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Thursday 20 December 2012

The Eagle and Child

Golden Eagle (Iolaire Bhuidhe)
You may have recently seen the YouTube Eagle snacthes kid! AMAZING! hit that is currently doing the rounds about an eagle clutching an infant then dropping it to the ground. Apparently some believe the video footage filmed in a Montreal Park to be a fake. It may well be but there is a story that Calum Maclean recorded from John MacDonald (1876–1964), Highbridge, Brae Lochaber, known locally as John the Bard, on 19 January 1951 which adds credence to the belief that eagles snatched unattended infants and carried them away. The story entitled Iolaire a Thug Leithe Gille / An Eagle Who Took a Lad is situated in Raasay and Skye and the protagonist of the tale was thereafter called Neil of the Eagle. It’s a nice short anecdote and Maclean recorded more than five hundred of these in a matter of months from John MacDonald’s recitation:

Bha iolaire agas thug i leithe gille, pàisde beag (B522.4.), a Eilean Rathasair agas thug i a nunn don Eilean Sgitheanach e. Bha fear ’s an àite agas bha e a’ dol a mharadh na h-Iolaire. Bha e gu h-àrd aig a’ nead aic(hc)e, ’n uair a thigeadh i. Bha i ri móran call air uain agas air rud eile 's an àite. Ach bha e a’ beachdachadh oirre a’ tighinn agas chunnaic e i a’ giulan rud geal.
Ghabh e iongantas glé mhór. Thuirst e ris fhéin:
“Chan e uan a th’ ann.”
Is ’n uair a thàinig i car faisg air, dh’ aithnich i gur h-e uarrag a bh’ ann.
Ach thuirst e:
“’S fhearra dhomh fiachainn oirre. Is fhearr liom i fhéin agas an giullan mharadh na gum bith e air iche aic(hc)e-sa ’n uair a thig i chun a’ nead.”
Agas ’s ann mar seo a rinn e.
Thog e an gunna agas thilig e i agas thàinig i a nuas. Agas cha do bhean spiligean do’n ghiullan. Agas theireadh iad ris an deadhaidh sin Niall na h-Iolaire. Sin an t-ainim a bh’ ac(hc)a air anns an Eilean Sgitheanach. Is dh’ fhàs e ’na duine mór foghainteach. Agas dhèanadh e fhéin gàire ’n uair a rachadh a’ naidheachd innseadh dhà. Agas theireadh e fhéin:
“Is mise Niall na h-Iolaire.” 

And the translation goes something like this: 

There was an eagle and she caught a lad, a little infant (B522.4.), from the Isle of Raasay and she took him over to the Isle of Skye. There was a man in this place and he was going to kill the eagle. He was up at her nest when she would come. She had killed a great deal of lambs as well as creatures in this place. And he watched her as she came and he saw that she was carrying something white.
“That’s not a lamb.”
And when she came quite close to him, he recognised that it was an infant.
And he said:
“I’ll try and shot it. I’d much prefer to kill her and the infant rather than let her eat him when she comes to the nest.
And so this is what he did.
He raised his gun and shot her and she fell down but the child remained completely unharmed. After that they’d call him Neil of the Eagle; that was his name in the Isle of Skye. He grew to be a large, powerful man. He would laugh to himself when the story was told to him and he’d say himself:
“I’m Neil of the Eagle.”

SSS NB 9, pp. 872–73
Eagle snacthes kid! AMAZING!

Golden Eagle (Iolaire Bhuidhe)

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