Microfiction Challenge #5 The Door: Passage to Seann Choille


 2nd draft: Jan Dougherty’s Microfiction #5: the Door.

With some very useful advice from Jane, I have revised my story. I hope that in the process, I achieved the desired goal: to set the stage for my characters from Burning Angel and Shapes in the Mist. The original story for Microfiction Challenge #5, the door: mynedfa  is still up, and as Wild Child 47 points out, has it’s charms, too. So read one, or both. I’m always open to suggestions on ways to tweak the tale.

A glossary of Scots Gaelic to English follows the story as does my reason for wanting to include it.


“Where am I from and what is my work, you ask.” I take a long drink from my mug of dark ale and begin:

Look up in the twilightish sky for a single star, Aonar Rionnag, shining bright enough for a billion. Then down for a faint rectangular glow; a propped up fence gate without a fence. Paint worn, hinges rusted, it is doras to Seann Choille where the Old Ways and Elder Age still exist. The eastern winds, wet with moss, pine and sodden earth, carry draoidheach chants beyond the doras. Inviting the unwary to step through and wander as one lost in soul and in body. Carry charms, utter incantations, tattoo maps on your arms. Only then will the Old Ways allow you to roam with purpose.

I am a sgeulaiche, traveling both sides of the doras gathering tales. You desire a story? Tis thirsty work telling euchd-dhàn. Another ale, why yes.

This is my most recent mhòr. I am telling much from my own eyes:

Two weary bodies approach the doras. One, of the forest called Chorragan, his return from daonna an t-saoghail indicating failure. In rescuing a daonna from fire’s desire, he brings her through to bracknell rookery. The ancient grey birds that protect Elder Age and the doorway in the grey mists their breath produces. Her presence excites the birds and arouses the suspicions of madadh-allaidh who follows the pair.

Chorragan hesitates at the doras. His companion is intelligent and crafty, but has no charms to protect her, nor tattoos to guide her. Already, the eastern wind is grasping her hand. Her eyes wild with the lure of the draoidheachd, she pushes past Chorragan, and before he can catch her, she is through the doras and gone . . .

I take a long draught of this pleasant ale.


This glossary gives the English equivalent of the Scots Gaelic words peppered in the story. I used Google Translator.

Aonar Rionnag = lone star

doras = doorway

Seann Choille = ancient forest

draoidheach = magical

sgeulaiche = storyteller

Chorragan = Fingers

daonna an t-saoghail = human world

daonna = human

draoidheachd = magic

euchd-dhàn = epics

mhòr = epic

Google Translator recently added Scots Gaelic to it’s list of languages. I have a soft spot for it. My paternal family is from Nova Scotia (an Albainn Nuaidh). Beginning in the 1700s, Scots migrated to Cape Breton Island (Eilean Cheap Breatainn) with a landscape reminiscent of their highlands home. Here, Gaelic flourished and was kept alive well into the 20th century. But as the Gaelic speakers aged and dwindled, a group of people set out to ensure it’s continuation. Courses available at University of Cape Breton allowed other generations to learn the language, the songs and the lore. Folks from Scotland came to learn the language of their ancestors.

My Scots background is not of the highlands of Cape Breton. My maternal roots go back to around 1765 when the lowly end of a clan arrived in the Eastern Townships of Québec, only conquered by the British from the French 5 years before. When my paternal relatives arrived in Nova Scotia, I don’t know. But in both cases, my immigrants were Protestant, lowlanders and Gaelic was not preserved if even spoken.



14 thoughts on “Microfiction Challenge #5 The Door: Passage to Seann Choille

  1. memadtwo July 21, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    Yes, this one works better. And I’m intrigued for sure. “I am telling much from my own eyes”–wonderful image. (K)


    • taleweavering July 21, 2016 / 1:29 pm

      Thank you for the input. I have so many characters floating around, time to bring some home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane Dougherty July 17, 2016 / 5:45 am

    This really is a story now. It give a purpose to the previous episodes and sets up vast possibilities for subsequent chapters. Just one thing I’d say that i still feel needs a firm hand, is the Gaelic. Adding snatches of a foreign language is a minefield. When the narrator is presumably speaking in Scots Gaelic, what we are reading is a translation into English so the use of Gaelic words, in my opinion, is only logical where an English equivalent doesn’t exist, like place names, titles, occupations, that kind of thing. A door is a pretty ordinary thing and doras means just any old door, not a special particular one, so it seems strange to me to see it translated when you don’t translate something more particular like ‘charms’ or ‘tattoos’. You also use the word ‘doorway’ rather than doras in one place. Bracknell Rookery, in this context rings out of place. If there’s a case for using a Gaeilc name it would be here. I’m saying all this because I’ve struggled with the same problem mightily. My ‘big’ story (116K words) is an alternate history and I have Old Norse and Irish in it. To be authentic, I have had to eliminate all the English words that wouldn’t have existed in the tenth century, which means any with Latin or Greek roots. the ‘foreign’ words i’ve tried to keep to those that have no modern equivalent, or that still exist but only in dialect. It’s fascinating, but you have to really want to do it. All that’s just my opinion. I have a thing about language and dig deeper that most people would. Something to think about though if you want to do this on a big scale :)


