Tha mi sgìth ‘n fhògar seo (I am weary of this exile)

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by John MacRae, 18th century.

Performer: Alasdair Mac ’Ille Bhàin / Alasdair Whyte

This song has traditionally been attributed to John MacRae, Iain mac Mhurchaidh, who was born in Lianag a’ Chùl Doire in Kintail. As the son of Murdo, son of Farquhar, 4th son of Alasdair MacRae of Inverinate, he belonged to the MacRae nobility and was employed by the Earl of Seaforth as his ground officer, deer stalker and forester in Kintail and Lochalsh.  After the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-6 and the crushing defeat at Culloden and its bloody aftermath, the relationship between Clan chiefs and their people began to change, leading to increased rents for tacksmen such as Iain mac Mhurchaidh. In the spring of 1770, Bliadhna an t-Sneachda Bhuidhe,(the Year of the Yellow Snow) he lost many cattle in a severe blizzard. Perhaps unable to see a secure future for himself and his family in Kintail, he emigrated to North Carolina around 1774. When the American War of Independence began in 1775 he and his son Murdo joined the loyalist army, fighting with the Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment. He fought at the battle of Moore’s Creek on the 27th of February, 1776. The loyalists lost and as he relates in the song, Tha mi sgith ’n fhògar seo, he became an outlaw who was eventually captured and imprisoned. It was said that, because his songs were so influential among the Carolina Gaels, he was dealt with in a particularly harsh way. According to tradition he suffered an excruciating death at the hands of the rebels.

According to tradition his Carolina songs were brought back to Scotland by another John MacRae, Iain mac a’ Ghobha of Bundaloch, Dornie. Some of Iain mac Mhurchaidh’s songs were published in the Celtic Magazine in 1882.


Tha mi sgìth ’n fhògar seo,
Tha mi sgìth dhen an t-strì,
 Seo i ’n tìm dhòrainneach.
 Tha mi sgìth ’n fhògar seo.

Ged a tha mi fon choille
Chan eil coire ri chòmhdach orm.
Ach mi sheasamh gu dìleas
Leis an rìgh bhon bha chòir aige.
Thoir mo shoraidh thar linne
Dh’ionnsaidh ’ghlinne ’m bu chòir dhomh bhi.
Thoir mo shoraidh le dùrachd
Gu Sgurr Ùrain,’s math m’ eòlas ann.
’S a’ Bheinn Ghorm tha mu coinneamh
Leam bu shoilleir a neòineanan.
Thoir mo shoraidh le coibhneas
Gu Torr Luinnsich nan smèoraichean.
Suas is sìos tro Ghleann Seile
’S tric a leag mi ’n damh cròic-cheannach.


 Chorus: I am weary of this exile

I am tired of the strife
This is the tormenting time,
I am weary of this exile.

Although I am an outlaw
No crime could be proven against me.
Only that I stand loyal
To the king, since he had justice on his side.
Bear my greetings across the sea
To the glen where I should be.
Bear my sincere greetings
To Sgùrr Ùrain, I know it well.
And to the Green Mountain facing it,
Its little daisies were clear to me.
Bear my greetings with kindness
To Torr Luinnsich of the thrushes.
Up and down Glen Shiel
I often felled the antlered stag there.