We are currently working with the team at DASG to develop a fully searchable database to house the songs we have catalogued as part of the Language in Lyrics project (read more on that here). In the meantime, we are releasing a spreadsheet of song metadata every week on Google Sheets which we hope will be useful until the full database is ready. These are still works-in-progress and we encourage you to leave feedback through the comments function on Google.

[Scroll down for English]

Eòin Aonghais Chaluim
Jonathan G. MacKinnon

Tha cliath-dhuilleag mhòr againn dhuibh an-diugh! Tha a-nis liosta de na 1,334 òrain ann am Mac-Talla ann an aon àite air Google Sheets far an tèid an lorg agus rannsachadh. Rinn Màiri Sìne agus Tealsaidh a’ chuid bu mhotha dhen obair fhada, mhionaideach seo is tha sinn a’ toirt taing dhaibh! Tha sinn an dòchas gum bi an clàr seo cuideachail dhuibh; gheibh sibh na faclan uile air an digiteachadh air làrach-lìn Shabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Is duine tapaidh dìcheallach is dealasach a bh’ ann an Eòin Aonghais Chaluim (1869-1944), fear-deasachaidh Mhic-Talla. Chum e am pàipear a’ dol fad dà bhliadhna dheug, is chuir e còrr is 500 irisean a-mach rè na h-ùine sin. Chòrd am pàipear gu mòr ris na Gàidheal ann an Canada agus thall thairis. O chionn ‘s nach robh comas leughadh na Gàidhlig aig iomadh Gàidheil aig an àm ud, chan ainneamh a chruinneachadh sluagh gus èisteachd ri aon duine a’ leughadh a-mach bhon a’ phàipear.

Bha àmanan ann ‘s gu robh Eòin a’ faighinn tàir le bhith feuchainn ri airgead a thrusadh bhon fheadhainn a bha a’ gabhail a’ phàipeir ach nach robh a’ pàigheadh air a shon. Agus gheibheadh e gearanan bho chuid a thaobh litreachadh na Gàidhlig cuideachd. Faodar tuilleadh a leughadh air a’ chuspair seo ann am post a chuir sinn a-mach air Facebook bho chionn ghoirid.

A dh’aindeoin a h-uile dùbhlan a bha roimhe, dh’fàg Eòin dìleab phrìseil às a dhèidh. Tha sinn na chomain airson an uiread de dh’obair a rinn e a thaobh foillseachadh na Gàidhlig ann an Alba Nuaidh, obair aig an robh buaidh fharsuing air feadh an t-saoghail.

‘At a time when the Gaelic-speaking people were becoming ashamed of their own language, the paper elevated it in their eyes to a position of prestige. Jonathan G. MacKinnon had no cause to to feel his toils and trials had been in vain. Few men could have done more for the language and literature in the New World than he did, and only one – the Reverend A. MacLean Sinclair – did as much.’

Highland Settler (2015 [1953]), Charles W. Dunn, p. 93

We’re very excited to be uploading the metadata for 1,334 songs to Google Sheets today! Our team members Mary Jane Lamond and Chelsey MacPherson have been working for months to complete this index of songs from the Nova Scotian Gaelic newspaper Mac-Talla. We hope their efforts will now be of help to anyone searching the volumes of Mac-Talla for songs to learn or research. All of the index entries have a link to the relevant digitized copy of Mac-Talla, available through the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig website, where the song texts can be found.

Mac-Talla started as a weekly Gaelic newspaper publication in Cape Breton in May 1892. Its editor, Jonathan MacKinnon (1869-1944), was born in Whycocomagh and was only 23 when he started the paper. It ran for 12 years with around 540 issues in total, powered by the drive and passion of its editor.

‘Jonathan G. MacKinnon was an . . . outstanding contributor to the publication of Gaelic in the New World. He was born on the outskirts of Whycocomagh . . . on the shores of the Bras d’Or Lakes in Cape Breton. The MacKinnons from whom he was descended had immigrated from the island of Skye in Scotland. As a young boy he was somewhat of an invalid and could not attend school regularly, but his mind was always very active. While confined to the house he spent his time acquiring information about his Gaelic forefathers. Eventually he managed to go to Sydney and attend the Academy, where he completed his high school studies.

‘With his great enthusiasm for the [Gaelic] language and with the little experience he had acquired [as editor of his high school newspaper] he summoned up his courage to undertake the venture on which he had set his heart. [. . . .] Accordingly on May 28, 1892, he issued a small four-page paper in Sydney under the title of Mac-Talla (Echo), and he continued to produce a number once a week despite the prognostications of the pessimists that the undertaking would fail. Every word of the paper was in Gaelic, even the advertising, except when the language lacked a term to describe such commodities as felt hats, stoves, molasses, and bicycles.’ (Highland Settler (2015 [1953]), ed. Charles W. Dunn, p. 89-90)

‘Its store of news, local, national and international, letters to the Editor, Gaelic proverbs, poetry/song, stories, translations and articles are a repository of Gaelic cultural ideas’

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig website


Listen to this recording of Jonathan G. reading aloud from the book ‘Gaelic Self-taught’.

While we continue to construct the full searchable database, an index of the song metadata is available on Google Sheets.

The full digitized texts of Mac-Talla are available here. There are 27 issues that have not been digitized and which we are currently trying to track down and scan. If anyone has any leads we would be grateful to hear them! Below are the missing issues:

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