PS 161 – Too Long in this Condition

      A Thogail nam Bò

      Is fhada mar seo tha sinn

Primary Sources

Dow S, shada mar so tha sinn / Duke of Atholl’s Marc Dow.39: 44
C2 McFarlans Gathering / Index: Mac Farlan’s Gathering C2.77: 169
H.10: 19v
D1 ’SFhadde Mar Seo Tha Sinn / Too long in this Condition D1.6: 34
K1 Is fhad mar so tha Sinn / Too long in this condition K1.70: 161

Notes on Gaelic Titles

’Thogail nam Bò. Lifting the Cattle. This title is not attached to music in any early source but is traditionally linked with Is fhada mar seo tha sinn which appears in C2 as McFarlans Gathering. The links are provided by a historical note published by Walter Scott and a version of the tune and words stated to have been collected in the late nineteenth century. Scott wrote ‘The Clan of Mac-Farlane… were great depredators… Their celebrated pibroch Hoggil nam bo, which is the name of their gathering tune, intimates similar practices…’ (Waverley, Note XV). The later version of the tune was published by Malcolm MacFarlane (C.M.P. 1894) and from it was arranged the modern setting of ‘The MacFarlane’s Gathering’ (C.S. Thomason 1900,  p. 131, and PSB7, p. 210). The College of Piping owns a sheet music edition, undated but presumably circa 1900, published by Alexander Lawrance, Church Place, Dumbarton. The spelling with initial ‘Th’ (in contrast to Togail bho Thìr) is confirmed by Scott’s version with initial ‘H’ and is followed in the set of words first published by Malcolm MacFarlane. In straightforward Gaelic prose these would be Théid sinn a thogail nam bò, ‘We are going to lift the cattle’, but in the verse as set to the music they are inverted to ’Thogail nam Bò, ’Thogail nam Bò,’Thogail nam Bò, théid sinn

Is fhada mar seo tha sinn S, fhada mar so tha sinn / Duke of Atholl’s March Dow; Sad Mar Sho tha Shinn C2; ’SFhadde Mar Seo Tha Sinn / Too long in this Condition D1; Is fhad mar so tha Sinn / Too long in this condition K1. We are too long like this (conventionally ‘Too long in this condition’)Campbell (C2) gives this title to PS 165 whereas Dow, MacDonald (D1) and MacKay (K1) give it to PS 161. MacDonald attributes the tune to ‘great Peter MacCrimmon’ when ‘striped of all his clothes by the English’ at Sherrifmuir. Another story, with a four-line verse, concerns a piper who played all night at a wedding and got poor refreshment – see the Historic, biographic and legendary notes to the tunes by “Fionn” (1911), p. 13.

Roderick Cannon (2009)

Archive Recordings

Is fhada mar so tha sinn (Too Long in this Condition):

1952 Angus Macpherson
1953 Pipe Major William MacLean
1953 story told by Pipe Major William MacLean
1959 Calum MacPherson
1961 Pipe Major John D. Burgess
1966 Pipe Major Capt. John A. MacLellan

Togail nam Bó (The MacFarlanes’ Gathering):

1953 Pipe Major Robert Brown
1953 Pipe Major Ronald Lawrie
1960 Pipe Major Robert Brown
1961 Pipe Major John D. Burgess

Other Material

c.1900 Ceol Mor: 17 and 237 Too long in this condition; 131 The Macfarlane’s Gathering (Leech of Glendarual & Gillies’ Version). Thomason notes on page 17: “What is usually played by pipers of the present day differes from this [D1] considerably, and I find it amongst those in A. MacKay’s MS.S. I myself doubt the correctness of the latter, because it is too like “Togail na’m bo,” a long lost pibroch, for the recovery of which we are indebted to Pipe-Major J. MacDougall Gillies”.

1938 PS Book 7: 210–12 Togail nam Bó (The MacFarlanes’ Gathering) / Is fhada mar so tha sinn (Too Long in this Condition)

2002 William Donaldson’s Set Tune Series

2016 Barnaby Brown’s edition with audio, coloured vocables and Gaelic words

1 thought on “PS 161 – Too Long in this Condition”

  1. The Campbell Canntaireachd tune ‘Sad mar sho tha shinn’ (Vol2, no.81, after ‘MacDonalds Gathering’ no.80) is a different tune, found elsewhere as ‘The Head of Inshberry Bridge’. However, there is a tradition, to which I have lost the reference, that it was composed by Clanranald’s piper at his chief’s request, to awaken the jacobite troops on the morning of their return northwards – a decision taken by the chiefs after Prince Charles went to bed refusing to agree to it. The idea was to alert them that there was a change afoot. The reason for the retreat was the lack of support Charles had assured them would be forthcoming, plus the sizeable military opposition being gathered.
    When you consider the grammar – ‘It’s too long like this are WE (‘sinn)’, this story seems more likely than the ones about MacCrimmon having his clothes taken from him and/or imprisoned. Perhaps they are fiction? And, after all, it is the oldest version of the name and the tune, and deserves respect for that alone.

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