Township: Hynish

Map Reference: Hynish 300

Name Type: township

Meaning: As a specific ON heið ‘moor, barren land’ or heiðr ‘heath’ is topographically appropriate, relating to the nearby slopes of Tiree’s highest ‘mountain’ Beinn Haoidhnis (see Heren below). ‘In Iceland particularly heiðr is chiefly used of a low barren heath or fell, thus in local names is a common name for barren tracts of fell between the foot of one fjord or dale and another’ (CV, 247). ‘Intervocalically, ON -ð- is replaced by hiatus, for example in ScG fadhail’ (Cox 2007b, 68). The development might therefore be Heiðarnes > Heiarnes > Haoinis. This would explain the first element triphthong in the modern form. The generic is ON nes ‘promontory’

Haoidhnis and Hìanais would have been clearly distinguishable to Norse speakers as Heiðarnes and Heynes. Once the -ð- was lost, the two names obviously confused those creating the rental records. Heiðarnes and Heynes are likely to be, therefore, a reciprocating pair of farm names: ‘heath headland’ with its huge hill grazings, and ‘hay headland’, which became a valuable primary settlement. The earliest form very speculatively includes the element annaid (OIr andóit), often interpreted as an early chapel (see Annaid above). Also in the township is the ecclesiastical name ScG An Cladh Beag ‘the small graveyard’ and ScG Cladh nam Ban Mòra ‘the graveyard of the big women’ (Canmore ID 319805).
There is a Hinish Point on Barra, and Heiðar- occurs twenty four times as a specific among farm names in Iceland, as in Heiðarmúli (SAM).
Some of the hills on Tiree had tabu (taboo) names. ‘It was deemed unlucky by east coast fishermen coming to Tiree (as several boats used to annually to prosecute the cod and ling fishing) to speak in a boat of a minister or a rat. Everywhere it was deemed unlucky among seafaring men to whistle in case a storm should arise. In Tiree, Heynish Hill (the highest in the island) was known as a’ Bhraonach [footnote 430: A’ Bhraonach is ‘the showery/drizzly/dewy female’ because of the tendency of Heynish Hill to attract cloud]’ (Black, 2008, 131).
Note: Hianis and Haoidhnis have similar early forms, and it is not always clear which settlement is referred to in the early documents. Names are marked ‘+’ if we can be reasonably certain, using township order or mapping, which township is being referred to.

Other Forms: Heanes - The map MVLA INSVLA in the Atlas of Scotland, Atlas Novus, by Joan Blaeu, 1654. These maps were largely based on work by Timothy Pont who mapped Scotland between 1583 and 1596. NLS, 123. [note the spelling on the same map of Heanish - Heaneass].

Hyenish - Inhabitants of the Inner Isles 1716, Scottish Record Society 21, ed . Nicholas MacLean-Bristol, 1998.

Haynish - Tiree Rental 1747.

Haynish - The Turnbull Map of Tiree 1768 and accompanying survey text.

Heynish - Map of Tiree, reduced from a survey of the island by Langlands, in the possession of His Grace, The Duke of Argyll. Reproduced in The Island of Tiree by William Reeves, Ulster Journal of Archaeology, volume 2, 1854, p 233-244.

Hynish - Island Mull with Islands Tiri and Coll, M MacKenzie, 1775.

Haynish - Typed List of Inhabitants of Tyree and their Age in September 1779.
Taken from an unknown publication, 1998.201.1

Haoidhnis an Ear - East Hynish
ONB p. 233 gives Hynish

Related Places:

Information:Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, (Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005), p 191:

In olden times a cat belonging to the tenant of Heynish in Tiree was much addicted, like the rest of its kind, to stealing cheese. It was caught in the act, and, as a punishment for the past and a lesson for the future, its ears were taken off. The tenant had occasion to go from home, and on his return found the cat lying dead, having been hung for theft in his absence. He took it in his lap, and thus addressed it;

Nach tuirt mi riut, a Dhonnchaidh,

Gum feumadh tu bhith falchaidh;

Nuair a reachadh tu gan ionnsaigh,

Gun ionnsaicheadh a’ chroich dhut dannsa?

Is dona sin, a chait gun chluasan,

Mharbh iad thus’ an geall a’ chàise –

Dh’ ìoc do mhuineal an smuais sin

An uair sa an dèidh do bhàis.

