OT: 10 August 1901 – Dr. Keith N. MacDonald “The Age of ‘Tha Mo Run Air A’ Ghille'”

The Oban Times, 10 August 1901

 The Age Of
“Tha Mo Run Air A’Ghille”
(209 Years)

 By Dr. Keith B. MacDonald

 In the majority of the older Gaelic songs it is impossible even to guess when they were first composed, without some clue of a historical nature, hence it is of importance to note such a clue when it does present itself. The above being one of the most lovely of our Gaelic melodies, it is well worth tracing it to its source if that is now possible. The following version of it may or may not be the earliest, but, at any rate, it can be traced as far back as 1692–that is 209 years ago, and even then it might have been an old song. It was composed by the laird of Grant’s daughter to Donald Donn poet and politician, who, we know, was executed in 1691 or 1692. This Donald Donn was of the house of Bohuntin and Aberarder, a branch of the MacDonald’s of Keppoch, the second son of John a MacDonald, 4th of Bohuntin, an uncle of Gilleasbuig na Ceapaich. He was in love with a daughter of the chief of the Grants, of Glenurquhart, but as the Grants opposed the match, the young couple planned an elopement. Donald, to be close at hand, hit himself in a cave on the north side of Lochness, near “Réilig Gharraidh.” Here he was to remain until Miss Grant was able to join him, but Donald’s secret and retreat were betrayed by Miss Grant’s brother, who had him decoy into a house, and subsequently disarmed and taken to Inverness where he was executed in 1692. Mr. Alexander MacDonald, of Upper South River, Nova Scotia, to whom I am indebted for the words of the song, and himself a scion of the family of Bohuntin, informs me that he was not executed in the Grants’country as generally suppose, in 1691, but at Inverness in 1692. There is no one now living who can sing this beautiful song so well as Mr. Alexander Carmichael, the author of “Carmina Gadelica,” with his superb natural tenor voice, and exquisite taste and feeling. Some of the Gaelic societies should certainly have this song as sung by Mr. Carmichael gramophoned, for the benefit and admiration of future generations.