Sandy (Sandaidh) NicDhòmhnaill Jones is a prizewinning Gaelic poet, and was appointed Bàrd a’ Chomainn Ghàidhealaich (Gaelic Crowned Bard) for 2019-2020 at the Royal National Mòd Glasgow in October 2019. Her collection of Gaelic poetry and songs Crotal Ruadh—Red Lichen (Acair, 2016) won second prize in the Donald Meek Award for Gaelic Literature. She previously won the Wigtown Gaelic Poetry Prize in 2013, and the Irish/Scots Gaelic Poetry Prize Choirnéil Uí Néill in 2014. She is at work on her second poetry collection. Sandy is a long-standing supporter of the Royal National Mòd, and was awarded the Oban Times Gold Medal in 2017. She has won various Mòd competitions for singing, clàrsach, composing and choral arrangements, and is a former conductor of the London Gaelic Choir.
Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones
Bha mise sa Chnoc-Sìth’ o chunnaic mi thu ’n dè ’S tha aithris neo-àbhaist’ ri cur ann an sgeul Mu na h-ainglean mallaichte, mur b’ e gràs Dhè; Na Fir-Chlis, na loisgich, a theab tuiteam on speur. Chaidh teine ’s an àil’ a’ lasadh gu geur Le dealanach, sradagan, losgadh is leus. Dhòrt na Fir-Chlis fuil theth às gach fèith, ’S nochd am manadh air olc: crotal-ruadh air na slèibh. Chìthear mar mhallachd aig èirigh na grèin’ Fuil nan sàr-mhilidh, is fianais an creuchd: Ach bheir blàr nan clis-threun ùr-fhadadh is dèin’ Do bhàrdachd nam filidh air sgrìobhadh fo’ n seun. Ach is mairg do dhream le dà-shealladh mar gheas Oir cluinnear gu sìorraidh mac-talla is èigh Nam Fir-Chlis, leth-uilc, a’ milleadh ’s an cleas ’S cha tig a chaoidh iochd orr’, le cuireadh bho’ n eug. ‘The Nimble Ones’: The Northern Lights I have been at the fairy-knoll since we met yesterday And of that I have a strange tale to relate Of the angels who, had God not had mercy, were damned; The Nimble Ones, fiery ones, who almost fell from the skies. There was fire in the air, blazing fiercely, Lightning bolts, sparks, flaming and flickering. The Nimble Ones spilled hot blood from every vein, And their presage of evil appeared; crimson lichen on the hillsides. At sunrise you may witness this, like a curse, The blood of the arch-warriors, proof of their wounds: But the battle of the nimble fighters rekindles and intensifies The bards’ poetry, composed under their spell. Yet woe betide those born with the sorcery of second-sight, For they will for ever hear the echoes and cries Of the Nimble Ones, the half-evil ones, playfully despoiling, Who will never receive clemency, in the form of death’s call.
Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones
From Crotal Ruadh—Red Lichen (Acair, 2016, republished by Acair in 2019)