Category Archives: Scotland

Spiorad a’ Charthannais (The Spirit of Kindliness), by the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn (John Smith)

Just book marking this all here for future reference

#highlandclearances
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernera_Riot

From https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2022/02/23/community-of-contested-discourse-in-the-gaelic-development-debate/

And in his great poem Spiorad a’ Charthannais (The Spirit of Kindliness), the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn (John Smith) wrote about island soldiers coming back from the Napoleonic wars, only to find their homes burned to the ground in similar Highland Clearances. Their persecutors, not Napoleon, but domestic oppressors, who:

…reckoned as but brittle threads
the tight and loving cords
that bound these freemen’s noble hearts
to the high land of the hills.

The grief they suffered brought them death
although they suffered long,
tormented by the cold world
which had no warmth for them.


From Gaelic poetry and the British military, 1756-1945 by Wilson McLeod

An atypically incisive example of such rhetoric can be found in the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn’s (John Smith) (1848-81) powerful ‘Spiorad a’ Charthannais’ (‘The Spirit of Kindliness’), composed in 1874, at the beginning of the Land Agitation:

A bheil neach beò san linn seo
leis an cuimhn’ an latha garbh
’s na chuireadh an cath uamhann —
Waterloo nan cluaintean dearg?
Bu tapaidh buaidh nan Gàidheal ann,
nuair dh’èirich iad fo’n airm;
ri aghaidh colg nan treun-fheara
gun ghèill ar nàimhdean garg.


Dè ’n sòlas a fhuair athraichean
nan gaisgeach thug a’ bhuaidh?
Chaidh taighean blàth a’ charthannais
’nam baidealaich mu’n cluais;
bha ’m macaibh anns an àraich
’s iad a’ teàrnadh tìr gun truas;
bu chianail staid am màthraichean,
’s am fàrdaichean ’nan gual. . . .


A Bhreatainn, tha e nàireach dhut,
ma dh’àirmhear ann do sgeul,
Gun bhuin thu cho mì-nàdarrach
ri t’fhìor-shliochd àlainn fhèin;
an tìr bha aig na gaisgich ud
a theasairg thu ’nad fheum,
a thionndadh gu blàr-spòrsa
do na stròdhailich gun bheus.


Is anyone presently alive
who recollects that awful day,
on which was fought the fearful fight —
Waterloo of the bloody plains?
A fine victory was won by Gaels
when they rose in battle-arms;
faced with the blade of bravest men,
our fierce foes yielded fast.


What joy came to the fathers
of those who won the fray?
The warm homes of kindliness
towered round their ears in flames.
Their sons were on the battlefield
to save a heartless land;
their mothers were in the saddest plight,
and their homes reduced to ash. . . .


O Britain, it is a disgrace,
should we recount your tale,
relating how hard you dealt
with your own and truest race.
The land that those heroes had,
who saved you in your straits,
has now become a field of sports
for those wasters without morals.


(Meek 2003: 362-5)

Bàrdachd – Spiorad a’ Charthannais

Tha structar teann agus reusanachadh soilleir san dàn seo. Tha sin, le cainnt gheur agus rannaigheachd shiùbhlach a’ bhàird, a’ fàgail gur e seo ionnsaigh cho làidir is a gheibhear ann am bàrdachd Ghàidhlig air na Fuadaichean.

Sa chiad chòig rannan tha am bàrd a’ beachdachadh air gnè spiorad a’ charthannais agus an diofar a dhèanadh e don t-saoghal nan leanadh daoine an dòigh-beatha seo: airson notaichean air seo cliog air Spiorad.

Anns an ath chòig rannan tha e a’ leudachadh air a’ chron a tha dìth carthannais a’ dèanamh anns an t-saoghal san fharsaingeachd: cliog air Dìth airson seo.

