Lèirmheas / Review: An Creanaiche

Lèirmheas / Review: An Creanaiche

An Creanaiche le Ruairidh MacIlleathain
Ri fhaotainn bho / Available from Comhairle nan Leabhraichean
£7.99

Daibhidh Eyre

Lèirmheas le Daibhidh Eyre / Review by David Eyre

Nuair a bha mi nam oige, bha mi gu math dèidheal air an fhiolm JFK le Oliver Stone. Tha an cleasiche Kevin Costner a’ cluich neach-casaid a tha a’ rannsachadh muirt a’ Chinn-suidhe Iain Ceanadach, leis an sluagh-ghairm ‘Gum bi ceartas ann, ged a thuiteadh na neamhan!’
Bha am fiolm sin aig cùl nam inntinn ‘s mi a’ leughadh an leabhair inntinnich, tharraingich seo.
Aig cridhe na sgeoil tha ‘Màiri NicEachairne’, tè ris a tha Ruairidh air coinneachadh air treana bho Ghlaschu. Aimeraganach a th’ innte, ach le blas caran Sasannach air a Beurla. Mu 70 bliadhna dh’aois. Gàidhlig fhìleanta Ghàidhealach aice, leis gu bheil i air a h-ionnsachadh bho seann chupail aig an robh an cànan bhon ghlùin. Sgrìobhadair a th’ innte cuideachd, mar a tha Ruairidh.
When I was young, I was very keen on the film JFK by Oliver Stone. The actor Kevin Costner plays a prosecutor investigating the murder of President John Kennedy, with the cry of ‘Let justice be done, though the heavens fall!’
That film was at the back of my mond while I read this fascinating, enticing book.
At the heart of the story is ‘Màiri NicEachairne’, a woman that Ruairidh has met on a train from Glasgow. She’s American, but with an accent from England when she speaks English. About 70 years of age. Fluent Highland Gaelic, that she has learned from an old couple who had the language from birth. She’s also a writer, just like Ruairidh.
Bha ‘Màiri’ – tha sinn a’ faighinn a-mach nach e sin an t-ainm cheart aige – na neach-naidheachd ann an Dallas ann an 1963, agus fhuair i eòlas an sin air Lee Harvey Oswald – an aon fhear bu choireach airson na thachair dhan Ceanadach, a-rèir nan cunntasan oifigeil.
‘Sann gu slaodach, le èiginn, a bhios Ruairidh a’ faighinn criomagan dhen sguelachd bho Mhàiri, agus i an còmhnaidh fo eagal a beatha. ‘S iomadh turas a th’ aig Ruairidh bochd coinneachadh ris an tè nearbhasach seo, ann an aiteigin iomallach, sàmhach, air a’ Ghàidhealtachd.
Agus fiù ‘s nuair a tha – thathas a’ smaoineachadh – an sgeulachd shlàn aige, tha ceist as dèidh ceist a’ nochdadh mu dhèidhinn Màiri fhathast. Am b’ urrainn dhuinn earbsa chur innte?
‘Màiri’ – we find out that this is not her real name – was a journalist in Dallas in 1963, where she got to know Lee Harvey Oswald – the only man responsible for what happened to Kennedy, according to the official accounts.
Slowly, with effort, Ruairidh gets parts of the story from Màiri, as she is constantly in fear for her life. Many times poor Ruairidh has to meet this nervous woman at some quiet, remote spot in the Highlands.
And even when – we believe – Ruairidh gets the full story, question after question about Màiri still remains. Can we put our trust in her?
Tha Ruairidh MacIlleathain gar toirt tro eachdraidh thoinnte Mhàiri ann an dòigh ealanta. Tha co-fhaireachdainn againn ris, nuair a bhios e – aig àmannan – a’ fàs sgìth ‘s cha mhòr feargach leis an dol-a-mach aig Màiri. Ach – dìreach mar a tha Ruairidh fhèin – tha sinn air ar beo-ghlacadh leis an sgeulachd aice.
A bheil Màiri fìor? An do choinnich Ruairidh rithe anns a’ dha-rìribh? An e an Ruairidh a bhios a’ nochdadh san leabhar seo an aon Ruairidh air a bheil mòran buill Chlì eòlach? Cò aig a tha fios. Tha eachdraidh beatha Màiri cho ioma-fhillte, ‘s docha gum biodh e nas fhasa a’ creidsinn gur e tè bheò a bha seo, an àite caractar a chaidh a chruthachadh le Ruairidh fhèin.
Air an làimh eile ge-tà, tha tòrr lìtrichean ann an cumantas eadar ‘An Creanaiche’ agus ‘Màiri NicEachairne’. An e anagram a th’ ann? Tha mi fhathast ag obair air.
Agus ‘s dòcha gu bheil sin na shamhla air cho tarraingeach ‘s a tha an leabhar – nuair a bhios tu air do ghlachdadh leis dhan ìre far a bheil thu a’ cluich geamanan leis an tìotal, feumaidh gu bheil e airidh air leughadh.
Ruairidh MacIlleathain takes us through Màiri’s convoluted history with artistry. We have sympathy for him when – at times – he grows tired and almost angry with Màiri’s goings-on. But – like Ruairidh himself – we are captivated by her story.
Is Màiri real? Did Ruairidh meet her in real life? Is the Ruairidh in the book the same Ruairidh known by so many members of Clì? Who knows. Màiri’s history is so complex, it would perhaps be easier to believe that she was a living person, instead of a character created by Ruairidh himself.
On the other hand though, there are many letters in common between ‘An Creanaiche’ and ‘Màiri NicEachairne’. Is there an anagram here? I’m still working on it.
But perhaps that is a symbol of how enticing the book is – when you are captivated to the extent that you start playing games with the title, it must be worth reading.

 

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