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Story entitled 'Iain Mac An Alabanaich (a dh'fhalbh a' Troantairnaish)', June 1861

Identifier: Coll-97/CW109/29

Scope and Contents

Story entitled 'Iain Mac An Albanaich (a dh'fhalbh a' Troantairnaish)' collected from Domhnull Mac Cuiein [Donald MacQueen], Fearan na leth, who learned it from the miller at Talamhsgeir [Fearann an Leagha/Fernilea and Talaisgeir/Talisker, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach/Isle of Skye] about 60 years previously [c1800]. It is a long tale which tells of the adventures of Iain the clever son of Raoghal Domhnallach [Ronald MacDonald] of Trotaranais [TrĂ²ndairnis/Trotternish, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach/Isle of Skye]. In the story, he goes to seek his fortune and ends up in a city in England. There a merchant takes him on to run a shop but because he does so well is disliked by his English colleagues who kidnap him and try to make it look as if he has swindled the merchant. He manages to escape and in time convinces the owner that his version of events is true. The merchant believes him and asks him to go and fetch a cargo of goods from the King of Spain on his behalf. The ship is blown off course by a storm and ends up in Turkey. There, in spite of the skipper's warnings that Constantinople is one of the most dangerous places on earth, he goes ashore, meets a Turkish nobleman of Scottish ancestry, who assists him in rescuing King of Spain's daughter from a Turkish king. He does not know who she is. On return to England the merchant tells Iain that he still has to go to Spain or the King of Spain will think that he is dead. The king of Spain's daughter gives him Spanish clothing and a key and tells him how to acquire her treasure from a church there. When he reaches Spain, he is caught by the King of Spain's men at the church and the King asks him where he got the coloured coat and the key to the church treasure and he tells him about rescuing the young woman from the Turkish king. The King of Spain realises that he rescued his daughter and then sends Iain back to get her. On his return, the merchant realises what has happened and insists that Iain takes the King of Spain's daughter home and tells him not to let her out of his sight. Also on board the ship is the King of Spain's nephew, who loves the princess and plots with other crew members to kill Iain. On a false alarm, Iain is pushed off the top of the mast and falls overboard deemed drowned. The princess is distraught and is deemed to go have gone insane with sorrow. Being a good swimmer, Iain manages to reach a deserted island, where he is rescued by a large, talking bird, which promises to take him where he wants if he gives his eldest son to him. Iain reluctantly agrees and asks to be taken to Spain. There he is shown kindness by two washerwoman who tell him about the King of Spain's daughter's madness and her good works for the needy. He manages to get into the palace kitchen and persuades the maid that he will only get better if he can share the princess's cup. She agrees and when he gets the cup he places her ring in it so when the cup is returned to her, she knows that it is him. They are reunited and marry and have a son. One day while out, they are approached by a nobleman, who says that he has come for the son, which was promised to him when he rescued Iain from the island. He then changes his mind and says that Iain had actually done more for him that he had ever done for Iain, as he managed to lift a spell that had been cast on him. On the death of the King of Spain, Iain and the princess inherit the whole kingdom.

Carmichael notes 'This tale was written on the north side of the turf-dyke between the Talamhsgeir [Talaisgeir/Talisker] farm and the Distillery farm on the [-] June 1861 a little above the sea side of Loch-Harport. Being compelled to go there to be out of the sight of gossipers.'


  • Creation: June 1861

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 3 notebooks of 80 folios ; 21 x 25 cm