SpanglefishNiall Gordan, Poet | sitemap | log in

Eòlas-beatha tro atharrachadh mòr a thàinig orm / Life-experience through major change

(Air a sgrìobhadh, cho fad ‘s a ghabhas, le bhith a’ tarraing às comh-chruinneachaidhean de dh’fhaclan is de dh’abairtean a dh’ionnsaich mi ri linn nan cùrsaichean a rinn mi / Written, as far as possible, by drawing from collections of words and phrases I learned during the courses I did.)

‘S tric a bhithinn a’ cur na ceiste seo orm-fhìn: gu dè thug orm an t-Eilean Sgitheanach, Eilean àlainn a’ Cheò, a ghabhail cho dlùth rim chridhe? Agus a cheart cho tric, chan eil mi comasach idir air aon adhbhar a-mhàin a lorg gus mo ghràdh air an eilean a mhìneachadh.

I’d often ask myself this question: what made me take the Isle of Skye, the beautiful Misty Isle, so close to my heart? And every bit as often, I am not able at all to find just one reason to explain the love I have for the island.

‘S dòcha gun robh, agus gu bheil, leanmhainn a thaobheigin eadarainn, eadar ‘s gu bheil mi ga tuigsinn gus nach eil? Neo ‘s dòcha gun tàinig rudeigin a-steach orm mu mo bheatha nach tàinig orm roimhe? Airson ciall a lorg, ma tha ciall ann, ‘s dòcha gum feum mi dol air ais gudearbh-thoiseach mo sgeòil ach an tèid agam beachd air ais a ghabhail air na h-atharrachaidhean mòra a bhuail mi na mo bheatha agus na mo sheasamhan aig àm ‘s an robh mi-fhìn agus m’ ùidhean ag caochladh.

Perhaps there was, and is, some connection or other between us, whether I understand it or not? Or perhaps something occured to me about my life which didn’t dawn on me before? To find a meaning, if a meaning exists, perhaps I need to go back to the very beginning of my story so that I can take a retrospective look at the major changes which affected my life and attitudes at a time when I myself and my interests were undergoing a transformation.

Thòisich mo sgeul, chanainn, air an seachdamh latha dhen Ògmhios 1987, bliadhna anns an robh mi air dhà rud ùr a ghabhail os làimh: bha mi air sgur a smocadh, agus air cur-seachad ùr a thòiseachadh – coiseachd nam beann ‘s nan cnoc. Nis, ‘s dòcha nach bheil sibh a’ smaoineachadh gu bheil gnothach aige seo ri mo sgeul – ach tha gu dearbh! Mar a tha fios aig neach sam bith a sguir smocadh, nuair a chuireas tu crìoch air an droch-chaitheamh ud, thig acras uamhraidh ort!

My story started, I’d say, on then 7th of June 1987, a year in which I had undertaken two new things – I had stopped smoking, and begun a new pastime: walking the mountains and hills. Now, perhaps you don’t think this is relevant to my tale – but indeed it is!As anyone who stopped smoking knows, when you put an end to that bad habit, a terrible hunger comes upon you!

Mar sin, gus seo a sheachnadh, thòisich mi a’ coiseachd – agus mar bhuil, lorg mi mòran a-muigh air a’ bhlàr a-muigh a thog mo chridhe le boch! Nis, nuair a nochd an cothrom a dhol a dh’Eilean a’ Cheò gus fèille chiùil a fhrithealadh, b’ e an ùidh a bh’ agam san eilean fhèin a thug orm a dhol sa chiad dol-a-mach. Ged nach do thachair cuirm-chiuil sam bith mar bhuil air an droch-shìde, tha fhios gun robh buaidh a choreigin aig an eilean orm, eadhan aig an àm ud, a dh’fhan aig cùl m’ inntinn, oir ged nach do shaoil mi mòran a bharrachd mu dheidhinn, thàinig rudeigin annasach aithnichte a-steach orm aig deireadh na dearbh bhliadhna sin, rud a dh’atharraich a h-uile rud...

