PS 225 – The Old Men of the Shells

      Bodaich Dhubha nan Sligean

      Bodaich na Sligeachain

Primary Sources

D2 Bodaich na Sligachin bith Sinn a nis ga-faigail D2.3: 11
K1 Bodaich Dubh nan Sligean / Index: The Black Carles with the Shells K1.52: 117
JK Bodach dubh na Shligain JK.13: 34

Notes on Gaelic Titles

Bodaich Dhubha nan Sligean Bodaich Dubh nan Sligean K1; The Black Carles with the Shells K1 index; Bodach dubh na Shligain JK; Bodaich Dhubh na Sligean JKA. Following earlier written records no longer available, the Piobaireachd Society editors (PS Book 7, p. 209) interpreted sligean as scallop shells, used as drinking vessels.

Bodaich na Sligeachain Bodaich na Sligachin bith Sinn a nis ga-faigail D2. The Carles of Sligachan. Donald MacDonald gave no English and this translation is from C.S. Thomason 1900, apparently borrowing ‘carles’ from Angus MacKay (see PS 2). MacDonald localises the name to a battle at Sligachan in Skye ‘the carles of Sligachan are now running away’. He implies that Sligachan is feminine singular and takes the definite article, as do a number of other Gaelic placenames.

Roderick Cannon (2009)

Archive Recording

1960 John D. Burgess

Other Material

2004 William Donaldson’s Set Tunes Notes
2013 David Hester plays Donald MacDonald’s setting

One thought on “PS 225 – The Old Men of the Shells

  1. The Battle of Loch Sligachan is recorded in The History of Skye , Alex Nicholson (1930), as having been fought around 1495 and involving the clans MacKenzie and MacDonald. The name ‘Old Men of the Shells’ may be a partly forgotten version of Donald MacDonald’s name, as ‘Bodaich’ in the context of a battle usually refers to the defeated in a scornful tone. Loch Sligachan means Loch of Shells and is a fjord on the east coast of Skye.
    MacDonald’s version is interesting musically because, in the urlar, instead of the conventional two ‘hiharins’ in the later versions, he has the first one as a concluding touch to the first motif, and the second – using a slightly different rhythm, introduces the next motif, which ascends to E and then F before falling back.

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