Glen Discovery in GlenLyon
Discovery
About us
History
Contact

Òran d' on briogais - A song to the breeches

by Donnchadh bn Mac an t-Saoir


'S o tha na briogais liath-ghlas
Am bliadhna cur mulaid oirnn,
'S e 'n rud nach fhacas riamh oirnn,
'S nach miann leinn a chumail oirnn ;
'S na'm bitheamaid uile dleas
Do'n Righ bha toirt cuiridh dhuinn,
Cha n-fhaicte sinn gu dlinn
A' strochdadh do'n chulaidh so.

'S olc an sel duinn, am Prionns' g
A bhi fo mhran duilichinn,
Is Rgh Dersa a bhi chmhnuidh,
Far 'm bu chir dha tuincachas ;
Tha luchd-elais a' toirt sgeil duinn
Nach robh cir air Lunnainn aige,
'S e Hanbhar an robh shersa,
'S coigreach oirnn an duine sin :
'S e 'n rgh sin nach buineadh dhuinn,
Rinn dmeas na dunach oirnn,
Mu*n ceannsaich e buileach sinn,
B' e 'n t-am dol a chumasg ris ;
Na rinn e oirnn de dh' an-tlachd,
De mhothlachd, is de dh' aimhreit,
Ar n-eudach thoirt gun taing dhinn,
Le ainneart a chumail ruinn.

'S o'n a chuir sinn suas am briogais,
Gur neo-mhiosail leinn a' chulaidh ud
G'an teannadh mu na h-iosgannan,
Gur trioblaideach leinn umainn iad ;
'S bha sinn roimhe misneachail,
'S na breacain fo na criosan oirnn,
Ged tha sinn am bitheantas
A nise cur nan sumag oirnn ;
'S ar leam gur h-olc an duais
Do na daoine chaidh 's a' chruadal,
An aodaichean thoirt uapa
Ge do bhuannich Diuc Uilleam leo.
Cha n-fhaod sinn bhi slasach,
O'n chaochail ar culaidh sinn,
Cha n-aithnich sinn a chile
La fille no cruinneachaidh.

'S bha uair-eigin an t-saoghal
Nach saoilinn gu'n cuirinn orm,
Briogais air son aodaich,
'S neo-aoibheil air duine i ;
'S ged tha mi deanamh is dith,
Cha d'rinn mi bonn slais
Ris an deise nach robh dimheil
Do'n phirtidh g'am buininn-sa ;
'S neo-sheannsar a' chulaidh i,
Gur grnda leinn umainn i,
Cho teann air a cumadh dhuinn,
'S nach b'fheairrde leinn tuilleadh i
Bidh putain anns na glinean.
Is bucalan g'an dnadh,
'S a' bhriogais air a dbladh,
Mu chlaibh a h-uile fir.

Gheibh sinn adan ciar-dhubh,
Chur dion*' air ar mullaichean,
Is casagan cho slogta,
'S a mhnicheadh muilean iad.
Ged chumadh sin am fuachd dhinn,
Cha n-fhg e sinn cho uallach,
'S gu'n toillich e ar n-uaislean
Ar tuath no ar cumanta.
Cha taitinn e gu brth ruinn
A choiseachd nan gleann-fsaich,
'N uair a rachamaid do dh' irigh,
No dh' it am biodh cruinneagan :
'S e Dersa rinn an eucoir,
'S ro dhiombach tha mi fin deth,
O'n thug e dhinn an fhile,
'S gach eudach a bhuineadh dhuinn.

'S bha h-uile h-aon de'n pharlamaid
Fallsail le'm fiosrachadh,
'N uair chuir iad air na Caimbeulaich
Teanndachd nam briogaisean ;
'S gur h-iad a rinn am feum dhaibh
A' bhliadhna thin' an streupag,
A h-uile h-aon diubh dh' irigh
Gu lir am Milisi dhaibh ;
'S bu cheannsalach, duineil iad,
'San am an robh an cumasg ann,
Ach 's gann daibh gu'n cluinnear iad
A champachadh tuille leis ;
O'n thug e dhinn an t-aodach,
'S a dh' fhg e sinn cho faontrach,
'S ann rinn e oirnn na dh' fheudadh e,
Shaoileadh e chur mulaid oirnn.

'S ann a nis tha fios againn
An t-iochd a rinn Diuc Uilleam ruinn,
'N uair a dh' fhg e sinn mar phriosanaich,
Gun bhiodagan, gun ghunnachan,
Gun chlaidheamh, gun chrios tarsuinn oirnn,
Cha n-fhaigh sinn prs nan dagachan ;
Tha comannd aig Sasunn oirnn,
O smachdaich iad gu buileach sinn :
Tha angar is duilichinn
'San am so air iomadh fear,
Bha 'n campa Dhiuc Uilleam,
Is nach fheairrd iad gu'n bhuidhinn e ;
Na'n tigeadh oirnne Tearlach,
'S gu'n ireamaid 'na champa,
Gheibhte breacain charnaid,
'S bhiodh aird air na gunnachan.



Till the light grey breeks have been on us;
This year, and sorrow heap on us;
'Tis a thing was never seen on us,
And we've no wish to keep on us ;
And if we all had faithful been
To the King who was inviting us,
We never never had been seen
Allowing these bedighting us.

