Comunn Gàidhlig Inbhir Nis

The Gaelic Society of Inverness

Established 1871

Cuairt-litir An Earraich/ Spring Newsletter – April 2017

Tha bliadhna thrang air a bhith aig a’ Chomunn, mar is àbhaist, agus tha sinn air-leth taingeil gu bheil òraidichean cho comasach air a bhith againn.   Tha sinn cuideachd a’ toirt taing don Ollamh, Ùisdean Cheape, Ceannard 2016-2017, airson an taic a thug e don Chomunn fad na bliadhna bho Sheirbheis Cuimhneachaidh Chùil Lodair, Òraid dìnnear bhliadhnail san t-Samhain agus a-rithist aig a’ choinneamh bhliadhnail sa Ghiblean 2017.

Bha deagh Chuirm againn bho chionn ghoirid. Tha ceilidh neo-fhoirmeil a’ còrdadh ris na h-uile agus tha sinn mòran an comain na ghabh pàirt air an oidhche. Bu mhath leinn cuideachd taing a thoirt airson maoineachadh bho Stòras Choitcheann Inbhir Nis agus Sonas.

Tha a’ chomataidh air pàipearan a thaghadh airson na ath-bhliadhna agus tha sinn an dòchas gun cùm sibh bhur taic ri na h-òraidichean mar is dual dhuibh. Ma tha neach sam bith ag iarraidh lioft gu na coinneamhan, cuiribh fios thugainn.                                                                                              

The past year has been another busy one for the Society. Meetings have been held in the Gaelic Primary School and have covered a wide range of topics including: Researching the Life of Màiri Mhòr nan Òran, William Clunes, shinty, sheep, and clearance in early nineteenth century Sutherland,and Dùghall Bochanan, to name but a few. Once again we are fortunate to have had a variety of papers of such high quality read at our meetings. We wish to record our sincere thanks to our speakers throughout the year: Calum Cameron-White, Liz Macrae-Shaw, Hugh Cheape, Jim Hunter, Hugh Dan Maclennan, Derek Flyn, Allan Turner, Donald Meek and Hector Mackenzie. Thanks are also due to all those who took part in the Culloden Anniversary Service.

To the many faithful members who turn out to these meetings, a very special thanks to you. If you are aware of anyone requiring a lift to meetings, please get in touch with a member of committee.

We had a beautiful day for last year’s annual outing. We were very fortunate in having Society member, William McRobbie providing a commentary throughout the trip to Gairloch.

Volume LXVII of the Transactions should be with the members by now. Please get in touch if you have not received your copy.

Ceannard 2017-18 / Chief of the Society 2017-18   

Chief of the Gaelic Society of Inverness from 15th April 2017 to 13th April 2018 - Jo NicDhòmhnaill


Jo MacDonald is a native Gaelic speaker from the island of Lewis. During her career spent largely with the BBC, she worked mainly in factual and education programming. Before leaving the BBC at the end of 2008 she was Managing Editor of BBC Gàidhlig, a tri-media department whose output includes the national Gaelic radio service BBC Radio nan Gaidheal; a wide range of television programming for the new Gaelic channel BBC ALBA and for BBC2; and the Gaelic website

She was also member of MAGOG whose 2002 report to Scottish ministers recommended the establishment of a body which would take a strategic approach to Gaelic Development activities.

Jo now works as a freelance researcher, writer, broadcaster and translator. She is a member of An Seotal ’s Gaelic terminology panel and a member of The Sorley Maclean Trust.

Is e Leòdhasach a tha fileanta sa Ghàidhlig, a tha ann an Jo NicDhòmhnaill. Rè a beatha-obrach, a chur i seachad gu ìre mhòr aig a’ BhBC, bha i aig àrd-ìre ann an rèidio, telebhisean agus air-loidhne. Mun àm a dh’fhàg i am BBC aig deireadh 2008 bha i na Manaidsear Deasachaidh aig BBC Gàidhlig. Tha i a-nise ag obair air a ceann fhèin mar sgrìobhaiche, rannsaiche, eadar-theangair agus craoladair.

Bha i na ball den bhuidheann MAGOG a mhol don Riaghaltas ann an 2002 buidheann a stèidheachadh a ghabhadh uallach airson ro-innleachd leasachaidh na Gàidhlig.

Tha Jo na ball den t-Seotal, am pannal airson briathrachas Gàidhlig agus na ball de dh’Urras Shomhairle MhicIlleathain.              