Às dèidh rann far a bheil e a’ cur an cèill amasan an dàin, tha Mac a’ Ghobhainn anns an ath chòig rannan a’ càineadh nan uachdaran agus nam bàillidhean airson a bhith cho cruaidh air an t-sluagh: cliog air Uachdarain airson seo.

Anns na ceithir rannan deireannach, tha e a’ toirt ionnsaigh gu h-àraidh air Dòmhnall Rothach, bàillidh Leòdhais: cliog air Crìoch airson seo.

Lean na comharran airson a’ bhàrdachd a mhìneachadh. Nuair a nì thu sin, theirig air ais agus leugh a’ bhàrdachd air fad a-rithist.

Spiorad a’ Charthannais

O Spioraid shoilleir shàr-mhaisich,
A Spioraid ghràsmhoir chaoin
Tha riaghladh anns an àros sin
Tha uile làn de ghaol,
Nan gabhamaid gu càirdeil riut,
Gad fhàilteachadh gu caomh,
'S e siud a bheireadh àrdachadh
Do nàdar chloinn nan daoin'.

Nam b' eòl dhuinn thu nad mhaisealachd
'S nam b' aithne dhuinn do luach,
'S e siud a bheireadh inntinn dhuinn
Os cionn an t-saoghail thruaigh;
Gur sona iad fhuair eòlas ort,
'S len còmhnaich thu gu buan –
'S ann tromhad tha na sòlasan
Tha 'n Tìr na Glòire shuas.

'S tu phàirticheadh gu h-èifeachdach
Rinn gnè nam flaitheas àrd;
An àite greann na h-eucorach
Bhiodh maise 's sgèimh nan gràs;
'S tu sheargadh gnè na truaillidheachd
'S a nuadhaicheadh ar càil;
'S tu thogadh chum nan nèamhan sinn
Le tarraing threun do ghràidh.

O Spioraid chaoimh nan gràsalachd,
Nam biodh tu tàmh nar còir,
'S tu dh'fhuasgladh oirnn 's a shlànaicheadh
An dream tha cnàmh fo leòn;
'S tu thogadh crìdh' nam bantraichean
Gu seinn le aiteas mòr,
'S nach fàgadh gu neo-choibhneil iad
An gainntir dorch a' bhròin.

'S tu mhùchadh teine 'n nàmhaideis
'S an t-sùil as gràinde colg;
'S tu rèiticheadh 's a chiùinicheadh
A' mhala bhrùideil dhorch;
'S tu thogadh neul na h-aingidheachd
Bharr gnùis nan aintighearn' borb
'S a bheireadh gionach saidhbhreis uap'
'S gach aimhleas tha nan lorg.

Ach 's eagal leam gun d' thrèig thu sinn
'S do nèamh gun d' theich thu suas –
Tha daoin' air fàs cho eucorach
'S do ghnè-sa fada uap';
Tha seiche ghreannach fèinealachd
Gan eudachadh mun cuairt –
Chan eòl dhomh aon nì reubas e
Ach saighead Dhè nan sluagh.

A shaoghail, 's fada tuathal thu
On uair sin anns na thrèig
Do charthannas is d' uaisleachd thu,
'S a ghabh thu Fuath is Breug;
Mar inneal-ciùil neo-cheòlmhor dhut,
Gun teud an òrdugh rèidh,
Cha seinn thu pong le òrdalachd
'S cha deòin leat dol air ghleus.

Gur leatsa neart nan aintighearnan
Is gèimhlichean nan tràill;
Gur leat guth treun nan ainneartach
'S guth fann an fhir tha 'n sàs;
Gur leatsa spìd is uabharrachd
An t-sluaigh tha 'n ionad àrd,
'S a mheasas cho mì-fhiùghail sinn
Ri sgùileach air an tràigh.

Gur leat an creideamh buaireasach
A dhùisgeas gruaim is greann,
An creideamh nach dèan suairce sinn
'S nach dèan ar n-uabhar fann;
An creideamh th' aig na diadhairean
Lem miann a' chòmhstri theann –
Nan làimh-san dh'fhàs a' Chrìosdalachd
Mar bhiast nan iomadh ceann.