Did I not tell you, little Duncan,

You had needs of being wary;

When you went where the cheeses were,

The gallows would teach you how to dance.

Evil it is, earless cat,

They have you killed because of cheese;

Your neck has paid for that refreshment,

At this time, after your death.

On hearing these expressions of sympathy, the cat began to revive, and the man went on:

A hundred welcomes wait you, cat,

Since in my lap you’ve chanced to be;

And though I do not much liberty allow,

May have you greatly loved.

Are you the untamed cat that Fionn had

That hunted wild from glen to glen?

Had Oscar you at the battle of Bla-sguinn,

You drink the milk Catherine had

For entertaining minstrel and meeting,

And why should I praise you?

You ought to be like any kitten,

On the hillside seeking mice

‘Neath greyish grassy stems and bramble bushes.

On hearing this the cat ran away and was never again seen (Footnote 650).

Footnote 650; JGC’s Gaelic orginals of these verses were excluded from WSS, but Alexander Carmichael transcribed them from the lost appendix into what is now EUL MS CW 241, ff/ 24-25, under the title ‘An Cat Thainig Beo’ (Tghe Cat that Came Alive’), see p. 702 below. What is now the penultimate line on p. 191 appears in CW 241 as Dh’ iòcaich iad do mhuinneal an snuais sin; as this makes no sense to me, I have adjusted it in line with JCG’s translation. Carmhicael also appears to have collected the poem himself, under the heading ‘An Cat A Bha Marbh Agus A Thainig Beo’ (‘The Cat that was Dead and Came Alive’) in what is now EUL MS CW 503, ff. 851v and 853c, with some alternative readings. In line 2 he offers both falachaidh (‘wary’) and iomachaidh (‘circumspect, well-behaved’). In line three he gives not gan ionnsaigh but dhan Mheanachain with three question-marks – ‘to the Monastery’ or, more probably, ‘to Beauly.’ For lines 5-8 he has (his spelling):
Is dona dhuits a chait chluasaich
Bhuaileadh thu an geall a chaise
Dh’ iochd do mhuinneal mun an smuaich
An uair seo an deigh do bhaise
I translate “It’s tough for you, you big-eared cat, /That you’ve been struck because of cheese - / Your smooth neck’s paid for the refreshment / At this time following you death.”
Following the cat’s revival, the poet’s words are as follows (edited from CW 241):
Ciad fàilte romhad, a chait,
On thàrladh dhuit a bhith am’ uchd;
‘S ged nach leig mi mòran leat,
Is iomadh neach thug rògradh dhut.
An tu’ cat fiadht’ a bh’ aig Fionn
Bha fiadhach o ghleann gu glean?
No’n tu bh’ aig Osgar là bhlàr sguinn,
No’n tu dh’ fhàg suinn fo dhochair ann?
Dh’ òl thu àis Catrìona ‘s am baijne
Bha ri dìoladh clèir is coinneamh,
‘S dè’m fath dhòmhsa bhith gad mholadh?
Mharbh thu, chait ghrànda dhona!
Bu choir dhuit bhith mar phiseag.
Bhith san t-sliabh ag iarraidh luchag
Fo chuiseig riabhaich ‘s fo dhriseig.’

It will be seen from this that a line is missing from JGC’s translation: “You have killed, you ugly evil cat!” should appear after “And why should I praise you?” In fact, as the rhyme structure reveals, the poem is in quatrains, and the first line of the last quatrain is lacking in JGC’s Gaelic as well as in his English. Carmichael’s version in CW 503 is helpful, however;
Dh ol thu bainne Cairistine
Bha gu dioladh cleir us crabhaich
De am fath dhomh bhi dha/ga innseadh
Mharbhadh thu chait mhiogaich mhagaich.

