Calum Maclean (CM): Now you were telling me something about the games you used to play, with little pebbles, that you used to play in the old days.
Rev. Norman MacDonald (NM): Oh yes. We used to call it drùilleanan in Gaelic, and it was just equivalent to the English game of marbles that children have. Instead of marbles, of course, we just got five pebbles. You had to have five, and you began the game with them. First, you threw one up into the air and you said 'còig', and you tried to pick up the four that were down on the grass, and catch the other one on its way down. Then you said 'deich'. You threw two up, and you left three on the ground, and you tried to catch them, to pick them up and catch the two coming down. Then 'còig-deug'. You threw three up, left the two on the grass, and tried to pick them up and catch the three as they were falling. Còig-deug. Fichead, you threw the four up, left one on the grass, tried to pick it up and catch the four as they fell.
Now, there was a little difference between the first part and the second part of the game. The second part was the glaic chrom, they called it. You threw the five pebbles in a sort of a curve and you tried to catch them before they reached the earth. That was the glaic chrom. I suppose that was a good Gaelic phrase for a curve, a' ghlaic chrom.
Now, an cromadh was done really on the grass. The cromadh, the cromadh. You know what a cromadh is? It's the measure that the old women had for the cloth. Cromadh. Cromadh, you see. Cromadh stocainn, no cromadh... cromadh... 's e tomhas a bh' ann. It was a measure. Well, you made a space on the ground between the thumb and the middle finger. That was an cromadh. You put one pebble at... on the ground, at your... at the tip of your thumb, and the other pebble at the tip your middle finger. Now, that was the distance; an cromadh. Now, you threw the three pebbles into the air, swept down on the two that were on the grass, picked them up and try and catch the three as they fell down, and have the whole five in your palm. That was an cromadh.
An rèis, that was the last one. An rèis; it was a longer measure. It was the measure between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the little finger. That was an rèis. Now, you put one pebble at the tip of your thumb, another at the tip of your small... little finger, and you threw the three pebbles up into the air, swept... pounced down on the two on the ground, and try and catch the three as they were coming down. Now, there were always two at the game, or perhaps four, or six; it wouldn't matter, but the game was always played between twos.
Now, say that you weren't successful in a' ghlaic chrom. Say that you lost them all, and didn't even catch any of those that were coming down, you had to stop and give the game over to your partner. And then you watched your partner and if you saw him making a slip in an cromadh; that he wasn't able to pounce down on the two on the ground and catch the others on their way down, then he had to give up and give the hand back to you.