An searmonaiche prèisgeil ud,
'S ann dh'èigheas e le sgairt
Gur mallaicht' sinn mur èisdear leinn
Ra chreud-san - an tè cheart;
An àite bhith sìor èigheach rinn
Mur dleasdanas 's gach beart,
A dhèanamh daoine cèillidh dhinn
An làthair Dhè nam feart.

O Charthannais, gur h-àlainn thu,
A ghràis as àirde luach!
Ach 's lìonmhor nach toir àite dhut
Gu bràth nan cridhe cruaidh.
Nan deònaicheadh a' cheòlraidh dhomh
Mo chomas beòil car uair,
Gun innsinn pàirt de ghnìomharan
Nam biast thug dhutsa fuath.

Cha robh do ghnè-s' an Dòmhnall bochd,
Am fear bu rògaich goill,
Bha 'n dùil gum biodh gach Leòdhasach
Air fhògaradh don choill;
Ach phàigh e pàirt de dhò-bheartan
Is gheibh e 'n còrr a thoill –
Gun aithnich e gu dòrainneach
Gur feàrr a' chòir na 'n fhoill.

Cha robh do ghnè-s' a' riaghladh
Ann am broilleach iarainn cruaidh
Nam bàillidhean 's nan tighearnan
Chuir sìos an tìr mu thuath;
Bu charthannach na fàrdaichean
Bha seasgair, blàth innt' uair,
'S tha tìr nan daoine còire 'n-diugh
Na fàsach dòbhaidh truagh.

Gun chuir iad fo na naosgaichean
An tìr a b' aoigheil sluagh;
Gun bhuin iad cho neo-dhaonndachail
Ri daoine bha cho suairc';
A chionn nach faodte 'm bàthadh,
Chaidh an sgànradh thar a' chuain –
Bu mhiosa na bruid Bhàbiloin
An càradh sin a fhuair.

A Bhreatainn, tha e nàrach dhut,
Ma dh'àirmhear ann do sgeul
Gun bhuin thu cho mi-nàdarrach
Rid fhìor-shliochd àlainn fhèin –
An tìr bha aig na gaisgich ud
A theasairg thu nad fheum,
A thionndadh ga blàr-spòrsa
Do na stròidhealaich gun bheus.

Nach dìblidh cliù ar mòr-uaislean,
Na fir as neònaich' mèinn –
Carson a tha iad mòr-chùiseach,
'S iad beò air spòrs gun chèill?
Nan còmhdaicheadh na ruadh-chearcan
Lem buachar uachdar slèibh,
'S e siud a b' fheàrr a chòrdadh riu
Na sràidean òir air nèamh.

O, criothnaich measg do shòlasan.
Fhir fhòirneirt làidir chruaidh!
Dè 'm bàs no 'm pian a dhòirtear ort
Airson do leòn air sluagh?
'S e osnaich bhròin nam bantraichean
Tha sèid do shaidhbhries suas;
Gach cupan fìon a dh'òlas tu,
'S e deòir nan ainnis truagh.

Ged thachradh oighreachd mhòr agad
'S ged ghèill na slòigh fod smachd,
Tha 'm bàs is laghan geur aige,
'S gum feum thu gèill da reachd;
Siud uachdaran a dh'òrdaicheas
Co-ionann còir gach neach,
'S mar oighreachd bheir e lèine dhut,
'S dà cheum de thalamh glas.

'S e siud as deireadh suarach dhut,
Thus', fhir an uabhair mhòir,
Led shumanan 's led bhàirlinnean
A' cumail chàich fo bhròn;
Nuair gheibh thu 'n oighreachd shàmhach ud,
Bidh d' àrdan beag gu leòr;
Cha chluinnear trod a' bhàillidh ann
'S cha chuir maor grànd' air ròig.

