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Cumha Griogal Cridhe



Griogal Cridhe, as the lament for Griogair Ruadh Mac Griogair of Glen Strae is widely known, is one of the oldest in the Scottish Gaelic tradition. The origins of the song, stretches back to 1570, when Griogair Ruadh was executed by Cailean Liath Campbell of Glenorchy. It is notable in that it is a song composed by a woman, the widow of Griogair Ruadh.

The version below first appears in writing in the collection of Gaelic songs published by Padruig Mac an Tuairneir in 1813, I have taken it from the published "Aspects of Transmission in the Lament for Griogair Ruadh Mac Griogair of Glen Strae" by V. S. BLANKENHORN. (Article in Scottish Studies April 2014)
In her paper, Blankenhorn discusses a number of other versions collected from the oral tradition, and the differences between them.

Blankenhorn referred to MacGregor, M. (1999) "Surely one of the greatest poems ever made in Britain": the lament for Griogair Ruadh MacGregor of Glen Strae and its historical background. Published in: Cowan, E. J. and Gifford, D. (eds.) The Polar Twins. John Donald: Edinburgh, pp. 114-153. ISBN 9780859765138

Martin identified Raibeart Menzies of Comrie, the second husband of Griogair Ruadhs young widow, as the mysterious baran cron na dalach mentioned in the poem.
Comrie lies on the south bank of the Lyon near its junction with the River Tay, occupying the sort of alluvial land to which one might refer as na dalach, of the river-meadow land which the Menzies family had possessed for at least a century prior to these events. Contemporary documents reveal that both Raibeart Menzies and his father were styled baron, and it is likely that the family enjoyed the sort of comfort and prosperity mentioned in the poem. The Menzies family were loyal supporters of the Campbells, and so offered a safe repository for Campbell of Glenlyons troublesome daughter and her children. MacGregor suggests that this marriage may have taken place shortly after the execution of Griogair Ruadh, and therefore that the poem reflects not only her grief at the loss of her first husband, but also her unhappiness in the home of her second.

Moch maduinn air la lunasd,
Bha mi sugradh marr-ri m ghradh;
Ach mu n d thainig meadhon latha,
Bha mo chridhe air a chradh.

Ochain, ochain, ochain uiridh,
S goirt mo chridhe laoigh,
Ochain, ochain, ochain uiridh,
Cha chluinn t-athair ar caoidh.

Mallachd aig maithibh s aig cairdean,
Rinn mo chradh air an doigh;
Thainig gun fhios air mo ghradh-sa,
Sa thug fo smachd e le foill.

Na m biodh da fhear-dheug deth chinneadh
S mo Ghriogair air an ceann
Cha bhiodh mo shuil a sileadh dheur,
No mo leanabh fein gun daimh.

Chuir iad a cheann air ploc daraich,
S dhoirt iad fhuil mu lar
Na m biodh agam-sa n sin cupan,
Dh olainn di mo shadh.

S truagh nach robh m athair an galar,
Agus Cailein ann am plaigh;
Ged bhiodh nighean an Ruthainaich
Suathadh bas as lamh.

Chuirinn Cailein liath fo ghlasaibh
S Donnacha dubh an laimh
S gach Caimbeulach thann am Bealach
Gu giulan na n glas lamh.

Rainig mise ridhlein Bhealaich
S cha d fhuair mi ann tamh;
Cha d fhag mi rinn do mfhalt gun tarruing,
No craiceann air mo laimh.

S truagh nach robh mi n riochd na h-uiseig,
Spionnaidh Ghriogair ann mo laimh
S i chlach a bairde anns a chaisteal
Chlach a b fhaisg do n bhlar.

S truagh nach robh Fionnlairg na lasair,
As Bealach mor na smal,
S Griogair ban na m basa geala,
Bhi eidear mo dha laimh.

S ged tha mi gun ubhlan agam,
S ubhlan uil aig cach;
S ann tha m ubhal craidh grinn,
As cul a chinn ri lar.

Ged tha mnaithibh chaich aig baile,
Na n luidhe s na n cadal seimh
S ann bhios mis aig bruaich mo leapa,
A bualadh mo dha laimh.

S mor a b annsa bhi aig Griogair,
Air feadh coille s fraoich
Na bhi aig Baran crion na dalach,
Ann tigh cloich as aoil.

S mor a b annsa bhi aig Griogair,
Cuir a chruidh do n ghleann
Na bhi aig Baran crion na dalach,
G ol air fion s air leann.

S mor a b annsa bhi aig Griogair
Fo bhrata ruibeach rinn
Na bhi aig Baran cron na Dalach,
Gilan soda s sril.

Ged bhiodh cur as cathadh ann,
As latha nan seachd sion;
Gheibheadh Griogair domh-sa cnagan
Sa n caidlimid fo dhon.