So, in order to avoid this, I started walking – and as a result, I discovered a lot in the outdoors which lifted my heart with joy! Now, when the opportunity to go to the Misty Isle to attend a music festival appeared, it was the interest I had in the island which made me go in the first place. Although no concert materialised as a result of the bad weather, the island must have had some effect or other upon me, even then, which stayed in the back of my mind, for, although I didn’t think much more about it, something wonderful and recognisable occured to me at the end of that very year, something which changed everything...

Air an latha mu dheireadh dhen t-Samhain, chunnaic mi còmhlan-ciùil a thug iomadh nì ri chèile nam inntinn agus a th’ air a bhith a’ toirt buaidh nach beag orm on latha sin gu ruige an latha an-diugh – Runrig. Dar leamsa aig an àm gun robh Runrig mar an dearbh rud a bha mi a’ lorg a thaobh ciùil, o chionn ‘s gun robh mo chàil air ceòl air a bhith ag atharrachadh gu luath.

On November 30, I saw a group which brought many things together in my mind and which has been influencing me in a major way since that day to the present one – Runrig. It seemed to me at the time that Runrig were the very thing I wanted with regard to music, because my musical taste had been changing quickly.

Nis, nuair a chula mi òran sònraichte aig an robh - agus aig a bheil fhathast, gu dearbh – buaidh mhòr orm agus ris an canar, gu sìmplidh, ‘Skye’, bu ghann a chreidsinn na faireachdainnean a thòisich a’ ruith trom chridhe. Nam inntinn, bha ceangal eadar an ceòl-sa agus an t-eilean.

Now, when I heard a particular song which had – and which still does, indeed – a major effect upon me and which is called quite simply ‘Skye’, I could scarcely believe the feelings which started running through my heart. In my mind, there was a connection between this music and the island.

Mar sin, a’ bhliadhna a lean sin, nuair a dh’fhaighnich m’athair ‘s mo mhàthair dhìom am bu toil leam cuairt dhà-latha san eilean, ‘s mi a bha togarrach a dhol ann! Air an treasamh latha dhen Ghiblean, thog sinn oirnn sa char, leis a’ charabhan againn, a dh’àite ris an canar Baile Mac Ara air tìr-mòr, mu choinneamh an eilein. An dèidh dhuinn an carabhan a chur air dòigh, thug sinn turas beag sìos an rathad chun a’ Chaoil – o, tha cuimhne agam fhathast air an aoibhneas a dh’fhairich mi nuair a chunnaic mi an t-àite airson a’ chiad uair! Am bàta-aiseig a’ dol don eilean: na beanntan air an eilean mar a chunnaic mi iad o mhullach cnuic a dhìrich mi san fheasgar os cionn a’ bhaile... ged a tha dealbh agam fhathast a ghabh mi le camara, tha an dealbh a th’ agam nam inntinn agus nam chuimhne cho làidir is a bha riamh.

So, the following year, when my Mam and Dad asked me if I’d like a two–day trip to the island, I was desirous to go! On April the 3rd, we went off in the car, with our caravan, to a place called Balmacara on the mainland, opposite the island. After we had fixed up the caravan, we took a wee trip down the road to Kyle – oh, I still remember the joy I felt when I saw the place for the first time! The ferryboat going to the island: the island mountains as I saw them from the top of a small hill I climbed in the evening above the village... although I still have a picture which I took with a camara, the picture I have in my mind and memory is as strong as ever.

Air an latha an dèidh sin, shiubhail sinn a-null air an aiseig don eilean, agus abair latha a bh’ againn – chuir sinn cèilidh, mar gum biodh, air Ealghol ‘s air àiteachan eile mun cheann-a-deas. Aig deireadh cùise, thill mi dhachaigh leis an smaoin gu daingeann nam inntinn – dh’fheumainn tilleadh le teanta cho luath ‘s a ghabhadh! Agus thàinig an cothrom ri linn Ògmhios na bliadhna ceudna.

