Sandaidh NicDhòmhnaill Jones
Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones
Poet, Singer, Composer, Harpist & Linguist
Bàrd, Seinneadair, Neach-ciùil, Clàrsair, Cànanaiche
Bàrd a’ Chomuinn Ghàidhealaich – Gaelic Crowned Bard 2019-2020
‘Crotal Ruadh – Red Lichen’
Cruinneachadh Bàrdachd agus Òran – Gaelic Poetry and Song Collection
Published by Acair and prizewinner in the Donald Meek Award 2016
Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones is a prizewinning Gaelic poet. She was crowned ‘Bàrd a’ Chomuinn’ 2019-2020 at Mòd Glasgow in October 2019. Her collection of Gaelic poetry and songs ‘Crotal Ruadh – Red Lichen’ was published by Acair in 2016, and won second prize that year in the Donald Meek Award for Gaelic Literature. She had previously won the Wigtown Gaelic Poetry Prize in 2013; and the Irish/Scots Gaelic Poetry Prize ‘Choirnéil Uí Néill’ in 2014. She was a recipient of the New Writer’s award of the Gaelic Books Council and the Scottish Book Trust in 2011.
Sandy is a long-time active participant at the Royal National Mòd, and was awarded the Oban Times Gold Medal in 2017. She has won various Mòd competitions for singing, clàrsach, composing and choral arrangements, and is a former conductor of the London Gaelic Choir. She holds music qualifications from the Universities of London (in composition) and the Highlands and Islands (in performance and recording), and plays clàrsach and concert harp.
Sandy is a Board member of the Gaelic College Sabhal Mòr Ostaig – where she started learning Gaelic 20 years ago – and a former Board member of Bòrd na Gàidhlig. She speaks several other languages, including French, German and Spanish, and is currently learning Welsh.
By profession, Sandy is a governance adviser, and a former executive in UN and Commonwealth organisations and international development charities. She also freelances as a language coach for professional musicians, and has coached the BBC Singers. She holds a FCIL (Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists – CIOL) and has led several seminar sessions on poetry translation for CIOL. She studied at Oxford and Harvard. Sandy has a home in the Isle of South Uist.
There are three dozen poems in Sandy’s first collection, ‘Crotal Ruadh – Red Lichen’, eight of them also songs. They vary greatly in subject matter, mood, style and use of various formal rhyme schemes, or free verse. Sandy is currently at work on her second collection. Below are a couple of examples of her writing: ‘Na Fir-Chlis’ – ‘The Northern Lights’; and ‘Cailleach-Oidhche Fhroboist’ – ‘Frobost Owl’.
Many of Sandy’s poems are written as songs, and she composes her own music and arrangements for them, sometimes for solo singers, sometimes for vocal and instrumental ensembles. Her song about Uist, ‘Tìr a’ Mhurain’, may be heard at the third MP3 link below. Sandy has won both the Òran Ùr (new song) competition at the Royal National Mòd, and the choral arranging competition, a number of times over the years. Her arrangements also feature on Còisir Lunnainn’s CD ‘Sia Fichead’. Her arrangement of ‘Ceud soraidh soraidh bhuam’ for their Ladies’ Choir is at the second MP3 link below.
Sandy has been a frequent performer and competitor at the Mòd, winning the Oban Times Gold Medal in Fort William in 2017. She has been a finalist in the Bonn Òir a’ Chomuinn (Gold Medal) three times, and has won other competitions including the puirt-a-beul, Òran Mòr, self-accompanied singing with clàrsach, Sarah Weir, Skye and Sutherland, Kennedy-Fraser and folk group competitions. There are various recordings of her performances on stage and on the BBC; she may be heard singing ‘Ailein Duinn’ and accompanying herself on clàrsach at the first MP3 link below.
Na Fir-Chlis Bha mise sa Chnoc-Sìth’ o chunnaic mi thu ’n dè ’S tha aithris neo-àbhaist’ ri cur ann an sgeul Mu na h-ainglean mallaichte, mur b’ e gràs Dhè; Na Fir-Chlis, na loisgich, a theab tuiteam on speur. Chaidh teine ’s an àil’ a’ lasadh gu geur Le dealanach, sradagan, losgadh is leus. Dhòrt na Fir-Chlis fuil theth às gach fèith, ’S nochd am manadh air olc: crotal-ruadh air na slèibh. Chìthear mar mhallachd aig èirigh na grèin’ Fuil nan sàr-mhilidh, is fianais an creuchd: Ach bheir blàr nan clis-threun ùr-fhadadh is dèin’ Do bhàrdachd nam filidh air sgrìobhadh fo’ n seun. Ach is mairg do dhream le dà-shealladh mar gheas Oir cluinnear gu sìorraidh mac-talla is èigh Nam Fir-Chlis, leth-uilc, a’ milleadh ’s an cleas ’S cha tig a chaoidh iochd orr’, le cuireadh bho’ n eug. Cailleach-oidhche Fhroboist Chaidh mi a-mach air oidhche chiùin bhòidhich Uibhist a’ sireadh deò agus sealladh air gealach an abachaidh àlainn. Gairm gheur creutair a’ leum bhon t-similear is a’ dìreadh san adhar dhubh, sgiathan spracail a’ bualadh an dorchadais. Cailleach-oidhche air feagal fhaighinn far an do shir i tearmainn. eun mòrail gam theicheadh air sgiathan farsaing, sgiathan draoidheil airgid le boillsgeadh na gealaich orra faileas flathail a’ seòladh as fhianais thar achaidhean Fhroboist. Agus mise ann an uireasbhaidh duilich mise fo bhròn gun do dh’fhuadaich mi thu. Gabh m’ aithreachas, eun òirdheirc; lem uile chridhe cha bhithinn airson d’ fhois a ghoid.