Township: Moss

Map Reference: Moss 33

Name Type: sliabh

Meaning: Peat bank of the chicks. Blàr usually means a level area of ground, but can also mean a peat bank or a battlefield (as in Blàr nan Sguab) (Dwelly)

Other Forms: Blàr nam Bigein: in a story titled 'The Unearthly Whistle' John Gregorson Campbell relates how a young man from Cornaig was pursued by a ghost, "one who had been killed in Blàr nam Bigein, the 'Field of Birds' in the Moss." (Black 2008, 283 and 521)

Related Places:

Information:The Gaelic Otherworld, ed Ronald Black, p282:

About seventy years ago a young man, a native of the village of Cornaig in Tiree, went in the evening to another village, Cruaidh-Ghortain, about two miles distant. When he reached it, he reclined on a bed, and being tired fell fast asleep. He awoke with a start, and thinking from the clearness of the night (it was a full moon) daylight had come, hurried off home.
His way lay across a desolate moor called the Druim Buidhe (‘Yellow Ridge’), and when halfway he heard a loud whistle behind him, but in a different direction from that in which he had come – at a distance , as he thought, of above a mile. The whitle was so unearthly loud he thought every person in the island must have heard it. He hurried on, and when opposite an Carragh Biorach (‘the Sharp-Pointed Rock’) he heard the whistle again, as if at the place where he himself had been when he heard it first. The whistle was so clear and loud that it sent a shiver through his very marrow. (Footnote 941)
With a beating heart he quickened his pace, and when at the gateway adjoining the village he belonged to, he heard the whistle at the Pointed Rock. He here made off the road and managed to reach home before being overtaken. He rushed into the barn where he usually slept, and, after one look towards the door at his pursuer, buried himself below a pile of corn.
His brother was in abed in the same barn asleep. His father was in the house, and three times, with an interval between each call, heard a voice at the door saying, “Are you asleep? Will you not go to look at your son? He is in danger of his life, and in risk of all he is worth (an geall nas fhiach e). (Footnote 942)
Each call became more importunate, and at last the old man rose and went to the barn. After a search he found his son below a pile of sheaves, and nearly dead. The only account the young man could give was that when he stood at the door he could see the sky between the legs of his pursuer, who came to the door and said it was fortunate for him he had reached shelter; and that he (the pursuer) was such a one who had been killed in Blàr nam Bigein, the ‘Field of the Birds’ in the Moss, a part of Tiree near hand. (Footnote 943)
In its main outline, this tale may be correct enough. A hideous nightmare or terror had made the fatigued young man hide himself under the corn, and things as strange have happened, in the history or nervous delusions, as that he should have gone himself to the door of the dwelling-house to call his father.
Footnote 942
'An geall nas fhiach e' is a characteristic Tiree expression for ‘virtually at death’s door’; ‘in risk of all he is worth’ is the more literal meaning.

Footnote 943
As it stands in Wss 205 this phrase is ‘the Field of the Birds’ (Blar nam Big-ein) in the Moas, ‘a part of Tiree near hand.’ I have prioritised the Gaelic name over JGC’s English translation in line with our editiorial policy. Big-ein I take to be JGC’s way of showing that the word is made up of by-forms of beag ‘little’ and eun ‘bird’; it is Dwelly’s bigein ‘rock-pipot, golden-crested wren, meadow pipt, any little bird’ (1977, p/ 93). ‘Moas’ will be a misprint, or a misreading of JCG’s handwriting. According to oral tradition Blàr nam bigein was the site of a battle which took place centuries ago in Mointeach nam Bigeannan (‘the Birds’ Mossland’) in Moss, in the west of Tiree; it is now part of the Barrapol common. The village of Moss is known as a’ Mhòinteach Ruadh ‘the Red Mossland’. The story is told, again in English (with a Gaelic translation, apparently not by a speaker of Tiree Gaelic), as MacKinnon 1992, no.13. The man slain in the battle is there named as Dòmhnall Mòr.

Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic

Informants: Donald Kennedy, Balinoe, 1/1994

Informant 2: Alasdair Sinclair, Greenhill, 6/1994