Rudy's Rants

Rudy Ramsey’s Rants and Ravings

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Ann an Àite Nach Eil na Àite

вик услуги’S ann o chionn fhada a bha e nam inntinn an sgeulachd seo a chur air mo bhlòg, ach tha mi gu math slaodach, a reir choltais. Sgriobh mi ann an 2004 e. Bhuannaich mi duais leis cuideachd – sgoilearachd gu cursa goirid aig Sabhal Mòr Ostaig – ann am Mòd puist ACGA. Ach tha mi a’ cur an-seo e air sgath’s gu bheil an sgeulachd inntinneach airson daoine aig a bheil uidh ann an eachdraidh nan Gàidheal anns na Stàitean Aonaichte. [English translation below]

Ann an Àite Nach Eil na Àite

le Rudy Ramsey

Rinn mi mòran rudan, na mo bheatha, a chur air bhioran mi — rudan mar càr-rèiseadh, aerobatics, marathons, taekwon-do. De na tachartasan a bu mhotha a chuir air bhioran mi? Uill, mar as trice, cha b’e na rudan sin idir, ach na laithean samhach, nuair a gheibhinn a-mach piosan ùr de dh’fiosrachadh ùidheal mu dheidhinn mo shinnsearan. Sin rud a chuireas air bhioran mi gu fìor! Innsidh mi dhuibh mu dheidhinn latha mar sin. ’S e sgeulachd fhiòr a th’ann mu dheidhinn mo shinnsearan fhìn agus cànain nan Gàidheal.

Tha ceistean air bhith agam air a’ chuspair seo còrr air fichead bliadhna. Mu dheireadh thall, lorg mi na freagairtean. Agus seo tòimhseachan dhuibh. Fhuair mi na freagairtean nuair a bha mi ann an àite nach eil na àite, ann an àm nach eil againne. Cait’ an romh mi?

’S e fear-sloinntearachd a th’annam – rannsaiche eachdraidh theaghaichean, gu fìor. Tha mòran shinnsearan agamsa a dh’imrich à Alba a dh’Eireann a Tuath, a dh’fhuirich an-sin fad ginealach, agus a rinn eilthireachd gu Carolina a Tuath às deidh sin. Sin slighe chumanta, air a bheil “Albannaich-Ulaidh”, ’s docha, no “Ulster Scots” ’sa Bheurla co-dhiù. Tha mu choig sloinnidhean deug anns a’ chraobh-ghinealaich agam a rinn imrich ’san aon doigh.

Tha aon teaghlach a rinn imrich mar sin anns a bheil ùidh shonraichte agam, leis an t-sloinneadh “Keahey” ’sna làithean seo, no “MacKeachey” no “MacGeachie” anns an t-seann dùthaich o chionn fhada. Dh’imrich iad à Alba a dh’Èireann a Tuath ron a’ bhliadhna 1749. Tha fios agam air sin oir gun d’rugadh an triuir mhac ann an Èirinn a Tuath anns a’ bhliadhna sin, no anns na trì no ceithir bliadhna às a dheidh. Tha amharas agam gun do dh’fhag iad Alba direach an dèidh Bliadhna Thearlaich, ach chan eil mi cinnteach fhathast.

Thainig iad a Charolina a Tuath, a reir aithris ann an 1767, ach ro àm Cogadh na Ceannairce co-dhiù. Dh’fhuirich iad cha mhòr 50 bliadhna ann am pairt albannach de Charolina a Tuath. Bha e daonnan a’ cur ionnadh orm an robh iad nan Gàidheil, agus ma bha, saoil? Dè cho fad ’sa mhair an cànan aca? Ach cha do smaoinich mi gun lorgainn a leithid de dh’fhiosrachadh gu brath.

Dh’fhàs an ùidh agam anns na ceistean seo na bu mhotha an dèidh dhomh fhìn tòiseachadh air Gàidhlig ionnsachadh, airson adhbharan nach robh ceangailte ri eachdraidh mo theaghlaich. A dh’aindeoin sin, cha d’fhuair mi na freagairtean gu luath.

Ach thainig, mu dheireadh thall, latha gu math sonraichte. Bha mi ann an àite nach eil na àite, ann an àm nach eil againne. Uill, bha mi air an eadar-lìon, co-dhiu — nì a th’anns a h-uile h-àite agus nach eil ann an àite sam bith. Agus bha mi ann an àm fada, fada ro na laithean seo. Bha mi a’ leughadh eachdraidh seann eaglais a bh’ann am Mississippi o chionn fhada. Agus ’s ann an-sin a bha iad — mo shinnsearan agus mo fhreagairtean.

Seo an eachdraidh. Anns a’ bhliadhna 1816, dh’imrich na triuir bràithrean Keahey à Carolina a Tuadh a Mhississippi. Cha b’urrainn dhaibh sin a dheanamh ron a-sin, air sgath ’s gu robh slàinte an athar ro bhochd airson a leithid de thuras. Ach choachail an athair, agus an deidh ùine ghoirid, dh’fhalbh an teaghlach gu leir airson am fortan a shireadh anns an stàit ùir sin. Bha na bràithrean nan seann bhodaich an-sin. Cha robh iad fhèin a’ fuireach ann an Alba riamh; chur iad seachad cha mhòr leth-cheud bliadhna anns an tìr seo. Am bitheadh facal sam bith de Ghàidhlig aca fhathast?

