Comann Eachdraichd Uig

Donald Maciver and An Ataireachd Àrd

Donald MaciverDonald Maciver was born in Crowlista in 1857, son of John Maciver, the Gaelic schoolmaster and missionary, and they lived in Ness and then South Lochs.  Donald also became a teacher, at Lemreway (see the school log), Breasclete and latterly Bayble.

The family had come from Carnish, just across the sands, which had been cleared in the early 1850s.  Donald would spend a lot of time in Crowlista with his maiden aunts, Mary, Ann and Effie, who were very enterprising.  Effie used to take a passage to Glasgow, with tweeds and eggs to trade for goods which she sold on her return to Uig.

Donald composed An Ataireach Àrd when he was visiting in Uig accompanied by his uncle Dòmhnall Bàn Crosd, who had had left Carnish in 1851 for Canada.  While they were walking around Carnish, long cleared of all inhabitants, the uncle remarked, “Chan eil nìth an seo man a bha e, ach ataireachd na mara.”

On being asked later about his inspiration, Donald said, “An Ataireachd Bhuan, or the everlasting blustering of the sea on the sands of Uig.  Hero, Donald Ban, an uncle on a visit from Canada.  Scene, Carnish Bay, which he left in 1851.  This finest pugilist in the Island of Lewis in his day shed tears this Sunday afternoon in Carnish.”  The song won first prize in the 1908 Mod.

An ataireachd bhuan,
Cluinn fuaim na h-ataireachd àrd,
Tha torann a’ chuain
Mar chualas leam-s’ e nam phàist,
Gun mhùthadh gun truas
A’ sluaisreadh gainneimh na tràghad
An ataireachd bhuan,
Cluinn fuaim na h-ataireachd àrd.

Gach làd le a stuadh,
Cho luaisgeach, faramach, bàn
Na chabhaig gu cruaidh
‘S e gruamach, dosrach, gun sgàth,
Ach strìochdaidh a luaths
Aig bruaich na h-uidhe bh’ aig càch,
Mar chaochail an sluagh
Bha uair sa bhaile-sa tàmh.

Sna coilltean a siar
Chan iarrainn fuireach gu bràth,
Bha m’ inntinn ‘s mo mhiann
A-riamh air lagan a’ bhàigh.
Ach iadsan bha fial
An gnìomh, an caidreamh, ‘s an àgh
Air sgapadh gun dìon,
Mar thriallas ealtainn ro nàmh.

Seileach is luachair,
Cluaran, muran is stàrr
Air tachdadh nam fuaran
‘N d’ fhuair mi iomadh deoch-phàit;
Na tobhtaichean fuar’
Le bualan, ‘s cuiseag gum bàrr,
‘S an deanntagach ruadh
Fàs suas sa chagailt bha blàth.

Ach chunnaic mis’ uair
‘M bu chuannar beathail an t-àit’,
Le òigridh gun ghruaim
Bha uasal modhail nan càil,
Le màthraichean suairc
Làn uaill nan companaich gràidh,
Le caoraich is buar
Air ghluasad moch madainn nan tràth.

Ag amharc mun cuairt,
Cha dual dhomh gun a bhith ‘m pràmh:
Chan fhaic mi an tuath
Dem b’ shuaicheant’ carthannas tlàth –
Nam fògarraich thruagh,
Chaidh ‘m fuadach thairis air sàl,
‘S cha chluinn iad gu buan
Mòr-fhuaim na h-ataireachd àird.

Fir-sgiùrsaidh an t-sluaigh,
Cha bhuan iad bharrachd air càch:
Bu chridheil an uaill
Gar ruagadh mach gun chion fàth,
Ach sannt agus cruas,
An duais tha aca mu thràth –
Mòr-dhiomb’ is droch luaidh
An uaigh le mallachd nan àl.

Ach siùbhlaidh mi uat;
Cha ghluais mi tuilleadh nad dhàil;
Tha m’ aois is mo shnuadh
Toirt luaidh air giorrad mo là,
An àm dhomh bhith suaint’
Am fuachd ‘s an cadal a’ bhàis
Mo leabaidh dèan suas
Ri fuaim na h-ataireachd àrd

4 thoughts on “Donald Maciver and An Ataireachd Àrd

  1. Just to let you know I am delighted to find the original version of this beautiful tune. I have heard it sung by Kathleen MacDonald, and I think it is the most beautiful and haunting music I have ever heard. I am fluent in the Gaelic language and both read and write it.

  2. Interesting…all of my relatives are from Canada. Donald McIver is my great grandfather, my father’s grandfather, his mother’s father.

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