Alasdair Mac Colla/Réimhsgéal

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Alasdair Mac Colla by Seosamh Laoide
[ xiii ]


Ba ṁór le ráḋ Alasdair mac Colla Ṁic Ḋoṁnaill lá dá raiḃ, agus máireann a ċáil agus a ċlú i Raċlainn agus i nGaeḋealtaċt Alban go dtí indiu féin. Ba de ṡean-ḃunaḋ Íle Alasdair, agus ba ṁac é do Ḋoṁnallaċ ó Ċolḃannsáiġ. Ba ṡean-oncail dá aṫair. Soṁairle Buiḋe Mac Doṁnaill, aṫair ċéad Iarla Aontroma. Ḃí Doṁnallaiġ Aontroma i ngaol gairid dá ṁuintir féin .i. do Ḋoṁnallaiġ Íle agus Ċinntíre, agus an fóirneart agus an fóiréigean d’imir Clann Duiḃne nó na Caimbéalaiġ ar an aiṫ-ḟine d’ḟág sé rún díoġaltais ’na n-aġaiḋ sin i gcroiḋe na nDoṁnallaċ ar gaċ taoḃ de Ṡruṫ na Maoile.

Tá an méid sin eoluis agus tuilleaḋ ar faġáil go réiḋ i leaḃar an-deas do sgríoḃ uġdar Albanaċ Gallda darab ainm as Béarla John Buchan. ’Sé an teideal atá air The Marquis of Montrose agus i n-uraiḋ do cuireaḋ amaċ é ó ṫiġ Nelson and Sons. Uġdar cóir ceart is eaḋ é, fear a ṁolas Alasdair agus a ṡaiġdiúirí Éireannaċa go hárd agus naċ faġann loċt ar Alasdair féin aċt fá mar a ṫuill sé é. Ní leigim díom don ċor so gan roinnt dá aḋṁoltaiḃ do ḃaint as a leaḃar, ionnus go dtuigfeaḋ Gaeḋil Éireann caidé a ṁéid de ṫroid agus de ċalmaċt a rinne na hÉireannaiġ i nAlbain agus Alasdair agus Maġnus Ó Caṫáin i n-a gceannas.

Seo mar ṫráċtann Buchan ar na saiġdiúiríḃ féin:

"Alastair’s Ulstermen were regular soldiers, inured to discipline, and seasoned by hard campaigns, and they had the advantage of bearing firearms. But these firearms were old matchlocks, and the stock of ammunition was so low that only one round remained for each man” (.i. roiṁ caṫ Ṫiobair Ṁóir) L. 85. [ xiv ]Agus seo mar ċuireann sé iad sain agus saiġdiúirí an Ċoiḃinint le taoiḃ a ċéile:

Hurry's cavalry were the troops which had done brilliant service under Leven, and Baillie's foot were the finest regular soldiers that Scotland could show."

"The Irish were, of course, tried veterans, and superior to any of the Covenant infantry," l. 133.

Seo mar laḃrann sé fós ar ṡaiġdiúiríḃ Ṁuntrós fá mar do ḃíodar roiṁ caṫ Ċille Saiḋḃe:

"Montrose now commanded a force of at least 4,400 foot and 500 cavalry; a seasoned force, for all were hard fighting men, and the 1,000 Irish were probably the best foot in Britain at the time," l. 162.

Seo é a ṁeas ar na saiġdiuiríḃ do fríoṫ i nGaeḋealtaċt Alban:

"The Highlanders were active fellows accustomed to an outdoor life, but their equipment was fantastic, for only a few carried claymores, and most were armed with pikes and sticks P and bows and arrows" (.i. roiṁ caṫ Ṫiobair Ṁóir) l. 85.

Ḃí do loċt orṫa so go dtéidís a ḃaile i gcoṁnaiḋe d’éis an ċaṫa ċum a n-éadála do ċur i dtaisge. Ní hasta sain do ḃíoḋ ionntaoiḃ ag Muntrós, aċt as na Gaeḋealaiḃ Éireannaċa, aṁail mar adeir Buchan ann so:

(Tar éis caṫa Ḋúin Dé) "He had now a compact force of 2,000 foot and about 200 horse. The nucleus of the infantry was still Alastair's Irish, who may have numbered from a thousand to twelve hundred men," l. 125.

Seo tráċt beag ón uġdar gcéadna ar an gcalmaċt do rinne na hÉireannaiġ:

(i gcaṫ ObairḊeaḋain) "The attack fell upon Alastair's infantry, and gallantly they met it. They opened their ranks and let the troopers sweep through; then facing round they pursued them with volleys. The Covenant horse were soon out of action," l. 96.

(i gcaṫ na Fioḋḃaiḋe) "The Covenanting centre advanced up the little hill, and was half-way to the top before Montrose saw his danger. He called to a young Ulsterman, O'Kean, [ xv ]whom Alastair had left behind him, and bade him drive the enemy from the slope. The gallant Irish charged with pike and broadsword, drove back the Covenanters, and obtained a supply of powder for their famished muskets. It is recorded that one of them, looking at the booty, said, 'We must at them again; the stingy rogues have left us no bullets.' Meanwhile Lothian's horse had assaulted Montrose's position on the flank. But the powder-flasks were now replenished, and the fire of the musketeers, whom Montrose led round the brow of the hill, was too much for the lowland cavalry. Argyll drew off his men, and put the Ythan between himself and the enemy," l. 102.

