dare to poach a mountain hind.

Hand me down my walking stick, my telescope and my gun
I`ll be away on a newborn day in the rays of the rising sun
I`ll be gone where the lure is strong and there`s something calling me
Back again where the shadows are playing in the hills of Kernsary. 
Poaching man, the wild life in the hills before our time
No man owns what freely roams behind the far skyline
So sling your gun to the morning sun and leave your cares behind
Sons of Loch Ewe it`s up to you to poach your mountain hind.

Hand me riches and pour me wine and I might shake your hand
But I`d prefer to wander there in the hills of my home land
So guide my steps to the mountain ridge where the cold and wild wind blow
Oh, let me be where my eyes can see the deer herds far below.

One whisky is all right; two is too much; three is too few.
Highland saying

There are two rules for drinking whisky.
First, never take whisky without water, and second, never take water without whisky.

Chic Murray (1919-1985)

Mac-Na-Bracha (The Son Of Malt)
An Ode To Whisky - by William Ross

Ge b' e dhi-mol thu le theangaidh, Whoever with his tongue miscalled thee,
B'olc an aithne bha 'na cheann, Had the wrong notion in his head.
Mur tig thu fhathast 'na charaibh, If yet by thee he'll not enthralled be,
G'um beil mho bharail-sa meallt'. In my opinion I'm misled.
(Luinneag) (Chorus)
'S toigh linn drama, lion a' ghlaine, The dram's for us. Fill up the glass,
Cuir an t-searrag sin a nall; And the bottle pass about.
Mac-na-brach' an gille gasda, The Son of Malt – lad without fault,
Cha bu rapairean a chlann. His clan are no rabble rout.
Na'm b' e duine dha nach b' eol thu, Were it one that never knew thee
Dheanadh foirneart ort le cainnt, That did thee violence with spite,
Cha bhitheamaid fein 'ga leanmhuinn, We ourselves would not pursue him,
Choinn 's gu'm biodh do shealbh air gann. For thy hold on him were slight.
Ach fear a bha greis 'nad chomunn, But one that was a while thy fellow,
Cha b' e chomain-s' a bh' ann His no obligation was
Bhi cur mi-chliu air do nadur, To defame thy nature mellow.
Gur ann dha-sa bhios a chall. On himself will fall his loss.
Ciamar a dheanamaid banais? How could we complete a wedding?
Cumhnanta, no ceangal teann? Tighten bond? Or convenant e'en?
Mur bi dram againn do'n Chleiraeach, If we'd no drammy for the cleric,
Bu leibeideach feum a pheannn. He'd be useless with his pen.
Tha luchd crabhaidh dha do dhiteadh, The unco guid cry out upon thee,
Le cul-chainnt a's briodal feall; With backchat and foolish chatter.
Ged nach aidich iad le 'm beoil thu, But with their lips, though they disown thee,
Olaidh iad thu mar an t-allt. They drink thee like spring-water.
'N uair thug e ruaig air feadh na h-Alba, When he made his Tour through Scotland,
'S air feadh nan garbh-chrioch ud thall, Through yon Rough Bounds behind,
Dh'fhag mac-na-brach' e gun lide The Son of Malt – it left him helpless,
'Na amadan liodach, dall! An idiot – stuttering, blind.
Gu'm b'ait leam fein, fhir mo chridhe, I'd aye be glad, my darling lad,
Bhi mar ri d' bhuidheann 's gach am, Thy ranks to take my chance in.
'S tric a bha sinn ar dithis, Since oft we've been, the twa of us,
Gun phiob, gun fhideil, a' danns. Unpiped, unfiddled: yet dancing.

William Ross was born in Skye in 1762. At the age of 24 he was appointed as the parish schoolmaster in Gairloch where he was living with his family. He was a popular figure in the area, renowned for being a good teacher as well as a fine singer, musician and poet.

For info on the Gaelic language, we recommend and the Edinburgh University Gaelic introduction.

I have heard them sing,
like a heart broken child deserted by its father...

And the rising words are unknown to me, but all
is half known, like a childhood story dimly remembered.

I have heard them sing
and so now I can believe that if there ever was an Eden
they must have spoken Gaelic there.
William Hershaw (1957-) `On Hearing the Psalms Sung in Gaelic`

For a comprehensive guide to Gaelic, the pocket sized Gaelic Phrasebook is invaluable, and also A Scots-English Dictionary for help with those unfamiliar words, still in use on the East Coast!