'N sin molaidh a'chnuimh shnàigeach thu,
Cho tàirceach 'sa bhios d' fheòil,
Nuair gheibh i air do chàradh thu
Gu sàmhach air a bòrd;
Their i, "'S e fear mèath tha 'n seo
Tha math do bhiast nan còs,
On rinn e caol na ceudan
Gus e fhèin a bhiathadh dhòmhs'."

The Poetry of the Clearances by Sorley Maclean

I was just slipping down an internet wormhole on Scottish land rights poetry and song, and came across this juicy nugget:

…the impact of Sorley MacLean’s paper on ‘The Poetry of the Clearances’ – the most powerful piece of socio-political and literary criticism I have ever read

from https://meekwrite.blogspot.com/2013/03/nineteenth-century-studies-third.html

Sounds great, hey? He was a acclaimed Scottish poet, but this paper is not about his poetry but those who came before him and who wrote in Gaelic. I haven’t had a chance to read it in full yet but did a quick flick through after finding a pdf of it here. If this link goes dead then you can also find it hosted here on our website too.

Just parking this all here so I can find it when time comes to do more research on Scottish shazzle and you never know, someone else might find this useful too!

(1948) Ballad of the Men of Knoydart by Hamish Henderson

By Seumas Mor Maceanruig (Hamish Henderson) to the tune: ‘Johnston’s Motor Car’.

The Seven Men of Knoydart was the name given, to a group of squatters who tried to appropriate land at Knoydart in 1948. The name evoked the memory of the Seven Men of Moidart, the seven Jacobites who accompanied the Young Pretender on his voyage to Scotland in 1745. Comprising seven ex-servicemen, their claim was to be the last land raid in Scotland – from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Men_of_Knoydart

‘Twas down by the farm of Scottas,
Lord Brocket walked one day,
And he saw a sight that worried him
Far more than he could say,
For the “Seven Men of Knoydart”
Were doing what they’d planned–
They had staked their claims and were digging their drains,
On Brocket’s Private Land.

“You bloody Reds,” Lord Brocket yelled,
“Wot’s this you’re doing ‘ere?
It doesn’t pay as you’ll find today,
To insult an English peer.
You’re only Scottish half-wits,
But I’ll make you understand.
You Highland swine, these Hills are mine!
This is all Lord Brocket’s Land.

I’ll write to Arthur Woodburn, boys,
And they will let you know,
That the ‘Sacred Rights of Property’
Will never be laid low.
With your stakes and tapes, I’ll make you traipse
From Knoydart to the Rand;
You can dig for gold till you’re stiff and cold–
But not on this e’re Land.”

Then up spoke the Men of Knoydart;
“Away and shut your trap,
For threats from a Saxon brewer’s boy,
We just won’t give a rap.
O we are all ex-servicement,
We fought against the Hun.
We can tell our enemies by now,
And Brocket, you are one!”

When he heard these words that noble peer
Turned purple in the face.
He said, “These Scottish savages
Are Britain’s black disgrace.
It may be true that I’ve let some few
Thousand acres go to pot,
But each one I’d give to a London spiv,
Before any Goddam Scot!

“You’re a crowd of Tartan Bolshies!
But I’ll soon have you licked.
I’ll write to the Court of Session,
For an Interim Interdict.
I’ll write to my London lawyers,
And they will understand.”
“Och to Hell with your London lawyers,
We want our Highland Land.”

When Brocket heard these fightin’ words,
He fell down in a swoon,
But they splashed his jowl with uisge,
And he woke up mighty soon,
And he moaned, “These Dukes of Sutherland
Were right about the Scot.
If I had my way I’d start today,
And clear the whole dam lot!”

Then up spoke the men of Knoydart:
“You have no earthly right.
For this is the land of Scotland,
And not the Isle of Wight.
When Scotland’s proud Fianna,
With ten thousand lads is manned,
We will show the world that Highlanders
Have a right to Scottish Land.”

