PS 083 – In Praise of Morag

An Darach Rìoghail
Moladh Mòraig

Primary Sources

C1 Moraig C1.82: 186
D2 Moladh Moraig / The Praise of Marion D2.13: 59
Royal Oak that saved King Charles G.2: 4
K2 Cuileagag Mòrag / The Praise for Marion K2.4: 8
JK C[ui[l[ia]g Mor[…] / Praise of Morag JK.5: 10

Notes on Gaelic Titles

An Darach Rìoghail Royal Oak that saved King Charles G. There is no evidence of this as a vernacular tune name in Gaelic. MacLeod of Gesto only gives it in English, commenting that ‘it is still the Sygn for many Taverns in England’ (GN.2). The reference is to the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester: on 6 September 1651, Charles II hid with William Careless in an oak tree near Boscobel House, successfully avoiding capture by Parliamentary soldiers. The cause of a Catholic succession to the British throne possibly connects the various titles attached to this tune: Charles II’s great nephew, Charles Edward Stuart, was known by the code name Mòrag.

Guileagag Mòraig Moraig C1; Moladh Moraig / The Praise of Marion D2; Cuileagag Mòrag / The Praise for Marion K2; C…l…g Morag JK (partly illegible). Conventionally ‘In Praise of Mòrag’. Perhaps Mòrag alone was the normal vernacular name of the tune. Guiliugag Morag! is a line from Moladh Mòraig, a well-known and racy song by Alastair Mac Mhaighstir Alastair that imitates pibroch in its structure (1751 edition, p. 13). In another song attributed to Mac Mhaighstir Alastair, Ailein, Ailein ’s fhada an cadal, Mòrag is used as a code name for Prince Charles Edward Stuart. This song appears to have been a successful piece of Jacobite propaganda, urging Clanranald to rise up against the Hanoverian ‘beast’, George II (Ronald Black, Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, The Ardnamurchan Years. Isle of Coll: Society of West Highland and Island Historical Research, 1986). For discussion, see A.M. MacDonald, The relationship between pibroch and Gaelic song: its implications on the performance style of the pibroch ùrlar, MLitt Thesis, Edinburgh University (1995), pp. 243–248.

Roderick Cannon (2009), rev. Barnaby Brown 2017

Archive Recordings

1956 Pipe Major Robert B Nicol
1961 Pipe Major John D Burgess
1972 George Moss
1976 Pipe Major Robert B Nicol (canntaireachd)
1981 George Moss

Other Material

1954 Rev William Matheson: archive recording of the song ‘In Praise of Morag’ by Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, 18th century, which relates to the pibroch.

1964 Donald Sinclair: archive recording of a song ‘In Dispraise of Morag’ – a satire, sung to the same meter as Moladh Moraig. The melody however links strongly the last line of the pibroch. 

2003 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

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