Early on the first of August
I was sporting with my love,
But before midday had come,
my heart was left in ruins.

Ochain, ochain, ochain uiridh,
sore is my heart, my dear child;
Ochain, ochain, ochain uiridh,
your father wont hear our cries.

A curse on nobles and relations
who have destroyed me thus;
Who came upon my love unawares,
and took him prisoner by treachery.

Had there been twelve of his kinsmen,
with my Gregor at their head,
My eye would not be weeping tears,
nor my child left friendless.

They put his head on an oaken block
and spilled his blood on the ground,
If I had had a cup there,
Id have drunk my fill of it.

Its a pity my father was not taken in illness,
and Colin with the plague,
Even though Ruthvens daughter would be
left wringing her hands.

I would lock Grey Colin up,
and put Black Duncan in prison,
And cause every Campbell in Balloch to
endure hand-cuffs.

I reached the plain of Balloch,
but I gained no repose there;
I left no hair on my head untorn,
nor skin upon my hands.

A pity I couldnt rise like the lark,
with Gregors strength in my arm:
The highest stone in the castle
would be the closest to the ground.

A pity Finlarig wasnt in flames,
and great Balloch in embers,
And fair Gregor of the white palms
close in my two arms.

Though now I have no apples,
and others have them all:
My own apple, fragrant, handsome
and the back of his head on the ground.

Though other mens wives are at home,
sleeping sweetly,
Here am I at the edge of my bed,
beating my hands in grief.

Id much prefer to be with Gregor
among woods and heather
Than with the mean little Baron of the rivermeadow,
in a house of stone and lime.

Id much prefer to be with Gregor,
driving his cattle to the glen,
Than with the dry old Baron of the rivermeadow,
drinking wine and ale.

Id much prefer to be with Gregor with only
a rough, hairy mantle for covering,
Than with the small-minded Baron of the
river-meadow, suffering in silk and satin.

Although there would be storm and snowdrift,
a day of seven gales,
Gregor would find me a little nook where
we would sleep in shelter.


Blankenhorn says that the "Gesto" version (below) was collected by Frances Tolmie, who says in the latter volume that she recalled the stanzas and air from earliest days in Skye likely sometime before 1850, given her birth in 1840.

Martin MacGregor suggested that Gesto may represent the first occasion of this song being given the title Griogal Cridhe, perhaps owing to the appearance of this phrase in two of the verses supplied to K. N. MacDonald by Frances Tolmie. The title has been widely used in subsequent publications (many of which are based on Tolmie), and is also the title attributed to many of the versions held in the School of Scottish Studies Archive. It is unclear whether the singers themselves used this title, or whether it was subsequently applied to the songs by fieldworkers familiar with Tolmies version. John MacInnes has said that he believes the pronunciation Griogal for Griogair derives from Miss Tolmies informants in Skye; it is certainly not a variant found in Perthshire.
S ioma h-oidhche fhliuch us thioram
Sde na seachd sian
Gheibheadh Griogal dhomhsa creagan
Ris an gabhainn dion.

Dhirich mi dha n t-semar mhullach
S theirinn mi n tigh lir,
S cha dfhuair mise Griogal cridhe,
Na shuidhe mu n chlr.

Eudail mhor a shluagh an domhain!
Dhoirt iad d fhuil o n d;
S chuir iad do cheann air stob daraich
Tacan beag bho d chr.

S truagh nach mis a bha nam dhorsair
An dorus an tigh bhin,
A chlach a b airde bhitheadh san oisean
Si b fhaisge dh an lir.

B annsa a bhi le Griogal cridhe,
Tearnadh chruidh le gleann
Na le Barainn mr na Dallaich
Sioda geal mu m cheann.

Ged nach eil bhlan idir agam
S bhlan uil aig cch
S ann tha m ubhlan s cbh r ri caineal
S cl an cinn ri lir.

Nuair a bhitheas mnathan g a bhaile
An nochd n an cadal simh,
S ann bhitheas mis air bruaich do lice
Bualadh mo dh laimh.

Manys the night, wet and dry,
seven gales blowing,
Gregor would get me a rocky nook
where I could get shelter.

I ascended to the uppermost room and
descended to the lowest,
But I did not find dear Gregor seated
at the table.

Darling of all the worlds people, they
spilt your blood yesterday;
They put your head on an oaken block
and took it from your body.

A pity I wasnt the door-keeper at the
door of the white house:
The highest stone at the corner of the
house would be closest to the ground.

I would rather be with dear Gregor,
driving cattle down the glen,
Than with the big Baron of Dall, with
white silk round my head.

Although I have no apples,
and others have them all,
My own cinnamon-scented apples
are lying on the ground.

When the young women of the village
are sleeping soundly tonight,
I shall be at the edge of your graveslab,
beating my hands in grief.