                                                                                                                                                (Bho MG Alba)

The Chief delivers the address at the Culloden Anniversary Service, April 15th 2017, the Society’s annual dinner on November 4th and finally at the annual business meeting on April 13th 2018.    A very warm welcome to Jo in her year as Chief to the Society.

Seirbheis-cuimhneachaidh Chùil Lodair/ Culloden Anniversary 2017

The Anniversary Service will be held at the Cairn on Saturday 15th April. This will follow the usual pattern with the Society Chief, Jo Macdonald, giving an Address. This is followed by prayers and a blessing by Rev.K.D Macleod, Invergordon and Rev Canon Mel Langille, Fortrose, respectively. Gaelic Psalm singing will be part of the service with Donald Roderick MacAskill and friends, Dingwall, leading the praise. The Society’s Bard, Maoilios Caimbeul, will read verses from the poem: Am Breacan Uallach, The Proud Plaid, by Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair.

An appropriate lament will be played by the Society Honorary Piper, Mr Euan J. J. MacCrimmon, after which a wreath will be laid on behalf of the Society by Jo Macdonald.

Cuairt samhraidh / Summer Outing

The summer outing this year will take place on Saturday 27th May to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic College on Skye. There are one or two places still available on this day trip.    Please contact the Secretary to book a seat on the coach. The cost is £25 for the coach hire.

Làrach-lìn / Website     

Please visit our website at for all information regarding the Society and the latest news. The website has been up-dated and we are very grateful to Donald John Macleod, Librarian, for his work in keeping the site up-to-date as well as our Facebook page! To keep down postage costs, newsletters will appear on our website. A paper copy will be issued on request.

Leabharlann / Library    

A collection of 200 books of Jacobite interest has been received from the estate of the late Miss Christian Aikman of Morar, a vice-president of the 1745 Association.  Our classified index to the Society’s Transactions has recently been updated and is available on the GSI website.

Ballrachd / Membership

We welcomed a substantial number of new members this past year.

Our Treasurer, Donald Norman MacLeod, is grateful to all of you who complied with the request to pay your subscription by Standing Order. Those of you who have not yet taken advantage of this facility are reminded that this can be done by contacting the Treasurer at any time. Membership is currently £20 per annum and is due for renewal on 15th July each year. Sending reminders to such a large membership is quite costly, so please put this date in your diary to avoid any lapse of your membership. Anyone requiring further information should contact the Treasurer. Students at Universities and Colleges may join the Society at the reduced fee of £10 per annum.

A’ cuimhneachadh / Remembering

Sadly, we have had to record the loss of some of our members and friends in the past few months. We would like to extend our sincere sympathy to those members who are mourning the loss of family and friends at this time. We would ask that you keep us informed of the passing of any of our members in order that a formal tribute may be paid to them at our members’ meetings and subsequently recorded in the Society Transactions.

Finally, we would like to express our thanks to Highland Council and the Inverness Gaelic School for the use of their premises for our meetings.

All Correspondence should be addressed to:

Hon. Secretary : Alice Macdonald, 8 Glenburn Drive, Inverness. IV2 4ND Tel: 01463 231891


Hon. Treasurer : Donald N. MacLeod,19 Burnbrae, Westhill, Inverness, IV2 5RHTel: 01463 791731   



                                                                                                                      Murdo Campbell, Chairman







Professor Donald Meek gave an interesting and insightful talk on the poetry of Dugald Buchanan to the Society on Thursday 23rd February. 

Donald is the editor ofthe latest edition of Buchanan’s poetry, Laoidhean Spioradail Dhùghaill Bhochanain, which was published by the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society in 2016.

The talk, which began as shown here, will be published in volume LXVIII of the Society’s Transactions, which is due in 2018. 


 “Is cinnteach nach eil mòran agaibh nach cuala mu Dhùghall Bochanan, am bàrd spioradail as ainmeile ann an litreachas na Gàidhlig.  Cluinnear aon de na laoidhean aige, ‘Fulangas Chrìosd’, ga seinn gus an là an-diugh, mar as trice le Màiri Mhoireasdan, agus tha daoine gu math measail air an laoidh sin fhathast.  Bha earrann de dh’ aon eile de na laoidhean aige, ‘Là a’ Bhreitheanais’, ga seinn ann am Muile gu meadhan na ficheadamh linn, agus fonn rithe coltach ri aon de na seann laoidhean Oiseanach.  B’ e ‘Là a’ Bhreitheanais’ an laoidh a b’ fhaide a rinn Bochanan, agus tha i gu math eadar-dhealaichte seach na dàin eile a dh’fhoillsich e ann an leabhar beag de dh’ ochd laoidhean a chaidh a chlò-bhualadh ann an Dùn Èideann ann an 1767 fon ainm Laoidhe Spioradail, le Balfour, Auld agus Smellie, na clò-bhualadairean a thug dhuinn an Tiomnadh Nuadh Gàidhlig anns an aon bhliadhna – agus bidh sibh mothachail, ma tha sibh math air cùnntas, gu bheil dà cheud gu leth bliadhna ann, am bliadhna fhèin, bhon a thachair sin.  

