Gàidhlig,Haggis Poems,White Cockade,Tartan or Plaid,Tartan Dyes, Highland Dyes, Coat of Arms Rights, A Hogmanay Carol
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Gaelic Proverbs (CASSOC - Clans And Scottish Societies of Canada)
as printed in Leonard H. Reid's Sons of the Hector (an drochaid Autumn 1983 Issue)

Is fhusa comhairle thoirt na comhairle ghabhail.
Tis easier to give advice than to take it.

Dean air t'athais, 's ann is luaithe.
Take it easy; you'll speed better.

Is math an sgathan suil caraide.
A friend's eye is a good mirror.

Nitear carn mor de chlachan beaga.
A big cairn is made up of little stones.

Is moisa na an uireas bhuidh tuille 's a choir.
Tis worse than poverty to have more than enough.

Ge dubh am fitheach is geal leis isean.
Black as is the raven he thinks his chicken fair.

Measar an t-amadan glic ma chumas e a theanga.
The fool will pass for wise if he holds his tongue.

Far nach bi am beag cha bhi am mor.
Where no little is, no big will be.

A reir do mheas ort fhein measaidh cach thu.
As thou valuest thyself others will esteem thee.

(CASSOC's an drochaid January 1984 Issue)

Is e Dia féin as buachaill dhomh,
cha bhi mi ann an dith.
Bheir e fainear gu'n luidhinn sios
air cluainibh glas' le sìth;
Is fòs ri taobh nan aibhnichean
théid seachad sios gu mall,
A ta e 'ga mo threòrachadh,
gu mìn réidh anns gach ball.

Tha 'g aisig m'anam' dhomh air ais:
's a' treòrachadh mo cheum
Air slighibh glan' na fireantachd,
air sgàth 'dheagh ainme féin.
Seadh fòs ged ghluaisinn eadhon trìd
ghlinn dorcha sgàil' a' bhàis,
Aon olc no urchuid a theachd orm
ni h-eagal leam 's ni 'n càs;

Air son gu bheil thu leam a ghnàth,
do lorg, 's do bhata treun,
Tha iad a' tabhairt comhfhurtachd
is fuasglaidh dhomh am fheum.
Dhomh dheasaich bord air beul mo
le h-ola dh'ung mo cheann; (nàmh:
Cur thairis tha mo chupan fòs,
aig meud an làin a t'ann.

Ach leanaidh maith is tròcair rium,
an cian a bhios mi beò;
Is còmhnuicheam an àros Dé,
ri fad mo ré 's mo lò.
-------------Salm XXIII

(CRA-Canada Newsletter Autumn 1987 Issue)

Arn-Athair a ta air neamb,
Gu naombaidear t'ainm.
Thigeadb do rioghachd.
Deanor do thoil air an talamb,
mar a nithear air neamb.
Tabhair dhuinn an diugh
ar n-aran laitheil.
Agus maith dhuinn ar fiachan
amhuil a mhaitheas sinne
d'ar luchd-fia fiach.
Agus na leig ann am buaireadh
sinn; ach saor sinn o ole:
oir is leatsa an rioghachd, agus
an cumbachd, agus a ghloir,
gu siorruidh. AMEN.
[Cape Breton]


Altachadh Anns a'Gàidhlig
O dhia tha sinn gad mholadh
Air son trocair dhuinn
Air son gum bheil sinn comhla
'nad lathair aon nair eile.

Beannaich dhuinn am biadh seo
Bi gar stuireadh
's gar gleidheadh
Air sgath Chriosda. AMEN.
(A traditional Gealic Grace)

A Gaelic Grace
O, God we praise thee
For Your blessings on us
For our gathering here together
One more time.

Bless for us this food
Guide us
and protect us
For Christ's sake. AMEN.

Urnaigh an Tighearna
(The Lord's Prayer)
As a' Bhioball Gàidhlig
(From the Gaelic Bible)

Ar n-Athair a tha air nèamh, gu naomhaichear d'ainm.
Thigeadh do riochachd. Dèanar do thoil air an talamh,
mar a nithear air nèamh.
Tabhair dhuinn an-diugh ar n-aran làitheil.
Agus maith dhuinn ar fiachan,
amhail a milaitheas sinne dar luchd-fiach.
Agus na leig ann am buaireadh sinn;
ach saor sinn o olc;
oir is leatsa an rioghachd, agus an cumhachd,
agus a ghlòir, gu siorraidh. AMEN.

