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Gormshùil Mhòr

(Great Gormshùil)


Lyrics by Rachel Walker and Marcas Mac an Tuairneir

Music by Rachel Walker

Arranged by Rachel Walker and Aaron Jones

Strings arranged by Seonaid Aitken, Patsy Reid and Alice Allen.



Rachel Walker (Vocals, Piano)

Aaron Jones (Cittern)

Duncan Lyall (Double Bass)

Patsy Reid (Violin)

Katrina Lee (Violin)

Rhoslyn Lawton (Viola)

Alice Allen (Cello)


Rachel’s inspiration:

The term ‘Witch’ has evolved through the centuries to have negative connotations and has done a great harm to many. Most women labelled as witches were in fact healers or wise women, people who helped their communities, healed illnesses or tried to ward off negative energies, often with a strong connection to the natural world. 


Lochaber’s Gormshùil Mhòr na Maighe (The Great Gormula of Moy), who lived during the late 1500’s, was certainly a wise woman. She was often called on as an adviser, by Lochiel, the Chief of Clan Cameron, and helped to solve many land disputes through her knowledge and gift of intuition. She is said to have had one bright blue ‘seeing’ eye and a destruction of cats that would bend to her will. She also has several Lochaber landmarks named after her. The most notable legend associated with Gormshùil, is when she and other ‘witch’ women from the West Highlands and Islands gathered to conjure a storm, which sunk a galleon from the Spanish Armada in Tobermory bay. 


This song celebrates the womanly gifts of perception, intuition and common sense and the power of women working together.  I am indebted to Beth Clifford for her insight and advice to help bring this song to life.


Cruinnichibh cruinnichibh, hai o hò
Carannan banal, hai o hò
Stuaim is sonntachd, hai o hò
Gliocas is lèirsinn , a hì òrò
Fo ghealach bhoireann, hai o hò
A h-adharcan an àirde, hai o hò
Meuran a’ bhàis, hai o hò
Rionnagan ’s reultan, a hì òrò

Thigibh is iarraibh
comhairle an eòlaich,
thriath Loch Iall,
tomhais do chinneamhain
air Bràighean Abrach –
an t-seacaid ga tionndadh,
’s madaidhean dìleas
a dh’itheadh na caoraich.

Cruinnichibh, cruinnichibh,
pheathraichean crìonnachd:
Glaisrig Ìleach,
Laorag an Tirisdich,
An Doiteag Mhuileach,
seanghal Chlann Eathainn.
Thig Bean a’ Lagain leoth’
cearcall a’ chàrdeis.

Seinneamaid, dannsamaid
’n co-sheirm le chèile:
spreagadh stoirm
l’ ubagan ’s obagan.
Gach gibht is cumhachd
co-shìnt’ is rèidh ann.
Gnìomhan neairt de
bhoireannaich còmhla.

Cruinnichibh, cruinnichibh
gaothan na h-iarmailt,
dùiseal sgùdach
lùbadh air àilgheas dhuinn.
Gach crann fo fhaileas,
an seòl fo bhuaireadh.
ròpan sgàinte
iteagan cnàimhich.

Thigibh is stiùrichibh
fabhradh na h-iùnnrais,
cop eich bhàna,
Spàinnich fo shùghadh tuinn.
Na measaibh ìosal
earalas m’ìmpis.
Bu mhinig bha buadhmhor
Gormshùil Mhòr – ò.

Gather, gather
Women’s wiles
Decorum and heroism
Wisdom and vision
Under a women’s moon
The crescent upwards
Glittering stars

Come and request
Expert knowledge
Lochiall, warrior
Test your destiny
On the braes of Lochaber
With the jacket turned
It is loyal wolves
That would eat the sheep

Gather gather
Sisters of wisdom
Glaisrig of Islay
Laorag of Tiree
Doiteag of Mull
The soothsayer of the MacLeans
Bean a’ Lagain with them
In a circle of friendship

Let’s dance, let’s sing
In harmony together
Chiding the storm
With spells and incantations
Each gift and power
Working in parallel
The collective strength of
Women together

Gather, gather
The winds of the firmament
A bank of black clouds
Bends to our will
Each mast under shadow
The sail bewitched
Ropes split
The feathers of ravens

Come and steer
The swirling tempest
The white, frothing waves
Dragging down Spaniards
Don’t underestimate
My intuition
Often triumphant
Great Gormshùil


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