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A Lochaber Legend
by Mary Cameron MacKellar
Celtic Magazine
June 1881

Uirisg an easa-bhuidh
'S e na shuidhe an Gleanna-maili,
'S a nuair a chiaradh air an fheasgar,
Thigeadh e dhachaidh gu Mairi
This is a frequent saying in Lochaber if any person makes a habit of daily frequenting a neighbor's house, and the story of it is as follows: -

Once upon a time a farmer who had Glenmaillie had a pretty servant lass of the name of Mary.  The farmer built a sheiling far up the glen near the falls that are still known as the "Eas buidhe," and Mary was sent there to take charge of the cows and their milk.  The girl was very brave-hearted, but though not afraid to be alone in the mountain sheiling, yet she began to have company frequently that caused her great alarm.  An "Uirisg" came to her cot evening by evening in the dusk, and as he came in he invariably repeated the sentence at the head of this article.  He had always some small trout with him, which in the course of the evening he roasted one by one, always eating the one before he roasted another, and saying as he ate each,-

Mar a rostar bricein ithear bricein

and all the time gazing at the one who in silence worked away with the distaff in the corner.  At length he began to say angrily,-
Chith mi do shuil, chith mi do shroin,
Chith mi t-fheusag fhada mhor,
'S ged's math a shniomhas tu do chuigeal
At length, in his indignation at the fraud perpetrated upon him in giving him this masculine creature instead of Mary, he was going to lay hands in violence upon the man.  "What is your name?"  (C'ainm tha ort) he asked in angry tones.  And the man gave his name as "Is mi, 's is mi," which in English may be interpreted "'Tis me, 'tis me;" and then taking a pot of hot water, he threw it about the feet of the poor creature and scalded him.  The "Uirisg" ran away, howling dreadfully in his pain, and all the rest of his brother "Uirisgs" ran out to meet him.  They asked eagerly who hurt him, as if they were willing to avenge him, and he said, "Is mi, 's is mi."  They replied, "Ma's tu, 's ma's tu, ge de a glaothaich a tha air t-aire?" (If it is you, if it is you, what are you crying for?)  Mary got leave to return to the sheiling in peace, and the "Uirisg" never troubled her again.
Editor's Notes: Mary Cameron MacKellar, the great Gaelic Bardess of Corrybeg, Lochaber, was of Cameron of Kinlochiel "stock."  A co-founder of the Clan Cameron Association, Mary recorded many classic Lochaber stories and gifted the world with many poetic works.  For those not familiar with the Uirisg, it was the mythical offspring of Celtic fairies and mortal men,  or sometimes also called an "Ùruisg," which was a "brownie."

In her comments, after including this story in The Celtic Magazine, she wrote: "There is a strange resemblance in this story to that of the Cyclops, to whom Ullyes gave his own name as 'No man,' and who when his shouts of pain brought his brother Cyclops to him, said in answer to their questions that it was 'No man' that hurt him; and then their answer, 'If no man hurt you, why do you cry out?'"