Pronunciation, in phonetics:

arr NAM-hr uh thah air NEE-uv, guh NOO-veech-ehr DAH-nyim.
HIK-ug daw REE-awchk. JEE-ah-nuh-r daw hawl air un TAH-luv,
marr uh NEE-ehr air NEE-uv.
TARR GHOO-een un-DJOO arr NAH-run LAH-yel.
uh-gus mye GHOO-een arr FEE-uh-chn,
AH-will uh VYE-uss SHEE-nya darr LOOCHD-FEE-uh-ch.
uh-gus nail lyeek AH-oon urn BOO-uh-rug sheen;
ach soor sinn aw awlc;
awr iss LAHT-suh un REE-awchk, uh-gus un KOO-awchd,
uh-gus uh GHLAWR, guh SHEE-uh-ree. AMEN.

For newcomers to Scottish Gaelic, a few things about Scottish Gaelic pronunciation:

Regarding the pronunciation of "ao" in Gaelic: for example, the "NOO-" in "NOO-veech-ehr" is not the same sound as in "Zoo" in American English, or even as in "Book." It's similar to the sound "eu" in French, or "ue" or "U" + umlaut in German. The difference is that in German or English, in making that sound, one is likely to purse one's lips -- whereas in Gaelic, the lips don't purse.

Don't forget to roll the "r"'s -- not a big burlesque-sounding "rrrrrroll", but a simple popping of the "r."

And in the phonetic pronunciation above, all "ch" sounds are to sound like the "ch" in "loch" or "Bach."

O Chanada (0 Canada)

O Chanada, dùthaich nan gaisgeach còir,
Crùn air do cheann de dhuilleag dhearg is òir.
Bho chuan gu cuan le òran binn,
Do chliù ni sinn a Iuaidh,
Fo dhion do sgéith tha saorsa ghrinn
Nach spion an namhaid uainn.
O Chanada, dùrachd ar cridh',
Sonas le sith is maitheas Dhè d'ar tir.
Sonas le sith is maitheas Dhè d'ar tir.

Back to Index


(CRA-Canada Newsletter - February, 1986, Issue)

Mr. Allan Ross, the subject of this very brief sketch, was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 21st, 1833. In July, 1835, he came to Canada with his parents who settled at Galt ; in July, 1844, he moved to Owen Sound, and in July, 1888, he went to Winnipeg, MB. At Present he resides at Treherne. The reader must look to the specimens of his poetry here produced for any further insight they may desire as to the character and the ability of Mr. Ross ; he is a very modest man, and not given to talking about himself.


The haggis that my mither made,
I canna tell ye hoo,
'Twas something far abune the things
They ca' a haggis noo.

'Twas nannie's maw and nannie's pluck,
Forbye the spice and meal,
Was everything that she put in 't,
An' haith she did it weel.

The maist fastidious couldna help
But relish sic a dinner,
Be he a beggar, king or duke,
A humble saint or sinner.

Whan faither wi' the gulley cut
The stitches made wi' cotton,
Each e'e he focused on the sight --
The grace was clean forgotten.

John Bull oot ower his puddin' smiles,
Jean Baptiste ower his puddocks;
Gie Uncle Sam his pork an' beans,
Newfoundland, cod and haddocks;

The Dutchman relishes his khrout,
The Italian macaroni;
The Dane gloats ower his beef an' fish,
Gie rice to Chinese Johnnie;

Gie blubber tae the Esquimaux,
The Spaniard marmalade;
Restore tae me, abune them a',
A haggis like my mither made.

(CRA-Canada Newsletter - April, 1994, Issue)

For a different view of haggis, though, read the following parody of Burns' famous "Address to a Haggis", by James Lear. The term "Sassenach" is a derogatory term reserved for the English.


0 Haggis, Scotia's national meat,
Your praise is sung in verses sweet,
This evening as we take a seat here at this venue,
We share a very doubtful treat -- you're on the menu!

On silver platter there you lie,
You're to be eaten by-and-by,
If 'twere my choice, I'll not deny I'd draw the line,
At serving things to terrify dear friends of mine.

Sheep's heart, lungs, liver - What a sight!
Chopped, minced and grated - packed up tight,
Mixed and stirred through half the night then left to stew,
With oatmeal, onion, making quite a witch's brew.

While Scotsmen loud its taste acclaim,
The Haggis really owes its fame
To Rabbie Burns, to give him name, the Ploughman Poet,
Who wrote an 'Address' to the same - and don't we know it!