The next day, we went over to the island on the ferry, and what a day we had – we visited Elgol and other places in the south end. At the end of it all, I returned home with the thought firmly in my mind – I’d need to return with a tent as soon as possible! And the opportunity came in June of that same year.

Bha Runrig gu cluich ann am Port Ruighe, prìomh-bhaile an eilein, air a’ cheathramh latha fhichead, agus chuir mi romham gun toirinn an teanta agam ‘s gum fuirichinn nam aonar ann an Torbhaig, mìle neo dhà bhon bhaile air rathad an Taobh Sear. Chum mi orm le sin, agus fhuair mo pharantan ionad leabaidh ‘s breacaist. Air an latha shona aoibhneil sin chaidh sinn gu cnoc iongantach ris an canar A’ Chuithreang – chan fhaca mi riamh àite cho dìomhair àlainn... eadhan ann an leithid a dhroch shìde a bh’ air a bhith againn! Feasgar, chaidh sinn gu cuirm-chiùil Runrig – agus abair cuirm! Bha an àrainneachd cho coltach ris an eilean ‘s gun saoileadh tu gun robh Runrig ag ath-chruthachadh gach rud a b’ fheàrr mun eilean.

Runrig were to play in Portree, the island capital, on the 24th, and I decided that I’d take my tent and that I’d stay on my own in Torvaig, a mile or two from the town on the Staffin Road. I kept on with that, and my parents got bed and breakfast. That happy joy-filled day we went to an amazing hill called The Quirang – I’d never seen such a mysterious, beautiful place... even in the sort of bad weather we’d had! In the evening, we went to the Runrig concert – and what a treat! The atmosphere was so like the island that you’d think Runrig were recreating all that was best about the island.

An ath latha, chaidh sinn gu Lochan an Stòir, ‘s e sin Loch Fada agus Loch Leathan. Bha latha uabhasach toil-inntinneach sona agamsa, nam allaban tron fhraoich aig bonn nam beann cuimire ann an seo. Aig deireadh an dearbh latha sin, chaidh sinn suas gu Rig, far am faca sinn seallaidhean nach dichuimhnich mi gu dìlinn – sgòthan geala boga ‘s ceò a’ tuiteam air cnocan dorcha cuimire, ‘s air an taobh eile cuan cho mòr farsaing ann an solas caomh an fheasgair chiaraich....... bu mhòr mo shunnd ‘s mi a’ coimhead air uiread a dh’àilleachd.

Next day, we went to the Storr Lochs, Fada and Leathan. I had a tremendously pleasureable and happy day, wandering through the heather at the base of the shapely hills here. At the end of that very day, we went up to Rigg, where we saw sights that I shall never forget – soft white clouds and mist falling on dark rounded hills, and on the other side an ocean so large and capricious in the gentle light of the dusky evening... my joyful mood was major as I looked upon such beauty.

Nis, gu tilleadh gu talamh tròcair: thàinig na gnothaichean sin gu lèir ri chèile, an dèidh mòran thursan eile don eilean, chun na h-ìre far an robh mi airson a’ Ghàidhlig ionnsachadh. Theann mi rithe aig clas-oidhche geamhraidh ann an Acadamaidh Inbhir Pheofharain (seòmar a h-ochd!). Mhair seo o deireadh na bliadhna sin gu ruige toiseach 1989.

Now, to return to terra firma: all those matters came together, after many more trips to the island, to the point where I wanted to learn Gaelic. I started at a winter night-class in Dingwall Academy (room 8!). This lasted from the end of that year until the beginning of 1989.

