One of the best sources of information on daily life in Gaelic Scotland
is the book "Highland Folk Ways" by I.F.Grant, 1961, Routledge &
Kegan Paul publishers. Although she basically only covers from the 14th
to 18th century, the continuity of life and traditions was great enough
for this to give us a good impression of Gaelic life in general.
Here's a few excerpts from it:
Under the clan system folk life in the Highlands had not consisted
of a separate peasant culture. On the contrary, all ranks of Highland
society had been closely co-ordinated. In material matters, while the
clans had flourished, there had been a strong sense of obligation
between all ranks...
Under the old agricultural system the people had a life of
alternating hard work and of comparative leisure...
The poverty of the people and the primitive conditions under which
they carried on their agriculture and other occupations can be paralleled
elsewhere. But these are not the heritage which is still a cause of
pride to Highland folk. The small simply-built houses and the
unproductive land was the background to a mental life, proud, vigorous
and beautiful, which has existed in continuity from the days of the
supremecy of the lordly Gaelic society. No attempt to describe the
more material setting of the folk-life of the Highlands can ignore the
intellectual life of the people -- impossible trhough it is to do justice
to it in a small short space.
Nearly every visitor to the Highlands was equally struck by the poverty
and simplicity of the people's lives and by the distinction of their
bearing, their beautiful manners and their courtesy to each other. One
of the earlier ones wrote in 1688: "There appeared in all their actions
a certain generous air of freedom and contempt for those trifles,
luxury and ambition, which we so servilely creep after. They bound
their appetites by their necessities, and their happiness consists, not
in having much but in wanting little."... Miss Grant of Rothiemurchus,
describing how everyone danced together at her father's harvest feast,
added... 'a vein of good breeding ran through all ranks, influencing
their manners and rendering the intercourse of all most agreeable.'...
The people were intensely creative. Mrs. Grant wrote of Laggan: 'In
every cottage there is a musician and in every hamlet a poet.' This was
no figure of speech and behind both their poetry and their music lies
their long history...
These new poets came from every rank in life, the kinsfolk of chiefs
and tacksmen, ministers and schoolmasters, a cattleman, a slater,
crofters. They included men and women...