Deep our offence that the young Prince
Is in great tribulation,
King George elate dwelling in state
In the Prince's rightful station ;
Folks knowing well the story tell
To London right he never wan,
His sires came over from Hanover,
A stranger o'er us is that man :
A king is yon that we disown.
He brought destroying blight with him.
Before he do us quite subdue,
'Twere time to go and fight with him ;
He worked full measure of displeasure.
Disrespect, malevolence.
Our clothes to rieve without our leave.
And follow us with violence.

Now since we use put up the trews
Yon dress we are despising,
Drawing them close about the houghs
We think demoralising ;
Courageous were we heretofore,
With plaids beneath our belts on us,
But now do we don commonly
The saddle-cloths for kilts on us ;
In my regard an ill reward
To men who hardship dared defy,
Their clothes last hem to strip from them-
The folk Duke William conquered by,
And joyous we may never be.
Our dress has changed us sairly.
We'll never know each other now
At gathering or on fair-day.

At one stage of my pilgrimage
I did not think I'd put on me
A pair of trews in lieu of clothes,
On man it figures awkwardly :
Though of the trews I'm making use,
I felt no cause for jubilee,
Because the dress suits not the race
Or party of which I should be ;
This garb for us is ominous.
We think it ugly back and fore.
It is so tight to us bedight.
We'd never wish to have it more ;
Buttons there be along the knee.
To fasten them the buckles run.
And oh ! the trews are doubled close
About the back of every one.

Hats we'll get of dusky jet
Upon our crowns to shield them,
And coats, forsooth, as sleek and smooth
As if a mill had milled them.
Though that should hold from us the cold
'Twill not leave us so gay and vain
That it will please our proud grandees.
Our tenants, or our common men.
To us it would never seem good
To walk the grassy glens with,
When we would to a sheiling go,
Or where our smart girl friends live :
It is the King did this wrong thing.
And angered much and pained I was,
He stript our legs of fillibegs,
And all dress that pertained to us.

And all those sent to Parliament
Were false to what they knew, sirs,
When they put on the Campbell clan
The tightness of the trowsers ;
For they it was that served the cause
The year the strife of death came.
And one and all did they enroll
As their Militia with them ;
They manly were all things to dare
What time the broil was ramping.
But few of them will story claim
As with him more encamping ;
Since he from us stript off our clothes,
And so forlorn did leave us.
Of all he durst he did the worst,
Whatever he thought would grieve us.

Now it is so we surely know
The clemency Duke William works,
When us he left, like thralls bereft,
Withouten either guns or dirks,
On us no glaive, no cross-strap brave.
E'en pistols we shall get no more ;
O'er us England has got command.
Since us they have quite triumphed o'er.
There's anger's swell and grief as well
At this time upon many a man
Was fain to tramp Duke William's camp,
And had preferred he never wan.
Did Charlie reign o'er us again.
And in his camp we took our place.
The plaids of red would there be had.
And all the guns in readiness.




Anno decimo nono Georgii II. cap. xxxix.
The Act for securing the peace of the Highlands . . . quotes the Act of 1st November 1716, which provides . . . that it shall not be lawful for any person . . . north of the water of Leven or of the river Forth ... to have in his custody, use, or bear broadsword or target, poignard, whinger or durk, side pistol, gun, or other warlike weapon. It re-enacts the terms in 1746 with a penalty for not delivering arms.
Every such person or persons so convicted shall forfeit the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, and shall be committed to prison until payment of the said sum, and if any person shall refuse payment within one calendar month, he, if fit to serve his Majesty as a soldier, shall be delivered over to his Majesty's officers to serve in any of his Majesty's forces in America.

XVII. And be it further enacted . . . that from and after 1st August 1747 no man or boy within that part of Great Britain called Scotland . . . shall on any pretence whatever wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes, that is to say plaid, philebeg, or little kilt, trowse, shoulder belts, or any part whatsoever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland garb ; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid or stuff shall be used for great coats or for upper coats, and if any such person shall presume after the said first day of August to wear or put on the aforesaid garments or any part of them, every such person . . . shall suffer imprisonment without bail during the space of six months and no longer ; and being convicted of a second offence . . . shall be liable to be transported to any of his Majesty's plantations beyond the seas there to remain for the space of seven years.

The oath administered in 1747 and 1749 at Fort William and other places where people assembled to take it, was in the following terms, the recusants being treated as rebels :
I, A. B., do swear, and as I shall answer to God at the great day of judgment, I have not, nor shall have, in my possession any gun, sword, pistol, or arm whatever, and never use tartan, plaid, or any part of the Highland garb ; and if I do, may I be cursed in my undertaking, family, and propertymay I never see my wife and children, father, mother, relations may I be killed in battle as a coward, and be without Christian burial in a strange land, far from the graves of my forebears and kindred ; may this come across me if I break my oath.

As an illustration of the spirit in which the law was enforced, the poet, it is said, was himself imprisoned for publishing this poem ; but he was, through the good offices of Breadalbane, soon liberated.

In 1782, through the influence of the Marquis of Graham and Lord Lovat, as the poet states (284, 85 ; 338, 51), it was enacted : That so much of the Acts above mentioned or any other Act or Acts of Parliament, as restrains the use of the Highland Dress, be, and the same are hereby repealed.

A curious Proclamation, unsigned and undated, but referring to the above events, runs : " This proclaims to all the Children of the Highlanders that the King and Parliament of Britain have put an end for ever to the Act against the Highland Garb, which has come down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This cannot but give great joy to every Highland heart, since ye are no longer bound with the unmanly garments of the Lowlanders. This proclaims to every person, young and old, high and low, that they may hereafter put on and wear the Trews, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Short Hose, along with the Belted Plaid without fear