Orain Dhena a Leodhas (digital album)

Dena Graham belongs to the village of Borve in the island of Lewis. The selection of songs you will hear on this CD will not only entertain you, but they will show the high degree to which traditional Gaelic singing has developed.

Dena sings her songs with such ease and confidence that this difficult art sounds much easier than it is. Dena's fine singing voice and deft skill have long been recognised at folk festivals throughout Scotland and she has delighted audiences at many ceilidhs and also on the radio.


Gaelic song
Scottish Gaelic
Dena Graham
ca. 45 mins, 0 secs

Table of contents

  • 1. 0 Nach Aghmhor - written by Alasdair Nicholson of Ness. It’s a song of the homeland, the beauties of Lionel, to where the bard belonged, and of Ness itself. There may not have been much around in the traditional Highlands - was there anywhere - but all the songs are agreed on the great sense of belonging and personal and family
  • contentment.
  • 2. Oidche dhomh 's mi Suirghe Ort - This is a sweet, romantic ditty but Highland realism comes into it too. Our bard may admire the young lady and her beauty but she needs to be good at milking cows and brushing the beau’s shoes.
  • 3. Tha mo Spiorad Cianail - Murdo Ferguson is the bard of this song. It is a homeland song again which speaks about the joy of being a youngster in Lewis and playing on the shore. The poetry many not be the greatest but there is nevertheless a well of genuine sentiment which makes the song attractive.
  • 4. Mo ghoal oigfhear - This song was written by a St. Kildan woman who fell for Iain Og Ile, the great tradition collecter from Islay, when he visited the island.It is one of the gems of Gaelic poetry. We do know from the words that our poetess is pregnant, but to whom? As far as she is concerned, Iain Og is beyond reproach and as for the gossips chan e ‘n fhirinnthug iad oirrn - they didn’t speak the truth about our affair. Perhaps, unhappily, our young St. Kildan woman has tried to fulfil unrequited desire elsewhere. Dena shows full versitility here and the true traditional capacity for ‘getting inside’ a song and belonging for those few minutes to the poetess and the music only.
  • 5. Oigh Loch nan Madadh - It is said that this song was written by a young blade from Harris who fell madly in love aboard the steamer from Oban. Alas, he’d also been in the bar and so our Barra damsel was far from boweled over. But our lasses are diplomatic and she told the bard she belonged to Lochmaddy, clearing off home of course, when the boat comes in to Castlebay.
  • 6. Tha mi for Churam - This was composed by Mary Ross of Sleat. She was a servant lass in the household of some tacksman there who appears to have taken advantage of her. Fine for him, but it was a hard life for such a woman in those days for whom, if she couldn’t rise above it, there was no compassion.
  • 7. I' hillin's na hillin i - This song goes back to the time when many Highland men were sailors. Sometimes they passed the time away by composing songs and since the dimise of the merchant navy it’s a font of song sadly missed. However, our song here is by the lady landlubber who can’t wait for her boyfriend to come back home to
  • her.
  • 8. Thoir mo Shoraidh ceud soraidh - This is a song in praise of Harris, and like the one above, would appear to have been written by a sailor. Dena is exceptionally fond of this song and it shows fully her command of songs in traditional mode from all parts of the Highlands.
  • 9. Cha Chaidil, cha chaidil - A song whose tradition we can follow, although we don’t know who composed it and our first point of contact is an Isabel Smith of Keose in Lewis.
  • 10. Mo Ribhinn dhonn - This is a little love ditty written by Malcolm MacLean of Halbost in Ness. His most well known song is Deireadh Forladh 1940 which is one of the most beautiful, understanding and humane of any era songs about war in Gaelic. Our song here,shows how a bard who can turn the art into an expression of all human emotion. For the Gael, poetry has long been our private and public expression.
  • 11. Chaneil mo leannan ann an seo - This is a real ceilidh belter. Everybody knows it and everybody sings it.
  • 12. Gruagach an fhuilt dhuinn - A touching love song.


“Her grace notes, essential in Gaelic song, are clear, commanding and definite.”

Crisdean Dillon, The Press and Journal