Nis, seo an dearbh àm far a bheil cùisean a’ tighinn teann-ri-teann. Ghabh mi droch cheann do gach rud a bha ceangailte rim obair: bha mo sheasamh a thaobh na bha mi ag iarraidh ‘s a’ lorg nam bheatha ag atharrachadh gu dian is gu luath: agus, mas math mo chuimhne, shaoil mi aig an àm gun robh thìde agam falbh on obair ud gus obair ùr fheuchainn.  Chuir mi romham gum bu mhath leam obair fhaighinn ann an Eilean a’ Cheò. Nis, ged nach robh luchd m’ eòlais cinnteach gum bithinn comasach air seo a dhèanamh, dh’aithnich iad gum b’ e mise an t-seòrsa duine a bha daingean na bheachdan!

Now, this is the very time that things assume a serious aspect. I took a dislike to everything connected to my job: my attitude with regard to what I wanted and was seeking in life was changing vehemently and quickly: and, if memory serves me well, I thought at the time that it was time to get away from that job to try new work. I decided that I’d like to get a job in the Misty Isle. Now, although all the people I knew were not certain that I’d be able to do this, they recognised that I was the type of person who was steadfast in his views!

Fhuair mi obair aig ionad-peatroil san eilean: nis, ‘s dòcha nach robh an obair seo freagarrach idir dhomh, ach mar a tha an t-òran ag ràdh: ‘cò bheir maorach à tràigh nuair tha an làn a’ tighinn thairis’! Ach co-dhiù, dh’aontaich mo phàrantan gun toirinn leam an carabhan, agus ‘s e sin a rinn mi.

I procured a post at a petrol-station in the island; now, perhaps this work was in no way suitable for me, but as the songs says: ‘who can get shellfish from the shore when the tide is coming over it’! But anyway, my parents agreed that I could take the caravan with me, and that’s what I did.

O, ‘s iomadh latha làn de shonas a bh’ agam! Feumaidh mi ràdha gun robh na làithean sin am measg nan làithean a b’ fheàrr ‘s a bu shona is a chòrd rium riamh. Ged nach robh mo thìm ann ach goirid, ‘s nach robh a h-uile rud cho sona sin, cha b’ urrainn do neach sam bith air thalamh m’ aoibhneas a thoirt air falbh bhuam. Ach thòisich cùisean a’ dol ceàrr. Ged a bha rud beag de dh’amharas agam mu dheidhinn rudan àraid a bha a’ dol air adhart san àite – a thaobh airgid is eile – thug mòran thachartasan ri chèile orm m’ obair a leigeil dheth: anns a’ chiad dol-a-mach, cha bu toil leam idir an obair fhèin, agus cha bu mhò gun robh cuid dhe na daoine san àite a’ tighinn ri mo chàil. Mu dheireadh thall, leig mi às an obair shalach, mhì-thaingeil ud, agus thòisich mi air rud a bha gu tur eadar-dhealaichte – a’ tionail nan seilcheagan-mara! Ged a bha seo a’ còrdadh rium air dòigh, cha b’ urrainn dhomh beòshlaint a dhèanamh às a leithid agus bu mhòr a bh’ agam ri smaoineachadh mu dheidhinn mun tàinig mi dhan cho-dhùnadh a bhris mo chridhe – b’ fheudar dhomh tilleadh dhachaigh.

Oh, I had many a day filled with happiness! I must say that those days were among the best and happiest that I ever enjoyed. Though my time there was but short, and not everythingwas as happy as that, no-one on earth could take my joyful happiness away from me. But things started going wrong. Although I had some suspicions concerning certain things that were happening there – with regard to money and other matters – many incidents together forced me to give up my job: in the first instance, I didn’t like the work itself at all, and neither did I like some of the people there. Eventually, I gave up that dirty, thankless job, and started on something completely different – gathering winkles! Although I enjoyed that in a way, I couldn’t make a livelihood of it, and I had to think quite a lot before I came to the decision which broke my heart – I had to return home.

