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Two stories under the title 'Do'ull Gearr no Cearr' about Niall Mòr MacMhuirich and accompanying note, 1865 and 1875

Identifier: Coll-97/CW112/18

Scope and Contents

Story entitled 'Do'ull Gearr no Cearr' collected from Janet MacIsaac née Currie, Staoinegrib/Stoneybridge, Uibhist a Deas/South Uist on 24 February 1865. The story tells how Niall Mòr MacMhuirich, Clanranald's bard was on Lord MacDonald's farm in Uibhist a Tuath/North Uist where it was customary to bring food and a fee for the blacksmith but instead Niall Mòr brought iron and charcoal. The MacDonald's wife fell out with Niall Mòr and chellenged him on what he had brought to which he replied,' be cait am bith am biadh s a chain sann is coir an uidheam s an obair a bhith' [Wherever there is food and a fee there must be work]. This story is interrupted with the story of how Niall Mòr had acquired the right from Mac 'Ic Ailean [Clanranald] to Baile-bhaird at Staolaigearai [Baile a' Bhàird, Stadhlaigearraidh/Stilligarry, Uibhist a Deas/South Uist] but his son Donald Geàrr lost that right. Donald had married twice and his second wife realised that her children would come second to those of his first wife so she burnt the papers. The story also explains that Donald was the illegitimate child of Niall Mòr and the wife of mac Ghilleaspa Dubh at Clachan a ghloip [Clachan na Luib/Clachan, Uibhist a Tuath/North Uist]. Mac Ghilleaspa Dubh and his wife had been unable to have children and so when she gave birth to Niall Mòr's son he threw her out of the house. Homeless, she and the baby went wandering until one day at Dreimsdale [Driomsdal/Drimsdale, Uibhist a Deas/South Uist], they met Niall Mòr's daughter, who looked at the child, recognised that it was not the child of mac Ghilleaspa Dubh and recited a verse warning the woman to take care of the child as he would be a bard. The verse begins 'Altrum iocar uacar ucair, As caoin nam ban o thir mhucain'. Mac Ghilleaspa Dubh's wife takes the baby to Niall Mòr who keeps the baby and sends his wife back to her husband with two ponies and two milk cows and mac Ghilleaspa Dubh is happy with that arrangement. The story of Niall Mòr and MacDonald's wife continues, saying that when he left her house he shook hands with her and she became totally bald from head to to toe. MacDonald told Mac ic Ailein [Clanranald] that Niall Mòr had put a spell on his wife and Mac 'ic Ailean asked him to reverse it. At Mac 'ic Ailein's request, Niall Mòr went to Lord MacDonald, who rewarded him with gold and silver. The accompanying note states that Janet was also known as 'Seonaid Mòr' and that she heard the story from an old man called Do'ull Currai Mac Mhuirich [Donald Currie [or] MacMhuirich] in Ormacleit [Ormaclete].


  • Creation: 1865 and 1875

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 183 folios ; 20 x 23.8cm

Physical Location


Physical Location

folio 89v, line 1 to folio 91v, line 22

Related Materials

Coll-97/CW113/13 - another version of this item from the same informant, which notes that it was transcribed into this notebook on 24 January or February 1875.


Gillies, WIlliam, 'Alexander Carmichael and Clann Mhuirich', Scottish Gaelic Studies, no. 20:(2000) pp 1-66.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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