Cànan nan Gaidheal

Karen Matheson is joined by an all-star group of musicians to sing this lament over the decline of the Scottish language.

Cànan nan Gaidheal

Cha b’ e sneachda ‘s an reòthadh bho thuath,
Cha b’ e ‘n crannadh fuar bho ‘n ear,
Cha b ‘e ‘n uisge ‘s an gailleon bho ‘n iar,
Ach an galair a bhlean bho ‘n deas
Blàth, duilleach, stoc, agus freumh
Canan mo threubh ‘s mo shluaidh.

Thig thugainn, thig co-rium gu siar
Gus an cluinn sinn ann canan nam Féinn,
Thig thugainn, thig co-rium gu siar
Gus an cluinn sinn ann canan nan Gaidheal.

Uair chite fear-feilidh ‘sa ghleann
Bu chinnteach gur gàidhlig a chainnt
Ach spion iad a fhreumh as an fhonn
‘N aite gàidhlig tha canan a Ghoill
‘S a Ghaidhealtachd creadhal-nan-sonn
‘S tir mhajors is cholonels ‘n diugh th’ innt’.

Far a nuas dhuinn na coinnleirean òir
‘S annt’ caraibh coinlean geal ceir
Lasaibh suas iad an seòmair bhroin
Tìgh-‘aire seann chanan a’ Ghae’l
‘S sud o chionn fhad’ thuirt a namh
Ach fhathast tha beò canan a’ Ghae’l.

Ged theich i le beath’ as na glinn
Ged ‘s gann an diugh chluinntear i nis mo
O Dhuthaich MhicAoidh fada tuath
Gu ruig thu Druim-Uachdar nam bo
Gigheal, dhi na Eileanan Siar
Bi na claimheamh ‘s na sgiath’n ud dhoirn.


It was not the snow and frost from the north,
nor the cold withering from the east,
it wasn’t the rain or the storms from the west,
but the sickness from the south that has faded
the bloom, foliage, stock and root
of the language of my race and my people.

Come, come on, come with me westwards
until we hear the language of the Fein,
Come, come on, come with me westwards
until we hear the language of the Gaels.

Once if a kilted man was seen in the valley it was certain
that Gaelic was his language, but they have torn his roots from
the ground, in the place of Gaelic is the foreigner’s language,
and the Gaeltachd, cradle of heroes, today it is a land of
majors and colonels.

Pass over to us the golden candlesticks
and put in them the white waxen candles
light them up in rhe mourning room
of the wake-house of the Gael’s old language
That’s what the enemy has long been saying
but the language of the Gael is alive yet.

Although it has escaped with its life fom the valley,
although it’s rare today that it’s head any more
from Strathnaver [MacKay’s country] in the far north
right down to Drumouchter where the cattle are
nevertheless, for it in the Western Isles
the swords and shields are taken in hand there.


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