7 Seallaibh Curaigh Eòghainn

Suilbhidh Law

Activity Summary

Using Seallaibh Curaigh Eòghainn, students will gain an awareness of song rhythm, substituting lyrics that fit the rhythm of the tune while consolidating the genitive form of forenames and the prepositional pronouns of ann + possessive pronouns, e.g. ann + mo = nam.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Recognize the beat of the song and clap the beats;
  • Do the hand motions that go along with the song;
  • Consolidate their understanding and use of names in the genitive case;
  • Consolidate their understanding and use of prepositional pronouns (nam, nad, na, na, nar, nur, nan or nam)
  • Recognize the rhythm of the tune and how lyrics fit into that rhythm;
  • Substitute names and professions in the original lyrics (and optional states of being).


Gaelic Level

This activity is best suited for children (around ages 5-6).  However, it could be adapted to suit adult learners who are advanced beginners or intermediate learners. The entire lesson could be done entirely through the medium of Gaelic.


Lesson Preparation

  1. The students have already been taught the song and are able to sing the words and tune together. They will have already understood what puirt-à-beul is.
  2. Have the recording of Mary Jane Lamond’s version of the song queued up on the computer.
  3.  Have ready a box of items that students can name. It can be used for the revision exercise on forming the genitive of nouns, if you choose to do the exercise this way.  The box could include items such as a pen, a pencil, a piece of rope, watch, book, scarf, light, hat,  hairbrush, cup, toys (such as dog, cat, sheep, horse, house, soldier, car, truck), etc. — any variety of items that would interest your students (children or adults), for all of which they would have already learned the words.
  4.  Have the room ready for students to work in groups of four.

Resources Required

Required resources:

  • Lyrics of Seallaibh Curaigh Eòghainn, either projected on a screen or written on a large piece of paper visible to everyone;
  • A place to write proper names that students offer and which everyone can see (e.g. computer or projector, flipchart).

Optional Resources:

  • For a more detailed description of the grammar points covered in the lesson, refer to the following:
    • Boyd Robertson, Iain Taylor’s Teach Yourself Gaelic;
    • Michael Byrne’s Gràmar na Gàidhlig;
    • Roibeard Ò Maolalaigh’s Scottish Gaelic in Three Months;
    • Scottish Gaelic Grammar Wiki;
  • To conduct the lesson as a Gàidhlig aig Baile session, refer to the Gàidhlig aig Baile Tutor’s Guide, to understand the theory and method.

Lesson Structure (1 2hrs)

Time Activity Resources
30 min Introduce the idea that students will explore the song Seallaibh Curaigh Eòghainn in greater depth by changing the lyrics. Make the lyrics to Seallaibh Curaigh Eòghainn available and play the recording song (or, alternatively, sing it to the class). Play recording of Mary Jane Lamond’s version of Seallaibh Curaigh Eòghainn (from her album, Làn Dùil) available on YouTube.

Other audio options:

Learn Gaelic – Joy Dunlop (includes the lyrics and translation)

Fèis Ross, Màiri McGillivray

30 min

Sing the song and demonstrate the hand gestures that go along with it. Sing the song together with everyone doing hand gestures.

Sing the song together with the class and ask them to clap the beat as you sing the first part twice. Tell them there are four beats to a measure and, as you sing each measure, clap out the four beats, pausing between each measure. Sing it again and ask them to count out the four beats as you sing and clap.

Sing the second part of the song twice with the class clapping out the beat. Point out that the word “bidh” begins before the first bar (it’s technically an eighth note). As you sing the second part, clap out the four beats, pausing between each measure. Sing it again and ask them to count out the four beats.

See this video for the song performed with hand gestures.

Refer to the sheet music from Fèis Rois.

5 min

Ask the students if they can spot the difference in the spelling of the name between the first lines of each of the two parts. Explain what the difference signifies. Model how the genitive case for proper names is formed:

  • Masculine names lenite at the beginning and slenderize before the final consonant;
  • Feminine names slenderize before the final consonant; in some dialects the beginning consonant lenites also.