“You may scream and yell, Lord Brocket–
You may rave and stamp and shout,
But the lamp we’ve lit in Knoydart
Will never now go out.
For Scotland’s on the march, my boys–
We think it won’t be long.
Roll on the day when The Knoydart Way
Is Scotland’s battle song.”

An Atlas of Rural Protest in Britain 1548-1900 by Andrew Charlesworth

We get sent, given and recommended a lot of books by people who’ve seen the show. They are nearly always very useful and often even get read. Every so often one comes along that wins. This is such a book. What a title! And full of lovely maps and considered prose too. Copies come up 2nd hand for about the £20 mark fairly often, well worth it.

Needless to say this book is a glorious source of academically thorough research into peasant struggles against the greed and tyranny of the aristocracy.

The Ballad and The Plough by David Kerr Cameron

That there are algorithms out there on the internet that know so much about us all is shit scary. Some days it can be annoyingly useful though, like the day when it suggested that I might want to buy a 2nd hand copy of this book and I did… and was grateful for the recommendation. Grrrrrrrr….

The book is very geographically focussed on the north east lowlands of Scotland and explores advances in technology and the repercussions for workers through the medium of bothy ballads. Sounds ace, doesn’t it?

It covers the 1800s in detail and really helped me to understand the transition from women working the fields with a sickle, to men working the fields with scythes, and oxen pulling rudimentary ploughs, to a paid of horses pulling a far more modern device. It also explores the beginnings of automation, steam power and machines. All evidenced by songs. Brilliant.

How Profits From Slavery Changed the Landscape of the Scottish Highlands

Money earned through enslavement played a key role in the eviction of Highlanders in the 18th and 19th centuries, study finds

Between roughly 1750 and 1860, wealthy landowners forcibly evicted thousands of Scottish Highlanders in order to create large-scale sheep farms. Known today as the Highland Clearances, this era of drastic depopulation sparked the collapse of the traditional clan system and the mass migration of Scotland’s northernmost residents to other parts of the world.

As Alison Campsie reports for the Scotsman, new research argues that this pivotal period in Scottish history had close ties to the enslavement of people in British colonies, with a cadre of individuals enriched by slavery evicting at least 5,000 people from their property and buying up more than one million acres of land relinquished during the clearances.

Read full article via https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-research-investigates-how-enslavement-profits-changed-landscape-scottish-highlands-180976311/

(1915*) Mrs Barbours’ Army by Alistair Hulett

If I could marry a song it would probably be this one. Alistair Hulett on fine form writing about Mary Barbour and the Glasgow Women’s rent strike at the start of the 1914-1918 war.

Mrs Barbour’s Army by Alistair Hulett

In the tenements o’ Glesga in the year one nine one five
It was one lang bloody struggle tae keep ourselves alive
We were coontin’ oot the coppers tae buy wor scraps o’ food
When the landlords put the rent up just because they could
A’ the factories were hummin’, there was overtime galore
But wages they were driven doon tae subsidise the war
Oot came Mrs. Barbour from her wee bit single end
She said, I’ll organise the lassies if I cannae rouse the men

‘Cos I’m from Govan and your from Partick
This one here’s from Bridge o’ Weir and they’re from Kinning Park
There’s some that’s prods, there’s some that’s catholic
But we’re Mrs. Barbour’s Army and we’re here tae dae the wark

Mrs. Barbour made a poster sayin’, We’ll no’ pay higher rent
Then she chapped on every door of every Govan tenement
She said, Pit this in the windae when you hear me bang the drum
We’ll run oot an’ chase the factor a’ the way tae kingdom come
When the poor wee soul cam roon’ he was battered black and blue
By a regiment in pinnies that knew just what tae do
Mrs. Barbour organised the gaitherin’ o’ the clans
And they burst oot o’ the steamie armed wi’ pots an’ fryin’ pans

