PS 032 – Isabel MacKay

      A Mhuinntir a’ Chàil Chaoil thugaibh am bruach oirbh

      ’Chlann Dòmhnaill an Fhraoich

      Iseabail Nic Aoidh

Primary Sources

C1 Clann donail Raoich C1.31: 63
D2 A Mhuinntir a Chail Chaoil thugibh a’m bruach oirbh / Battle of Maolroy D2.45: 254
Dj The Battle of Millroy Dj.10: 9
Isabel Nich Kay G.16: 35
KB Iseabal Nic Aoidh / Isabel Mackay / Index: Isabella… KB.10: 26

Notes on Gaelic Titles

A Mhuinntir a’ Chàil Chaoil, thugaibh am bruach oirbh A Mhuinntir a Chail Chaoil thugibh a’m bruach oirbh D1. C.S. Thomason wrote thugadh in his first edition (1900, index, p. xi), but thugaibh in his revised edition ([1905], index, p. xi). Donald MacDonald says ‘literally You of the Long Kail, down the Brae with You’ and he says further that the tune was ‘played at the Battle of Maol-roy when the Macintoshes ran away, as did the Fraser’s also, Maol-roy or Mil-roy, is near Inverness, where a desperate battle was fought, the circumstances of which, are known to almost every Highlander’ (D2 notes, p. 8). The Gaelic name Blàr na Maoile Ruaidhe is known, albeit attached to a different tune (PS 75). Since Donald MacDonald connects the slogan with the name of a battle, this suggests that he knew of some tradition linking the two, and perhaps that Muinntir a’ Chàil Choil was an epithet derived from the story – like Bodaich nam Briogais (PS 2). For song texts, see A.M. MacDonald, The relationship between pibroch and Gaelic song: its implications on the performance style of the pibroch ùrlar. MLitt Thesis, Edinburgh University (1995), pp. 235–236.

’Chlann Dòmhnaill an Fhraoich Clann donail Raoich C1. Clan Donald of the heather. The apostrophe is placed here before the first word because a more expanded version would be A Chlann…. Words beginning ’Chlann Dòmhnaill an fhraoich… and continuing Thugaibh am bruthaich dhiù… muinntir a’ chàil… are printed, without tune, in A. MacKenzie 1896, p. 90, and  K.N. MacDonald, Puirt-a-Beul, Glasgow (1911), p. 44.

Iseabail Nic Aoidh jsobail ni Caoidh / The Stewarts march Dow; Isabel Nich Kay G; Iseabal Nic Aoidh / Isabel Mackay KB; IsabellaKB index. Isabel MacKay. Gesto and MacKay give this title to PS 32. Dow, however, gives it to The Prince’s Salute (PS 173) which explains Dow’s second title – Fàilte a’ Phrionnsa was evidently, as it still is, the air for Rob Donn’s song Iseabail Nic AoidhThe words are set to the tune in A. Gunn and M. Mac Pharlain, Orain agus Dain le Rob Donn MacAoidh, Iain MacAoidh, Glasgow (1899), p. 88. As the song describes a single girl, Ian Grimble dates it to ‘sometime between the winter of 1745 and 1747 when Isabel married’. I. Grimble, The World of Rob Donn (1979, rev. 1999), pp. 37 and 89.

Roderick Cannon (2009), rev. Barnaby Brown 2015

Other Material

2005 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

2 thoughts on “PS 032 – Isabel MacKay

  1. Here is an account of the Battle from notes accompanying ‘The Grameid’ bk IV, 127:

    Keppoch — called sometimes Colonel Macdonald — to whom Claverhouse
    gave the name of * Colonel of the Cows,’ because * he found them out when
    they were driven to the hills out of the way.’ He has a very distinct personality
    among the Highlanders of the time.

    I presume he is Ranald, son of the Archibald Macdonald of Keppoch for
    whom, with twelve others of his name, ^neas, Lord Macdonald of Aros, is
    required to find caution * that they shall commit no murder, deforcement of
    messengers, reiff theifts, receipt of theifts, depredations, open and avowed fire-
    raisings, and deidly feids, and any other deids contrar to the Acts of Parlia-
    ment.’ — Act of Privy Council, 1 8th July 1672. Ranald himself appears as the
    victor in the battle of Mulroy, when he defeated a strong body of the Mac-
    intoshes, taking their chief prisoner. The quarrel was an old one, and based
    on a somewhat interesting question of tenure. The Macdonalds had held long
    possession of the lands of Keppoch without title. The Macintosh had received
    a grant of the property from James iv. under royal charter, as well as under an
    old charter from the Lords of the Isles, and the Macdonalds became thus tenants
    of the Macintosh. From time to time, as they were compelled by circum-
    stances, they made some trifling payments, but the Macintosh of this time
    determined that they should be tenants in fact as well as in name, and with a
    thousand men, supported by a company of royal troops under Captain Mackenzie
    of Sudry, marched into the Keppoch country, where they found no enemy.
    The Macdonalds, however, soon appeared, strengthened by the Martins of
    Letterfinlay and other Camerons, as well as Macdonalds of Glencoe and Glen-
    garry, and utterly routed the Macintoshes. The life of the Macintosh was only
    saved through the generous action of Macpherson of Cluny, who brought his
    force to rescue his old enemy because he belonged to the Clan Chattan.

  2. This conflict was in 1688 and was the last inter-clan battle; it happened because ‘Clan Donald of the Heather’ (The MacDonalds of Glengarry) refused to pay rent to MacIntosh, who had obtained a charter to the land they had long inhabited, and so he borrowed some government troops to augment his own, and marched down through the Badenoch and pat Loch Laggan to evict them. But they repulsed his army and captured him. The tune is a gloating and triumphant tour-de-force, if seen in this light.

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