Tales of the West Highlands THE TALE
OF THE HOODIE From Ann
MacGilvray, Islay. - April 1859
There was ere
now a farmer, and he had three daughters. They were waulking (Postadh.
A method ofwashing clothes practised in the Highlands viz., by dancing on
them barefoot in a tub of water.) clothes at a river. A hoodie (Hoodie
the Royston crow - a very cornmon bird in the Highlands; a sly, familiar,
knowing bird, which plays a great part in these stories. He is common in
most parts of Europe.) came round and he said to eldest one, "M-POS-U-MI,
Wilt thou wed me, farmer's daughter? "I won't wed thee, thou ugly brute.
An ugly brute is the hoodie," said she. He came to the second one on the
morrow, and said to her, "M-POS-U-MI, wilt thou wed me?" "Not I, indeed,"
said she; "an ugly brute is the hoodie." The third day he said to the
youngest, M-POS-U-MI, "Wilt thou wed me, farmer's daughter?" "I will wed
thee," said she; "a pretty creature is the hoodie," and on thje morrow
said to her, "Whether wouldst thou rather that I should be a hoodie by
day, and a man at night; or be a hoodie at night, and a man by day? "I
would rather that thou wert a man by day and a hoodie at night," says she.
After this he was a splendid fellow by day, and a hoodie at night. A few
days after they married he took her with him to his own house.
At the end of
three quarters they had a son. In the night there came the very finest
music that ever was heard about the house. Every man slept, and the child
was taken away. Her father came to the door in the morning, and he asked
how were all there. He was sorrowful that the child should be taken away,
for fear that he should be blamed for it himself.
At the end of
three quarters again they had another son. A watch as set on the house.
The finest of music came, as it came before, about the house; every man
slept, and the child was taken away. Her father came to the door in the
morning. He asked if every thing was safe; but the child was taken away,
and he did not know what to do for sorrow.
Again, at the
end of three quarters they had another son. A watch was set on the house
as usual. Music came about the house as it came before; every one slept,
and the child was taken away. When they rose on the morrow they went to
another place of rest that they had, himself and his wife, and his
sister-in-law. He said to them by the way, "See that you have not
forgotten any thing." The wife said, "I FORGOT MY COARSE COMB." The coach
in which they were fell a withered faggot, and he went away as a hoodie.
sisters returned home, and she followed after him. When he would be on a
hill top, she would follow to try and catch him; and when she would reach
the top of a hill, he would be in the hollow on the other side. When night
came, and she was tired, she had no place of rest or dwelling; she saw a
little house of light far from her, and though far from her she was not
long in reaching it.
reached the house she stood deserted at the door. She saw a little laddie
about the house, and she yearned to him exceedingly. The housewife told
her to come up, that she knew her cheer and travel. She laid down, and no
sooner did the day come than she rose. She went out, and when she was out,
she was going from hill to hill to try if she could see a hoodie. She saw
a hoodie on a hill, and when she would get on the hill the hoodie would be
in the hollow, when she would go to the hollow, the hoodie would be on
another hill. When the night came she had no place of rest or dwelling.
She saw a little house of light far from her, and if far from her she was
not long reaching it. She went to the door. She saw a laddie on the floor
to whom she yearned right much. The housewife laid her to rest. No earlier
came the day than she took out as she used. She passed this day as the
other days. When the night came she reached a house. The housewife told
her to come up, that she knew her cheer and travel, that her man had but
left the house a little while, that she should be clever, that this was
the last night she would see him, and not to sleep, but to strive to seize
him. She slept, he came where she was, and he let fall a ring on her right
hand. Now when she awoke she tried to catch hold of him, and she caught a
feather of his wing. He left the feather with her, and he went away. When
she rose in the morning she did not know what she should do. The housewife
said that he had gone over a hill of poison over which she could not go
without horseshoes on her hands and feet. She gave her man's clothes, and
she told her to go to learn smithying till she should be able to make
horse shoes for herself.
smithying so well that she made horseshoes for her hands and feet. She
went over the hill of poison. That same day after she had gone over the
hill of poison, her man was to be married to the daughter of a great
gentleman that was in the town.
