The album – Òran Bagraidh

5***** fRoots playlist album choice ‘‘With sheer sonic brilliance, songs shed light on cultural threads that sparkle with ancient and new sounds and production techniques.  Together the award-winning virtuoso singer-musicians/ poets and instrument makers reveal new truths as they weave a work that’s diverse and cohesive, timeless and radiant in the right here, right now.’

4**** Scotsman ‘fascinating, haunting…’

4 **** Songlines ‘a highly eclectic album, from avant grade experimentalism to traditional ballads spanning over a millenium’

Living Tradition: ‘a richly hewed cosmopolitan melting pot of varied sounds – native voices mixed within a cauldron of heady neo Celtic/classical, ambient and post rock sounds… Oran Bagraidh is a stunning and compelling collection of styles, sounds and ideas and defies classification.‘

Shire Folk: ‘Whether speaking, singing a cappella and/or in choral and harmonic combinations, the passionate expression of the several languages by diverse artists with outstanding vocal skills is beguiling and at times intensely beautiful.’ 

Vocalists and musicians from across the UK and Ireland collaborated during a residency in Barscobe house in Galloway in September 2018.

During the residency the artists produced an original arrangement of Oran Bagraidh. The song was published along with the music ‘When the Kye Comes Hame’ by lowland poet James Hogg – the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’ (1770 – 1835). Though the song is relatively recent the melody is believed to be much older and it is this melody that the artists used.

The artists then took the song as a springboard for further work which explores commonalities and differences between musical styles and languages, within the context of the historical diversity of Galloway. They worked on original compositions and arrangements inspired by Oran Bagraidh, the landscape and each other. Taking the theme of multiple identities they explored commonalities and differences between languages, regional histories and musical sensibilities, dipping into traditional, experimental and electronic.

Buy the album

The first single – Òran Bagraidh

The title single from the album Oran Bagraidh.

Translated as ‘Song of Defiance’ Oran Bagraidh was collected in North Uist by a Canadian song collector and his Gaelic Editor and published in the 1978 book ‘From the Farthest Hebrides’. The song mentions several Galloway place names in the Glenkens parish of Dumfries and Galloway.

Partly unintelligible to contemporary Gaelic speakers, several attempts have been made by historians and academics to unlock its meaning.

Taking informed guesses as to pronunciation, the song is sung in its original format in a Lingua Gadelica*, combining Scottish and Irish Gaelic elements which, from the evidence of local place names, was the case with Gaelic in Galloway. The song is also rendered in part in Welsh phonetics, reflecting mention of Welsh place names in the song and the fact that early Welsh was spoken in South West Scotland until as late as the 12th century.

The multi-lingual collaboration sees Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Welsh, English and Scots vocals alongside northern triplepipes and lyres, electronics, shimmering soundscapes and traditional instruments, juxtaposing the ancient with the very latest technology.

The album was released on 2 February 2019 with a live show at Celtic Connections.

*a phrase coined by Scottish Gaelic/ Irish poet Rody Gorman during the Oran Bagraidh residency.

Josie Duncan: harp, voice
Lorcán Mac Mathúna: voice, whistle
Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde: accordion, voice
Conor Caldwell: fiddle, voice
Barnaby Brown: whistle, voice
Gwyneth Glyn: voice
Bragod: lyre, voice
Rody Gorman: voice
Macgillivray: voice
Ben Seal: synthesizer, drum programming, prayerbells
Produced by Ben Seal

Òran Bagraidh

Aobh cumar an eas dom,
Aobh Bealach na Slogh,
Aobh bruthaichean Beinn Beithich,
Aobh an gleann’s an robh tu og.
Trom dom maduinn an aon-la,
Trom dom maduinn a’chro,
Ni ro eirig air an eislig
Caisteal caiseal a’chro.

Nar ro geis anns a’chro,
Nir bu geis anns a’chro,
Far tu deanma bi mid diamain,
Lagaidh ceudan diogailt linn.
Buille beada gom borr,
Goille grad beart doid,
Com gun choluin sliochd na feannaig,
Diogailt rindearg baradag sliom.

Riam righfinnid air an Fianta,
Ro-sar rath an rightech tu,
Riam ruighean rath na righinn,
Rogaid roighean tu ar righ,
Saindsearc sighi sorcha seiti,
Caimbeart cruthach calma ceannt,
Supach suanach solma socrach,
Ceudnach clota cleusta clit.

Toinnti muinntir na dubhchos,
Inn san draoinich’s ruigh raoin,
Sloinnti cinneil sliochd a’mhaduidh,
Cingdi cairpeach diaman saoidh.
Bhite breacach Loch a’Barr,
Bhite fiadhach Carrsa Fearn,
Bhite brocach Gleann na Seamraig,
Bhite fleaghtach an Dail Righ.

Do bhi treilis donna dosrach
Air an ruaghagh’s an do dail,
Greaghan congail tochadh sgola
Seirbhti sin an deireadh gnas.
Tarpa sluagh na gruaigi ciar,
Na cneas deathar cairti glas
Dosguin ciripti teasmailt brianta
Sosguin foirprig teanmaidh bragh.