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Wednesday 27 March 2013

Another Wee Drappie, Big Donald

Whisky and songs not to mention stories have been popular in Gaelic tradition for many centuries. Such is the very strong and resonant connection of whisky with the Highlands and Islands of Scotland that it is easy to forget that until the seventeenth century the most popular drink, especially amongst the nobility, was Spanish or French wine which was imported in huge quantities. Whisky is now a global phenomenon and its ever-increasing market place share reflects its popularity furth of Scotland. 
The following amusing anecdote was collected by Calum Maclean from the recitation of John MacDonald of Highbridge on the 10th of January, 1951. The most interesting and let’s face it amusing part of the story is how the protagonist interprets the bird song which matches his own wishes exactly. Onomatopoeic elements in Gaelic stories are not that common but this one is as good an example as any:
Bha duine ann a seo agus bha e gu math trom air mac na braiche. Ach thuirt e ris fhéi’ gu robh e a’ dol a sgur dheth agus thug e bóidean do’n bhean gu sguireadh e dheth.
“Agus an t-aon dòigh a nì mi: théid mi do’n taigh-òsta,” thuirt e, “agus gheibh mi botul uisge-bheatha. Agus bidh e a staigh ’s an taigh agus cha téid boinne ás. Agus ’s e sin an dòigh a bheir mi na bóidean nach gabh mi e.”
Agus ’s ann mar seo a bha. Bha e a’ tighinn air adhart agus am botul uisge-bheatha aige. Agus chuala e smeòrach a’ cur dhith:
“Dileag bheag, a Dhòmhnaill Mhóir. Dileag bheag, a Dhòmhnaill Mhóir.”
“Ma-tà, cha chreid mi nach gabh mi do chomhairle,” thuirt e.
’S e seo a rinn e.
Thug e an corcas ás a’ bhotul agus ghabh e steall dheth. Choisich e air adhart.
Thuirt i:
“Dileag eile, dileag eile, dileag eile,” thuirt i.
“An-dà, ghabhaidh mi do chomhairle, a ghalad,” thuirt e.
An uair seo bha am botul a’ dol a sìos gu math is chuir e ’na phòca e is dh’fhalbh e.
Chuala e smeòrach air gheug a’ cur dhith:
“Gabh tuillidh. Gabh tuillidh. Gabh tuillidh.”
Ghabh e e. Bha e ’ga chur ri cheann agus e ’ga ghabhail gu gasda ’n uair a chuala e:
“Sgob ás e. Sgob ás e. Sgob ás e.”
Thog e ás a chuile boinne a bh’ ann.
“Car son nach gabhainn do chomhairle.”
Agus thilg e am botul ri taobh an rathaid mhóir agus choisich e dhachaidh. Agus bha e a cheart cho dona leis an deoch an latha sin agus a bha e an oidhche roimhe sin.
And the translation goes something like this:
There was a man here and he was quite a heavy drinker. But he said to himself that he was going to stop and promised his wife that he would.
“And the way that’ll I do it: I’ll go the pub,” he said, “and I’ll get a bottle of whisky and keep it in the house and not a drop will be taken out. That’s the very way in which I’ll fulfil my pledge.”
And that’s how it was. He was coming home carrying a bottle of whisky and he heard a thrush warbling:
“A wee drappie, Big Donald. A wee drappie, Big Donald.”
“Well, then, I think I’ll take your advice,” he said.
That’s the very thing he did.
He threw the cork from the bottle and he took a glug. He then walked on.
She warbled:
“Another drappie, another drappie, another drappie,” she sang.
“Well, I’ll take your advice, my dear,” he said.
By the time the bottle was quite empty he had put it in his pocket and walked on.
He heard a thrush on a branch warbling:
“Have more. Have more. Have more.”
He took more. He put the bottle to its end and was drinking away when he heard:
“Scoop it all. Scoop it all. Scoop it all.”
He drank every drappie that was left.
“Indeed, why wouldn’t I take your advice.”
And he threw the empty bottle away besides the highway and he walked home. He was just as bad a drinker from that day as he had been the previous night.
NB SSS 10, pp. 919920
Smeòrach / Thrush / Mavis

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