There was a
race in the town that day, and every one was to be at the race but the
stranger that had come over to poison hill. The cook came to her, and he
said to her, Would she go in his place to make the wedding meal, and that
he might get to the race.
She said she
would go. She was always watching where the bridegroom would be sitting.
She let fall
the ring and the feather in the broth that was before him. With the first
spoon he took up the ring, with the next he took up the feather. When the
minister came to the fore to make the marriage, he would not marry till he
should find out who had made ready the meal. They brought up the cook of
the gentleman, and he said that this was not the cook who made ready the
up now the one who had made ready the meal. He said, "That now was his
married wife." The spells went off him. They turned back over the hill of
poison, she throwing the horse shoes behind her to him, as she went a
little bit forward, and he following her. When they came back over the
hill, they went to the three houses in which she had been. These were the
houses of his sisters, and they took with them the three sons, and they
came home to their own house, and they were happy.
down by Hector Maclean, schoolmaster at Ballygrant, in Islay, from the
recitation of "Ann MacGilvray, a Cowal woman, married to a farmer at
Kilmeny, one Angus Macgeachy from Campbelltown." Sent April 14, 1859.
of this tale is the plain everyday Gaelic of Islay and the West
Highlands. Several words are variously spelt, but they are variously
pronounced - falbh, folbh, tigh, taighe, taighean. There is one word,
Tapaidh, which has no English equivalent; it is like Tapper in
tuathanach ann roimhe so; agus bha triủir nighean aige. Bha eud a' postadh
aig obhainn. Thàinig feannag mu'n cuairt's thuirt e ris an té bu shine,
"Am p̣s thu mise a nighean an tuathanaich." "Cha pḥs mis' thu' bheathaich
ghrànnda: is grannda am beathach an fheannag," ars'ise. T'hàinig e thun na
dàrna té an la 'r na mhàireach, 's thuirt e rithe, "Am pḥs thu mise."
"Cha pḥs mi féin," ars'ise; " 's grànnda am beathach an fheannag." An
treas la thuirt e ris an te b'̣ige, "Am pḥs thu mise, a nighean an
tuathanaich." P̣saidh," ars'ise; "s ḅidheach am beathach an fheannag."
An la'r na mhàireach pḥs èud. Thuirt an fheannag rithe, "C̣ 'ca is fheàrr
leat mise a bhith am fheannag 'san latha 'sam dhuine 'san oidhche, na
bhith 'san oidhche am fhearmag 's am dhuine 'san latha?" " 'S fhearr leam
thu bhith ad dhuine 'san latha 's a'd' fheannag 'san oidhche," ars'ise.
As a dhèigh so bha e na ̣ganach ciatach 'san latha, 's'na fheannag 's an
oidhche. Am beagan làithean an déigh dhaibh p̣sadh thug e leis i 'ga
'thigh féin. Ann an ceann tri ràithean bha mac aca. Anns an oidhche
thàinig an aon chẹl timchiol an taighe bu bḥidhche 'chualas riamh.
Chaidil a h-uile duine, 's thugadh air folbh am pàisde. Thàinig a h-athair
thun an doruisd sa mhadainn. Dh' fhẹraich e dé mur a bha h-uile h-aon an
siod; 's bha duilichinn mḥr air gun tugadh air folbh am pàisde, eagal
agus gum biodh coir' air a dhèanadh air féin air a shon. Ann an ceann tri
ràithean a rithisd bha mac eile aca. Chuireadh faire air an tigh. Thàinig
cẹl ra bḥidheach mar a thàinig roimhid timchoill an taighe; chaidil a h-uile
duine 's thugadh air folbh am pàisde. Thàinig a h-athair thun an doruisd
sa mhaidainn dh'fhẹraich e an robh gach ni ceart; ach bha 'm pàisde air a
thoirt air folbh, 's cha robh fhịs aige dé a dhèanadh e leis an
duilichinn. Ann an ceann tri ràithean a rithisd bha mac eile aca. Chaidh
faire 'chur air an tigh mar a b àbhaist. Thàinig cẹl timchioll an taighe
mar a thàinig roimhid; chaidil gach neach, 's thugadh am pàisde air folbh.
