Doideag Mhuileach

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X:1 T:Doideag Mhuileach M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig B:Alexander Mackay – A Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Tunes… B:Chiefly composed by Alexander Mackay, Musician Islay (c. 1822, p. 16) B: N:Dedicated to the Right Hon. Lady Elinor Campbell of Islay and Shawfield. N:Mackay was born c. 1775 and was a fiddler-composer from Islay. Many of his N:tune titles are reflect Islay settings. N:Printed in Glasgow by J. MacFadyen, 30 Wilson St. Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Amin c|G2F E2D|C2D E2A|G2E CDE|G3 G2A|G2F E2D | CDE c3|AGE DEG|A3 A2c|G2F E2D|C2D E2A| G2E CDE|c3 c2d|E2c d2B|c2A G2c|AGE DEG| A3 A2{B}||e|c2d efg|edc {c}B2G|AcA AGE|A3 G2A|c2d efg| edc {c}B2G|ABc EFG|A3 A2B|c2d efg|edc {c}B2G| AcA AGE|c3 c2d|efg edc|BAG ABc|AGE DEG|A3 A2{B}||

DOIDEAG MHUILLEACH (Mull Witch). Scottish, Jig (6/8 time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB.The was included in Islay fiddler-composer Alexander Mackay's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Airs (p. 16),printed for him in Glasgow in the early 19th century. Dates of the publication vary: Gore gives is as c. 1802, Glen as c. 1822 (which seems likely), and J. Murdoch Henderson found a watermark in the volume he studied dated c. 1832. The volume was dedicated to Lady Elinor Campbell of Island and Shawfield. Mackay composed a number of tunes in his collection, but did not append his or any other composers name to this tune, which must have been in circulation in Islay.

Inner Hebrides folklore tells the story of "Doideag Mhuilleach" or Mull Witch who was said to have worked for the MacLeans of Duart in using her powers to cast a spell on a ship of the Spanish Armada in Tobermory Harbor. Historical record confirms that a ship called the Florida or Florencia (AKA Almirante di Florencia) was sunk in Tobermory Harbour in 1588. According to the story (there are many variations of the tale), a beautiful Spanish princes had a dream about the man she would marry and set out to find him in her galleon. When she arrived in Tobermory she met the MacLean chief, Lachlann, and determined she was the man of which she had dreamed. Lachlann was infatuated as well, and paid court to her on her ship. This greatly displeased Lachlann's youg wife, and she called on the renowned Mull witch, the Doideag Mhuileach, and asked her to sink the ship rid her of her rival. The Doideag acceded and elicited aid from the witches from the nearby islands of Tiree and Islay and from the Lochaber mainland, where the most powerful witch, Gorm-Shùil Mhòr, had a particular power over cats. The Florida/Florencia did in fact explode in the harbor on that date.

The power of witches to cause shipwrecks and drown sailors features in many Scottish tales, and is a feature of other northwestern European folklore[1].

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Charles Gore (A Fiddler's Book of Scottish Jigs from the 18th and 19th Centuries ); 1997; No. 8. Alexander Mackay (A Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Tunes), 1822; p. 16.

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  1. See Sophia Kingshill, "The Tobermory Treasure: A Spanish Romance", Folklore, volume 121, 2010, Issue 3, pp. 334-335.