Mrs. Barbour’s Army spread through Glesga like the plague
The maisters got the message and the message wisnae vague
While our menfolk fight the Kaiser we’ll stay hame & fight the war
Against all the greedy bastards who keep grindin’ doon the poor
If ye want tae stop conscription stand and fight the profiteers
Bring the hale big bloody sandpit crashin’ doon aroon’ their ears
We’ll no’ starve, said Mrs. Barbour, While the men we care for ain
Are marchin aff to hae their heart’s blood washed like water doon a drain

Well it didnae take the government that lang tae realise
If you crack doon on the leaders then the rest will compromise
They arrested Mrs. Barbour and they clapped her in the jile
Then they made an awfy big mistake, they let her oot on bail
She called men out the factories on the Clyde and on the Cart
They marched up tae the courthoose sayin’, We’ll tear the place apart
Mrs. Barbour’s Army brought the maisters tae their knees
Wi’ a regiment in pinnies backed by one in dungarees

Fabulous essay on the history of Glasgow around the 1914-1918 ‘great’ war

It’s a long read but this is a fabulous essay on the history of Glasgow around the 1914-1918 ‘great’ war. Featuring Mrs Barbour’s Army which some of you will know of from Three Acres And A Cow shows.

https://portside.org/2020-01-09/radical-atmosphere-red-clyde

Wikipedia also has a dedicated page to Red Clydeside which is how this period of history is often known

(1814*) Dùthaich Mhic Aoidh by Ewan Robertson

Mo mhallachd aig na caoraich mhòr
My curse upon the great sheep
Càit a bheil clann nan daoine còir
Where now are the children of the kindly folk
Dhealaich rium nuair bha mi òg
Who parted from me when I was young
Mus robh Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh na fàsach?
Before Sutherland became a desert?

Tha trì fichead bliadhna ‘s a trì
It has been sixty-three years
On dh’fhàg mi Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh
Since I left Sutherland
Cait bheil gillean òg mo chrìdh’
Where are all my beloved young men
‘S na nìonagan cho bòidheach?
And all the girls that were so pretty?

Shellar, tha thu nist nad uaigh
Sellar, you are in your grave
Gaoir nam bantrach na do chluais
The wailing of your widows in your ears
Am milleadh rinn thu air an t-sluagh
The destruction you wrought upon the people
Ron uiridh ‘n d’ fhuair thu d’ leòr dheth?
Up until last year, have you had your fill of it?

Chiad Dhiùc Chataibh, led chuid foill
First Duke of Sutherland, with your deceit
‘S led chuid càirdeis do na Goill
And your consorting with the Lowlanders
Gum b’ ann an Iutharn’ bha do thoill
You deserve to be in Hell
Gum b’ fheàrr Iùdas làmh rium
I’d rather consort with Judas

Bhan-Diùc Chataibh, bheil thu ad dhìth
Duchess of Sutherland, where are you now?
Càit a bheil do ghùnan sìod?
Where are your silk gowns?
An do chùm iad thu bhon oillt ‘s bhon strì
Did they save you from the hatred and fury
Tha an diugh am measg nan clàraibh?

Which today permeates the press?

Mo mhallachd aig na caoraich mhòr
My curse upon the great sheep
Càit a bheil clann nan daoine còir
Where now are the children of the kindly folk
Dhealaich rium nuair bha mi òg
Who parted from me when I was young
Mus robh Dùthaich ‘IcAoidh na fàsach?

(1960) Freedom Come All Ye by Hamish Henderson

I was told about Hamish Henderson a few weeks ago and just spent a delightful hour making friends with his best known song ‘Freedom Come All Ye’.

There have been a few translations into English but I didn’t really like any of them so I’ve written my own, building on unattributed previous efforts. It’s such a shame that ‘down’ and ‘bloom’, and ‘more’ and ‘bare’ don’t rhyme in my southern English accent!