Nur a dh' éiridh iad an la 'r na mhàireach chaidh iad gu hàite tàmh eile a
bha aca, e fein 's a' bhean, s a' phiuthar cḥile. Thuirt e riu air an
rathad, "Feuch nach do dhichuimhnich sibh ni 'sam, bith." Urs' a' bhean, "DHIOCHUIMHNICH
MI MO CHIR GHARBH." Thuit an carbad anns, an robh eud 'na chual
chrionaicch, s dh' fhalbh esan 'na fheannag. Thill a dha phiuthair
dhachaidh 's dh' fholbh ise 'na dhéighsan. Nur a bhiodh esan air mullach
cnoic leanadh ise e feuch am beireadh i air, 's nur a ruigeadh ise mullach
a chnoic bhiodh esan san lag an taobh eile. Nur a thàing an oidhche 's i
sgith, cha robh àite tàmh na fuireachd aice. Chunnaic i tigh beag soluisd
fada uaithe s ma b' fhada uaithe cha b fhada a bha ise 'ga ruigheachd.
Nur a ràinig i an tigh sheas i gu diblidh aig an dorusd. Chunnaic i
balachan beag feadh an taighe, s thẹigh i ris gu h-anabarrach. Thuirt
bean an taighe rithe tighinn a nios, gu robh fios a seud 's a suibhail
aice-se. Chaidh i laidhe, 's cha bu luaithe thainig an latha na dh' éiridh
i. Chaidh i 'mach, 's nur a bha i 'mach bha i o chnoc gu cnoc feuch am
faiceadh i feannag. Chunnaic i feannag air cnoc,'s nur a rachadh ise air
a' chnoc bhiodh an fheannag 'san lag, nur a rachadh i do 'n lag bhiodh an
fheannag air cnoc eile. Nur a thàinig an oidhche cha robh àite taimh na
fuireachd aice. Chunnaic i tigh beag soluisd fada uaithe 's ma b' fhada
uaithe cha b' fhada 'bha ise 'g a ruigheachd. Chaidh i gus an dorusd.
Chunnaic i balachan air an urlar ris an do thẹigh i gu ra mḥr. Chuir
bean an taighe a laidhe i. Cha bu mhoich' a thàinig an latha na ghabh i
'mach mar a b'àbhaist. Chuir i seachad an latha so mar no làithean eile.
Nur a thàinig an oidhche ràinig i tigh. Thuirt bean an taighe rithe
tighinn a nios; gu 'robh fios a seud 's a siubhail aice-se; nach d' rinn a
fear ach an tigh fhàgail bho cheann tiota beag; i 'bhith tapaidh, gum b' i
siod an oidhche ma dheireadh dhi fhaicinn, 's gun i 'chadal, ach stŕ ri
gréim a dhèanadh air. Chaidil ise, 's thàinig esan far an robh i, s lig e
tuiteam do dh' fhàinn, air a làinh dheas. Nur a dhuisg ise an so thug i
làmh air breith air, 's rug i air ite d'a sgéith. Leig e leatha an ite, 's
dh' fhalbh e. Nur a dh' éiridh i 'sa mhadainn cha robh fios aice dé a
dheànadh i. Thuirt bean an taighe gu'n deach e thairis air cnoc neamh air
nach b'urrainn ise dol thairis gun chrủidhean d'a làmhan agus d'a casan.