Seat the students in a circle. Indicate that you want the student to say a noun followed by a proper name in the genitive (to indicate possession). Say a noun and point at a student in the circle. The student seated next to that student needs to say the noun followed by the genitive form of the first student’s name, e.g., taigh + Dòmhnall = taigh Dhòmhnaill. Proceed around the circle so each student has a turn. During each student’s turn, encourage the others to say the phrase quietly to themselves too, so that each student gets practice with all the nouns and all the names.

If they need more practice after the first round, use a different noun and different names. Have the students call out names they know and write them on the smartboard or flipchart.

Alternately, instead of the teacher naming a noun, you could have each student choose an item from the box you have prepared and hold it up to the student whose turn it is and have them say the phrase. So for instance, if the first student (Peadar) chose a toy dog from the box, then you would indicate to the student next to him to say the phrase which would be cù + Peadar = cù Pheadair.  The box of items provides props that are concrete and helps to engage the students as well as using more senses to help imbed the name of the item and structure into students’ memories so it becomes automatic and they are not translating from English to Gaelic or vice versa.

For the genitive case of names see:
  • Boyd Robertson, Iain Taylor’s Teach Yourself Gaelic, pg 170- 171 (Lesson 14);
  • Michael Byrne’s Gràmar na Gàidhlig, page 34 (1.3.7);
  • Roibeard Ò Maolalaigh’s Scottish Gaelic in Three Months, pg 94, (Lesson 7);
  • the Scottish Gaelic Grammar Wiki.
5-15 min

Optional (5 mins)

Point out “na sgiobair” in the lyrics and explain why you need this grammatical construction.

Review how to use prepositional pronouns: nam, nad, na, na, nur, nar, nan/m).

Have the students tell you the names for different occupations and write them on the board, explaining to everyone what that occupation is. Some words to consider: seòladair,  ministear, oifigear, seinneadair,  tidsear, sgeulaiche, dotair, bèicear, nurs or banaltram, còcaire, oileanach, neach-lagha, etc.

Seat the students in a circle.  Demonstrate that you want the student to say:  Bidh + proper name + appropriate prepositional pronoun  + occupation.  E.g. Bidh Màiri na h-oileanach.  With the first student in the circle, say their name and name an occupation. Ask the next student to answer. Say the phrase you want to hear and then have the student repeat it. Proceed around the circle. As with the previous exercise, during each student’s turn, the others should be quietly saying the phrase to themselves, so that each student gets practice with each phrase.

Optional: Review for “states of being” using verbal nouns: nam shuidhe, nad dhùisg, na chadal, na seasamh, nar ruith, nur sìneadh, nan laighe. Have the students call out the verbal nouns and write them on the smartboard.

20-25 mins

Optional: (10 mins)

Split the class into groups of four or five. Explain that they are to pick two names and two occupations and change the name in the song and the occupation (and states of being) in the song to create new lyrics. The students can look at the smartboard to refer to the list of names and occupations (and states of being). Explain that in order to fit the rhythm of the tune, the name and the occupation should be two or three syllables each. They will need to try the name with the tune to see if it will work. The teacher should move amongst the groups to  check the progress and offer help. When the groups have are ready with at least one name and occupation, the class can reconvene and each or some group(s) could offer the name and occupation and the class could decide if it works. The class could sing one or two of the new lyrics that work.

Optional: You could have the students change the second line of the second part to be:  Bidh + proper name + appropriate prepositional pronoun + verbal noun, e.g., Bidh Seumas na chadal oirre.

For a list of the common verbs denoting states or conditions that take the propositional pronouns being taught here (e.g. nam, nad, na, etc), refer to Roibeard Ò Maolalaigh’s  Scottish Gaelic in Three Months, page 62 (Lesson 5).


About the Author

Suilbhidh Law’s interest in Scottish Gaelic and Gaelic culture began after she became bored with London during the 6 weeks she spent there on her first trip to the continent; she decided to explore other parts of the UK. Within an hour of arriving in Edinburgh, she realized her mistake in spending so long in England and vowed to return to Scotland. Upon her return to Toronto after a second trip where she spent 3 weeks exploring Scotland on a Britrail pass, she began to search for ways and means to learn Scottish Gaelic and found a path through the Toronto Gaelic Learners’ Society.  Thus began her involvement with Gaelic language and culture which still entrances her to the present day.


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Cànan tro Òrain by Suilbhidh Law is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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