A Welcome to the Chessmen

Some of the Chessmen will be on display in Uig on 13 September 2011 and in honour of this very special occasion, an Uig bard has written a welcome.

Six of the Lewis Chessmen, currently on display in Stornoway as part of the joint NMS and British Museum touring exhibition, will be in Uig Museum on Tuesday, 13 September, along with the film produced for the exhibition and three curators to answer any questions (and indeed, discuss any theories). Everyone is warmly invited to come and see them – but none will be so welcome as the Chessmen themselves.

The following has been composed by an Uig bard in honour of the occasion. (English below)

Fàilte oirbh Fhìr Taileasg a Eilean an Fhraoich
‘S gu h-araidh ur taghail, air Talla Sgir’ Uig
Tha naodh fichead bliadhna, bho chuir sibh ri cùl
Bha’n t-àm agaibh tileadh, ach a faicist ur gnùis.

S’e ur mòr aois, agus grabhaladh, a dh’ag agaibh ur cliù
Ged nach eil àileachd, na maise air ur gnùis.
‘S co chuir sibh air falach ‘s a bhealach bhon ùir.
Se diomhaireachd dhuin, a bhi lorg freagairt dha thu.

Tha Caisteil agus Rocais, Rìgh, Ban-rìgh agus Ridhre,
Tha Easbuig ann le bata crom, ‘s a cruinte le coron air.
‘S tha fear ann le drèin air, is sgiath aige dha caganadh
Cha bhuin a dh’an an treubh ac, se an t-ainm aige ‘Berserker’.

Ach ged a tha sibh gruamach, ni sinn a roibh ‘s toilachais,
Or gu faic sinn aon uair, ri ar rè, air an talamh sibh
Smeit gu’n till ‘Reull Halley’ ais doimhneachd na fearsuinneachd
Ma’s till sibh dh’an a sgìre far na lorg iad bho’n toiseach sibh.

Air an treas-latha deug, dh’an naoidhibh mios,
Bi na fir seo cruinn ‘s an talla seo
Is thigibh ann, is faicaibh sibh,
Fìr Taileasg Baile Chapadal.

-le Domhnull MacDonigle, 2011

Welcome Chessmen to the Isle of Heather
Especially your visit to Uig Hall
There is one hundred and eighty years since you left
Time was that you returned, so that we would see your faces.

It’s your great age and carving that made you famous
Though there is no beauty or comeliness in your faces.
Who was it that hid you in the earth of the Bealach?
It’s a mystery and it’s idle to look for an answer to it.

There are castles and rooks, king, queen and knight
A bishop with a crooked stick, crowned with a mitre,
A fellow who is scowling and chewing his shield
He does not belong to their tribe – his name is Berserker.

Although you are glum, we will be delighted to see you
Because we saw you once during our life on earth
For maybe Halley’s Comet may return from the depth of Space
Before you come back to where you were found at first.

So on the thirteenth day of the ninth month
These pieces will be assembled in this Hall
Come there, and you will see
The Chessmen from the village of Capadal.

-Donald MacDonigle, 2011