The Little Letter for Gaelic Learners

The Little Letter for Gaelic Learners

A simple letter for established Gaelic learners. Roddy Maclean has created this letter for learners who have progressed beyond basic learning, but find the Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh (Letter to Gaelic Learners) too advanced. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic.

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All episodes (283)

  • litirbheag 15 Sep 14: An Litir Bheag 488

    Mon, 15 Sep 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week, Ruiairidh has more folklore for you involving the fairies. Be sure to catch this week’s letter which tells the old story The Humpbacked Old Men and the Fairies. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 08 Sep 14: An Litir Bheag 487

    Mon, 8 Sep 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    You’ll be familiar with the fairies. If not personally, you’ll have heard stories about them. Do you know how the fairies came into being? There’s no account of them in the Bible, as far as I’m aware. I don’t think that Charles Darwin passed an opinion on them either. But the old Gaels had an opinion on the matter. Here’s an account from Mingulay in the nineteenth century. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 01 Sep 14: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 1 Sep 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Is there a plant you really like because it has a special fragrance? A long time ago, when Ruairidh was living in Tasmania, he liked the lemon-scented boronia. It had a smell like a lemon. It brings back memories of beautiful days in the mountains. This week he takes a look at Scottish flowers. Find out more in this week’s letters. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 25 Aug 14: An Litir Bheag 485

    Mon, 25 Aug 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Today Ruairidh has more information about Clach a’ Choire – The Ringing Stone – on Tiree. Make sure you listen to this week’s letter to find out more about a story about the stone and Lachlann the Bàrd. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 18 Aug 14: An Litir Bheag 484

    Mon, 18 Aug 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh was in Tiree recently. He was staying in Balephedrish. That’s on the north side of the island. Balephedrish was named, apparently, for Aodh MacPhèadrais. He was a cleric in the fifteenth century. Find out more about Aodh MacPhèadrais and Tiree in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 11 Aug 14: An Litir Bheag 483

    Mon, 11 Aug 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    In some place in the Highlands there is the Wonderful Land. Everyone belongs to the same clan – the Wonderful Clan. It’s one of them – Big Gòrach MacIongantach – that left us this history. There were two brothers with the same given [baptism] name. Big Gòrach was three years older than Wee Gòrach. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 04 Aug 14: An Litir Bheag 482

    Mon, 4 Aug 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Each person will have his own choice of the most beautiful glen in Scotland. The choice of the late Finlay MacRae was Glen Affric. Finlay passed away a few weeks ago. He was heavily involved in the conservation of the forest in the glen. Find out more about Finlay MacRae's work with Glen Affric in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 28 Jul 14: An Litir Bheag 481

    Mon, 28 Jul 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The squirrel only rarely appears in place-names in Scotland. Why is that? Well, in his new book Reading the Gaelic Landscape, John Murray says that it possibly proves that the Highlands were losing their forest when the Gaels were naming the land. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 21 Jul 14: An Litir Bheag 480

    Mon, 21 Jul 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Am Bile is near Portree on the Isle of Skye. It’s a big grassy slope. Am Bile. Bile is an old Gaelic word for a tree. Often it stands for a tree that was sacred. Perhaps that was in [the] pre-Christian days. Find out more about Am Bile in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 14 Jul 14: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 14 Jul 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    In May Ruairidh was in Knoydart in Canada. In June he was in Knoydart in Scotland. Both Knoydarts are nice, but different from each other. Find out the differences and the similarities in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 07 Jul 14: An Litir Bheag 478

    Mon, 7 Jul 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues to tell us about the poet Allan MacDonald, Allan the Ridge. He was from Mabou in Cape Breton. He lived between 1794 and 1868. Effie Rankin wrote a book about him. Find out more about Allan in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 30 Jun 14: An Litir Bheag 477

    Mon, 30 Jun 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    When Ruairidh was in Nova Scotia recently, he met Effie Rankin. She gave him a copy of her book Às a’ Bhràighe. The book is about a poet in Nova Scotia in the nineteenth century. He was Allan MacDonald or Allan the Ridge. He shows the wealth of Gaelic in Nova Scotia.

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  • litirbheag 23 Jun 14: An Litir Bheag 476

    Mon, 23 Jun 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There are well over a hundred words for high country in Gaelic in Scotland. But what happened do that vocabulary over in Nova Scotia? It would be interesting to examine that. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 16 Jun 14: An Litir Bheag 475

    Mon, 16 Jun 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    More than fifteen years ago, in the second Litir Ruairidh wrote, he gave different names for spiders. His grandmother would say poca-salainn, rather than damhan-allaidh. He heard a new word for spider recently and he was asked a question TV that he could not answer! Find out more in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 09 Jun 14: An Litir Bheag 474

    Mon, 9 Jun 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Until recently Ruairidh was never in the Gaidhealtachd in Nova Scotia. However, he recently remedied this and went to visit. He thoroughly enjoyed this place and meeting the people. Find out what really grabbed his interest in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 02 Jun 14: An Litir Bheag 473

    Mon, 2 Jun 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Fianna (Fingalians) were at one time living in Glencoe, according to oral tradition. Sgòr nam Fiannaidh ‘the peak of the Fianna’ is the name of the summit at the western end of Aonach Eagach ‘notched mountain’. Bealach Fhionnghail ‘Fingal’s pass’ connects Glencoe to Glen Etive. And on Aonach Dubh ‘black mountain’ there is Ossian’s Cave. Ossian the son of Fionn was writing poetry there. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 26 May 14: An Litir Bheag 472

    Mon, 26 May 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh makes his way to the end of the alphabet in Armstrong’s old dictionary. He’s looking for unusual compound words. How many words do you know? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 19 May 14: An Litir Bheag 471

    Mon, 19 May 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh is going to look at compound nouns from Armstrong’s old dictionary. We’ll see how many you understand. He’ll be going through the alphabet. Do you know any of these words? Test yourself with this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 12 May 14: An Litir Bheag 470

    Mon, 12 May 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The crofters in the parish of Lochs in Lewis were planning to go ahead with the Park Deer Raid. The government wasn’t happy. They were on the side of the landlord. They sent police and soldiers to the island. That was in November 1887. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 05 May 14: An Litir Bheag 469

    Mon, 5 May 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Donald MacRae was a schoolmaster in Balallan School in Lochs Parish in Lewis. He was involved in the Park Deer Raid. That was the famous raid on the Park Deer Forest in 1887.Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 28 Apr 14: An Litir Bheag 468

    Mon, 28 Apr 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Rev. Donald MacCallum moved to a new congregation in Tiree. The Duke of Argyll, the landlord, tried to stop him. But he didn’t succeed. There had been bad factors in Tiree. John Campbell, ‘Am Bàillidh Mòr’, was there. He put many people out of their homes. He was followed by another of the same ilk, Hugh MacDiarmid. Find out how Donald MacCallum overcame the factors in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 21 Apr 14: an Litir Bheag 467

    Mon, 21 Apr 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh has more to tell us about the Rev. Donald MacCallum. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the crofters at the time of the land struggle. When he moved to Vaternish on the Isle of Skye he became renowned. His congregation on the Sabbath was very small. He was in the Church of Scotland. Most of the area’s people were in the Free Church. How did he get such recognition? Who was amongst his strongest supporters. Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 14 Apr 14: An Litir Bheag 465

    Mon, 14 Apr 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    you know the story of The Crafty Lad and the Drover? People were fed up of the Crafty Lad. They put him in a barrel. They were going to throw it down a steep slope. But there was a pub on the way. They went in for a dram. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 07 Apr 14: An Litir Bheag 465

    Mon, 7 Apr 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I was telling you about Fairybridge (‘the ford of the three burns’) in the north of Skye. In the Nineteenth Century, at the time of the Disruption of the Church, there were enormous religious meetings there. Thousands attended. Forty years later, the crofters were meeting in the same place. This time was during the land struggle. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 31 Mar 14: An Litir Bheag 464

    Mon, 31 Mar 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    On the Isle of Skye, between Dunvegan and Edinbane, there is a bridge called The Fairy Bridge. Some people thought that horses would see the fairies dancing beside the bridge. In the book Skye: The Island and its Legends, Otta Swire tells us about her grandfather, John Robertson of Orbost. John reported that horses were scared of the bridge. Find out more about The Fairy Bridge in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 24 Mar 14: An Litir Bheag 463

    Mon, 24 Mar 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There was, and is, a lighthouse on Skerryvore near Tiree. Despite that, however, there were occasional maritime accidents in those waters. The accident of the Cairnsmuir was in 1885. It was rather like the famous accident of the Politician near Eriskay. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 17 Mar 14: An Litir Bheag 462

    Mon, 17 Mar 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There is an amazing lighthouse on the Skerryvore near Tiree. It’s the highest one in Scotland, at a height of 48 metres. The Skerryvore is about twelve miles from Tiree and fifty miles from the mainland. Before there was a lighthouse on it, it was a great danger to shipping. Find out about the family who built the lighthouse in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 10 Mar 14: An Litir Bheag 461

    Mon, 10 Mar 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues his Welsh tale. March had horse ears. He kept them hidden with long hair. The youngest lad in the castle gave him a haircut. Afterwards, there was no sign of the lad. Find out what happened to him and how he got his revenge on March in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 03 Mar 14: An Litir Bheag 460

    Mon, 3 Mar 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh likes North Wales. The country is beautiful. And, like the people of the Gaidhealtachd, the people are very keen on stories. Ruairidh is going to tell us a story from Wales this week. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 24 Feb 14: An Litir Bheag 459

    Mon, 24 Feb 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    William MacTaggart, the famous painter, often returned to Kintyre. Sometimes he went out in a boat, fishing. One time, in August 1889, he was in danger of losing his life. Find out more about this dramatic event in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 17 Feb 14: An Litir Bheag 458

    Mon, 17 Feb 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The work of the artist, the late William MacTaggart from Kintyre, reminds Ruairidh of when he was young in Applecross on holiday. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 10 Feb 14: An Litir Bheag 457

    Mon, 10 Feb 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues his tale about the death of a policeman at the end of the Nineteenth Century. It was near Abernethy in Strathspey. There were two officers – John MacNiven and Thomas King. They wanted to collect money from Allan Macallum. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 03 Feb 14: An Litir Bheag 456

    Mon, 3 Feb 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    At the end of the nineteenth century, a death in Strathspey was on the front pages of newspapers throughout the world. Constable Thomas King from Nethy Bridge was killed. Who killed him? Why did they kill him and why did this murder make the world’s press? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 27 Jan 14: An Litir Bheag 455

    Mon, 27 Jan 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues with the tale about the time St Columba sharpened a stake from wood for the a beggar from Lochaber. The poor Lochaber man was using the stake to catch wild animals. The man’s wife said to him that she was worried about the consequences if the man used the stake in a harmful manner. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 20 Jan 14: An Litir Bheag 454

