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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Duncan MacDonald’s Life Story–VII [Storytelling]



A previous blog offered a summary of Duncan MacDonald’s life story. It may be divided into a few sections of varying lengths. Here is offered the seventh and final installment (NFC 1180, pp. 253–56) where MacDonald concludes his biography by stating that if it were not for the likes of Calum Maclean and K. C. Craig then his stories would not have been recorded and they would die with him. Only a few years after Maclean recorded and transcribed MacDonald’s life story he passed away in 1954. The opportunity has been taken to modernise the Gaelic orthography and also to offer a translation.

Mo Mhàthair

A-niste an dèidh bàs m’ athar bha mo mhàthair na boireannach òg, shaoileadh duine, a chionn bha m’ athair fichead bliadhna na bu shine na i agus ann an ceann seachd bliadhna an dèis bàs m’ athar ann a 1927 bhuail galair mo mhàthair agus ’s e cancer a thàinig as a’ bhrollach aice agus cha tug i ach mu raithe bhliadhna as a ghalair a bh’ ann a shineach nuair a dh’eug i ann an October 1927.

Daoine a’ cruinneachadh Sgeulachd

Agus ’s ann a 1942, tha mi a’ smaointinn a thàinig a’ chiad dhuine nam lùib fhìn airson sgeulachdan. Thàinig Mr Craig nam lùib fhìn agus e a’ cruinneachadh sgeulachd agus theann mi rin toirt dha cuideachd, ach a thaobh mi a bhith air falbh an siud agus an seo ag obair agus cha bhiodh aige-san ach treisean de dh’ ùine. Bha e às a’ University an Dùn Eideann as an àm. Cha robh e a’ faighinn dad de sgrìobhadh a dhèanamh. Agus ’s ann ann an 1944 a dh’fhan e as dùthaich na b’ fhaide agus bha mise ag obair air càrnan an tochdair as an àm agus bhiodh e daonnan a’ tighinn a-nuas far an robh mi feuch cùine a bhithinn ullamh agus dh’fhan e fad an fhoghair a bh’ ann a shin as dùthaich agus sin nuair a thug e sìos cus dhen t-seanchas bhuam-sa. Agus bhiodh a làmh a’ toirt fairis a’ sgrìobhadh agus tha a-nist 1950 ann agus bha na sgeulachdan a fhuair e bhuam-sa gun tighinn a-mach fhathast. Ach tha làn-dhùil riutha a dh’aithghearrachd. Ach tha dhà a-mach mar tha ach ’s e Commission Èirinn a chuir a-mach sin agus nam biodh e air a thoirt air fad, bha iad a-mach o chionn fada aige.

Mar a tha Mi An-diugh

Tha mi a-niste an dèis obraichean mòra a thoirt suas. Chan eil mi a’ dèanamh dad dheth ach gu bheil mi a’ dol sìos chon a’ chladaich, a chionn tha mi fuathasach goirid dhan chladach a’ tàmh agus bi mi a’ toirt corra-ghreis air staimh ann. Agus nam biodh m’ àite comhnaidh fad on chladach cha bhiodh rathad agam air coiseachd air astar fada ga ionnsaigh a chionn tha mi a’ cumail dona le rheumatics agus mar sin chan urrainn domh a dhol air astar fada le coiseachd.
Agus as a’ mhìos Mhàrt ann a 1946 thachair Calum Maclean orm agus mura b’ e sin cha bhithinn an-diugh a’ cur crìoch air eachdraidh mo bheatha dhuibh, air na chaidh seachad. Agus tha mi a-nist trì fichead bliadhna is a seachd a dh’aois an-diugh, an darna latha dhen mhìos mu dheireadh dhen earrach 1950.

My Mother

Now, after my father’s death my mother was still a young woman, a man would think, for my father was twenty years older than she and seven years after my father’s death in 1927 my mother fell ill with breast cancer and she only lasted a few months before she passed away in October 1927.

People Collecting Stories

In 1942, I think that was when the first person came to my notice to collect stories. Mr. Craig came to see me when he was collecting stories and I gave them to him, but as I was travelling due to work here and there he only had a short time. He was at the University of Edinburgh around that time. He didn’t get anything to write about. And in 1944 he stayed longer in the district and I was working gathering manure and he always used to come down to me to see when I’d be finished and he stayed all that autumn in the district and that is when he took down traditions from me. But he used to get writer’s cramp writing and it is now 1950 and the stories that he got from me have still not come out yet. But they fully expect them to come out soon. But two have come out already published by the Commission in Ireland and if they had put them all out, they would be very long.

As I am Today

I’ve now given up all heavy work. I don’t do anything now other than to go down to the shore as I’m very near the shoreline and I now and again I while away collecting seaweed. If my house was far away from the shore then I’d have no way of walking long distances as I suffer badly from rheumatics.

And in March 1946 [recte: 1947] I met Calum Maclean and if it were not for that then I wouldn’t be finishing my biography, or what has gone by. And I am now sixty-six years old today, on the second last day of the last month of spring 1950.

Reference:
NFC 1180, pp. 111–256

Image: 
Duncan MacDonald, 1951, Peninerine, South Uist, by Dr Werner Kissling. By courtesy of the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh.

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