Griogal Cridhe

I’d like to share a brilliant wee Journal article published a few years ago on Griogal Cridhe – it covers pretty much everything I’d ever wondered about Mòr Chaimbeul (Marion Campbell)‘s poem, its oral to written transmission over the centuries, the extant lyrical & musical variations etc etc ☺️

Extract from introduction:

“The song commonly known as Griogal Cridhe offers an excellent opportunity for such study. Thanks to an important article by Glasgow historian Martin MacGregor, we know when, by whom, and in what circumstances the song was composed.1 It survived solely in oral tradition – perhaps (but not necessarily) supported by manuscript sources now lost – for some 243 years, from its probable composition in 1570 until its appearance in Patrick Turner’s Comhchruinneacha do dh’ Orain Taghta, Ghaidhealach in 1813. Subsequently, the song has been regularly anthologised, and the relationship between the published versions and ongoing oral transmission will be a focus of our discussion here. Judging from the evidence of sound recordings, variants of the song and accounts of its composition remained current throughout the Gàidhealtachd into the middle years of the last century, and even today the song remains a popular choice among platform-singers, Gaelic choral societies, and recording-artists in the ‘traditional’ genre.” Blankenhorn (2014)

🌙 Read the full article published by School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh here

As well as the sad, violent historical background & variations of the poem, the article also mentions the attitudes of some Victorian writers & how they thought they could “improve” traditional poems, songs etc so that’s something to watch out for when trying to research how the originals may have sounded ⚠️

There are various versions of this poem available to listen to on Tobar An Dualchais/Kist O Riches (use the search function) & modern versions continue to made. I’ll highlight a few below:

🎧 I like this modern one by Burd Ellen released just last year (2020): listen here

🎧 A similar, though likely slightly more traditional arrangement from an unknown group at the National Mòd, 1966: listen here

🎧 Another similar, brilliant rendition from folklorist, singer & writer Dr Margaret Bennet recorded live in 1988: listen here

🎧 A further example from Tobar an Dualchais, this time with a different chorus (as stated in the paper these vary by area) & sung as a lullaby which is thought more likely similar to what Mòr herself would have sung: listen here

📖 Link to the 2014 School of Scottish Studies journal the above article appeared in – well worth having a wee look at & any of the others currently available for free online

(📸 Featured Photo credit: Pexel)


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