Hamish Henderson – Freedom Come All Ye

Original scots:

Roch the wind in the clear day’s dawin
Blaws the cloods heilster-gowdie owre the bay
But there’s mair nor a roch wind blawin
Thro the Great Glen o the warld the day

It’s a thocht that wad gar oor rottans
Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay
Tak the road an seek ither loanins
Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play

Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war when oor braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Mourn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw

Broken faimlies in lands we’ve hairriet
Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare

Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom
In yer hoos aa the bairns o Adam
Will find breid, barley-bree an paintit rooms

When Maclean meets wi’s friens in Springburn
Aa thae roses an geans will turn tae blume
An the black lad frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun.

Robin’s English translation

Rough the wind in the clear day’s dawning
Blows the clouds topsy turvy about the bay,
But there’s more than a rough wind blowing
Through the great glen of the world today.

It’s a thought that will make our tyrants
(Rogues who fancy themselves so fine and gay)
Take the road, and seek other pastures
For their ill ploys to sport and play

No more will our bonnie callants
March to war when our braggarts crousely craw,
Nor wee ones from pit-head and hamlet
Mourn the ships sailin’ down the Broomielaw.

Broken families in lands we’ve harried,
Will curse our names no more, no more;
Black and white, hand in hand together,
Will drive the tyrants from every shore

So come all ye at home with Freedom,
Never heed the crooked hoodies croak for doom.
In your house all the bairns of Adam
Can find bread, barley-bree and painted room.

When MacLean meets with friends in Springburn
Sweet the flowers will all bloom that day for thee
And a black boy from old Nyanga
Will break his chains and know liberty

BBC ‘In Our Time’ on the Highland Clearances (51 mins)

I’ve posted links to Melvyn Braggs ‘In Our Time‘ podcasts/radio shows a number of times on this website but it has to be said that I’ve always been a little weary of them… something about the fact that the large majority of the guests are Oxbridge academics and the number of massively posh accents always leaves a little bell of warning ringing somewhere that I’m getting the official ruling classes imperial spin on history.

I remember having a post show email disagreement with one of Melvyn’s academic guests after their ‘Putney Debates’ show managed to completely ignore the issue of land during the civil war period which still seems a critical oversight from other things I’ve learnt and read.

I’ve had a number of people email me the recent episode on the Highland Clearances (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tc4tm) which seemed quite revisionist to my mind when I listened to it. I thought nothing more of it at the time, but then someone posted a fine response via Bella Caledonia which I think is worth bringing to your attention: http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2018/03/11/in-our-time-but-not-in-our-voice/

15th Anniversary of 2003 Scottish Land Reform Act (70 mins)

BBC Radio Scotland on the 15th anniversary of the 2003 Scottish land reform act,  interviewing many of the people key to the reform bill happening – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrtq1/episodes/downloads

It is primarily focused on the right to roam aspect of the act and it gives the best insight into how key battles were won of anything i’ve seen, heard or read.

Who Owns England blog – one year on

Guy Shrubsole is doing some excellent work here digging into data to find out who owns our land – https://whoownsengland.org/2017/09/12/who-owns-england-one-year-on-what-we-now-know/

(1790*) Smile In Your Sleep by Jim McLean

Ewan McLennan just suggested this song ‘Smile In Your Sleep‘ to me, written by Jim McLean about the Highland Clearances.

Beautiful and achingly sad, I personally wonder if it needs another few verses, as I felt from The Cheviot The Stag and The Black Black Oil, that there were a number of defiant pockets of (mostly female) resistance to the Clearances which this song doesn’t touch on.

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

Once our valleys were ringin
Wi sounds o our children singin
But nou sheep bleat till the evenin
An shielings stand empty an broken

We stood, wi heads bowed in prayer
While factors laid our cottages bare
The flames fired the clear mountain air
An many lay dead in the mornin

Where was our fine Highland mettle,
Our men once sae fearless in battle?
They stand, cowed, huddled like cattle
Soon tae be shipped owre the ocean

No use pleading or praying
All hope gone, no hope of staying
Hush, hush, the anchor’s a-weighing
Don’t cry in your sleep, bonnie baby