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Litir na seachdain aig Ruaraidh MacIllEathain. This week's letter for learners from Roddy MacLean.

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Litir 532: Arcaibh

Mar as trice, ann an Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh, bidh mi a-mach air cuspairean Gàidhealach. Ach, an t-seachdain seo, tha mi airson innse dhuibh mu rudeigin a thachair taobh a-muigh na Gàidhealtachd, ged a thuigeas a h-uile mac màthar air a’ Ghàidhealtachd carson a thug e buaidh mhòr orm.

Tha ceathrad bliadhna air a dhol seachad bhon a chaidh bàta-teasairginn Longhope fodha le call a h-ochdnar criutha. ’S e Longhope baile beag ann an Arcaibh. Tha e air Eilean Hothaigh no, ma tha sibh airson a bhith mionaideach, air South Walls a tha co-cheangailte ri Hothaigh le tairbeart. Am-bliadhna bha muinntir an àite a’ comharrachadh is a’ cuimhneachadh na tubaist-mhara a thachair air an t-seachdamh latha deug dhen Mhàrt, naoi ceud deug, seasgad ’s a naoi (1969).

Bha sian eagallach ann – aig ìre 9. Bha stuaghan brùideil anns a’ Chaol Arcach. Agus bha long mhòr, a bh’ air a clàradh ann an Liberia, ann an staing gu sear air Dùn Gasbaith. Chaidh bàta-teasairginn Longhope a ghairm a-mach. Chaidh an long – an Irene – air na creagan, ach rinn na maoir-chladaich cobhair air a’ chriutha. Ge-tà, cha do thill am bàta-teasairginn. Thathar a’ smaoineachadh gun do bhuail stuagh mòr innte agus gun do chuir i car. Rinneadh seachdnar bhoireannach nam banntraichean.
Bidh mi fhìn a’ falbh gu muir aig amannan ann an gheat agus tha mi gu math mothachail do dh’obair ghaisgeil an RNLI ann a bhith a’ dèanamh cobhair air maraichean.

Nam òige bha mi a’ fuireach ann am Broughty Ferry, faisg air Dun Dè, nuair a chaidh am bàta-teasairginn fodha le call ochdnar. Bha sin o chionn leth-cheud bliadhna.Bha sinn air tìr ann an Longhope am-bliadhna nuair a thòisich boireannach – tè às an àite – air bruidhinn ris a’ bhean agam. Leis gun robh sinn far gheat, agus gun charbad, thabhainn i lioft timcheall South Walls dhuinn gus am faiceamaid an t-àite. Bha sin gu math fialaidh. Chaidh sinn gu slaodach anns a’ chàr aice, agus i a’ comharrachadh nan seann togalaichean eachdraidheil.

An ceann beagan mhionaidean, bha sinn a’ dràibheadh seachad air a’ chladh. “Sinan carragh-cuimhne don fheadhainn a chailleadh,” thuirt i na Beurla bhinn Arcach. Choimhead mi a-null gu carragh-cuimhne mòr. Gun a bhith a’ smaoineachadh cus air a h-aois – bha i sna seasgadan – thuirt mi, “Bidh na lotan ann fhathast, tha mi cinnteach, agus daoine fhathast a’ faireachdainn a’ chall.”

Stad i an càr ann am meadhan an rathaid. “Chaill mi an duine agam, m’ athair-chèile is mo bhràthair-chèile,” thuirt i. Bha mulad na guth. Bha an ceathrad bliadhna air giorrachadh na h-inntinn gu ùine ghoirid. Bha na deòir a’ sruthadh sìos a gruaidhean. Bha na lotan ann fhathast agus bithidh gu sìorraidh. Mas e ùine a nì slànachadh, ’s dòcha gun toir e barrachd na saoghal aon duine airson slànachadh ceart.

Dè chanainn rithe? Cha b’ e beul brèagha a bh’ agam ach beul dha-rìribh. Thuirt an dithis againn gun robh sinn fìor dhuilich mu a call agus gun robh sinn, mar dhaoine a thèid gu muir, cho taingeil airson nan daoine a tha ag obair air na bàtaichean-teasairginn. Mo bheannachd air a’ bhoireannach choibhneil sin, agus air a leithid anns gach àite.

Goirid às dèidh na tubaist o chionn ceathrad bliadhna, bha càirdean òga aig feadhainn achaill am beatha a’ cur an ainmean air adhart airson a bhith sa chriutha ùr. Agus tha sin air leantainn chun an latha an-diugh. Clach air càrn an fheadhainn a chailleadh. Agus mobheannachd air criutha gach bàta-teasairginn ’s a th’ ann. ’S e gaisgich a th’ annta uile.

Faclan na Litreach

Arcaibh: Orkney; Hothaigh: Hoy; tairbeart: isthmus; gaisgeil: heroic; maraichean: mariners; fialaidh: generous; cladh: cemetery; lotan: wounds; deòir: tears; gruaidhean: cheeks: gu sìorraidh: for ever.

Abairtean na Litreach

am-bliadhna bha muinntir an àite a’ comharrachadh is a’ cuimhneachadh na tubaist-mhara: this year the local people were marking and remembering the maritime accident; sian eagallach aig ìre 9: a terrible storm of Force 9; stuaghan brùideil anns a’ Chaol Arcach: horrific waves in the Pentland Firth; ann an staing gu sear air Dùn Gasbaith: in trouble east of Duncansby Head; chaidh bàta-teasairginn Longhope a ghairm a-mach: the Longhope lifeboat was called out; rinn na maoir-chladaich cobhair air: X the coastguards assisted/rescued; gun do bhuail stuagh mòr innte agus gun do chuir i car: that a big wave hit her and that she capsized; rinneadh seachdnar bhoireannach nam banntraichean: seven women were made widows; leis gun robh sinn far gheat: because we were off a yacht; thabhainn i lioft timcheall X dhuinn: she offered us a lift around X; gus am faiceamaid: so that we’d see; an carragh-cuimhne don fheadhainn a chailleadh: the memorial to those who were lost; na Beurla bhinn Arcach: in her melodious Orcadian dialect; bha mulad na guth: there was a terrible sadness in her voice; gun toir ebarrachd na saoghal aon duine airson slànachadh ceart: that it will take more than onehuman lifetime for proper healing; cha b’ e beul brèagha a bh’ agam ach beul dha-rìribh:they weren’t just words – I really meant it; clach air càrn an fheadhainn a chailleadh: astone on the cairn of those who were lost (a traditional Gaelic way of praising the deceased); ’s e gaisgich a th’ annta uile: they’re all heroes.

Puing-chànain na Litreach

le call a h-ochdnar criutha: with the loss of her eight crewmen. We generally use the numerical nouns (dithis, triùir, ceathrar etc) when dealingwith numbers of people. I might have said le call ochdnar criutha (with the loss of eightcrew) or just le call ochdnar (with the loss of eight persons) as I did later in the Litir with regard to the Broughty Ferry lifeboat. But I wanted to say “of her” crewmen – boats being conceptually feminine (at least when at sea) – that’s the reason for the presence of the feminine possessive adjective (a) and the h- prefixed to ochdnar.

Gnathas-cainnt na Litreach

ged a thuigeas a h-uile mac màthar: although every person[lit. every son of a mother] understands.

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