“Bha Bochanan ann an Dùn Èideann aig an àm, ’s e a’ stiùireadh an Tiomnaidh Nuaidh tron chlò às leth an SSPCK.  ’S e rud mòr a bh’ ann gun deachaidh an Tiomnadh Nuadh Gàidhlig agus an leabhar aig Bochanan fhoillseachadh aig an aon àm agus leis na h-aon chlò-bhualadairean.  Tha sin na thomhas air an luach a bha ga chur air na laoidhean aige, ged nach eil fhios againn cò leis.  Cha robh ann am Bochanan ach maighstir-sgoile ann an seirbhis nan Oighreachdan Dì-chòirichte (Forfeited Estates) agus an SSPCK ann am Bun Rainich agus ann an Ceann Loch Rainich, agus faodaidh sinn a bhith cinnteach nach biodh gu leòr a dh’airgead aige airson leabhar da leithid fhoillseachadh.  Feumaidh gun robh neach-taic air choreigin air chùl chùisean, a bha a’ cur luach mòr air saothair an duine seo, ach chan eil fhios againn cò e.

“Chan eil an sin ach aon de na ceistean, aon de na dìomhaireachdan, a tha co-cheangailte ri beatha agus saothair Bhochanain ...”


Srath Nabhair GSI Visit 2015

Srath Nabhair, Strathnaver, is the wide, fertile valley through which the River Naver flows north from Loch Naver to the sea at Torrisdale Bay, Bettyhill.

Today, it is a sparsely populated landscape, but it has a long, rich and varied history. There is evidence of man’s activities from almost every period of history – so much so that a special Tourist Trail has been created to guide visitors to many of the historic sites that lie between Altnaharra in the south and Bettyhill in the north.

The remains of chambered cairns can be seen at Grumbeg:

Two hundred years ago, the valley was occupied by about forty small settlements, each comprising a group of dwellings that were home to between three and fifteen tenant families. As well as the tenant families there were inhabitants who had no rights of tenure. They were the cottars, living in hovels, and were employed as cobblers, weavers, or smiths and engaging in agricultural work.

It was a Gaelic speaking community. The people of Strathnaver probably enjoyed frequent cultural activities that included the playing of music, singing, and reciting poems. It is likely that these activities preserved a sense of the history of the community and its valued traditions.

It was in the early nineteenth century that the most infamous events in Strathnaver’s history took place – the Clearances. Strathnaver was part of the estate of the Countess of Sutherland and her husband the Marquis of Stafford. They had decided to “Improve” their lands by turning them over to profitable sheep farming and were intent on moving their tenants to new villages built on the coast. Remnants of these coastal villages may be seen today e.g. Poulouriscaig, between Bettyhill and Armadale, a four mile walk from Armadale over boggy ground, is a fine example of a deserted village.The hardships these evicted peoples had to endure, hemmed in to the coast with no anchorage for boats due to the sheer rock faces, can easily be imagined.

From 1814, the evictions were undertaken by the Sutherland Estate factor, Patrick Sellar ( whose cottage was behind the Syre Church) He was ruthless in his actions, destroying homes and burning crops to force people from their land.

The Gaelic Society of Inverness annual outing is to Strathnaver on Sat. 16th May

Departing from the Highland Council car park, Glenurquhart Road, around 8.15am

A stop will be made at Lairg, if required, but the main stop for tea and coffee will be at the Altnaharra Hotel.

At Altnaharra we follow the road east by Loch Naver. At some point Jim Johnstone, retired Headmaster, Farr High School, Bettyhill will join us to show us some clearance sites.

Lunch will be at Strathy Hall, Strathy (caterer preparing the lunch) Please notify me of any special dietary requirements. Jim will probably deliver his power point presentation here.

Thereafter, we travel east to Thurso and down the A9 home. Depending on time, a stop at Dornoch may well be undertaken.

Please get in touch with me if you wish to go on this trip:

Cost, £30 including lunch
Tel.: 01463 231891