Nach neònach mar a thig air uairean co-chruinneachadh de thachartan a chuireas smaointean duine air rathad àraid? 'Sann mar sin a tha e air a bhith dhomhsa o chionn ghreis.
Chuala mi òran air Youtube le Dòmhnall Mac Dòmhnaill á Màbu agus chuir e 'nam chuimhne am fear a b' aithne dhomh, cho cuideachdail 's cho brosnachail a bha e dhomh 'nuair a bha mi a' tòiseachadh ri Gàidhlig ionnsachadh agus 'nuair a bha mi fo iomaguin mhór a' tòiseachadh ri òrain a ghabhail aig cléith luaidh an companach dhaoine a bha fada fada na b' fheàrr na bha mise.
Chan e gnìomh furasda a th' ann, òran a ghabhail measg cuideachd cho eòlach agus mise air m' aineoil, ach thog Dòmhnall agus móran daoine eile mo mhisneachd le bhith cantainn, " Chan eil e gu diofar ma bhios e ceart no ceàrr – gabh e! " Mur an d' fhuair mi brosnachadh mar sin cha chreid mi gum biodh Gàidhlig agam an diugh no idir gun gabhainn òran!
Tha cuimhne bhlàth agam cuideachd air iomadh duin' eile a dheigheadh do "Féis an Òran" ann an Sanndraigh bliadhnaichean bhuaithe seo. Cha d' fhuair iad airgead no nì airson an saothrach ach dh' ionnsaich iad dhuinn òrain a ghabhas mi fhathast. Agus a dh' aindheoin cho neo-bhinn a dh' fhaodamaid a bhith, cha chualas guth a chuireadh an tapadh uainn.
Cha d' thuirteadh guth a thaobh rud sam bith a dh' fheumamaid deanamh no a dh' fheumamaid gun a bhith deanamh. Cha do chuireadh cudtrom mar sin oirnn. Thugadh dhuinn na bh' aca airson ar beathannan a bheartachadh gun chrìochan a chuir oirnn.
Tha an linn sin gu bhith air falbh a nis. Ged a tha am brògan ro mhór airson ar casan a lìonadh, bidh mi smaointinn orra gu tric na laithean, agus ciamar a dh' fhaodainn an spiorad a bh' aca a sheasamh. Ged is ann le teagaisg na Gàidhlig a bhios mi tighinn beò a nis, gabhaidh mi mar dhùbhlan a bhith deanamh mar a rinn iadsan – 's e sin a bhith cho brosnachail còir 's a dh' fhaodainn a bhith, gun a bhith gun sìos air duine nach eil air an aon ràmh 's a tha mise, agus cho mór 's a 's urrainn dhomh, dualachas nan Gaidheal agus giùlan ar sinnsearan a shealltainn 's a thoirt do dhaoine saor an asgaidh, mar a fhuair mi bhuap' iad.
'S e dualchas ro luachmhor a th' againn ach chan ann 's a' chànan 's a' cheòl a mhàin a tha e. Na 's motha na siud bidh e ann an giùlan nan daoine do 'm buin e. Ma chailleas sinn siud, caillidh sinn na h-uile. Gum bi sinn 'nar Gaidheal 'nar giùlan gu sìorruidh bràth.
The People From Whom We Came
Isn't it strange how a confluence of happenings can from time to time turn a person's thoughts in a certain direction? That's been happening to me lately.
I heard a song on Youtube by Donald MacDonnell of Mabou and it reminded me of the man I knew, how helpful and encouraging he was to me when I was starting to learn Gaelic and when I was starting to sing songs at the milling table in the company of people who were far far better than I was.
It's not an easy thing to sing a song among people so knowledgable and me lacking their knowledge, but Donald gave me some courage by saying, "It doesn't matter if it's wrong or right, just sing it!" If I hadn't gotten encouragement like that I don't believe I'd be speaking Gaelic today and certainly I wouldn't be singing the songs.
I have warm memories also of many people who would go to "The Festival of the Songs" in Iona years ago. They didn't get any money or anything else for their efforts, but they taught us songs that I still sing. And no matter how un-musical we were, not one word was heard to discourage us.
Not a word was said about what we had to do or couldn't do. They never put obligations like that on us. They gave us what they had to enrich our lives, without placing restrictions on us.
That generation is all but gone now. Although their shoes are too big for us to fill, I think of them often these days and how I can continue in their spirit. Although I make my living teaching Gaelic, I take it as a challenge to be doing as they did – to be as encouraging and kind as I can be, to not disparage those who travel different roads from me, and as much as I can, to show and to give to others the traditions of the Gaels and the conduct of our ancestors, for free, as I got it from them.
We have a culture of tremendous value, but it's not just in the language and the music that it exists. More than that it's in the behaviour of the people we belong to. If we lose that, we lose it all. May we be Gaels in our bearing forevermore.