    Mon, 20 Jan 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Amazingly, St Columba was able to open doors that were locked. Once upon a time, he was in Ireland. He went to visit monks in a monastery in the middle of the country. When he went there, the key to the chapel was missing. The monks were very unhappy about it. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 13 Jan 14: An Litir Bheag 453

    Mon, 13 Jan 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Have you ever heard of Clann an Oistir? They were a small clan. They were living on Iona. Clann an Oistir. The name comes from Latin. They were ostuarii in Latin – the ones who kept watch at a door. The word ostium means ‘door’ or ‘opening’. Find out more about Clann an Oistir in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 06 Jan 14: An Litir Bheag 452

    Mon, 6 Jan 14

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Near Valtos, in Trotternish on the Isle of Skye, there is an old dun called the Dùn Dearg. There is a story connected to it – a story called ‘The Giants of Dùn Dearg’. Find out more about these giants and what happened to them in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 30 Dec 13: An Litir Bheag 451

    Mon, 30 Dec 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh finishes telling us about ‘The Adder Man’ or ‘The King of Snakes’ this week. Norman Morrison led a remarkable life, as a teacher and a policeman. One of his achievements in life was setting up the Scottish Police Federation. Find out more about his amazing life in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 23 Dec 13: An Litir Bheag 450

    Mon, 23 Dec 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh was telling us about ‘the adder man’, Tormod an t-Seòladair. He was also keen on eels. He found out that the eel rests in the winter. It’s rather like hibernation. Tormod also had his own opinion on the Loch Ness Monster. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 16 Dec 13: An Litir Bheag 449

    Mon, 16 Dec 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues to tell us about Norman Morrison, Tormod an t-Seòladair, ‘the adder man’. He was well-known as a snake expert. This week, Ruairidh has a couple of stories for us, one is what happened when one of Norman’s snakes escaped in a school when he was a teacher, another tells of how Norman dealt with a nasty snakebite. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 09 Dec 13: An Litir Bheag 448

    Mon, 9 Dec 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues to tell us about Norman Morrison, Tormod an t-Seòladair, ‘the adder man’ in this week’s letter. Norman thought that people were unreasonable about adders. They’re timid, he said. They’ll only bite somebody when they are scared. He was full of mischief and would play tricks on people, sometimes with his adders. Find out what he got up to in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 02 Dec 13: An Litir Bheag 447

    Mon, 2 Dec 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh has been telling stories from the west side of Lewis. A local man left us accounts of those stories. This man was famous for various reasons. This week Ruairidh wants to tell us about the man itself. Find out more about Dr Norman Morrison in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 25 Nov 13: An Litir Bheag 446

    Mon, 25 Nov 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Here’s another story from Shawbost in the west of Lewis. It’s called ‘Hugh/Ewan of the Sea’. Hugh lived near the shore. One day, he went to the bottom of a geo (an inlet with steep sides). He saw a woman. Her back was to him. She had long hair. By her side, on the top of a stone, there was sort of clothing. The clothing had a fish tail and fish fins. Hugh understood that this was a mermaid. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 18 Nov 13: An Litir Bheag 445

    Mon, 18 Nov 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    We’re on the west side of the Isle of Lewis this week. On the moor south of Bragar, there is a loch called ‘the loch of the shieling of the one night’. How did the shieling get a name like that? Well, according to oral tradition, here’s how it happened...

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  • litirbheag 11 Nov 13: An Litir Bheag 444

    Mon, 11 Nov 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    John Gunn was a robber. He was alive in the 18th Century. He operated on travellers on the road between Inverness and Badenoch. He lived somewhere near the Cairngorms. Although he was a robber, John had a reputation as an honourable man. Find out more in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 04 Nov 13: An Litir Bheag 443

    Mon, 4 Nov 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues about the Englishman, Sir Richard Bingham. He was Queen Elizabeth of England’s governor in Connaught, in the west of Ireland. He was in charge of a force in Ireland when a Scottish army was destroyed. The destruction took place in County Mayo in the year 1586. Find out the consequences of this action in this week's letter.

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  • litirbheag 28 Oct 13: An Litir Bheag 442

    Mon, 28 Oct 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Who was Richard Bingham? Why did the Scottish Gaels hate him? He was born in 1528. He was an Englishman. He was involved in the subjugation of Ireland. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 21 Oct 13: An Litir Bheag 441

    Mon, 21 Oct 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh has the the final chapter of the Stromeferry Riot in 1883 in this letter. There were a hundred and fifty police officers waiting for the protesters on the Strome pier. It was Saturday night. There was a large number of people at the Station Hotel, watching them. Find out the final outcome of the Stromeferry Riot in this letter.Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 14 Oct 13: An Litir Bheag 440

    Mon, 14 Oct 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues with his tales of The Stromeferry Riot in 1883. The authorities were inclined to let the matter subside naturally. Was this a sensible plan? Find out in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 07 Oct 13: An Litir Bheag 439

    Mon, 7 Oct 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There was an event at Stromeferry in 1883. It was in the news throughout Britain. We call it ‘The Stromeferry Riot’. Fish were being landed at Strome and then going to market on the railway. This happened every day of the week, including the Sabbath. The people of the Free Church in the area were not pleased about this at all. Ruairidh has the story in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 30 Aug 13: An Litir Bheag 438

    Mon, 30 Sep 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    In April 1881, Constable James Davidson was working in the port of Melbourne in Australia. He saw the vessel India entering the harbour. Find out if the India was all that she seemed and the connection with Constable James Davidson in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 23 Sep 13: An Litir Bheag 437

    Mon, 23 Sep 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues with his tale of the SS Ferret. Three fraudsters, under the leadership of James Henderson, had chartered it. They were on a cruise, if they could be believed, to the Mediterranean. But they were involved in theft. Find out more about this theft in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 16 Sep 13: An Litir Bheag 436

    Mon, 16 Sep 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh has a treat for us this week. He has a story about a Scottish ship at the end of the nineteenth century. She dis-appeared and reappeared in Australia. It’s an amazing story and you can listen to it in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • Litir Bheag 09 Sep 13: An Litir Bheag 435

    Mon, 9 Sep 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues his story about a priest from Pabay who met a group of fairies in a forest in Skye. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 02 Sep 13: An Litir Bheag 434

    Mon, 2 Sep 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh was telling us last week about a trip he took to the old village of Leitir Fura on the Isle of Skye. Leitir means ‘a slope’ which is often above water. But what does Fura mean. Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 26 Aug 13: An Litir Bheag 433

    Mon, 26 Aug 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh was recently on the Isle of Skye. He went for a walk in Sleat. That’s in the south of the island. He walked the route to the old settlement of Leitir Fura. There is beautiful woodland there.

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  • litirbheag 19 Aug 13: An Litir Bheag 432

    Mon, 19 Aug 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Last week, Ruairidh was telling you about the channel that his son swam between Flodigarry and Eilean Flodigarry. It was difficult enough in daylight. But how would it be at night? He tells of a man who swam the channel at night. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 12 Aug 13: An Litir Bheag 431

    Mon, 12 Aug 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruiairidh was in Flodigarry on the Isle of Skye recently. It’s on the east side of the Trotternish Peninsula, in the north of the island. He was down on the shore, looking for fossils along with Dugald Ross, an expert on fossils. Ruairidh’s son, Calum, wanted to go to the island opposite them, Eilean Flodigarry, but he had no boat. How did he get there? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 05 Aug 13: An Litir Bheag 430

    Mon, 5 Aug 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Do you know Loch Cuithir? It’s on the east side of Trotternish in the north of Skye. It’s near a crofting village called Lealt. The loch is situated on the moorland under Sgùrr a’ Mhadaidh Ruaidh. It’s beautiful. Loch Cuithir today is very peaceful and quiet. But it wasn’t always like that. Find out about its hidden history in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 29 Jul 13: An Litir Bheag 429

    Mon, 29 Jul 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh starts the letter with a question. What is the link between Gaelic, a university college in Oxford, an old abbey in the south of Scotland, and a King of Scotland? Find out the answer to this interesting question and more in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 22 Jul 13: An Litir Bheag 428

    Mon, 22 Jul 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I was telling you about the famous bard, Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, and how he wrote Birlinn Chlann Raghnaill. He was under the hull of an upturned boat in Canna.Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 15 Jul 12: An Litir Bheag 427

    Mon, 15 Jul 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Do you know the ceud-chasach? The centipede. According to oral trad-ition, a centipede inspired a Gaelic poet to write a famous poem. Who was the poet and what was the poem? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 08 July 13: An Litir Bheag 426

    Mon, 8 Jul 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh is telling us about The Seven Men of Knoydart. They wanted the land for themselves in Knoydart, in the West Highlands. They were opposing the landlord, Lord Brocket. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 01 Jul 13: An Litir Bheag 425

    Mon, 1 Jul 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Have you ever heard these names? Alexander Macphee, Donald Macphee, William Quinn, Jack McHardy, Duncan Macphail, Archie Macdonald and Henry Macaskill? You’re not sure?

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  • litirbheag 24 Jun 13: An Litir Bheag 424

    Mon, 24 Jun 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh finishes the story The Man Who Got the Three Pieces of Advice. The third piece of advice was not to do anything on an evening or night without contem-plating whether you might regret it on the next day. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 17 Jun 13: An Litir Bheag 423

    Mon, 17 Jun 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh is telling the story The Man Who Got the Three Pieces of Advice. The first piece of advice was – take the long clean road, rather than the short dirty road. There was a fork in the road. The horse rider took the short road. But he met robbers. They stole every penny he had. The other man took the long road, and he had no trouble. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 10 Jun 13: An Litir Bheag 422

    Thu, 6 Jun 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The long clean road, and the short dirty road. That’s a Gaelic proverb. Perhaps the long road is the best one, although it is longer. The long clean road, and the short dirty road. That proverb appears in an old Gaelic story – The Man Who Got the Three Pieces of Advice. Here is the story. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 03 Jun 13: An Litir Bheag 421

    Mon, 3 Jun 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues telling us about The Aberdeen Breviary. There are a few stories in it about the life and miracles of St Brigit/Bride. Here are examples from the book. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 27 May 13: An Litir Bheag 420

    Mon, 27 May 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Aberdeen Breviary is the first major book that was printed in Scotland.Ruairidh will tell you all about this book in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 20 May 13: Litir fo Luchd-ionnsachaidh 419

    Mon, 20 May 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    How many Gaelic words do we have for ‘snow’? They’re not at all as plentiful as the words for high ground or boggy ground. But there’s a few. Ruairidh looks into the words for snow in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 13 May 13: An Litir Bheag 418

    Mon, 13 May 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    On the 12th of July 1746, there was an important interview on board a ship. The vessel was anchored off the shore of Applecross. Asking the questions was General John Campbell. He was in charge of the search for Charles Edward Stuart, after the Battle of Culloden. The woman answering the questions was Flora MacDonald. The pair were on board HMS Furnace.

