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Music Cape Breton's Diversity in Unity

Gaelic Tha Mi Sgìth On Tìm Seo ‘N Dè

Finlay Cameron, with Joe Lawrence MacDonald joining heartily in the chorus, sings a fragment of a song that originally had 40 verses. It was composed by The Bard MacLean. Originally from the island of Tiree, John MacLean (1787-1848) came to Nova Scotia in 1819 and settled at Barney’s River in Antigonish County. The best known of his many songs is A’ Choille Ghruamach” (The Gloomy Forest) where he voices his initial disillusionment with the New World.

This song is called Dìteadh Mhic an Tòisich (MacIntosh’s Condemnation). In Antigonish it was known as Òran Dhòmhnaill Màmaidh, after a local character, Donald MacGillivray, in whose name MacLean composed the song. MacIntosh is one of the Gaelic names for whisky; it comes from Ferintosh, the location of a well-known distillery.

The song reflects the views of the “friends of Ferintosh,” including tavern-keepers, a lawyer, a jail-keeper, a doctor and a piper. They were not too pleased when Bishop Fraser formed a Temperance Society in Antigonish in 1841. Most people in his diocese promised that they would observe abstinence for three years. They signed the pledge on New Year’s Day. When many broke their promise MacLean wrote another song of 46 verses. This one is called Aiseirigh Mhic an Toisich (MacIntosh’s Resurrection).

‘Tha Mi Sgìth On Tìm Seo ‘N Dè’, 1968. Finlay Cameron, with Joe Lawrence MacDonald. T-095. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.

Finlay Cameron

Joe Lawrence MacDonald

Tha Mi Sgìth On Tìm Seo ‘N Dè

Tha mi sgìth on tìm seo ‘n dè,
Chan eil sunnd orm gu feum;
Is beag an t-iongnadh sin dhomh fhèin
On fhuair mi sgeul chuir mulad orm.

1. Tòmas air a’ chnoc ud shuas,
Thàinig esan oirnn a-nuas,
Feuch an saoradh e ‘m fear ruadh,
‘S e ruith cho cruaidh ‘s a b’urrainn dha.

2. Chan eil banais, chan eil bàl,
Chan eil Nollaig, chan eil càil,
Nach bi thu fhèin os cionn do chlàir,
‘S do chàirdean fhèin cur furan ort.

3. ‘S ann air latha na Bliadhn’ Ùir’,
‘S ann a chruinnich iad a’ chùirt,
A’ feuchainn ri fear mo rùin
A chur an cùil ‘s a chumail ann.

4. Chaidh mi fhìn a-staigh ‘n an cainnt,
Is mo bhonaid orm “wide”;
Tha mi sìobhalta ‘n am chainnt,
‘S cha tugainn taing do ghin aca.

5. Tuitidh dhòmh-sa bhith gu bràth
Ann am prìosan ‘s an taigh bhàn;
Nam faicinn thu coiseachd sràid,
Gu leumainn àrd tro uinneagan.

I Am Tired Since Yesterday

I am tired since this time yesterday,
I have no energy to do anything useful;
That is not surprising to me,
Since I got news that saddened me.

1. Thomas on yonder hill,
He came over to us,
To try to liberate the red fellow,
Running as fast as he could.

2. There isn’t a wedding, or a dance,
Or a Christmas, or anything,
Where you don’t strut on stage,
Being welcomed by your own friends.

3. It was on New Year’s Day
That they assembled the court,
Trying to put my dear friend
In a corner, and to keep him there.

4. I myself went to talk to them,
Wearing my wide bonnet.
I am civil in my language
And I wouldn’t give a hoot for any of them.

5. I am destined to be forever
In a prison in the white house;
If I saw you walking on the street
I would jump from high windows.