Uill, mar a thachair, stèidhich iad eaglais ùr ann am Mississippi — eaglais air an robh Philadelphus Presbyterian Church — ainm a bh’air seann eaglais ann an Carolina a Tuath, far an robh iad a’ fuireach. A-reir eachdraidh na h-eaglise ùr, chaidh a toiseachadh ann an taigh a bh’aig fear de mo shinnsearan. Agus b’e mo shinnsearan a bh’ann an ochdnar dhen aon duine deug a stèidhich an eaglais.

Ach seo an rud as cudromaiche dhomhsa: Chaidh Gàidhlig na h-Alba a chleachdach ann an coinneamhan nan luchd-stèidheachaidh. Bha geàrr-chunntas nan coinneamhan sgriobhte ann an Gàidhlig. Thog iad sgoil ùr cuideachd, an dèidh bliadhna no dhà. Agus an-siud, ann an siorrachd Wayne ann am Mississippi, ann am fìor thaobh a deas nan Stàitean Aonaichte, theagaisg iad a h-uile clas ann an Cànan nan Gàidheal. Agus lean sin fad iomadh bliadhna, gus an tainig daoine ùr aig nach robh Gàidhlig idir chun na siorrachd sin.

Cha b’urrain dhomh a’ bhith air freagairt na b’fheàrr fhaighinn do mo ceistean — no sin mo bheachd fhìn co-dhiu. Chan eil fhios ’am fhathast am bidh pàipearan ri’m faighinn bho làithean tràth na h-eaglaise. Ma bhios, bidh cothrom agamsa Gàidhlig a leughadh a bha air a sgriobhadh le mo shinnsearan fhìn — sinnsearan a bh’anns na Stàitean Aonaichte ron àm a bha a leithid ann. Ann an doigh, bha iadsan cuideachd ann an àite nach robh na àite — fhathast.

 

[Mar as àbhaist, cha cuiridh mi stuth dà-chananach na mo bhlòg Gàidhlig, ach tha an dà thionndadh agam mar tha, agus is docha gum bitheadh an tionndadh ’sa Bheurla cuideachail do fheudhainn.]

 

In a Place That’s Not a Place

by Rudy Ramsey

I’ve done many things in my life that I found exciting — things like sports-car racing, aerobatics, marathons, taekwon-do. Which events were the most exciting? Well, often, they weren’t these things at all, but quiet days when I discovered new pieces of interesting information about my ancestors. Now that’s exciting! I’ll tell you about a day like that. It’s a true story about my own ancestors and the language of the Gaels.

I had questions on this subject for more than twenty years. At long last, I found the answers. And here’s a riddle for you. I found the answers when I was in a place that’s not a place, in a time that’s not our own. Where was I?

I’m a genealogist — a family historian, really.  I have a lot of ancestors who immigrated from Scotland to Northern Ireland, lived there for a generation, and then emigrated to North Carolina. It’s a common pattern, known as “Ulster Scots”. I have perhaps 15 surnames in my ancestral tree with this immigration pattern.

There’s one family like this which has a special interest for me, with the surname “Keahey” these days, or “MacKeachey” or “MacGeachie” in the old country long ago. They emigrated from Scotland to Northern Ireland before 1749. I know this because their three sons were born in Northern Ireland in that year, or the three or four years thereafter. I suspect that they left Scotland after the Jacobite Rebellion, but I’m not yet certain.

They came to North Carolina, reportedly in 1767, but in any case before the American Revolution. They lived nearly 50 years in a Scottish part of North Carolina. I always wondered whether they were Gàidhlig speakers, and if they were, I wondered how long they retained the language in America. But I didn’t think I would ever find such information.

My interest in these questions increased after I started learning Gàidhlig myself, for reasons unrelated to family history. Even so, I didn’t find the answers quickly.

But there came, at long last, a very special day. I was in a place that’s not a place, in a time that’s not our own. Well, I was on the internet, anyway — a thing that’s everywhere and nowhere at all. And I was in a time far, far away from the present. I was reading the history of an old church that was in Mississippi long ago. And there they were — my ancestors and my answers.

Here’s the history. In the year 1816, the three sons emigrated from North Carolina to Mississippi. This wasn’t possible for them before then, because their father’s health was too poor for such a trip. But their father died, and after a short while, the whole family left to seek their fortune in the new state. The sons were old men by then. They themselves had never lived in Scotland; they had spent nearly half a century in this country; would there have been any trace of Gàidhlig still with them?
Well, as it happened, they formed a new church in Mississippi — a church called the Philadelphus Presbyterian Church, the name of an old church in North Carolina, where they had lived. According to the history of the new church, it was created in the house of one of my ancestors. And eight of the eleven founding members were my own ancestors.

But here’s the most important thing to me: Scottish Gaelic was used in the founders’ meetings. The minutes of the meetings were written in Gàidhlig. They built a new school, too, after a year or two. And there, in Wayne County, in Mississippi, in the true deep south of the United States, every class was taught in the language of the Gaels. And that remained true for several years, until new people came to the area who spoke no Gàidhlig at all.

A better answer to my questions would not be possible — or that’s my opinion, anyway. I don’t know yet whether there are papers still surviving from the early days of the church. If so, I’ll have an opportunity to read Gàidhlig written by my own ancestors — ancestors who were in the United States before there was such a place. In a way, they, too, were in a place that wasn’t a place — yet.

Posted 2 years, 11 months ago at 11:14 pm.

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