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  • litirbheag 06 May 13: An Litir Bheag 417

    Mon, 6 May 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    We’re still in the Great Glen this week. Ruiairidh will tell you about a guy who was living in Fort Augustus. He was famous as the ‘lion-hunter’. Find out about this most interesting of characters. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 29 Apr 13: An Litir Bheag 416

    Mon, 29 Apr 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Aig fìor cheann a deas Loch Lòchaidh, tha Magh Comair. Ann am Beurla – Mucomir. Tha baile-fearainn ann. Tha an t-ainm a’ ciallachadh magh no blàr anns a bheil dà abhainn a’ tighinn còmhla – ann an ‘comar’. ’S iad sin Abhainn Spiothain agus Abhainn Lòchaidh. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 22 Apr 13: An Litir Bheag 415

    Mon, 22 Apr 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Do you know what a ‘dochy’ is? It’s spelled, in English, D-O-C-H-Y. I’m certain that in Gaelic it’s spelled D-O-C-H-A-I-D-H. It is, or was, an oaken stick. It was short and thick. It was heavy, with a large hard head on it. Find out more about the dochy and when it was used in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 15 Apr 13: An Litir Bheag 414

    Mon, 15 Apr 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh was told us, last week, about the death of Iain Garbh Mac ’Ille Chaluim of Raasay. His birlinn sank off the north coast of Skye in 1671. This week Ruairidh turns his attention to how that loss people in the West Highlands deeply upset as he was well-respected and much-loved. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 08 Apr 13: An Litir Bheag 413

    Mon, 8 Apr 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh has another story about Iain Garbh of Raasay. Find out what happened to him after he was tricked by MacLeod of Dunvegan. Did he heed warnings? Was he a cautious man? Did he marry? Ruairidh has all the answers in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 01 Apr 13: An Litir Bheag 412

    Mon, 1 Apr 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Iain Garbh was living in Raasay. He was extremely strong. He wasn’t paying rent to MacLeod of Dunvegan. But he should have been. MacLeod was afraid to go and ask for the money. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 25 Mar 13: An Litir Bheag 411

    Mon, 25 Mar 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh mentioned the Isle of Bute last week. In the book – A Voyage Round the Coast of Scotland and the Isles – there is an account of Bute. James Wilson wrote the book and it was published in 1842. Wilson offers a view of the name Bòd - Bute. Ruairidh considers this view and others in this letter and it makes for fascinating reading. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 08 Mar 13: An Litir Bheag 410

    Mon, 18 Mar 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week, Ruairidh begins the letter with an old saying – Chan ann am Bòid uile a tha an t-olc; tha cuid dheth sa Chumaradh Bheag làimh ris. Not all evil is in Bute; some is in Little Cumbrae nearby. We know that’s not true today, if it ever was, but it is a good introduction to this week’s subject; some islands in the Firth of Clyde. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 11 Mar 13: An Litir Bheag 409

    Mon, 11 Mar 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week Ruairidh continues with the tragic tale of the Annie Jane. The skipper beached the ship in Vatersay. Waves smashed the boat. Find out what happened to the crew, the boat and the people of Vatersay and the community in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 04 Mar 13: An Litir Bheag 408

    Mon, 4 Mar 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    In August 1853, the Annie Jane sailed from Liverpool. She was going to Quebec. There were four hundred people on board. The boat was carrying a load of iron – eight hundred tonnes of it. There were three hundred tonnes also of other goods. William Mason was the captain. Find out it he had a successful journey in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • Litirbheag 25 Feb 13: An Litir Bheag 407

    Mon, 25 Feb 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh continues to discuss the clearance of Barra by Colonel John Gordon of Cluny. To find out more, you need to listen to this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • Litirbheag 18 Feb 13: An Litir Bheag 406

    Mon, 18 Feb 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The vessel, the Admiral, sailed from the Western Isles in 1851. She was taking islanders to Quebec. To find out more about this clearance, you need to listen to this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • Litirbheag 11 Feb 13: An Litir Bheag 405

    Mon, 11 Feb 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Do you know what a gille-ruadh is? It's called gillaroo in English. You may be thinking of a boy with red hair, but it's actually a type of fish. To find out more, you need to listen to this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • Litirbheag 04 Feb 13: An Litir Bheag 404

    Mon, 4 Feb 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week, Ruairidh continues with the story of Samson and Delilah. Do you know how she betrayed him to aid the Philistines? To find out more, you need to listen to this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 28 Jan 13: An Litir Bheag 403

    Mon, 28 Jan 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week, Ruairidh plans to tell us about a man in the Bible. He is named on the Scottish landscape. Ruairidh starts with a verse from the Bible about this man. Who is he? Ruairidh can tell you and has lots of information about his life. To find out more, you need to listen to this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 21 Jan 13: An Litir Bheag 402

    Mon, 21 Jan 13

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week Ruairidh begins his letter by taling about a paper that came out about the history of eagles in Britain and Ireland last year. The research was based on place names. He explains the difference between different eagles and how we can identify them. Ruairidh then offers us a surprise by talking about an animal that has since become extinct. Learn more about eagles and about this surpise animal in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 14 Jan 13: An Litir Bheag 401

    Mon, 14 Jan 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week, Ruairidh continues his quest to find even more place-names with the word torc, the Gaelic for boar, in them. He has plenty of fascinating areas to discuss. He then ponders why there are so many names that are boar-based in Scotland? Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 07 Jan 13: An Litir Bheag 400

    Mon, 7 Jan 13

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh reaches another milestone with An Litir Bheag 400! In this letter, he is looking at more place names which feature animals that are extinct in Scotland. He looks at the boar this week, find out more in this week's fascinating podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 31 Dec 12: An Litir Bheag 399

    Mon, 31 Dec 12

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Bones were found in a cave in Inchnadamph in Assynt. The animals died a long time ago. Scotland was cold at the time. What animals were they? Well, the list is interesting. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 24 Dec 12: An Litir Bheag 398

    Mon, 24 Dec 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh was on two special small islands this year. One of them was of Gaelic heritage and the other was non-Gaelic.Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 17 Dec 12: An Litir Bheag 397

    Mon, 17 Dec 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Christmas is almost on us again. And here is a Christmas story for you. It’s from Highland Perthshire. Its name is ‘Christmas Dance’. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 10 Dec 12: An Litir Bheag 396

    Mon, 10 Dec 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    To the old Gaels, the hazelnut was the nut of knowledge. Ruairidh has a story from the Isle of Skye about the knowledge that people can acquire from nuts. The tale features Sgàthach and Cuchullin and their battle against each other. Find out how the hazelnut played its part in this week’s letter. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 03 Dec 12: An Litir Bheag 395

    Mon, 3 Dec 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh continues to discuss the significance to Gaels of the hazel tree. A new book was published recently. Its title is Atlantic Hazel: Scotland’s Special Woodlands. The authors, Sandy and Brian Coppins, say that some woods have existed for centuries. Those woods are very old and that means they are very valuable. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • litirbheag 26 Nov 12: An Litir Bheag 394

    Mon, 26 Nov 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The hazel tree is special to Gaels and has strong folkloric connections. The nuts were popular and the wood was used for many purposes. In this week’s letter, Ruairidh looks at coppicing and how the hazel tree was coppiced and why it was done. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 19 Nov 12: An Litir Bheag 393

    Mon, 19 Nov 12

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Traveller Essie Stewart spent the summer months of her youth living in a tent around the north of Scotland. She explains to Ruairidh how and why they preferred to use hazel wood when creating a rod which was used for supporting the tent. Find out more in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 12 Nov 12: An Litir Bheag 392

    Mon, 12 Nov 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Referring to a trilingual book titled 'Dùthchas na Màra', Ruairidh explores the definition of the word 'dùthchas'. Find out more in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 05 Nov 12: An Litir Bheag 391

    Mon, 5 Nov 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh was telling us how he saw a lot of fish in Ireland. The fish he saw were sprats, mackerel and saithe. The bay on the shore of Aranmore was full of them. That’s a small island off the north-west coast. Find out more about Ruairidh’s holiday in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 29 Oct 12: An Litir Bheag 390

    Mon, 29 Oct 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Árainn Mhór is a small island in Ireland. It’s off the coast of Donegal. Ruairidh was on that island in the nineties. His family was with him. They were on summer holidays. And an amazing thing happened on Árainn Mhór. Find out what that amazing thing was in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 22 Oct 12: An Litir Bheag 389

    Mon, 22 Oct 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Soap Man. A man who made a fortune from soap. Lord Leverhulme. He was at one time the landlord of Lewis and Harris. Why is Ruairidh talking about Leverhulme? Well, several weeks ago, he was on another estate that belonged to the man. But he was in England, near Bolton. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 15 Oct 12: An Litir Bheag 388

    Mon, 15 Oct 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Did puirt-à-beul originate because there was a ban on playing the bagpipes? The “ban” was associated with the Act of Proscription in 1747. Ruairidh investigates this and more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 09 Oct 12: An Litir Bheag 387

    Tue, 9 Oct 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    I was telling you about Keith Norman MacDonald. He published the book Puirt-a-Beul: or Songs for Dancing as Practised from a Remote Antiquity by the Highlanders of Scotland in 1901. Was Keith Norman correct? Are puirt-à-beul very old? It’s difficult to be certain. Ruairidh looks at these questions and others in this week's letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 01 Oct 12: An Litir Bheag 386

    Mon, 1 Oct 12

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Have you ever heard of Keith Norman MacDonald? He was a Skyeman. He was born in 1834. He was a doctor. But he was famous for collecting and publishing the music of the Gaels. This year, his collection of puirt-à-beul appeared anew in print. Find out more about the man in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 24 Sep 12 : An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 24 Sep 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week, Ruairidh concludes the exciting story about The Boy and the Blacksmith. John, the blacksmith, had met a princess whose head was on backwards. He promised the king, her father, that he would fix her head. After the disaster with his own wife’s head, can this tale have a happy ending for John? You’ll have to read this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 17 Sep 12: An Litir Bheag 384

    Mon, 17 Sep 12

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh began to tell us the tale of The Lad and the Blacksmith. John, the blacksmith, saw how a young man fixed a woman’s head, which had been on backwards. He attempted to fix his wife’s twisted neck in the same manner. Is he successful? You’ll have to read this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 10 Sep 12: An Litir Bheag 383

    Mon, 10 Sep 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    There was once a blacksmith living in the Highlands. He was called John. He had a smiddy and he had a wife. She had a twist in her neck. One day, a young man came to John's smiddy. He had green clothes on. He was carrying a young woman on his shoulders. What is the significance of this couple? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 03 Sep 12: An Litir Bheag 382

    Mon, 3 Sep 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Between Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye, the passes through Glenmoriston. There is a cairn in the glen, beside the main road. The cairn commemorates a Jacobite hero, one Roderick MacKenzie. He was killed in that place in 1746. That was three months after the Battle of Culloden. But why was Roderick famous? Find out why in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 27 Aug 12: An Litir Bheag 381

    Mon, 27 Aug 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    You’ll remember last week that Ruairidh was talking about Coinneach Odhar, or The Brahan Seer. Coinneach’s mother was given a special stone from the ghost of a Viking princess. The stone had a hole in it that Coinneach used to look through to foretell the future. What happened to the stone though? That is the subject of this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 20 Aug 12: An Litir Bheag 380