Had Rabbie sampled Chinese dishes,
Roast beef with Yorkshire pud., or fishes,
Kentucky fried, it's so delicious, or even curry,
On Haggis he'd have turned malicious in quite a hurry.

Pity the Scotsman, Haggis-fed.
His eyes deep-sunken in his head,
His life he mostly spends in bed with some disorder,
While wiser Scots than he are fled South of the border.

Note well the Sassenach, full of quips,
A laugh forever on his lips,
Strength shows in everything he grips, his life's a caper,
All due to eating fish and chips from old newspaper.

O Thou, who from thy throne divine,
Look'st down on earth with gaze benign,
Deter all Scottish friends of mine from Haggis eating,
Then much more gladly shall I dine when with Scots meeting.

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WILLIAM ROSS (1762 - 1790)
- from the CRA-Canada Newsletter - Winter, 1988, Issue

The following poem is from "Songs of the Forty-Five", an anthology of Gaelic political poetry with reference to the Jacobite Rising and its aftermath. The fact, that the Gaelic language was proscribed and unknown outside the Highlands, made it easy for propagandists to misrepresent the motives and malign the character of the Highlanders.

Prince Charles died in Rome on 31st January 1788. The white cockade was the Jacobite emblem, and descendants of the so-called "rebels" are entitled to wear a white rosette or knot of ribbons on a hat. [Various colours of cockades have been used as emblems during revolutions, especially in Europe.]

William Ross uses the expression "White Cockade" symbolically for the Prince himself.


Farewell to the White Cockade
Till Doomsday he in death is laid,
The grave has ta'en the White Cockade,
The cold tombstone is now his shade.

As I walked across the hill
On Sunday, and a friend with me,
We read together a letter's news
No joyful tale we gathered there.

Ancient Scotland! a tale of woe
Every sea-wave breaking bnngs,
That thy royal heir is now in Rome
Earthed in chest of polished boards.

Heavily I sigh each day,
Oft my thoughts are far away;
False the world, and sad the fate
That all flesh is to death a prey.

Now my heart is broken, weak
And my tears reun like a stream
Though I hid this at the time
It's broken forth, I do not mind.

For a while l had firm faith
That thy war-cry would he heard,
The fleet of Prince Charles coming o'erseas,
But now we'll ne'er meet till Doomsday.

Many a hero mighty, brave,
Today in Scotland mourns for thee,
In secret are they shedding tears
Who keenly would have followed thee.

An unhappy, downcast, tired,
Are thy followers everywhere;
An active band of mighty strength
Ready, practised in the strife.

Now the sweet harpists shall bow
In the treetops their heads in woe,
Every live thing on strath or ben
Shall mourn with us the loss they share.

Each hIll-slope and mountainside
On which we ever saw thee move,
Now has lost its form and hue
Since thou ne'er shalt come again.

The younger folk who saw thee ne'er
Love and esteem did tend for thee,
But now their hearts have fallen low
Since thou hast gone to sleep for e'er.

But let our prayers early rise
To the One who is on high.
Never on us to avenge
The wrong we did the White Cockade.

But though our clergy's good, I fear,
Despite all joys their lips foretell,
That we'll be seen a' shedding tears
For the White Cockade that's gone.

Let us now give a glad farewell
To him who shall go far away,
Towards the place where lies the star
Would banish from us grief and cloud.

And let us be happy with what is,
Since we may not better be,
Our journey here will be but short,
We too shall follow the White Cockade.

Farewell to the White Cockade
Till Doomsday he in death is laid,
The grave has ta'en the White Cockade,
The cold tombstone is now his shade.

Some General Background Information

Nicholas Ross, Abbot of Fearn, resigned in 1567 as Catholic Abbot and Provost of the Collegiate Church of Tain and handed the relics of St. Duthac over to Alexander ninth Laird of Balnagowan for safe keeping. The members of Clan Ross had accepted the doctrines of the protestant Reformed Church of Scotland.

When there were no further lairds in the Balnagowan line descended from the O'Beolan Earls of Ross, the nearest male heir and rightful successor was Malcolm Ross, fifth of Pitcalnie, one of the Cadet branches of Clan Ross. Malcolm had descended from Alexander Ross, ninth of Balnagowan, through Nicholas Ross, Alexander's second son, who became first of Pitcalnie. During the Jacobite uprising of 1745, Alexander's uncle, Duncan Forbes of Culloden, was Lord President of the Court of Session for King George II's government in London. With great difficulty, Duncan Forbes and the Pitcalnie chief raised a Ross Independent Company to garrison the castle at Inverness.