    • taleweavering July 17, 2016 / 11:03 pm

      Thanks, Jane, for your suggestion re the use of alternative languages to English. I was going for the sound, or the sense of some place different.
      Before I found Google Translator (looking to translate something into English) I made up words for place names, rituals, people when I wrote about other times and places. So there was never a studied attempt at using first Welsh, then Scots Gaelic to be place holders. So your points are very well taken.
      Another story line, mainly in my head, is set in an alternative medieval world. Only a few made up words, but I am careful to use language which keeps within the period in as you do, not using words, thoughts, phrases, concepts that are from a later period. It’s not that I’ve studied the medieval period so much as I know more modern history, and the bringing into the language and culture ideas, worldviews, and such.
      Your own tenacity with language is inspiring. I am always interested in the etymology of words and usage. Always wished for the complete OED!
      I was thrilled to use words from a living language that was dying a lingering death elsewhere; a language I’ve heard spoken and sung.
      My stories are little fantasies; I admire that yours is a full scale project and that your alternative history is so carefully constructed from the “real.”
      I’ll keep your suggestions in mind as I bring these travelers home eventually, and how my character in a fictionalized middle ages wends her way as a healer.
      I appreciate the time you have taken with this and my other pieces.


      • Jane Dougherty July 18, 2016 / 4:19 am

        I like doing this :) Words are fascinating, and I’ve learned to see language as a part of our heritage. Maybe because i’m Irish, brought up in England with a strong attachment to Italy, and emigrating to France when I was just out of university. I taught myself Italian to add to the childish base I already had, then studied Irish for a year at the Irish College in Paris because it’s my language and was spoken and written by my great-grandparents. I use the online etymological dictionary often, an Old Norse glossary and an Irish-English dictionary. It’s easy to make howlers though when you don’t actually understand a language so I try to keep it to what I’m comfortable with. I wouldn’t use the google translate though as I’ve seen what it does to French and Italian. It’s great that you feel the same way about language!


        • taleweavering July 18, 2016 / 8:48 am

          You would be interested in Acadian French — becoming more modern and Anglicized, it is based upon a regional dialect of French “brought” to Nova Scotia in 1605 with little outside French influence afterwards. Just as Quebecois French is not “French French” especially after 1760.
          I can pick out bits and pieces of Haitian because of the embedded French.
          Language fascination, too, because what sounds correct in my head comes out a garbled mess. I’m best at reading, and that even causes problems.
          As a friend who studied and wrote on Reformation Germany said, when he was thinking in German, not translating in his head, he knew he’d hit the groove. Sounds like you can hit the groove in multiple languages.
          Even being taught French in school (starting with Grade One in bilingual Canada), didn’t help me.
          I do intentionally, and unintentionally, create new words all the time. Maybe best to continue to invent my own, :)
          I am impressed with the breath and depth of your language skills. And, of course, your writing skills!!!!


          • Jane Dougherty July 18, 2016 / 9:28 am

            French French speakers love Québécois with its mixture of antiquated French words and American English. I must admit I often find the accent hard to follow. The whole history of Acadia is fascinating and the language must have diverged considerably from metropolitan French. I must have a look at it. Creating new words is good, creative and makes writing interesting, as long as there’s an etymological justification. I only ever think spontaneously in French and English. I have to concentrate on Italian because I don’t know it well enough, and as for Irish! I bet Chinese is easier to learn.


  3. wildchild47 July 16, 2016 / 11:38 pm

    The Eastern Townships …. so hey, what a beautiful country side – but then maybe I’m partial. But then Nova Scotia is gorgeous. But then I think Canada as a whole is enticingly stunning.

    Loved the version too! You’ve done an excellent job – great changes – tightens it all up and sets the scene and integrates it all really well. :D


    • taleweavering July 17, 2016 / 3:08 pm

      Thanks — I have so many characters floating around in the ether, it’s time I brought some home!
      I like the drive along the St. Lawrence when the snow geese are there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • wildchild47 July 18, 2016 / 10:51 am

        indeed – beautiful scenery – and wonderful :)

        and it’s good when one is ready to bring them “home” :)


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