    Mon, 20 Aug 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh has another tale about Coinneach Odhar, or Brahan Seer. It is a story about his mother. She received a present from the ghost of a Scandinavian princess. Find out what that gift was and what she had to do with it in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 13 Aug 12: An Litir Bheag 379

    Mon, 13 Aug 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Have you heard of Coinneach Odhar [“Sallow Kenneth”]? He’s known in English as The Brahan Seer. He had the second sight and made predictions. How did Coinneach get the second sight? Ruairidh reveals all in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 06 Aug 12: An Litir Bheag 378

    Mon, 6 Aug 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Here is a story for you – The One-eyed Miller and the mute Englishman. There was a Scotsman and an Englishman. “There is a mute man in England,” said the Englishman, “who can ask questions nobody can answer.” Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 30 Jul 12: An Litir Bheag 377

    Mon, 30 Jul 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh has a story for us this week, it is about a man called Red-haired Donald and a skull. Let’s join Donald in the woods where he finds the skull. What is so special about the skull? Listien to this week’s letter to find out. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 23 Jul 12: An Litir Bheag 376

    Mon, 23 Jul 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh takes inspirationfor this week’s letter from a book about mammals in the Highlands. In this book there is a description of the Feral Goat: unlikely to be confused with any other British mammal. That’s true. Goats are different from sheep. They’re different from roe deer and red deer. But not everybody can tell the difference. In his book In The Shadow of Cairngorm, the Rev. Dr. William Forsyth gives an account of an English hunter. The hunter thought he had killed a roe deer. But it was a goat! Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 16 Jul 12: An Litir Bheag 375

    Mon, 16 Jul 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    In his book In The Shadow of Cairngorm, the Rev. Dr. William Forsyth says that families of goats would rank themselves in the fold when sleeping at night. At the top would be the mother. Then the daughter. Then the grand-child, and so on, down the generations. This lead Ruairidh to think about the Gaelic terms for the different generations among a person’s descendants. If it’s true for goats, it’s also true for people. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 09 Jul 12: An Litir Bheag 374

    Mon, 9 Jul 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    You will remember that Ruairidh was telling us about Tannochbrae, Balamory and Glendarroch. They are three fictional places in Scottish television programmes. The names are all Gaelic or semi-Gaelic. This week Ruairidh looks at other popular fictional placenames based in Scotland. Find out more about places like Auchenshoogle and Sheildinch in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 02 Jul 12: An Litir Bheag 373

    Mon, 2 Jul 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh has a question for you this week? What do Tannochbrae, Balamory and Glendarroch have in common? Well, they’re all Scottish towns/villages. They were all on television programmes. And they are not real places. The names were made deliberately for a book or TV programme. In each name there is at least one Gaelic element. Balamory and Glendarroch are entirely from Gaelic. Rauiridh takes a deeper look at the Gaelic elements in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 25 Jun 2012: An Litir Bheag 372

    Mon, 25 Jun 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh continues to discuss the Knights Templar, following on from the rumour that they were at Bannockburn. He wonders what happens to them. They were declared illegal by the Pope in 1307 and their buildings, land and finance were confiscated. What happened to the knights themselves? Did they come to Scotland? This is what Ruairidh ponders in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 18 Jun 12: An Litir Bheag 371

    Mon, 18 Jun 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Battle of Bannockburn took place in June 1314. A Scottish army defeated an English army. Some people say that the Scots had a special force of knights. They were extremely skilful at fighting. They were the Knights Templar. Ruairidh can’t say that if the story is true, or not … Why not listen in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 11 Jun 12: An Litir Bheag 370

    Mon, 11 Jun 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh was talking about Iain Geal Donn from Lochaber. He was plundering cattle in Ross-shire in the seventeenth century. Alasdair Breac of Gairloch was out to stop him and hired Alasdair Buidhe MacAoidh from Strath Oykell. Alasdair Buidhe shot Iain in a shieling bothy in Scardroy in Strathconon. Find out more about this exciting tale in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 01 Jun 12: An Litir Bheag 369

    Mon, 4 Jun 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh has a story about how a farm in Ross-shire got its name. The name is Scardroy, or Sgàrd Ruaidh in Gaelic. Ruadh refers to red and according to folklore, it’s the colour of blood. Ruairidh has the full story in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 28 May 12: An Litir Bheag 368

    Mon, 28 May 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was in Strathconon in Ross-shire recently. The name Conon is interesting. Part of the River Conon flows through Strathbran. And part of it is in Strathconon.

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  • 21 May 12: An Litir Bheag 367

    Mon, 21 May 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy told you about a Gaelic proverb in the book by Thomas Garnett: Is mairg a loisgeadh a thiompan ris. Pity the man who’d burn his harp for him. Alexander Nicolson has the same proverb in his collection – Is mairg a loisgeadh a thiompan dhut – pity him who would burn his harp for you. Where did this proverb come from? Roddy has the answer in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 14 May 12: An Litir Bheag 366

    Mon, 14 May 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruaraidh talks of an interesting place-name from Mull – Maol Tobar Leac an t-Sagairt. The bare hill of the well of the flagstone, or gravestone, of the priest. Maol Tobar Leac an t-Sagairt. It’s in the middle of the south of the island. It’s close to the road between Craignure and Fionnphort.

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  • 07 May 12: An Litir Bheag 365

    Mon, 7 May 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    There is a statue of Donald Dewar, Scotland’s first First Minister, at the top end of Buchanan Street in Glasgow. But more than two hundred years ago, a memorial was nearly erected there to somebody else. Who? Find out in this week's Little Letter to Gaelic Learners.

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  • 30 Apr 12: An Litir bheag 364

    Mon, 30 Apr 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Thomas Garnett wrote the book Observations on a Tour Through the Highlands and Part of the Western Isles of Scotland. He was on a journey in the Highlands in 1798. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 26 Apr 12: An Litir Bheag 363

    Mon, 23 Apr 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Do you know Loch Innis mo Cholmaig? It’s an unusual place. Why? Well, the name of the loch in English is the Lake of Menteith. “The only lake in Scotland” as people often say – although it’s a “loch” in Gaelic. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 16 Apr 12: An Litir Bheag 362

    Mon, 16 Apr 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was thinking about Thomas Garnett the other day. Garnett was in the Highlands at the end of the eighteenth century. He wrote a book about his journey – Observations on a Tour Through the Highlands and Part of the Western Isles of Scotland. But why was Roddy thinking about Thomas Garnett? Find out in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 09 Apr 12: An Litir Bheag 361

    Mon, 9 Apr 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    There is a seiche in Loch Ness from time to time. Seiche is a word from Swiss French. It looks like seiche in Gaelic. But it doesn’t mean an animal’s hide. It means big waves in a loch. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 02 Apr 12: An Litir Bheag 360

    Mon, 2 Apr 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was looking at old newspapers the other day. They were on the internet. He saw this from the Derby Mercury in November 1755. The report was from Amsterdam. What was in the report? Why did it interest Roddy? Find out in this week's letter! Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 26 Mar 12: An Litir Bheag 359

    Mon, 26 Mar 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruaraidh tells a traditional story - The Old Woman of the Nuts and the Tailor of the Boards. An evil Cailleach was living in the Highlands. She got her nickname, 'The Cailleach of the Nuts' because she would always have a bag full of nuts.

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  • 19 Mar 12: An Litir Bheag 358

    Mon, 19 Mar 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Have you ever heard the English word – graddaning? It comes from the Gaelic gradan. It means a method of making flour.Do you know how people used to make flour? People flailed the corn. They were winnowing it. In addition to the grain, they were getting chaff and straw. The straw was useful as food for cattle. It was also useful for bedding and house thatch. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 12 Mar 12: An Litir Bheag 357

    Mon, 12 Mar 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Blessed silverweed of spring, the seventh bread of the Gael. Blessed silverweed of spring, the seventh bread of the Gael. The old Gaels used to eat it regularly. Sometimes they cultivated it. The silverweed is the seventh bread. What are the other six? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 05 Mar 12: An Litir Bheag 356

    Mon, 5 Mar 12

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Roddy was telling you about the brisgean, or silverweed. It is plentiful where there is sand. There is lots on the island machairs. Roddy tried the silverweed once. Roddy didn’t think much of it. The old Gaels were eating it when food was scarce. But were they eating it at other times?

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  • 27 Feb 12: An Litir Bheag 355

    Mon, 27 Feb 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Spring – the season of hunger. Well, traditionally, at least. Food was scarce in Spring. What did people eat? Well, a proverb tells us. In Spring, when the sheep is thin, the shellfish are fat. Find out more in this week's letter Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 20 Feb 12: An Litir Bheag 354

    Mon, 20 Feb 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    In 1768, Dugald Buchanan got bad news. He was still in Edinburgh. But his family in Kinloch Rannoch were suffering from fever. He went home. But he contracted the fever himself. He died. He was just 52 years old. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 13 Feb 12: An Litir Bheag 353

    Mon, 13 Feb 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Religion caused Dugald Buchanan distress. The Jacobite rebellion didn’t help him. Dugald was against the Prince’s cause. He was angry about the way in which Highland soldiers were put to death in Carlisle. He wnated revenge. But he was also wanting to grant the murderers forgiveness. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 06 Feb 12: An Ltir Bheag 352

    Mon, 6 Feb 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy continues with his tales of Dugald Buchanan, whose faith was not strong as a teenager. Roddy recounts a tale where Dugald’s life appears to have been saved by divine intervention. Find out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 30 Jan 11: An Litir Bheag 351

    Mon, 30 Jan 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy is reading from In the autorbiography of The Life and Conversion of Dugald Buchanan a famous Gaelic spiritual poet. Dugald had crises of faith when he was young. He had been brought up in a very pious household. He was sent away to work when he was twelve. A significant incident happened whilst he was there. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 23 January 12: An Litir Bheag 350

    Mon, 23 Jan 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy takes inspiration for this week’s letter from a Gaelic autobiography. The author and subject is Dugald Buchanan, who was famous as a spiritual poet and helped translate the New Testament into Gaelic. Roddy investigates some of the spiritual things that Dugald saw. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 16 Jan 12: An Litir Bheag 349

    Mon, 16 Jan 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week Roddy brings you a story from a book that was published last year. He read it online. He is enjoying the book very much and ends with a puzzle. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 09 Jan 12: An Litir Bheag 348

    Mon, 9 Jan 12

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week, Roddy has a different story from last week, but with the same name, Luran. This story is from Barra. The choice of breakfast also becomes pertinent. Luran notices a cow or steer goes missing every Halowe’en! How can he stop this from happening and who is taking them? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 02 Jan 12: An Litir Bheag 347

    Mon, 2 Jan 12

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Luran was a man who lived in Stoneybridge. He was visited by a stranger, who outwitted him using porridge! How can this be? Find out in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 26 Dec 11: An Litir Bheag 346