The eldest son (named Malcolm) of Alexander, sixth Laird of Pitcalnie, was disinherited as heir to the chiefship of Clan Ross when when he joined the regiment of the Earl of Cromarty during the Jacobite rebellion on behalf of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" in 1745. [The right to chiefship passed to a younger half-brother Munro Ross, son of the laird's third wife, Naiomi Ross.]

The laird's eldest son had become roused by the fervour of the Jacobite rebellion on behalf of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 while he was attending Aberdeen University, and he enlisted in the Earl of Cromarty's Regiment (as did my own gggg-grandfather, John Ross, a Mason from Chapelton on the Redcastle estate of Killearnan Parish on the Black Isle). The regiment was involved in successful forays and skirmishes including the capture of Ruthven Castle. On the day before the Battle of Culloden, about 200 of the force were ambushed between Skelbo and Dunrobin Castles in Caithness. Only one-tenth at the most escaped to equally perilous Sutherland. Both Malcolm Ross and John Ross were among those who escaped the ambush and were listed as rebels on the muster roll of the Earl of Cromarty.

Thus, it came to be that "John Ross, Mason, living in Chapletown of Redcastle in the Parish of Killearnan, County of Ross, went with the Rebels to Sutherland". In those terms, he was named in A List of Persons concerned in The Rebellion "transmitted to the Commissioners of excise by the several Supervisors in Scotland in obedience to a General Letter of the 7th of May 1746". The name of the eldest son of Alexander Ross of Pitcalnie was included in the Supplementary List with Evidences to Prove the Same as follows: "Malcolm Ross, Son to Pitcalny, of Ardboll in the Parish of Tarbet, County of Ross" witnesses included Andrew Ross (Excise Officer), Abner Gallie (Tenant in Tarbet Parish) and the Laird of Cadboll. Very few in Ross country gave evidence against their neighbours who supported the Jacobite cause, and John Ross was soon back with his family on the Redcastle estate.

In the case of John Ross, there may have been an explanation of his involvement with the rebellion through the Free Masons but, more likely, he followed a belief that it was better to serve a Scottish king than a Hanoverian German one imported by the English. The Battle of Culloden on April 16th, 1746, was the last rebellion the Scots held for freedom from England.

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- by Jane A. Evans (Winter 1988 Issue of CRA-Canada Newsletter)

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education." Mark Twain's analysis comes to mind when dealing with plaids and tartans.

Quite sirnply, a plaid puts two or more colors as stripes in the warp and crosses them with alternating stripes of weft colors. Any weave structure can be done as a plaid. Usually plain weave or twills work most clearly. Any colors, fibers or textures can be chosen. In a "true plaid" the weft order duplicates the warp ends' number, density and color order. However, plaids can be of whatever warp or weft sequences the weaver fancies. Checks are small plaids using few colors in warp and weft.

We have probably all woven plaids of some sort just by crossing stripes in warp and weft. What would give our lowly plaids the distinction of "tartan"?

Using only one material in a smooth yarn (usually wool or silk), we would choose from a limited palette if we were being fully traditional. Certain blues, reds, a grayed green, clear yellow, black and white would be acceptable. The fabric would be done as a straight 2/2 twill, with a 45 ° angle. It would have an even number of ends of any color (e.g., 12 blue, four red, two blue, etc.) and be woven as a "true plaid" (to square).

Not to make life too difficult, weft colors may be carried along selvedges even if long floats occur, unless the selvedge is part of the finished product. For instance, a scarf or kilt has no edge floats because each weft is turned in where it begins or ends.

The tartan pattern woven would have a color sequence based on two equal blocks of two colors. These may be given an overplaid and/or lines at the edges, any of which may be fine or wide but are balanced symmetrically. Asymmetrical tartan patterns are few and usually due to a minor variation in the overplaid.

Last but not least, we would be weaving no imitation tartan, no mere plaid. Rather, our design would have the number and color of its warp and weft ends registered as an authorized tartan, set down in the official books of Lord Lyon, King of Arms, at Lyon Court, Scotland!

Whence grew tartans? Long before the plethora of tourist shops, 11th century Scots commonly wore checks, plaids and tartans in the poor northern Highlands. As years went by, the society developed a clan system, but specific tartans were not limited to any one clan.

