Canan Nan Gaidheal: Translation.

Not the snow and the frost from the north,
Not the cold sharp wind from the east,
Not the rain and the storm from the west
But the disease which spread from the south,
Flower, foliage, tree-stump and root,
The language of my race and my people.


Come, let’s go, come with me westwards,
So that we’ll hear the language of the Fianna;
Come, let’s go, come with me westwards,
So that we’ll hear the language of the Gaels.

Bring down the golden candlesticks for us
And in them place the white candles of wax,
Light them up in the house of sorrow
At the old Gaelic language’s wake –
That said the enemy long ago,
But still the language of the brave remains alive.
Though it ran for its life from the glens,
Though it is neither scarcely heard today,
From Reay Country far to the north
As far as Drumochter of the cattle,
But let’s go, come with me westwards,
While it is still the people’s first language.
The heroes for whom your sound was sweetest
In your glens, land of the high mountains,
Are lying sound asleep in their graves;
Arisen, alas, in their place,
Even in the west in MacLeod’s Country,
A young generation who debased you oh Gaelic.
Many a youth who spent time at the wheel
On a dark night raised a Gaelic tune from his heart,
Many a hero who encouraged in battle
Towards feats when the fighting was hardest –
Oh Gael, oh, where now is your pride
In your clan and your language and land?
Though it is no longer heard in the fortress
Or in the hall of the poets and people,
Though the MacCrimmons’ fingers have no strength
From which music often flowed on a calm evening,
However, in the Western Isles,
You’ll get some protection, Gaelic, and your rightful place.
Once could be seen a kilt-clad man in the glen,
In the sure knowledge that his language was Gaelic,
But it changed, the land of the hills:
In place of Gaelic hear the the Lowlander’s language –
It is not the same land any more:
Today it is the land of the Colonels.
Oh language so close to my heart,
My bread, my condiment and breath and marrow,
As old as the bushy heather of the moors,
In your youth you gave names to hills, slopes and rugged mountains:
Gaels need you and miss you
A one-stringed harp, and veins without blood.
Let us build up a new Highlands
With brain, sweat of cheek and by hand,
Highlands of which we can be proud,
An exalted noble place for language and music
With life-giving food for spirit and body
Always available on your table.

By Murdo MacFarlane (Murchadh MacPharlain, Bard Mealbhoist)

“Give up for life for your rightful place, whether in memory or distant history, too become a hero, or a forgotten mystery” Addition by, Cinead MacAlpin.