Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Annual Procession to the Summer Pastures



Alexander Carmichael the 19th century Scottish folklorist  describes the annual procession to the summer pastures this way:

On the first day of May the people of the crofter townland are up betimes and busy as bees about to swarm. This is the day of migrating, bho baile gu beinn (from townland to moorland), from the winter homestead to the summer sheiling. The summer of their joy is come, the summer of the sheiling, the song, the pipe and the dance, when the people ascend the hill to the clustered bothies, overlooking the distant sea from among the fronded ferns and fragrant heather, where neighbour meets neighbour, and lover meets lover.

The animals were driven in procession with the sheep leading, the cattle following, according to their ages, with the goats next and the horses last. The men carried the tools needed to repair the summer huts while the women brought the bedding, food supplies and cooking utensils. They hiked up their skirts to enable them to walk with greater ease. Once they reached the summer grazing ground and finished their errands, they feasted on an unblemished male lamb killed that day. Then the prayed. The Protestants called on the Holy Trinity but the Catholics also invoked St Michael of the three-cornered shield and flaming sword; St Columba, guardian of the cattle; Bride, the foster-mother of Christ; and the Virgin, mother of the White Lamb.

As the people intone their prayers on the lonely hillside, literally in the wilderness, the music of their evensong floats over glen and dell, loch and stream, and is echoed from corrie and cliff till it is lost on the soft evening air.



HERDING BLESSING

Travelling moorland, travelling townland,
Travelling mossland long and wide,
Be the herding of God the Son about your feet,
Safe and whole may ye home return,
Be the herding of God the Son about your feet,
Safe and whole may ye home return.

The sanctuary of Carmac and of Columba
Be protecting you going and coming,
And of the milkmaid of the soft palms,
Bride of the clustering hair golden brown,
And of the milkmaid of the soft palms,
Bride of the clustering hair golden brown.

BEANNACHADH BUACHAILLEACHD

Siubhal beinne, siubhal baile,
Siubhal featha fada, farsuinn,
Buachailleachd Mhic De mu'r casaibh,
Buan is reidh gun teid sibh dachaidh,
Buachailleachd Mhic De mu'r casaibh,
Buan is reidh gun teid sibh dachaidh.

Comraig Charmaig is Chaluim-chille
Bhith d'ar tearmad a falbh's a tilleadh,
Agus banachaig nam basa mine,
Bride nan or chiabh donn,
Agus banachaig nam basa mine,
Bride nan or chiabh donn.

GUARDING THE FLOCKS

May Mary the mild keep the sheep,
May Bride the calm keep the sheep,
May Columba keep the sheep,
May Maolruba keep the sheep,
May Carmac keep the sheep,
From the fox and the wolf.

May Oran keep the kine,
May Modan keep the kine,
May Donnan keep the kine,
May Moluag keep the kine,
May Maolruan keep the kine,
On soft land and hard land.

May the Spirit of peace preserve the flocks,
May the Son of Mary Virgin preserve the flocks,
May the God of glory preserve the flocks,
May the Three preserve the flocks,
From wounding and from death-loss,
From wounding and from death-loss.

GLEIDHEADH TREUID

Gun gleidheadh Moire min an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Bride bith an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Calum-cille an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Maol-ribhe an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Carmag an ciob,
O'n mhi-chu 's o'n mharbh-chu.

Gun gleidheadh Odhran an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Maodhan an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Donnan an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Moluag an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Maolruan an crodh,
Am boglach's an crualach.

Gun gleidheadh Spiorad foir an treud,
Gun gleidheadh Mac Moir Oigh an treud,
Gun gleidheadh Ti na gloir an treud,
Gun gleidheadh an Teoir an treud,
Bho reubain 's bho mhearchall,
Bho reubain's bho mhearchall.


From the CARMINA GADELICA by ALEXANDER CARMICHAEL. This material was gathered n the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910. This work consists of old lore and it forms a small part of a large mass of oral literature written down from the recital of men and women throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, from Arran to Caithness, from Perth to St Kilda.

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