Clans were banned after Bonnie Prince Charlie's futile uprising in 1745 and tartans, too, were made illegal. Reverse psychology set in, giving great power to the patterns' associations. It was at this time that particular tartans were adopted as part of a clan's identity. In 1782 tartans again became legal, but the intervening clearances of Scots and the faulty memory of weavers probably resulted in some loss of accuracy within patterns.

Many types of tartans evolved - a clan's chief's, the group clan tartan, a formal dress clan tartan (usually lighter in color), camouflaging hunting clan tartans and general district tartans. Classic shepherd's check, the somber Clergy tartan, and Regimental tartans denote occupation. A number of royal setts belong exclusively to the royal family.

"Sett" in tartans refers to both the number and color sequence of threads. No written records survived the clan uprisings and clearances. Setts usually were kept by winding yarns around a gauge stick which was used through warping and weaving as a guide for quantity and color order.

Excellent practical hints for warping and other considerations are in Black and Tidball. The Tidball book also presents a thorough history, list of setts and general information on tartans for handweavers. There are many books of setts, some sadly inaccurate. Donald Calder Stewart's work is now the recognized standard.

Few cloths test a weaver's skill at beat and rhythm as much as do plaids and tartans. To be neatly woven to square requires patience and a good touch. Some people feel the effort an agony and not worth the result, while others deem the discipline well justified. You will have to decide that for yourself.

The Tartan

Here's to it!
The fighting sheen of it,
The yellow, the green of it,
The white, the blue of it,
The swing, the hue of it, the dark, the red of it,
Every thread of it!

The fair have sighed for it,
The brave have died for it,
Foemen sought for it,
Heroes fought for it,
Honour the name of it,
Drink to the fame of it ---

- (Winter 1988 Issue of CRA-Canada Newsletter)

Original tartan colors were not the clear, intense ones so often associated with them now. Rather, the old time tartans were colored "bright but soft", according to James D. Scarlett in How to Weave Fine Cloth. He goes on to describe, "a rather light scarlet; a deeper red, the color of the wild rose; a strong, very slightly 'muddy' yellow; a dark (but by no means black) blue; and a green that might be sage, reseda or olive of medium depth. Light blue was represented by shades vary-ing from light blue-gray to duck-egg blue (which was the most usual). A much used color that was completely lost in the transition was a warm dark blue called purple in its day, although it was very unlike our modern color of the same name. Even bleached wool is inclined to revert to a slightly creamy color with age."

In an unpublished master's thesis, Mary Etta MacDonald speaks of the dyestuffs of the early Scottish weavers. Research has shown, she says, that the Highland dyer was able to produce most colors satisfactorily from the plants available in her own glen. The truest and fastest blue was from the leaves of Devil's bit (Scabiosa succisa). Other blue tone dyes were from the root of the yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) and the berry of the elderberry tree mordanted with alum. The most common native red was from the roots of ladies' bedstraw (Galuim' verum) mordanted with alum, but it was not as brilliant as madder red. The lichen Lencanara tartarea yielded red when steeped with urine for three weeks.

Lichens were much used by Highlanders and were substantive dyes (not requiring a mordant). A late 16th century writer described the use of "scurf" or lichen in the Western Isles: "This scurf dyes a pretty crimson color; first well dried, and then ground to pow-der. after which it is steeped in urine, ...and in three weeks it is ready to boil with the yarn that is to be dyed."

The best purple was from cudbear, a preparation of two lichens fermented with fual and potash. Lichens were also a source for yellows. though some of the best yellows were from the flowers of heather (Erica vulgaris) and broom (Saro-thamnus scoparius). A dark yellow came from the bracken root (Pteris aquilina). All shades of green were produced overdyeing; privet berries (Ligustrum vulgare) were also said to give a bright green with alum mordant.

Browns were obtained from tree bark, such as the tannin-rich oak, but the richest and fastest browns came from lichens. One species is still used to dye some Harris tweeds in the Outer Hebrides.

The most difficult colors to obtain from native dyestuffs were blue and red. These two colors were imported at an early date; indigo blue was imported before 1700, and woad, an even earlier foreign blue vege-table dye, was probably obtained from Holland. Madder was imported from Flanders and used extensively.

Excerpted from The Scottish Tartan in
Modern Dress by Mary Etta MacDonald,
an unpublished master's thesis. Colorado
State University. Fort Collins. CO
August. 1967.




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