Thug i dhi aodach fir 's thuirt i rithe dol a dh' ionnsachadh na
goibhneachd gus am biodh i comasach air crủidhean a dhèanadh dh́ féin. Dh'
ionnsaich i 'ghoibhneachd cho math's gun d'rinn i crủdhean d'a làmhan agus
d'a casan. Dh 'fholbh i thairis air a chnoc neamh. An latha sin féin an
déigh dhi dol thairis air a chnoc neamh bha p̣sadh ri bhith aig a fear ri
nighean duine uasail mḥir a bha 'sa bhaile. Bha rèis anns a bhaile an
latha sin, s bha h-uile h-aon ri bhith aig an rèis ach an coigreach a
thàinig thairis air a' chnoc neamh. Thàinig an c̣caire a h-ionnsuidh, 's
thuirt e rithe an rachadh i 'na àite a dhèanadh biadh na bainnse, 's gu 'faigheadh
e dol thun na réise. Thuirt i gu' rachadh. Bha i furachail daonnan càite
am biodh fear na bainnse na shuidhe. Lig i tuiteam. do 'n fhàinne agus do
'n ite 'sa bhrot a bha air a bheulaobh. Leis a chiad spàin thog e'm fàinne,
s leis an ath spàin thog e 'n ite. Nur a thàinig am ministir a làthair a
dheanadh a pḥsaidh cha pḥsaidh esan gus am faigheadh e fios co a rinn am
biadh. Thug iad a'làthair c̣caire an duine uasail, 's thuirt esan nach b'
e siod an c̣caire a rinn am biadh. Thug iad an làthair an so an t-aon a
rinn am biadh. Thuirt esan gum be siod a' bhean pḥsda-san a nis. Dh'
fholbh na geasan dheth. Thill iad air an ais thairis air a' chnoc neamh;
ise a tilgeil nan crủidhean as a deigh da 'ionnsuidhsan nur a thigeadh i
treis air a h-aghaidh, 's esan 'ga leantainn. Nur a thàinig eud air an ais
thar a' chnoic, chaidh iad thun nan tri taighean anns an robh ise. Be sin
tri taighean a pheathraichean-san, thug iad leo an tri mic. Thàinig iad
dhachaidh g'an tigh féin, 's bha iad gu toilichte.
2. 1 have a
great many versions of this tale in Gaelic; for example, one from Cowal,
written from memory by a labourer, John Dewar. These are generally wilder
and longer than the version here given.
This has some
resemblance to an infinity of other stories. For example - Orpheus, Cupid
and Psyche, Cinderella's Coach, The Lassie and her Godmother (Norse
tales), East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon (ditto), The Master Maid
(ditto), Katie Wooden Cloak (ditto), The Iron Stove (Grimm), The
Woodcutter's Child (ditto), and a tale by the Countess d'Aulnoy, Prince
If this be
history, it is the story of a wife taken from an inferior but civilized
race. The farmer's daughter married to the Flayer "FEANNAG," deserted by
her husband for another in some distant, mythical land, beyond far away
mountains, and bringing him back by steady, fearless, persevering fidelity
If it be
mythology, the hoodie may be the raven again, and a transformed divinity.
If it relates to races, the superior race again had horses for there was
to be a race in the town, and every one was to be at it, but the stranger
who came over the hill; and when they travelled it was in a coach, which
was sufficiently wonderful to be magical, and here again the comb is mixed
up with the spells.
There is a
stone at Dunrobin Castle, in Sutherland, on which a comb is carved with
other curious devices, which have never been explained. Within a few
hundred yards in an old grave composed of great slabs of stone,
accidentally discovered on a bank of gravel, a man's skeleton was found
with teeth worn down, though perfectly sound, exactly like those of an old
horse. It is supposed that the man must have ground his teeth on dried
peas and beans perhaps on meal, prepared in sandstone querns. Here, at
least, is the COMB near to the grave of the farmer. The comb which is so
often found with querns in the old dwellings of some pre historic race of
Britons; the comb which is a civilized instrument, and which in these
stories is always a coveted object worth great exertions, and often
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