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Outlander: Tha Mo Leabaidh ‘san Fhraoch

Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber

“Tha Mo Leabaidh ‘san Fhraoch” (In the Heather’s My Bed) is a Jacobite song dating back to 1747, attributed to Dougal Roy Cameron. This is the song that Jamie and Laoghaire first danced to after meeting again at Lallybroch at the Hogmanay party (V, chapter 37) 

Clan Cameron of Lochiel, old motto was: Mo Righ ‘s Mo Dhuchaich (For King and Country)

The story linked to the song is extremely compelling: Dougal Roy Cameron (MacGillonie / MacOllonie) (or Dughall Ruadh Camaran) was a soldier in the Donald Cameron regiment of Lochiel, taken prisoner in the battle of Culloden (or in some conflict just before) and then released on July 15th 1747.
Shortly before the capture he learned of the death of his brother, executed by order of a ruthless officer named Grant of Knockando, while he was about to give up with his crew. Some Cameron, who had witnessed the execution closely, assured that the officer was wearing a blue coat and riding a white horse. Upon his release, Dougal went in search of that officer to kill him and found him near the Loch Arkaig, but he killed Munro of Culchairn wearing the same jacket. This is why our outlaw spends the sleepless nights, hidden in some dark and damp ravine in the gorges, regretting not having succeeded in trying to avenge his brother’s blood.
The personal story of the warrior intertwines the disappointment of the bitter defeat of the Jacobite cause (attributed by the changings some of the major clan leaders) and the hope of a triumphal return of Prince Charlie.

The Lochies (full version here)

Tha mo leabaidh ‘san fhraoch
Fo shileadh nan craobh,
‘S ged tha mi ‘sa choille
Cha do thoill mi na taoid.
Tha mo leab’ air an làr
‘S tha mo bhreacan gun sgàil,
‘S cha d’fhuair mi lochd cadail
O’n a spaid mi Cùl Chàirn.
Tha mo dhùil ann an Dia
Ged a dhìobradh Loch Iall,
Fhaicinn fhathast na chòirneal
An Inbhir Lòchaidh seo shìos.
Bha thu dìleas do’n Phrionns’
Is d’a shinnsre o thùs,
‘S ged nach tug thu dha t’fhacal
Bha thu ceart air a chùl.
Cha b’ionnan ‘s MacLeòid
A tha ‘n-dràsd’ aig Rìgh Deòrs’,
Na fhògarrach soilleir
Fo choibhreadh ‘n dà chleòc.
Cha b’ionnan ‘s an laoch
O Cheapaich nan craobh
Chaidh e sìos le chuid ghaisgeach,
‘S nach robh tais air an raon.
Ach nuair a thig am Prionns’ òg
Is na Frangaich ‘ga chòir,
Théid sgapadh gun taing
Ann an campa Rìgh Deòrs’.
‘S ged tha mis’ ann am fròig
Tha am botal ‘nam dhorn,
‘S gun òl mi ‘s chan àicheadh
Deoch-slàint a’ Phrionns’ òg.
English version*
In the heather ‘s my bed
‘Neath the dew-laden trees,
And though I’m in the green-wood
I deserved not the ropes.
My bed’s on the ground
And uncovered’s my plaid (1),
Sleep has not come upon me
Since I murdered Culchairn (2).
My hope rests in God,
Though Lochiel (3) has gone,
I’ll yet see him a colonel
In Inverlochy (4) down here.
Thou wast true to the Prince
And his race, from the first,
Though thou hadst never promised
Thou didst give him true aid.
Not so did MacLeod (5),
Who is now for King George,
A manifest outcast
‘Neath the shade of two cloaks (6).
Not so the warrior brave
From Keppoch of the trees (7),
Who charged down with his heroes,
Unafraid on the field.
But when comes the young Prince (8)
With the Frenchmen to aid,
Unthanked will be scattered
The camp of King George.
And though I’m in a den (9),
There’s a glass in my hand,
And I’ll drink, and refuse not,
A health to Prince Charles.

* John Lorne Campbell in “Highland Songs of the ’45” (1932)
1) the highlander kilt (in Gaelic philabeg) was a long blanket (plaid)
2) Captain Murno of Culcairn
3) Donald Cameron of Lochiel (c.1700 – October 1748) or “Gentle Lochiel” for his acts of magnanimity towards prisoners was among the most influential chieftains traditionally loyal to the Stuart House.
4) Fort William was built to control the Highland clans
5) McLeod of McLeod promised his support to the Prince, his defection weighed heavily on the failure of the uprising.
6) In the Middle Ages the feudal service  was symbolically given “under his cloak”, and bride was wearing the mantle of her future husband during the celebration of the Marriage, as a sign of submission
7) Alexander McDonald of Keppoch died at the head of his clan in Culloden while the rest of the McDonalds folded
8) Bonny Charlie will never return to Scotland see
9) After Culloden many warriors took refuge in caves and dens to escape the raids of British troops: the Highlands were militarized and kept under strict English control.

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Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

Amministratore e folklorista di Terre Celtiche Blog

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