    Mon, 26 Dec 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy reads another important part of the Declaration of Arbroath. It leads him to wonder what is the significance to Scotland of the Declaration and the importance to Gaels. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 19 Dec 11: An Litir Bheag 345

    Mon, 19 Dec 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy looks back into history for this week's letter. He looks into the history of the The Declaration of Arbroath. Roddy reads one of the most famous passages in Gaelic. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 12 Dec 11: An Litir Bheag 344

    Mon, 12 Dec 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was in Wales recently. He noticed that the area was beautiful and that the language was strong. There is lots of language in that area that is easy for a Gael to understand. Snowdonia is the highest mountain, or Yr Wyddfa, in Welsh. It has a very unexpected meaning. Find out what that meaning is and the amazing story behind it, in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 05 Dec 11: An Litir Bheag 343

    Mon, 5 Dec 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    General misery was prevalent in Caithness. Rent was unpaid, the new Earl’s buildings were destroyed and his livestock was stolen. The Earl retaliated by sending military force. A fierce battle commenced between the Campbells and the Sinclairs of Caithness. Who were successful and how did they celebrate their victory? Unlock the secret of the name of the place in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 28 Nov 11: An Litir Bheag 342

    Mon, 28 Nov 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy has been on a walk in Caithness on a famous site. The name is in Gaelic and commemorates an even in 1680. The name is Altimarlach or Allt nam Mèirleach and translates as The Burn of the Robbers. Who were the robbers and why are they being commemorated? Roddy sets the scene for a great battle that took place there, the Battle of Altimarlach. Join him and learn more with this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 21 Nov 11: An Litir Bheag 341

    Mon, 21 Nov 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy makes the connection of Gaelic, Scots and Norse words: geodha, geo and gjá. Many of which are prevalent in placenames in Scotland. Roddy recently went back to school to discuss these words with schoolchildren and this day had a very funny conclusion. Fin out more in this week’s letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 14 Nov 11: An Litir Bheag 340

    Mon, 14 Nov 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Will the soldier ever make his way to the infamous Kingdom of Coldness? Will he meet anymore men preening their beards with odd plants? Will the soldier run out of curry combs to give the bearded men? What will the outcome be? What of the princess, will she and the soldier finally find love together? This epic tale reaches its exciting conclusion. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 07 Nov 11: An Litir Bheag 339

    Mon, 7 Nov 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The beautiful woman has left the Awisks! The soldier leaves the castle and makes his way to a house owned by a fairy, what happens there? He also finds stwo separate men preening their beards with very strange things. Discover the new twists and turns in this engaging tale. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 31 Oct 11: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 31 Oct 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Will the two soldiers make the same mistake as their predecessor in the mysterious house? Who is the beautiful woman ion the house and why is a dog beckoning the soldiers to this mysterious house? Find out more in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 21 Oct 11: An Litir Bheag 337

    Mon, 24 Oct 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The word "Amhaisg", meaning a wee guy with evil intent, provides the titel for the tale this week - The Awisks. This tale is about three soldiers who fled from the army. They were tired and hungry and confronted with strange things, find out what they were in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 17 Oct 11: An Litir Bheag 336

    Mon, 17 Oct 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Duncan MacRae from Isle Ewe was responsible for the pot of gold that belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie. How did he keep it out of harm's way? find out tin this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 10 Oct 11: An Litir Bheag 335

    Mon, 10 Oct 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Shortly after the Battle of Culloden, two vessels appeared in Loch Ewe. They were going to meet a messenger. The messenger had French gold. The gold was for the Prince who was hiding in the Highlands. But the messenger didn’t appear. The vessels sailed away.Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 03 Oct 11: An Litir Bheag 334

    Mon, 3 Oct 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    There is a loch in Wester Ross called Loch an Draing on the map. It’s near Loch Ewe. The meaning of the name, Loch an Draing isn’t clear. Local people don’t say “Loch an Draing”. They say “Locha Druing” no “Locha Dring”. Roddy has a story from the area about a fairy, listen to the podcast to find out more. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 26 Sep 11: An Litir Bheag 333

    Mon, 26 Sep 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Papar – Gaelic-speaking hermits – were living in Iceland in the year 870. Íslendingabók tells us that. That’s the year the Norse appeared. The papar left. They did not return. They left bells and books on the island. Were they the only Gaels that went to Iceland and were to be found there? Find out in this week’s podcast? Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 19 Sep 11: An Litir Bheag 332

    Mon, 19 Sep 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Norse influenced the Gaelic language. But did the Gaels influence the Norse language? Well, yes, to a small degree. Roddy was in Iceland recently. There is a debate going on there – what effect did the Gaels have on the island? Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 12 sep 11: An Litir Bheag 331

    Mon, 12 Sep 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was in Iceland recently and saw interesting place-names. They reminded me of place-names in Scotland. For example, the capital city, Reykjavik. You’ll know the word in Scots and English – reek. Edinburgh had the nickname Auld Reekie. Reykja-vík means “reeky bay” or “smoky bay”. There are several places in Iceland with reykja- in the name. Those are places where smoke rises from the ground. He's got more information on the place-names of Iceland in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 05 Sep 11: An Litir Bheag 330

    Mon, 5 Sep 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Westmann Islands in Iceland are small but rugged. From the mainland, the view of the islands reminded Roddy of St Kilda. It’s submarine volcanoes that made them. That was eleven thousand years ago. Ruairidh has plenty of stories about them. Learn more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 29 Aug 11: An Litir Bheag 329

    Mon, 29 Aug 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy often goes to Scandinavia. A short while ago, he went to a Scandinavian country that was new to him – Iceland. He really enjoyed it. He found something that surprised him. It was how often he saw and heard things with connections to Scotland. Find out what these where in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 22 Aug 11: An Litir Bheag 328

    Mon, 22 Aug 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    I was telling you about cairidhean/yairs. There were lots of them in the Beauly Firth, west of Inverness. In olden times it was called Poll an Ròid in Gaelic. That means “the inlet of the rood or cross”. That’s the same Rood as in Holyrood House in Edinburgh. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 15 Aug 11: An Litir Bheag 327

    Mon, 15 Aug 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    There are cairidhean/yairs in many places in the Highlands. They are all old. People haven’t used them for a long time. Cairidh means a small stone wall that people were building on a beach. Fish were swimming over the wall with the flood tide. When the ebb occurred, the water left; but the fish didn’t leave. It was easy for people to pick up the fish from the sand. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 08 Aug 11 An Litir Bheag 326

    Mon, 8 Aug 11

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Here is a traditional story – "The Ox and the Donkey". An ox and a donkey were lived on the same farm. The ox had a poor life. He worked every day from dawn to dusk. But the donkey had a good life. He didn't do any work. He just rested. One day, the ox said to the donkey, "I'm fed up of working all the time." "You do too much," the donkey agreed. "You plough, you harrow and you pull a cart. I'll tell you what to do. Pretend you’re not well. Then you won’t have any work." Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 01 Aug 11: An Litir Bheag 325

    Mon, 1 Aug 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This is in Dwelly’s dictionary – ùruisg: ‘being supposed to haunt lonely and sequestered places, water-god’. People were believing in urisks in many places. They were strong in Perthshire. A verse names the best-known ones in Breadalbane. Learn more about this verse and the characters in it, in this week'd podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 25 Jul 11: An Litir Bheag 324

    Mon, 25 Jul 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was telling you about Taigh nam Bodach, or Taigh na Cailliche, near Loch Lyon. People put the stones out of the ‘house’ every Beltane. They bring them in again for the winter at Halloween. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 18 July 11 : An Litir Bheag 323

    Mon, 18 Jul 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Bha Ruairidh ag innse mu Thaigh nam Bodach – no Taigh na Cailliche – ann an Gleann Cailliche ann an Siorrachd Pheairt. Tha iomadh ciall air an fhacal cailleach.

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  • 11 Jul 11 : An Litir Bheag 322

    Mon, 11 Jul 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh was telling you about MacGregor's Leap. Gregor MacGregor jumped over it in the sixteenth century. There was another man who tried to do the same thing. He was an acrobat. But he didn't succeed. He lost his life.

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  • 04 Jul 11: An Litir Bheag 321

    Mon, 4 Jul 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    We’re still in Glenlyon in Perthshire. West of Fortingall, the road is close to the river. There is a thick wood there. The river is in a gorge. It is fast-running and narrow. On the map it’s called MacGregor’s Leap. Leum Mhic-Griogair. But who was the MacGregor? Why was he jumping? Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 27 Jun 11: An Litir Bheag 320

    Mon, 27 Jun 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was telling you about Fortingall in Perthshire. The name means “the church of the fort”. Was the place sacred to the pagans, before there was a church there? Some people think it was because there is a famous yew tree growing next to the church. It’s very old. They say that it’s the oldest tree in Europe. It’s between two thousand and five thousand years old. It’s not whole now. But it’s still alive! Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 20 Jun 11: An Litir Bheag 319

    Mon, 20 Jun 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh was recently in Glenlyon in Perthshire. That area is famous for history and oral tradition. And, according to oral tradition, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, was born in the area. His father was in Scotland as part of the Roman army. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 13 Jun 11: An Litir Bheag 318

    Mon, 13 Jun 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week Roddy tells us about a programme that he's been enjoying. It's from Denmark. It is called Forbrydelsen. That means “The Killing”. It takes place in Copenhagen. It’s about murder and the investigation the police make. It inspires Roddy to think about Danish, English, Scots and Gaelic words connected with death. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 06 Jun 11: An Litir Bheag 317

    Mon, 6 Jun 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Last week Roddy told us the story The Descendants of the Speckled Horse who was Never Wise. It’s from the Loch Lomond area. The story tells how the name Mac an Oighre or MacNair/Macnair came into being. Mac an Oighre means “the son of the heir”. This week he shares another story from the area. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 30 May 11: An Litir Bheag 316

    Mon, 30 May 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    What’s the Gaelic for MacNair/Macnair? Well, in Rossshire it’s Mac ̓an Uidhir. It means Mac Iain Uidhir. That’s the old form of Mac Iain Odhair or “the son of John of the sallow complexion”. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • litirbheag:

    Mon, 23 May 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy was telling you about the Bràisteach Mòr, George Gunn. He was the clan chief of the Gunns. Roddy told how he and seven of his sons were killed. That was in combat with the Keiths of Ackergill. The Keiths stole the famous brooch and a sword from the Bràisteach Mòr’s body. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 16 May 11: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 16 May 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Roddy continues his tale about George Gunn, the clan chief of the Gunns. He had a nickname – the Bràisteach Mòr [“the great brooched one”]. He was alive in the 15th Century. He had a castle at Kinbrace in Sutherland. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 09 May 11: An Litir Bheag 313

    Mon, 9 May 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The village of Kinbrace is in the county of Sutherland. The Gaelic for it is Ceann a’ Bhràist. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 02 May 11 : An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 2 May 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    St Andrews is the English name for the town in Fife, Cill Rìmhinn. To begin with, "St Andrews" was connected only to the church. It wasn’t connected to the town.