Is am bu choir dhuit bhi mar phiseig
An tir/taigh a phoir ag iarraidh luchag
Fo mheoir na driseig
An aite corcaich bhi mu d ruchaig.
“You drank the milk that Catherine had / To entertain the clergy and the pious - /What’s the point of my relating it? / You’ve been killed, you smarmy creepy cat. / And should you be like any kitten / Seeking mice in land/house of grain / -under boughs of bramble bushes / Instead of hemp being round your little neck.” Probably Is am bu choir ‘And should you be’ ought to be read Is ann bu choir ‘You should be.’
Some other points are worth making. JGC’s line Is iomadh neach thug ròghradh dhut is stuffed full of alternatives in CW 503: Is iomadh ‘ad/laoch/bard (‘Many are they / the heroes / the poets’) a thug gràdh/fàilte dhuit (‘who welcomed/loved you’) Là bhlàr sguinn appears in CW 241 as la bhlar sguinn and in CW 503 as la blar Sguinn, but JGC’s translation ‘battle of Bla-sguinn’ is also helpful. For ‘skull’ Lhuyd (1707, pp. [327], 427) first gives blaosgaoin, blasgaoin, then when he was consulted further, blaosc a chin, i.e plaosg a’ chin (‘the husk of the head’); the original of the line was probably No’n tu bh’ aig Oscar là blaosgain (or l`a phlaosg-cinn)? “Or did Oscar have you at the battle of head –husks?” It will be a reference to Cath Gabhra, in which Oscar was killed, see pp. 283-84 ‘The Battle of Gaura.’ Blaosg a chin and blaosgain were picked up from Lhuyd by HSD (vol. 1, pp/ 123-24) and found their way into Dwelly (1977,pp/ 99-100) as blaosg, blasgaoin.’
Finally, JGC’s clèir is coinneamh ‘minstrel and meeting’ is of interest. His coinneamh: dhona is excellent rhyme, as is Carmichael’s cràbhaich: mhàgaich. No doubt clèir still existed as a plural or genitive singular of cliar ‘poet-band’, hence ‘minstrel(s),’ but by JCG’s time its primary meanings were ‘clergy’ and ‘presbytery’. Perhaps the àis ‘milk preparation’ and bainne ‘milk’ were intended for himself!


p 203:

It is said the wife of a former tenant of Heynish in Tiree (and the story is localised in several other places) would not allow her husband to look at his own fold of cattle. As sure as he did so, one of his best cows was found dead the next day. The fear of this calamity made her put a very pretty cow, to which she herself took a great fancy, in an out-of-the –way place, near which her husband had never been observed to go. On returning one day from a stroll in the hill, he asked who put the cow where he had seen it. The wife’s worst fears were realised. The cow was dead in a few days.

Page 254

Stones from a disused burying-ground called ‘the Burial –Place of the Big Women’ on the farm of Heynish in Tiree were used for building one of the farm outhouses. In this house a servant-man from Mull was sent to sleep. Through the night he was disturbed by his dog jumping into bed between him and the wall and, with its fore-feet resting upon his body, snarling fiercely at something he could not see. He heard feeble voices through the house saying, “This is the stone that was at my head.”

Nothing more came of this visit of the spirits than that the Mull man (who was likely the victim of a hoax) positively refused to sleep in that house again. (Footnote 896)

Footnote 896: ‘The Burial-Place of the Big Women’ is presumably Cladh nam Ban Mòra. It probably refers to nuns – ‘great women’ rather than ‘big women’? Niall M. Brownlie has not heard the name, but tells me that he thinks it may be identified with the Cladh Beag, of which Sands says (1881-82, p. 463): “At Hynish there is a meadow still called the Cladh beag, or little burial ground, where a chapel once stood; but the last farmer was a practical man, and used the church and tombstones to build stables and byres with. A stone with a cross on it is still to be seen forming part of the pavement at the farm-steading. On digging I discovered some of the mortar and stones of this ancient chapel.” Convents usually had burial grounds of their own, which would naturally have been small. One wonders what connection there might be, if any, between this faint echo of monastic life in Hynish and the following rhyme relating to two other townships in south-western Tiree (Grant 1925,p. 12)
Mìosachan beag rìgh Lochlainn
Fo chlachan ann am Baile Phuill
Is Ulabhag nighean rìgh Lochlainn
Fo chlachan an Crosapol ud thall.
(‘The little calendar of the king of Norway / Underneath stones in Balephuill / And Ulabhag daughter of the king of Norway / Underneath stones in Crossapol yonder.”) See also Beveridge 1903, p/ 155; MacDougall and Cameron n.d.m, pp/ 99, 109; RCAHMS 1980, pp/ 135-36; Brownlie 1995, pp. 90-91.)


Local Form:

Languages : Norse

Informants: OS