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Muireadhach Albannach


The name of Muireadhach Albannach is well known among the literary traditions of Celtic Scotland. In a curious genealogy by Lachlan Mac Mhuireadhaich or Vuirich, usually called Lachlan M'Pherson, given in the Report of the Highland Society of Scotland on Ossian, the said Lachlan traces his own genealogy back through eighteen generations to this Muireadhach or Murdoch of Scotland, and states that his ancestors were bards to M'Donald of Clanronald during the period. The original Murdoch was an ecclesiastic, and has probably given their name to the whole M'Pherson clan. There is a curious poetical dialogue given in the Dean of Lismore's Book between him and Cathal Cr˛dhearg, King of Connaught, who flourished in the close of the 12th century, upon their entering at the same time on a monastic life. The poem would seem to show Murdoch to have been a man of high birth, while his own compositions are evidence both of his religious earnestness and his poetical talent. Until the publication of the Dean of Lismore's Book, it was not known that there were any remains of his compositions in existence, but that collection contains several, all on religious subjects. The following is a specimen of his composition, and of the Gaelic poetry of the 12th or 13th century :-
 Mithich domh triall gu tigh Pharais,
'N uair a'ghuin gun e soirbb.
Cosnaim an tigh treun gun choire,
Gun sgeul aig neach 'eil oirnn.
Dean do sriuth ri do shagairt
'S coir cuimhne ach gu dl¨ umad olc.
Na beir do thigh righ gun agh
Sgeul a's priomh ri agradh ort.
Na dean folchainn a'd pheacadh,
Ge grain ri innseadh a h-olc;
Leigheadh de'd chuid an cleith diomhar,
Mur be angair a gabhail ort.
Dean do shith ris an luvhd-dreuchd,
Ge dona, ge anmhuinn le'd chor,
Sguir ri'd lochd, do ghul dean domhain,
Mu'm bi olc ri fhaighinn ort.
Mairg a threigeadh tigh an Ardrigh
Aig ghrÓdh peacaidh, turagh an ni,
An t-olc ni duine gu diomhair
Iomadh an sin fiachan mu'n ghniomh.
Aig so searmoin do shiol an Adhaimh,
Mar shaoilim nach bheil se an bhreug,
Fulang a bhais seal gu seachainn
An fear nach domh gu'n teid.
Fhir a cheannaich siol an Adhaimh
D'fhuil, a cholla, 'us da chridhe,
Air a reir gu'n deanadh sealga,
Ger ge dian ri'm pheacadh mi.
'Tis time for me to go to the house of Paradise
While this wound is not easily borne,
Let me win this house, famous , faultless,
While others can tell nought else of us.
Confess thyself now to thy priest,
Remember clearly all thy sins;
Carry not to the house of the spotless King
Aught that may thee expose to charge.
Conceal not any of thy sins
However hateful its evil to tell;
Confess what has been done in secret,
Lest thou expose thyself to wrath;
Make thy peace now the clergy
That thou mayst be safe as to thy state;
Give up thy sin, deeply repent,
Lest its guilt be found in thee.
Woe to him forsook the great King's house
For love of sin, sad is the deed;
The sin a man commits in secret
Much is the debt his son incurs.
This is a sermon for Adam's race,
I think I've nothing said that's false,
Though men may death for a time avoid,
'Tis true they can't at length escape.
Thou who hast purchased Adam's race,
Their blood, their body, and their heart,
The things we cherish thou dost assail
However I may sin pursue.
It is not necessary to give farther specimens of Murdoch of Scotland's poetry here, as those existing are very similar to the above; but several specimens will be found in the Dean of Lismore's Book, from which the above is taken. The original has been difficult to read, and in consequence to render accurately, but there is little doubt that the real meaning of the poem is given. If the Book of Deer be a specimen of the Gaelic at the close of the 12th century in the east of Scotland, the above is a specimen of the same language from the west, probably from the Hebrides.