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  • 25 April 11 : An Litir Bheag 311

    Mon, 25 Apr 11

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There is a town in Fife called Cill Rìmhinn. It’s not a big town. But it’s famous. It was important in the history of Scotland. And it’s still important to golf and golfers. It has a link to the patron saint of Scotland – St Andrew.

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  • 18 Apr 11: An Litir Bheag: 310

    Mon, 18 Apr 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week Ruairidh shares an old song with you. The song is old. It’s from the parish of Loch-carron in Wester Ross.

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  • 11 Apr 11 An Litir Bheag 309

    Mon, 11 Apr 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    I was telling you last week about the song The Thistle of Scotland. It was the Loch Fyne bard, Evan MacColl, that wrote it. I was in the parish in which he was born recently. There is a memorial to him at Kenmore, on the shore of Loch Fyne. MacColl was born at Kenmore in 1808. The memorial was erected for him in 1930. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 04 Apr 11 An Litir Bheag 308

    Mon, 4 Apr 11

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Thistle of Scotland is a famous plant of virtues, Neat plant of the prickly tufts which are provenly hard; A magnificent emblem of my beautiful beloved land, Often its fame kindled a bonfire in my cheek. Do you recognise that verse? Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 28 Mar 11 An Litir Bheag 307

    Mon, 28 Mar 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    A new book was published recently on "Gnàthasan-cainnt" meaning idioms. Donald Graham, from Lewis, collected the idioms from the Isle of Lewis, North Uist, Harris and Berneray. I'm going to give you one or two examples from the book. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 21 Mar 11 An Litir Bheag 306

    Mon, 21 Mar 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    I'm going to finish the history of the painting The Death of the Stag by the American painter, Benjamin West. Francis Humberston MacKenzie was going to hang the painting in his castle, Brahan Castle in Rossshire. Through the 1790s, however, the castle was being developed. Thus, the painting remained in London, in Benjamin West's studio. It was there for thirty years. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 14 Mar 11 An Litir Bheag 305

    Mon, 14 Mar 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The painting The Death of the Stag is in the National Gallery of Scotland. It shows Colin Fitzgerald. He is saving the life of King Alexander III. Colin was the progenitor, according to oral tradition, of the MacKenzie clan. The MacKenzies were loyal to the Kings of Scotland. But the fifth Earl of Seaforth, William MacKenzie, supported the Jacobites in their rebellion in 1715. He lost his title and he lost his land. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 07 Mar 11 An Litir Bheag 304

    Mon, 7 Mar 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The painting The Death of the Stag is in the National Gallery of Scotland. It's a large painting. It shows Colin Fitzgerald saving the life of a Scottish King. That was Alexander III. The King was in danger from an angry stag. But who was Colin Fitzgerald? He was an ancestor, according to oral tradition, of the man who ordered the painting – Francis Humberston MacKenzie. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 28 Feb 11 An Litir Bheag 303

    Mon, 28 Feb 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Do you know the National Gallery of Scotland? It's in Edinburgh. In the big chamber, on your right, is the largest painting in the gallery. In the picture, a Scottish King has fallen from a horse. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 21 Feb 11 An Litir Bheag 302

    Mon, 21 Feb 11

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I'm going to finish the story Great Gulp. The Widow's Son wanted to marry the King's daughter. But the King wasn't willing to give him his daughter. The Floor-Mischief had another plan. "Give him an invitation to dinner," she said to the King. "Make sure that he sits in the great chair. There is a deadly spike in that chair. The deadly spike will kill him." Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 14 Feb 11 An Litir Bheag 301

    Mon, 14 Feb 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    I'm telling the story Great Gulp. The Widow's Son wanted to marry the King's daughter. The King wasn't willing to give him his daughter. The Floor-Mischief came. She was hostile to the Widow's Son. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 07 Feb 11 An Litir Bheag 300

    Mon, 7 Feb 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    I was telling you the old story Great Gulp. The Widow's Son built a vessel. He was hoping to marry the King's daughter. The vessel was good at sailing on sea or land. The Widow's Son was the skipper. He went to look for a crew.

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  • An Litir Bheag 299 31 Jan 11

    Mon, 31 Jan 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Here's an old Gaelic story called Great Gulp. A king had a daughter. She was exceptionally beautiful. Many men wanted to marry her. But she was only going to marry a man who would build a ship that would sail on sea and on land. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 24 Jan 11: An Litir Bheag 298

    Mon, 24 Jan 11

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Rev James Stuart [also "Stewart"] made the first translation of the New Testament into Scottish Gaelic. He was the minister in Killin in Perthshire. The New Testament appeared in 1767. James Stuart was born in 1700 in Glen Finglas in the Trossachs. He became a minister in Killin in 1737. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 17 Jan 11: An Litir Bheag 297

    Mon, 17 Jan 11

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Three people were heavily involved in bringing the Bible to the Gaels of Scotland in Gaelic. The first man was Robert Boyle, the son of the Earl of Cork. The second man was James Kirkwood, a minister who was once living in Perthshire. And the third person? He was Robert Kirk, minister in Aberfoyle in the Trossachs. Kirk brought out the Irish Bible in Latin script for the Gaels of Scotland in 1690. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 10 Jan 11: An Litir Bheag 296

    Mon, 10 Jan 11

    Duration:
    4 mins

    In the 17th Century, many people within the church in Scotland were against Gaelic. The Bible was not therefore translated into Gaelic at that time. The situation was better in Ireland, in the 17th Century the Old and New Testaments become available in Irish. There were too many copies of the Old Testament, some were sent to Scotland. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 03 Jan 11: An Litir Bheag 295

    Mon, 3 Jan 11

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I'm going to read a verse from the Bible. It's from the New Testament. Here it is: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. That is a new translation of the Gospel according to John, Chapter 1, Verse 1. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 27 Dec 2010 An Litir Bheag 294

    Mon, 27 Dec 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    People ask whether Hogmanay is a Gaelic word. Well, it isn't. Hogmanay came into English and Scots from French. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 20 Dec 10: An Litir Bheag 293

    Mon, 20 Dec 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Gaelic for Christmas is Nollaig. We say, "Nollaig chridheil dhuibh" for "Merry Christmas to you". In the old days, there were two Nollaigs – the Nollaig Mhòr and the Nollaig Bheag. The Nollaig Mhòr was Christmas. The Nollaig Bheag was New Year's Day. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 13 Dec 10 An Litir Bheag 292

    Mon, 13 Dec 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Have you ever heard of faire chlaidh? Graveyard watch. Faire chlaidh. People believed that the spirit of a person who had been buried kept watch over the dead. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 06 Dec 10: An Litir Bheag 291

    Mon, 6 Dec 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Lochaber Bard, John MacDonald, was recorded by the School of Scottish Studies. He has stories and anecdotes on the Tobar an Dualchais website. It's a new website. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 29 Nov 10: An Litir Bheag 290

    Mon, 29 Nov 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Calum MacLean met Iain MacDonald, the Lochaber Bard, in January 1951. Calum was famous for collecting Gaelic folklore. Iain was a famous Bard. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 22 Nov 10: An Litir Bheag 289

    Mon, 22 Nov 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    I'm going to finish the traditional story, Billy. This young guy, Billy, was keen on thieving. The gentleman was wanting to set him one more test. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • An Litir Bheag 288

    Mon, 15 Nov 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I'm continuing with the traditional story, Billy. Billy was learning thieving. He went home with a hundred pounds from the publican. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 08 Nov 10 An Litir Bheag 287

    Mon, 8 Nov 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Here is the traditional story "Billy". It was collected in Barra in the 19th Century. I hope you enjoy it. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 01 Nov 10: An Litir Bheag 286

    Mon, 1 Nov 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    We have a nice song in Gaelic. It's a lullaby. It's name is Uiseag Bheag Dhearg. In the song a child is speaking to a lark. The lark tells where it was sleeping. It slept badly in the bramble bush. It slept badly at sea. But it slept well between two leaves. If it works well, the child will be asleep before the end of the song. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 25 Oct 2010: An Litir Bheag 285

    Mon, 25 Oct 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I was telling you about the Bratach Shìth – or Fairy Flag. It's in Dunvegan Castle on Skye. People were saying – when it's raised at a time of conflict, that a fairy host will come. The fairies will give help to the people who have the flag. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 18 Oct 2010: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 18 Oct 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Fairy Flag is famous. It’s on the Isle of Skye. It belongs to the Clan MacLeod of Dunvegan. It’s in Dunvegan Castle. In English it’s called the Fairy Flag. The flag is made of silk. It’s very old. And valuable. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 11 Oct 10: An Litir Bheag 283

    Mon, 11 Oct 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Gaelic for The Milky Way is Slighe Chlann Uisnich [“the path of the children of Uisneach]. Milky Way came into English from the Latin Via Lactea. Many languages took their name for the Milky Way from Latin. The Romance languages themselves are like that. In Italy, for example, it’s Via Lattea. The German Milchstraße and the Dutch Melkweg are trans-lations from Latin. As are the names in the Slavic languages. Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 04 Oct 10: An Litir Bheag 283

    Mon, 4 Oct 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Scot Gregor MacGregor was in France. He had been involved in fraud. Many people went to Poyais in Central America. MacGregor was praising Poyais. But the country didn’t exist. The people lost a lot of money. Find out more about this scallywag in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 27 Sep 10: An Litir Bheag 281

    Mon, 27 Sep 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Scot Gregor MacGregor was involved in deceit. He created an imaginary country. That was Poyais. It was in the Gulf of Honduras in Central America. MacGregor was saying that he was His Serene Highness Gregor I, Prince of Poyais. Was he out of his mind. No. But he was dishonest. Find out more in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 20 Sep 10: An Litir Bheag 280

    Mon, 20 Sep 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    More about Neil MacLeod of Lewis. He was a murderer. But he stood against the Fifers who were trying to take Lewis over. To some he was a hero. In the government’s opinion he was a criminal. Learn more in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 13 Sep 10: An Litir Bheag 279

    Mon, 13 Sep 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    At the beginning of the seventeenth century, a group of Lowlanders from Fife went to Stornoway. They were the Fife Adventurers. They were going to set up a colony in Lewis. They had support from the King, James VI. Neil MacLeod, and other MacLeods, stood against them. The MacLeods destroyed the Fifers’ stronghold. Learn more this in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 06 Sep 10 : An Litir Bheag 278

    Mon, 6 Sep 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    In the nineteenth century, there was a Procurator Fiscal in Stornoway called Thomas Drummond. He tried to change the name of the town. He wasn't pleased with Stornoway. Find out more with Ruairidh in this week's little letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 30 Aug 10: An Litir Bheag 277

    Mon, 30 Aug 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh likes the place name Steòrnabhagh. What is your opinion of it? Ruairidh reckons that it’s attractive in English as well. Stornoway. It’s a Norse name. It was Stjórnarvágr. That means the bay of the rudder or the bay of the steering – in English, rudder bay or steering bay. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 23 Aug 10: An Litir Bheag 276

    Mon, 23 Aug 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Here is the story An Nios agus an Sionnach. The Weasel and the Fox. An Nios agus an Sionnach. It’s from Loch Lomondside. Foxes are very crafty. But this weasel was craftier. Listen to this story in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 16 Aug 10: An Litir Bheag 275

    Mon, 16 Aug 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Last week Ruairidh was talking about the word samh. That’s the Gaelic for the common sorrel or sourock, Rumex acetosa. He was saying that perhaps the name came from Polish to Yiddish to English to Gaelic. This week, Ruairidh has a story about sorrel depicting its healing properties.

