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Story entitled 'A Chliarsheanachain' [itinerant band/sorners], 5 March 1895

Identifier: Coll-97/CW1/92

Scope and Contents

Story written down by John Ewen MacRury, Beinn na Faoghla/Benbecula entitled 'A Chliarsheanachain' [itinerant band/sorners]. The Cliar Sheanchain or sorners, were a band of sixteen burly men, who would eat and drink and entertain or satirise and they were notoriously difficult to control. The story tells how the the last known band of sorners stayed in Baile-nan-Cailleach [Baile nan Cailleach/Nunton] with Mac 'ic Ailein [Clanranald] as their host for a night. They stayed much longer then expected, eating and drinking all day and all night and Clanranald soon grew tired of them. He invited other bards and satirists to outdo the sorners, but they were only undone themselves. The cliarsheanachain had been there nearly a year and a day when a herd told Clanranald that they had eaten forty-one barren cows and that they were about to butcher a good cow for them. There was a fool in Baile-nan Cailleach who did not speak much but whatever he said was cutting and he told Clanranald that if he had asked him earlier he would have seen off the Cliar Sheanachain sooner. The fool found the sorners sitting in the walled garden and, they, recognising him, asked him unkindly what he was doing today, to which he replied that he was herding cattle. The leader of the Cliar Sheanachain said that they were breeding cattle to which the fool said that it was at the wrong end. They gathered up their garments and told him to tie up the calves and the fool's retort was 'Cha do cheangail aireach spreidheadh riamh laoigh gus an do dh'iomalaich am mathraichean fein an toiseach iad, 's mar a dh'iomalaicheas sibhse ceanglaidh mise.' [No herd ever tied up calves until their mothers had licked them first, so I'll tie them up as you lick them.] At this the sorners left and were never seen again. MacRury adds that when his father was young there were people alive who remembered the cliarsheanachain well.


  • Creation: 5 March 1895

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 114 folios ; 14 x 20 cm

Physical Location


Physical Location

folio 102v, line 1 to folio 106r, line 11


Shaw, John, 'What Alexander Carmichael Did Not Print: The "Cliar Sheanchain", 'Clanranald's Fool' and Related Traditions', BĂ©aloideas, vol. 70 (2002), pp. 99-126

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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