'S e Caimbeulach a bha am Fear Ghlinne-Faochain...

Composed ca. 1644-5.

The battle of Inverlochy, the most decisive Royalist victory during the Montrose wars of the 1640s, was fought on February 2 1645 between the forces of James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose and Alasdair Mac Colla MacDonald, and Convenanters commanded by Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck, who was slain on the field along with more than a thousand of his men. Blame for their defeat was placed upon the absence from the battle of Archibald Campbell (Gilleasbuig Caoch), 8th Earl & 1st Marquis of Argyll, who had fallen from his horse the previous day and retreated to his galley on Loch Linne; he claimed leniency, stating that “Auchinbreck, not he, was in command” (Buchan, 1928, p. 225), yet, as Anne Frater points out (1994, p. 93), this “must have seemed very feeble to a woman [i.e. the song’s author] who had lost [as many as eighteen] of her menfolk fighting for his cause”. The majority of poems made in praise of the Royalist victory, notably ‘Òrain air latha Blàir Inbhir Lòchaidh’ by Iain Lom (in OIL, pp. 20‒4), make light of and even celebrate the devastation wrought upon the Campbell forces and the subsequent grief of their mourners (e.g. 'S math a bha e air a thodhar; / Chan innear chaorach no ghobhar, / Ach fuil Dhuibhneach an deidh reodhach: ‘Well was [the battle-field] manured, not by the dung of the sheep or goats, but by the blood of the Campbells after it had congealed’ [id., pp. 24 & 25, translated Annie Mackenzie]); this song is one of only a handful composed from the opposite perspective.


''S e Caimbeulach a bha am Fear Ghlinne-Faochain.
A reir coltais 's i a bhean aige a rinn an t-oran' [i]

Ho, gur mi 'tha air mo leònadh,
Na i ri ri ho ro;
Ho, gur mi 'tha air mo leònadh,
Na i ri ri 's i ri ri ho ro. 

Bho latha blàr Inbhir-Lòchaidh;
Bha ruaig nan Eireannach dòite,[ii]               
'Thàinig do dh' Albainn gun stòras,
A bha dh' earras air an cleòcaibh.
Thug iad spionnadh do Chlann-Dòmhnaill;

Mharbh iad m' athair is m' fhear-pòsda,
'S mo thriùir mhacanan [grinn] òga,
'S mo cheathrar bhràithrean ga' n stròiceadh,
'S mo naoidhnear cho-dhaltan bòidheach.[iii]
Loisg iad ma chuid coirc' is eòrna.
Mharbh iad mo chrodh mór gu feòlach,
'S mo chaoirich gheala ga' n ròsdadh,[iv] 

Ho gur mise 'th' air ma chlaoidheadh
Mu Mhac-Dhonnchaidh Ghlinne Faochain;
Tha gach fear 's an tìr s' ga d' chaoineadh
Thall 'sa bhos mu Inbhir-Aora,
Mnathan 'sa bhasraich 's am falt sgaoilte. 

Ho gur mi tha air mo mhilleadh,
Mu mharcaich' nan srian 's nam pillein,
'Thuit 'sa chaonnaig le 'chuid ghillean,
Thug Mac-Cailein Mór an linn' air,
'S leig e 'n sgrìob ud air a chinneadh.

[i] Title from the song’s colophon in MT, p. 93. Text from MT, pp. 92‒3; cf. SRE, pp. 205‒6, a very similar text collected in October 1937 by J. L. Campbell from the recitation of Angus ‘the Ridge’ MacDonald, whose parents had emigrated to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, from the Braes of Lochaber (i.e. close by to the site of Inverlochy). 
SRE, p. 205, has ‘nine handsome foster-children’, rather than brothers, and adds ‘four young [genealogical] brothers’ to the tally of the singer’s total loss.
[iii] Anne Frater (1994, 92) suggests that these lines refer to the raids upon lands in Argyll carried out during the winter of 1644‒5, by Alasdair Mac Colla and his forces, including their Irish allies. The raids were part of Mac Colla’s campaign to reduce Campbell ascendancy in favour of his MacDonald kin, thus men who had survived Inverlochy, or had not taken part, were also put to death, at the same time as crops were burned and livestock slaughtered, as our song bears witness (and hence its probable date of composition); cf. Stevenson 1980, pp. 147‒9. His exploits in Argyll earned Mac Colla the epithet fear thiollaidh nan tighean, ‘destroyer of houses’ (literally ‘piercer’ or ‘one who makes holes’). 
[iv] More than 2000 Irish soliders were commanded by Montrose and Alasdair Mac Colla, following an arrangement between the Irish Catholic Confederacy and the Earl of Antrim, the undeclared ally of Charles I. As well as Inverlochy, they took part in the battles of Aberdeen, Auldearn, Alford and Kilsyth, and were responsible for considerable devastation outwith the battlefield as well (see below; cf. Stevenson 1980, pp. 151‒63 & OIL pp. 238‒43, for a detailed description of Inverlochy itself). 

'The lord of Glen Faochain was a Campbell.
In all likelihood, it was his wife who made the song'

O, I am wounded sorely,
Na i ri ri ho ro;
O, I am wounded sorely
Na i ri ri 's i ri ri ho ro.  

Since the day of the battle of Inverlochy,
Since the grim Irishmen’s pursuit –
They came to Scotland without resources,
Other than the goods they carried  –
They gave strength to Clan Donald,

They killed my father and my husband,
And my three [handsome] young sons,
My four brothers were torn to shreds,
And my nine comely foster-brothers;
They burned my crops, my oats and barley.
Gleefully, they killed my cows,
And roasted my white sheep, 

O, I have been tormented
At the thought of Mhac-Dhonnchaidh of Glen Faochain,
Every man in the country mourns you
In and around (about) Inverary,
Women are wringing their hands and tearing their hair. 

O, I have been despoiled,
By the horsemen of the bridle and pack-saddle,
You (?) fell in a skirmish with some of (your) lads;
Mac Cailean Mor made for the pool,
And permitted that blow for his kindred. 

MT: SINCLAIR, Alexander Maclean. (1901). Mactalla nan Tùr. Sydney, Cape Breton.
OIL: MACKENZIE, A. (1964). Orain Iain Luim: Songs of John MacDonald. Edinburgh.
SRE: CAMPBELL, J. L. (1999). Songs remembered in exile. Edinburgh.
BUCHAN, J. (1928). Montrose. London.
FRATER, Anne C. (1994). Scottish Gaelic women’s poetry up to 1750. Unpubl. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
STEVENSON, D. (1980). Alasdair MacColla and the Highland problem in the seventeenth century. Edinburgh [rpr. 2003 as Highland Warrior: Alasdair Mac Colla and the Civil Wars].