(i gcaṫ Ailt Éirinn) "The Covenanting army became a mob, and the mob a shambles. The blood of Ulster and the Isles that day had recovered its ancient berserk fury, and the Gordons were in no mood to spare their foes," l. 144.

(i mbriseaḋ Filipfáċ) "The 500 Ulstermen, however, were fighting a desperate fight, having found or thrown up some shallow defences. Montrose collected his hundred troopers and charged Leslie so madly that for the moment he drove back the whole Covenant horse. But 600 men taken by surprise, and with no advantages of position, cannot for long do battle with 6,000. Leslie's other division harassed the Royalist right flank with musketry fire from beyond the stream, and presently had forded Ettrick and were attacking them from behind. Again and again the Covenant troopers charged, only to be driven back by the heroic Irish; again and again Montrose's hundred cut their way deep into the enemy's ranks. Philiphaugh was not a battle; it was a surprise and a massacre," l. 191.

Ba ḃuiḋeaċ Muntrós de Alasdair. D’éis céime d’ḟaġáil dó féin ón ríġ, .i. liftenant goiḃearnóra agus caiptín sinireil do ḋéanaṁ de, do rinne sé mar leanas, fá mar innseann Buchan dúinn:

"Montrose's first act under his new authority was to confer the honour of knighthood on Alastair. He had nobly earned it," l. 178.

Ag so an ḃreiṫ ṫug Buchan ar Alasdair féin agus ní féidir le héinne a ráḋ naċ fuil lán an ċirt aige:

"Sir Alastair alone deserves censure. He was an experienced soldier, and knew something of the difficulties that were before his chief. But his knighthood and his new post of captain-general of the clans had turned his head. He proposed to himself a campaign in Argyll which should root the Campbells out of the peninsula. He promised to return, and no doubt honestly meant it, but from the hour when he marched off with half his [ xvi ]Irishry and all the Highlanders, Montrose never saw his old lieutenant again. Five hundred Ulstermen—among them the gallant O'Kean—to their eternal honour refused to leave tho royal standard," ll. 183-4.

"The next few months of blundering in Argyll were to show how little of a general he was on his own account. Two years later he was to disappear from history, stabbed in the back in an obscure Irish fray. But as brigadier under Montrose he was worth an army, and his stand at Auldearn will live as long as feats of valour can stir the hearts of men," l. 178.

Agus seo an tráċt do-ní Buchan ar an gcaṫ sin Ailt Éirinn:

"There was one mistake in the calculation. Alastair was undermanned. He can have had no more than 500 men, all infantry, to oppose the attack of 3,400 foot and 400 horse, If we remember that the musketeers of those days were considered to be unable to face cavalry, unless drawn up behind hedges or palisades, we get some notion of the desperate odds. They were increased by Alasdair's own impetuous conduct. He was never the man to await an onset, and while . Hurry's army was struggling through the marshy burn, he sacrificed the advantage of his higher ground and rushed to meet them. Eight to one is odds reserved to the champions of fairy tales, 'Why, how the devil,' asks Major Bellenden in Old Mortality, 'can you believe that Artamines or what d'ye call him fought single-handed with a whole battalion? One to three is as great odds as ever fought and won, and I never knew any one who cared to take that except old Corporal Raddlebanes.' But Alastair's deeds were worthy of the Ossianic heroes, and it is not hard to understand how in Highland legend his fame is made to outshine Montrose's. He and his Irish conducted themselves like the fierce warriors of the Sagas. He was forced back, fighting desperately, into the nest of enclosures in front of the village. Like Ajax by the ships he himself was the last to retreat. His targe was full of pikes, but he swung his great broadsword round and cut off their heads like cabbage stalks. He broke his blade, but got another from a dying comrade. Again and again he rushed out to he]p his stragglers to enter. One of his men, Ranald Mac Kinnon, of Mull, fought swordless against a dozen pikemen with an arrow through both cheeks and no weapon but his shield. So raged this Thermopylae among the pigstyes, etc," l. 141.

Is tuigṫe ḋúinn as sain caidé a ṁéid de ċalmaċt a ḃí i nAlasdair. Tugann Buchan faṫaċ fíoċṁar fraoċda ("fire-eating giant") air, mar ní hé aṁáin go ndéanaḋ [ xvii ]sé cróḋaċt agus calmaċt do ġnáṫ, aċt ba ṁór an fear é i méad coṁ maiṫ céadna. Dá ḃfanaḋ sé i gcaḃair Ṁuntrós go deireaḋ an téarma, ní baoġal naċ buaḋfaiḋe ag an mbeirt sin ar an náṁaid fós i gcoṁnaiḋe. Alasdair dá ṫréigean ṫug oiḋeaḋ Ṁuntrós. Dá seasaḋ sé taoḃ leis, ḃí a ṁalairt de ċríċ ar an marcós. Aċt ní faġtar saoi gan loċt: an té atá láidir, ní ḃíonn sé glic i gcoṁnaiḋe; agus dá ṁéad an loċt sain ar Alasdair, is fiú ḋúinn cuiṁniuġaḋ do ḋéanaṁ air, agus a ḟeaḃas de laoċ é le n-a linn féin.