THIS WORK is especially
intended for Gaelic-speaking Canadians. Some of them, it is true, take
very little interest in the past; they forget or ignore their
obligations to it. But others are of a nobler stamp. They work hard to
make a comfortable living for themselves; still they find some leisure
hours for reading the poetry, legends, traditions, and history of their
ancestors. They are Canadians by birth and are thoroughly loyal to their
own country; but they are Kelts by blood, and are not ashamed of the
poetic, warm-hearted, and warlike people from whom they have sprung. The
Old Highlanders had faults, but they were men.
I have in this work given specimens of the compositions of the best
known poets and song-writers of the Gaeldom of Scotland from 1411 to
1513, or from the Battle of Harlaw to the Battle of Sheriffmuir. I have
also given a brief account of every author respecting whom it was
possible for me to obtain any information. I have added glossaries and
explanatory notes, which I trust may be useful in making the poems
intelligible. I have not given as many poems as I would like to have
given, and for the very good reason that I could not afford to pay for a
I have departed to some extent from the common orthography. I am very
far, however, from thinking that the mode of spelling I have adopted is
free from faults. Still I do not suppose that it can, as a mere
experiment, do any harm.
I have prepared the first fifteen pages of the Introduction for the
benefit of English readers who speak Gaelic and would like to be able to
read it. I feel confident that any person of ordinary intelligence who
can read English and speak Gaelic can, if he will only try, learn to
read Gaelic in a very few hours.
Several of the poems in this work are from Dr. Maclean's MS. I feel
convinced that it would be useful, especially for philological purposes,
to publish that MS. verbatim et literatim. I shall be glad to hand it
over to any person or persons who
will agree to do so.
The printers of this work do not understand a word of Gaelic. I live
twenty miles from Charlottetown, and it was inconvenient to send me
proofs more than once. In consequence of these facts there are a few
typographical errors. Fortunately, however, they are not of very much
importance. They can cause no difficulty to any reader.
A. Maclean Sinclair.
Belfast, Prince Edward Island,
October 28th, 1890.
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The Gaelic Bards here