I nDún Éideann a rugadh James Carmichael Watson ar 12 Márta 1910. Ba iad William John Watson, ollamh le Ceiltis in Ollscoil Dhún Éideann, agus Elizabeth Catherine Carmichael a thuismitheoirí. Bhí Elizabeth (rugadh ar 9 Lúnasa 1870; d’éag ar 30 Samhain 1928) ina heagarthóir ar Gaelic Review 1904-1916. Garmhac ba ea é le Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912), a bhailigh agus a d’fhoilsigh Carmina Gadelica, 1900. Cuireadh oideachas air sa Royal High School agus in Ollscoil Dhún Éideann. Deir John Maclean (Scottish Gaelic Studies 5, 1942): ‘When he began the serious study of Celtic in 1932, Watson brought to bear on his subject a fluency of diction and a correctness of accent which would have amazed those who did not know his background. He had already in the earlier part of his classical course taken the ordinary class in Celtic, and so remarkable was the progress which he made in two years that by the time he took his First Class Honours in Celtic he had finished an edition of Mary MacLeod, which, with its perfection of workmanship and the polished literary value of its accurate translation might well be a model for editions of Gaelic poets.’

Chaith sé bliain in Ollscoil Bonn ag déanamh staidéir ar an SeanGhaeilge faoi Rudolf Thurneysen. Ba é Thurneysen a mhisnigh é chun a eagrán de Mesca Ulad a fhoilsiú agus is dó a thiomnaigh Watson é. Bhí sé ina léachtóir le Ceiltis in Ollscoil Ghlaschú ó 1935 go dtí gur cheap Ollscoil Dhún Éideann é mar ollamh i 1938 i gcomharbacht ar a athair. As a dheoin féin liostáil sé i gCabhlach Ríoga Shasana i bhfómhar 1941. Bhí sé ar bhord H.M.S. Gurkha agus nuair a cuireadh go tóin poill í d’éirigh leis teacht slán. Chaith sé tamall gairid san Éigipt agus ansin chuaigh sé i mbun a dhualgais arís ar H.M.S. Jaguar. Cailleadh é sa Mheánmhuir 26 Márta 1942 nuair a chuir toirpéad an long go tóin poill. Tuairiscíodh a bhás ar pháipéir na hÉireann an lá a foilsíodh Mesca Ulad i mBaile Átha Cliath. Foilsíodh The Gaelic songs of Mary MacLeod: orain agus luinneagan Gàidhlig le Mairi nighean Alasdair Ruaid, 1934. Bhí aistí aige in Scottish Gaelic Studies, Ériu agus in Féil-sgríbinn Eoin Mhic Néill. Tá cuntas air in Scottish Gaelic Studies V, 1942 ag John Maclean agus in Éigse III, 1941-42 ag ‘G. M.’ (Gearóid Ó Murchadha [B2, a bhí ina eagarthóir, ní foláir). Deir G. M.: ‘James Watson was not alone an accurate editor and careful investigator, he possessed also a delicate sensibility to the beauty of Gaelic poetry, and a rare power of analysing and interpreting the beauty which he perceived.’

Rugadh a athair, William John Watson 17 Feabhra 1865 in Easter Ross. Bhí seisean ina reachtaire ar Acadamh Ríoga Inbhir Nis agus ar an Royal High School sular ceapadh é sa phost in Ollscoil Dhún Éideann. I measc na leabhar a scríobh sé tá: Place names of Ross and Cromarty, 1904, Gaelic 3, 1915, Gaelic poetry, 1918, History of the Celtic place-names of Scotland, 1926, agus Scottish verse from the book of the Dean of Lismore, 1937. D’éag sé 9 Márta 1948. I gcuntas in Oxford dictionary of national biography, 2004 deir Derick Thomson: ‘[He] was still a positive influence on Gaelic scholarship at the end of the 20th century.’

Ar Oiléan na Leasa Móire a rugadh a sheanathair, Alexander Carmichael, 1 Nollaig 1832. Bhí Gàidhilg aige ó dhúchas. Cigire Custaim agus Mál ba ea é agus le linn dó a bheith ag obair i nGarbhchríocha na hAlban agus ar na hoileáin bhailigh sé an t-ábhar atá in Carmina Gadelica: ortha nan Gaidheal, 1900, an saothar is mó a thuill clú dó. ‘The incantations, blessings, prayers, charms, curses and songs, all the oral lore and traditions which are gathered together in Carmina are, in Carmichael’s words, “faraway thinking, come down on the long stream of time”. Beneath the devout Christian imagery there lies a Celtic undercurrent, a plangent love of nature and affection and reverence for the spirits of the forests, of the glens and of the seas. They speak of the life and the beliefs, the faith of a people. Gathered together they constitute what has been called “a lost lexicon of piety” and “the greatest collection of oral traditions in any European language’ (Nóta ar an idirlín faoi ‘Carmichael’s Book’, taispeántas in onóir do Carmina Gadelica, 1998). Eagrán teoranta a foilsíodh i 1900 agus chuir a iníon, Elizabeth Catherine Carmichael Watson, eagrán níos saoire ar fáil i 1928. I 1941, d’fhoilsigh James Carmichael Watston dhá imleabhar eile den ábhar a bhailigh a sheanathair agus chuir Angus Matheson eagar ar an 5ú himleabhar (1954). Tá bailiúchán Carmichael–Watson i dtaisce in Ollscoil Dhún Éideann. D’éag Alexander 6 Meitheamh 1922. Cé go molann Derick Thomson go hard é in Oxford dictionary of national biography, 2004 deir sé go raibh rómheas aige ar shaothar James MacPherson agus dá réir sin ‘was prone to polishing and perhaps romanticizing some of the Carmina.’

Diarmuid Breathnach

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