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Story under the heading 'Ur-Sgeulan' entitled 'An t-Iarla Og', c1862

Identifier: Coll-97/CW112/10

Scope and Contents

Story under the heading 'Ur-Sgeulan' entitled 'An t-Iarla Og' [The Young Earl] collected from Caristiane Nic Cuiean [Christina MacQuien or MacQueen] Fearann-an -letha [Fearann an Leagha/Fernilea, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach/Isle of Skye]. The story tells how a young earl hears a voice calling him in the middle of the night telling him that his wife is giving birth and that he should get up. This happens three times and on the third occasion he some up. As it is dark it is some time until he sees a light in a bothy and he heads towards it. Inside an old man explains that they are awake at an early hour because a baby girl has just been born. Realising where the voice came from and how poor the family are, he offers to buy the baby with her weight in gold. The mother refuses as does the old man's wife but the poor man disagrees and says that they should sell the child. The child is one one end of the scales and the gold on the other and then the earl throws her out over his shoulder. A farmer and his ghille find the girl and as he and his wife did not have any children of their own he goes straight home and his wife goes into confinement. That the farmer and his wife have miraculously had a child is disbelieved but the farmer proclaims his good fortune widely while his wife remains in confinement and a nurse-maid is employed. The ghille and the farmer fall out and the ghille tells everyone the story of how the farmer found the baby. News reaches the earl and he goes to demand the girl as a goat milkmaid or he will throw the farmer off his land. A difficult choice to make the farmer lets her go and while she is working for the earl he drags her to the shore by her ankles and says she will have neither life nor death until he gets his inscribed gold ring back, a ring which he then throws into the sea. She begs for her life saying that he would never see her again if he let her live. He gives her a letter for his brother the older earl's name stating that she would never return and she leaves. She encounters a youth who takes a fancy to her and so she shows him her letter. He tells her what he knows of the story of her life and having read the letter for tells her that the letter is an instruction to hang her. He writes a different letter instead recommending the girl highly and gives it to her. Although the young earl has got his brother to prepare to hang the girl, when she arrives and hands him the new letter, he takes everything down seeing no reason to hang her. The young earl's brother writes to him telling him that he did not hang the girl. Some time passes and the young earl decides to visit his brother but on arriving there he is sullen and solitary. A fisherman gives the girl a creel of fish to clean and inside one of them she finds the ring which the young earl threw into the sea and she tells her mistress, the young earl's sister-in-law. She tells the girl to take it to the young earl but she refuses on account of her promise to him but is persuaded to go after young earl's sister-in-law promises to support her. The girl presents him with the ring, telling him how she found it inside a fish and the young earl repents of his ill-will towards her. He calls for his brother and sister-in-law and the minister and marries the girl and they live happily ever after. The text contains a few amendments in pencil.


  • Creation: c1862

Language of Materials

English Gaelic

Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 183 folios ; 20 x 23.8cm

Physical Location


Physical Location

folio 77v, line 1 to folio 81r, line 26

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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