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  • 09 Aug 10: An Litir Bheag 274

    Mon, 9 Aug 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The plant Rumex acetosa is called samh in Gaelic. People call it common sorrel in English. The English name came from the taste of the leaf. It’s sour. In Scots its name is sourock. It’s not too clear where the Gaelic name came from. Does the plant have a strong smell? Find out more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 02 Aug 10: An Litir Bheag 273

    Mon, 2 Aug 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    At the end of the last podcast, Ruairidh posed a question. I asked what Oidhche nan Seachd Suipearan (The Night of the Seven Suppers) is. Find out what it is in this week’s podcast! Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 26 Jul 10: An Litir Bheag 272

    Mon, 26 Jul 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh was speaking last week about Seachd Cadalaichean an t-Saoghail. They are The Seven Sleepers of the Earth – creatures that were spending the winter at home, hibernating. They weren’t leaving for a foreign land in the winter.Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 19 Jul 10: An Litir Bheag 271

    Mon, 19 Jul 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Have you ever heard about Seachd Cadalaichean an t-Saoghail? That's The Seven Sleepers of the Earth. Ruairidh was reading a book about the Cairngorms and tells you more in this week's little letter. Accompanying text is available in both English and Gaelic at bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 12 Jul 10: An Litir Bheag 270

    Mon, 12 Jul 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    The Rev Alexander Pope was a minister in Reay in Caithness. That was in the eighteenth century. He collected Gaelic oral tradition in Caithness. That was around 1739. Learn one of these tales in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 05 Jul 10: An Litir Bheag 269

    Mon, 5 Jul 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Rev Alexander Pope was a minister in Reay in Caithness. That was in the eighteenth century. He was a strong man. He had a stick. He was using the stick to “encourage” people to go to church. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 28 JUN 2010 An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 28 Jun 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Rev Alexander Pope was a minister in Reay (parish) in the eighteenth century. Reay is in Caithness. Mr Pope spoke Gaelic. It was a Gaelic congregation he had. He was a strong man. He had a stick. He was using the stick on the people of the congregation. Learn more about him in this week’s podcast! Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 21 Jun 10 : An Litir Bheag 267

    Mon, 21 Jun 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Sandy MacDonald was a gamekeeper. That was in the Cairngorms early in the twentieth century. Sandy found something on the hill. That was after the First [World] War. He was thinking that it was a bomb. But it wasn’t. It was a flare. How did it get there? Well, it came from an aircraft in the war – a German aircraft. It wasn’t a plane, however, but a Zeppelin. The flare came from Zeppelin L20 in May 1916. But why was that aircraft above the Cairngorms? Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 14 Jun 10: An Litir Bheag 266

    Mon, 14 Jun 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Amulree is a village in Perthshire. Close by, there is Glen Quaich. In the glen there is Loch Freuchie. How did the loch get its name? Is it connected to the plant – heather? Well, no, according to oral tradition. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 07 Jun 10: An Litir Bheag 265

    Mon, 7 Jun 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Black, white and red. Three colours. The old Gaels knew them. They were in some of the stories. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 31 May 10: An Litir Bheag 264

    Mon, 31 May 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    On a recent visit to Sámi in northern Sweden, Ruairidh learnt a little about the country's native language. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 24 May 10: An Litir Bheag 263

    Mon, 24 May 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruaraidh visited Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in Sweden recently. It's in the north, in the Arctic. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 17 May 10: An Litir Bheag 262

    Mon, 17 May 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Conall and Cuchullin were related to each other. They were cousins. They learned together in the same university. They were close to each other. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 10 May 10: An Litir Bheag 261

    Mon, 10 May 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I have a story for you – Bàs Chiuinlaoich. In English, The Death of Conlaoch. It’s from Scottish oral tradition. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 03 May 10: An Litir Bheag 260

    Mon, 3 May 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Did the Romans use war-elephants in Britain? Find out in this week's podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 26 Apr 10: An Litir Bheag 259

    Mon, 26 Apr 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    What’s the Gaelic for “elephant”? Ailbhean, isn’t it? Ailbhean. But in the old dictionaries there are many words. Here are examples: ailp, boir, oileabhan, oilleabhaint and albhan dubh. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 19 Apr 10: An Litir Bheag 258

    Mon, 19 Apr 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week Ruairidh continues the tale of "The King and The Foal". Find out what happens in this week's podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 12 Apr 10: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 12 Apr 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh is continuing with the story “The King and the Foal”. The king said to the man, “Come here tomorrow. If you don’t tell me what is swiftest in the world, you’ll lose your head.” Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 05 Giblean 10: An Litir Bheag 256

    Mon, 5 Apr 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh tells an old story this week – "An Rìgh agus an Searrach / The King and the Foal". Searrach means "a young horse".

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  • 29 Mar 10: An Litir Bheag 255

    Mon, 29 Mar 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh was looking at an old page in Mac-Talla. That’s an old newspaper. Mac-Talla was published in Nova Scotia. That was at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th Century. Find out what he discovered in this week's podcast. This week, Ruairidh ponders the extinction of the lynx - what was the main contributing factor? He also wonders what effect the lynx has in other countries. Learn more about the lynx in this week's letter. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 22 Mar 10: An Litir Bheag 254

    Mon, 22 Mar 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week, Ruairidh ponders the extinction of the lynx - what was the main contributing factor? He also wonders what effect the lynx has in other countries. Learn more about the lynx in this week's letter. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 15 Mar 10: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 15 Mar 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    When was the lynx last alive in Scotland? It’s not known for certain. People were thinking that it became extinct thousands of years ago. It appears that is not correct. Learn more about the lynx in Scotland in this week's podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 08 March 10: An Litir Bheag 252

    Mon, 8 Mar 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh visited an interesting place recently in the region of Braemar called Càrn na Cuimhne. In English people say Carnaqueen or The Cairn of Remembrance. Càrn na Cuimhne. It's beside the River Dee in the old Gaidhealtachd of Aberdeenshire.

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  • 01 March 10: An Litir Bheag 251

    Mon, 1 Mar 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Creag nam Ban is near Balmoral. That’s in Aberdeenshire. It’s beside the River Dee. And it’s above Abergeldie Castle. Creag nam Ban means “the rocky hill of the women”. People say that witches were burned to death there. People still remember the name of one of the witches – Kitty Rankine. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 22 Feb 10: An Litir Bheag 250

    Mon, 22 Feb 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Archibald Menzies was from near Aberfeldy in Perthshire. He was born in 1754. He spoke Gaelic. Archibald’s father was a gardener. He was working in Castle Menzies. Archibald was also interested in gardening. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 15 Feb 10: An Litir Bheag 249

    Mon, 15 Feb 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    This week, Ruairidh explains the association between John Fraser and Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag

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  • 08 Feb 10: an Litir Bheag 248

    Mon, 8 Feb 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There are plants called Frasera – for example Frasera speciosa. They are named for a guy John Fraser. He was good at collecting plants. He was very famous. And he was a Gael. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 01 Feb 10: An Litir Bheag 247

    Mon, 1 Feb 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There are a few types of plant called Mahonia. If you are a gardener, you'll know them, perhaps. For example, there is Mahonia aquifolium. That's a beautiful plant with the English name Oregon Grape. It's native to the western side of North America. Ruairidh discusses these plants this week.

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  • 25 Jan 10: An Litir Bheag 246

    Mon, 25 Jan 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh is going to finish the story The Black Bodach of Morven. It’s from Braemore in Caithness. The men were in pursuit of the Bodach. That was on the seventh of July. The Bodach disappeared into an opening on the mountainside. He was shouting strange things in Gaelic. He was trying to bring down the mist. But, on the seventh day of the seventh month, he didn’t have that capability.

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  • 18 Jan 10: An Litir Bheag 245

    Mon, 18 Jan 10

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Braemore is in Caithness. It is near the highest mountain in Caithness – Morven. It’s a crofting settlement. Here is a story from Braemore – The Black Bodach of Morven. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 11 Jan 10: An Litir Bheag 244

    Mon, 11 Jan 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There are two villages in Caithness called Ballachly - the township of the cemetery. There is a Ballachly near Dunbeath. There is another Ballachly between Dunbeath and Watten. It's from that wee settlement that the story comes this week. Here it is "The Witch of Ballachly". Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 04 Jan 10: An Litir Bheag 243

    Mon, 4 Jan 10

    Duration:
    4 mins

    We’re still in Caithness this week. We’re looking at the Gaelic heritage of that area. Here is advice from Caithness about alcoholic drink. It tells about the influence one glass, two glasses and three glasses of whisky have on a person.

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  • 14 Dec 09: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 14 Dec 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh has a story from Caithness for you this week. It’s from the Dunbeath area. It’s called The Three Knots. It starts in Liabost – that’s the Gaelic for Lybster – a village in the south-eastern part of Caithness. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 07 Dec 09: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 7 Dec 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Last week we were in Helmsdale. That’s in [East] Sutherland. We’re staying in that area today. Ruairidh wants to tell you about something that happened in the Strath of Kildonan. He's not sure when it happened. It comes from oral tradition. The crofters weren’t using coal in their fires. They were using peat. They were cutting the peat. They were keeping the “peats” – the dry pieces of peat – in stacks. The stacks were near their houses. But one crofter was a thief. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 30 Nov 09: An Litir Bheag 240

    Mon, 30 Nov 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I was in Sutherland recently. I was in Bun Ilidh. That’s the Gaelic for Helmsdale. I heard about a tree in the area. The name it has, or had, is The Làmh Tree. You’ll know the Gaelic word làmh. The Làmh Tree – Craobh na Làimhe. It’s interesting that it’s The Làmh Tree that people say in English, rather than The Hand Tree. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 23 Nov 09: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 23 Nov 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    On the Isle of Canna there is the Corra-dhùn. It is next to the shore. In English its name is Coroghon Castle. It’s a small stone building, at the top of a hill. According to oral tradition it was a prison. A clan chief of Clan-ranald kept his wife there. She was a prisoner. Learn more in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 16 Nov 09: An Litir Bheag: 238

    Mon, 16 Nov 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    There is a place in Canna called Coroghon Castle. It’s not a normal castle. In Gaelic it’s called the Corra-dhùn. The steep fort or hill. Although it is not big, it is steep. The building is next to the shore. It is very old. It is in a poor condition. If somebody doesn’t do something soon, it won’t be there long. Find out more about Coroghon Castle in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 09 Nov 09: An Litir Bheag 237