Bha mo phàrantan còire fo iomagain nach beag a thaobh an àite san robh mi a’ fuireach, agus b’ iadsan a thug orm smaoineachadh mu na bh’ agam ri dhèanamh – ‘s mu dheireadh, chuir mi fhìn romham e, ‘s e sin gun tillinn dhachaigh gu mo theaghlach fhìn. Bha mi balbh tosdach air an t-slighe dhachaigh. Cha robh sìon a dhèanainn ach smaoineachadh mu na h-uairean sona sin a chuir mi seachad air an eilean. Cha do chadail mi neul an oidhche ud, ged nach b’ e ach mo chaise fhìn a bu choireach, ach cha do mhair sin fada idir.

My good parents were greatly anxious regarding the place I was staying, and it was they who persuaded me to think about what I had to do – and eventually, I made a decision myself, and that was that I’d return home to my own household/family. I was dumb and silent on the way homewards. All I could do was think about those happy times I spent on the island. I didn’t sleep a wink that night, though only my own bad mood was the cause, but that didn’t last long at all.

Thòisich mi a’ smaointinn: nach bu chòir dhomh a bhith a’ faicinn mo bheatha fa chomhair an latha a-màireach, an àite bhith ag aonagraich sa chianalas a thaobh na dh’fhàg mi às mo dhèidh? Ceart gu-leòr, ‘s dòcha gun deachaigh cùisean ceàrr, ach nach fhaodadh gnothaichean atharrachadh gu luath a-rithist? ‘S e droch àbhaist dha-rìribh a th’ ann ma tha mi deiseil mo bhruadar a leigeil suas cho luath sin!

I started thinking: shouldn’t I look at my life in view of tomorrow, instead of wallowing in longing for what I left behind me? Ok, maybe things went wrong, but couldn’t things change quickly again? It’s a bad custom indeed if I am ready to give up my dream as soon as that!

Lean mi orm gu dìcheallach, ag ionnsachadh na Gàidhlig – agus thàinig cothrom eile, beag ‘s mar a bha e, air an eilean fhaicinn a-rithist: an dèidh dhomh airgead a chosnadh tro bhith nam chluicheadair-ciuil do luchd-turais anns a’ bhliadhna 1990, chuir mi romham dol gu colaiste àraid a bha mi air cluinntinn mu deidhinn, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig ann an Slèibhte an ceann-a-deas an eilein. Bha mi air seachdain a chur seachad ann mar-tha – sa Chasg an 1990 – agus thug na chunnaic mi ‘s na rinn mi ann orm tilleadh as t-samhradh gus cùrsa dhà-sheachdain a fhrithealadh.

I diligently persevered in learning Gaelic – and another chance came, small as it was, to see the island again: after I had earned some money as a musician playing for tourists in 1990, I decided to go to a certain college I had heard about, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Sleat in the south end of the island. I’d spent a week there already – in Easter 1990 – and what I saw and did there made me return in summer to attend a two-week course.

An-diugh agus mi ris an aiste seo, tha mi a’ dèanamh deiseil a thilleadh don t-sabhal mhòr aig deireadh na h-ath-sheachdaine! ‘S e cùrsa ‘adhartach’ a tha mi gu bhith an-sàs ann an turas seo, ‘s tha mi a’ dol a dh’fhuireach san aon àite àlainn air a bheil mi gu math eòlach, cuide ri daoine cho coibhneil ‘s a thachair rium a-riamh ‘s aig a bheil an dà chuid Gàidhlig gu leòr agus deòin a bhith ga bruidhinn rium. Cò dh’iarradh an còrr?

Today as I write this essay, I am making ready to return to the big barn at the end of next week! It is an ‘advanced’ course I am going to be involved in this time, And I am going to stay in the same beautiful location with which I am well acquainted, with people as kind as I ever met and who have both plenty Gaelic and a willingness to speak it to me. Who could ask for more?




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