    Mon, 9 Nov 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Why is Eigg’s nickname the Isle of the Big Women? Isle of the Big Women. According to oral trad-ition, it goes back to the Seventh Century. The island was still under the control of the Picts. Indeed, it was under the control of a Pictish queen. Find out more about Eìgg’s nickname and this Pictish queen in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 02 Nov 09: An Litir Bheag 236

    Mon, 2 Nov 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    We have nicknames for the islands of Scotland. For example we call Skye Eilean a’ Cheò (Isle of the Mist). We call Lewis Eilean an Fhraoich (Isle of the Heather). And here now are the names of three more islands. Do you know them? Find out more in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 26 Oct 09: An Litir Bheag 235

    Mon, 26 Oct 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh was telling you last week about goats. The old people were saying that goats killed and ate snakes. Well, Ruairidh is not so sure about that. Goats appear often in Gaelic proverbs. Here is one for you: With violets and goats’ milk anoint your face, and there is not a king’s son in the world will not be after you. Find out more in this week’s podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 19 Oct 09: An Litir Bheag 234

    Mon, 19 Oct 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh saw goats in the summer. He doesn’t mean a farmer’s goat. He means wild goats on the hills. He was walking in the deer forest of Letterewe. He was in Glen Bianasdail. Close by there was Meallan Ghobhar [little rounded hill of the goats]. He saw tracks in the heather. The ground was steep. It is goats that made the paths. find out more about the goats in this week's podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 12 Oct 09: An Litir Bheag 233

    Mon, 12 Oct 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    We were taking a wee look at the poetry of Rob Donn last week. Rob was a Gaelic bard in the Mackay Country in the Eighteenth Century. He never spoke English. He wasn’t highly educated either. This week, Ruairidh is going to have a wee look at a poem he wrote. It’s about the environment – particularly in the Mackay Country. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 05 Oct 09: An Litir Bheag 232

    Mon, 5 Oct 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh starts by reciting the same refrain as last week. He was telling you about the famous poet from the Mackay Country – Rob Donn (“brown-haired Rob”). He was living for a time in Strath More, south of Loch Hope. He was alive in the Eighteenth Century. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 28 Sep 09: An Litir Bheag 231

    Mon, 28 Sep 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh begins with a refrain of a famous Gaelic poem/song. Glen Golly is in the Mackay Country. That’s in the north of the Highlands. And who is the poet? Well, none other than Rob Donn – a very famous poet. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 21 Sep 09: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 21 Sep 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Eric MacLeod moved to Kerracher in 1976. Kerracher is on the shore of Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin in Assynt. Eric had a wife and two daughters. The old house wasn’t in a good condition. Thus, they took a caravan with them to Kerracher. But there wasn’t a road going there. Learn more about Kerrochar and the family who lived there in this week's podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 14 Sep 09: An Litir Bheag 229

    Mon, 14 Sep 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh was in an unusual garden recently. It is called Kerracher Gardens. There is no road to it at all. Ruairidh went there in a boat. The garden is on the shore of Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin in Assynt. It’s open to the public. But this is the last year it will be open. Learn more about Kerrochar and a family who lived there in this week's podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 07 Sep 09: An Litir bheag 228

    Mon, 7 Sep 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh wants to tell you about a thing that happened to himin Orkney. He was in the village of Longhope. That was in the summer this year. There was a maritime accident in Longhope forty years ago. Eight people from the area died. They were the crew on the Longhope lifeboat. This year the people of Longhope were remembering the accident. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 31 Aug 09: An Litir Bheag 227

    Mon, 31 Aug 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Eric MacLeod moved to Kerracher in 1976. Kerracher is on the shore of Loch a’ Chàirn Bhàin in Assynt. Eric had a wife and two daughters. The old house wasn’t in a good condition. Thus, they took a caravan with them to Kerracher. But there wasn’t a road going there. Eric built a big raft. He got help from a fisherman who was living in Kylesku. The fisherman pulled the raft to Kerracher with his boat. Learn more in this week's podcast. Accompanying text in both English and Gaelic can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/litirbheag.

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  • 24 Aug 09: An Litir Bheag: 226

    Mon, 24 Aug 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ben Lawers is above Loch Tay. It is in Perthshire. The mountain is very high. It’s covered with snow in the winter. And it’s famous for plants. Lawers is also the name of a small settlement and an area adjacent to Loch Tay. Gaelic was strong in that area at one time. There was a famous woman once living in Lawers. She had the second-sight.

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  • 17 August 2009 : An Litir Bheag 225

    Mon, 17 Aug 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week Ruairidh talks about an email he recieved from a man who belongs to Inverness. The man's mother was brought up in an area called Merkinch in the town. Gaelic was alive in Merkinch longer than in any other area of Inverness.

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  • 10 August 2009 : An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 10 Aug 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week, Ruairidh talks about the island Boreray. Boreray means "fort-island" in Old Norse. It's close to North Uist and Berneray.

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  • 03 Aug 09: An Litir Bheag: 223

    Mon, 3 Aug 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Last week, Ruairidh was looking at old maps. Old Maps of Scotland. It was the Dutchman Joan Blaeu that made the maps. That was in the Seven-teenth Century. He based the maps to a large extent on the work ano-ther man did. He was the Scot, Timothy Pont.

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  • 27 Aug 09: An Litir Bheag 222

    Mon, 27 Jul 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    North of Assynt, on the western sea-board of Scotland, there is Eddrachillis Bay. Eddrachillis. It comes from the Gaelic Eadar Dà Chaolas [“between two kyles”]. Eadar Dà Chaolas – Eadrachaolas – Eddrachillis. But what are the two kyles (narrows) in the name? find out in this wee's podcast.

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  • 20 Jul 09: An Litir Bheag 221

    Mon, 20 Jul 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Understand the boat and the boat will understand you. I saw that proverb in a hotel on Mull. I was on a cruise [sailing journey] at the time. I was staying the night in Tobermory. But was the boat understanding me? And was I understanding the boat?

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  • 13 Jul 09: An Litir Bheag 220

    Mon, 13 Jul 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The story of Black-haired John of Lewis, the Sailor is going to come to an end today. Up to now – Black-haired John saved the life of the King of Spain’s daughter. They fled from the robbers’ house. They got married. On the way John helped three men at a shieling bothy. The robbers murdered the three. But their heads weren’t with the correct bodies. John put their heads in the correct place. The dead men now had peace. They promised to give John a reward.

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  • 06 Jul 09

    Mon, 6 Jul 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Black-haired John of Lewis, the Sailor, was in the robbers’ house. The robbers weren’t there. There was a secret room in the house. John opened the door of the room. He saw a beautiful woman. She was hanging by her hair from the ceiling.

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  • 29 Jun 09: An Litir bheag

    Mon, 29 Jun 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    I’m telling you a story – Black-haired John of Lewis, the Sailor. John was on a ship for five years. He was getting a halfpenny at the end of the first month and two halfpennies at the end of the second month. His wages were going to double every month. He was going to get a fortune. But the ship folk [owners] didn’t have enough money.

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  • 22 Jun 09: An Litir Bheag 217

    Mon, 22 Jun 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Ruairidh would like to tell you a story. A story with the name of Black-haired John of Lewis, the Sailor. Black-haired John was the son of a fisherman. He lived with his uncle. That was near Stornoway in Lewis. This particular evening, John saw a beautiful ship. She was sailing into the harbour. John was greatly interested in boats. Learn more in this wee's podcast.

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  • 15 Jun 09: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 15 Jun 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    A wee book came out recently - The Cromarty Fisherfolk Dialect. It's about the fisherfolk dialect in Cromarty. That dialect is a dialect of Scots. Only two people speak it fluently today.

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  • 08 Jun 09: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 8 Jun 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    A little book came out recently. It gives information about a dialect in the Highlands. There are only two people who speak the dialect today. It is not a Gaelic dialect, however, but a Scots dialect. It’s the “Cromarty Fisherfolk Dialect” that people call this speech. The two who are fluent are the brothers Bobby and Gordon Hogg. They live in Cromarty. Their ancestry in Cromarty goes back as far as 1698.

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  • 01 Jun 09: An Litir Bheag 214

    Mon, 1 Jun 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    There’s a place in Islay called Lochan na Nigheadaireachd (little loch of the washing). It’s near Laggan Point. Ruairidh reckons people did washing in the lochan. That was in the old days. But how did they do the washing? Well, he was reading a book recently. The author gave a description of washing at that time, listen to that description in this week's podcast.

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  • 25 May 09: An Litir Bheag 213

    Mon, 25 May 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    In Raasay there is a loch called Loch na Mnà. That means “the loch of the woman”. It is said that she was a young woman. She was killed by a water-horse. It’s an old story. It was told to Boswell and Johnson in 1773. Ruairidh re-tells it in Gaelic in this week's podcast

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  • 18 May 09: An Litir Bheag 212

    Mon, 18 May 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Archibald Cook was a famous preacher. He was a minister in the Free Church in Daviot, near Inverness. That was in the middle of the 19th Century. Hundreds went to listen to his sermons. He was preaching in Gaelic and English. It is Gaelic congregations he had in every place where he was a minister. That was in Caithness, Inverness and Daviot.

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  • 11 May 09 : An Litir Bheag 211

    Mon, 11 May 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Ruairidh talks of Archibald and Finlay Cook from the island of Arran. They were ministers. Many Gaelic-speaking ministers in the 19th Century were from Arran.

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  • 04 May 09: An Litir Bheag 210

    Mon, 4 May 09

    Duration:
    5 mins

    Robert Cunninghame Graham belonged to the gentry. But he was a socialist. He was also a Scottish nationalist. To start with he was a Liberal member of parliament. But they weren’t far enough on the left wing.

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  • 27 Apr 09: An Litir Bheag 209

    Mon, 27 Apr 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    This week's podcast starts with a puzzle. Can you work out what is the “wee lass”? Once you solve that you can learn of a fascinating Scot, who became a Gaucho in Argentina and then stood as a liberal candidate!

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  • 20 Apr 09: An Litir Bheag

    Mon, 20 Apr 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    The Battle of Kringen took place in 1612. It was in Norway. The battle was between Norwegians and Scots. Five hundred Norwegians were waiting for the Scots. The Scots were on their way to Sweden. But the Swedes and the Norwegians were enemies [to each other]. The Norwegians were hiding in the forest. The Scots were in the glen. find out what happened at this battle in this week's podcast

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  • Litir Bheag: 13 Apr 09: An Litir Bheag 207

    Mon, 13 Apr 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Roddy examines how in 1612 a Scottish military force was destroyed at the famous Battle of Kringen in Norway.

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  • 06 Apr 09: An Litir Bheag 206

    Mon, 6 Apr 09

    Duration:
    4 mins

    Recently Roddy was in Norway. He was skiing in the mountains in the Rondane. It is a national park. The area is famous for oral tradition. Roddy reached a place called Peer Gynt Hytte. Find out what the link is between the Rodane, the Hut and the Norwegian character Peer Gynt.

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