Gaelic Literature of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   


Traditional poetry and song:  collectors and collections







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MACLEAN, Sorley (Somhairle MacGill-Eain)  (1911–1996)


Sorley MacLean was born in Raasay in 1911.  Until his retirement he worked as a schoolteacher: firstly in Mull, then Skye and Edinburgh before becoming headmaster of Plockton High School.  After his retirement he lived in Braes, Skye until his death in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness in November 1996.


Speaking of Sorley’s place in Scottish Gaelic poetry, Donald MacAulay has referred to his work as being the “vital and incomparable link” between the older, traditional poetry and the new, modern poetry (MacAmhlaigh 1976:54).  Recognised not only as a major figure in Scottish Gaelic literature, Sorley MacLean was also recognised as a major figure in 20th Century European literature.


Sorley’s brother Calum (q.v.) was a distinguished collector of traditional Gaelic oral literature.  Sorley himself had a deep interest in Gaelic oral literature and traditions.  He introduces the article noted here with an account of his family’s genealogy on both his mother’s and his father’s side, a genealogy rooted in both Skye and Raasay.  Among the traditions which he discusses, poetry and song feature prominently.  The following is a list of the poems and songs featured, many of which came from his aunt, Peggie Maclean.  Each is dealt with in more detail on an individual basis in the section for anonymous poetry or, where appropriate in the section for poetry and song of known authorship.


A Gaelic / English bilingual website, Somhairle MacGill-Eain Air-loidhne (Sorley MacLean Online), at is devoted to the life and work of Somhairle.




Sam MacLean.  ‘Some Raasay Traditions’.  TGSI, 49 (1974-1976), 377-397.


i    ‘Mura b’ e mo cheann’, by Nic Othail


ii   ‘Cumha Iain Ghairbh’, by Iain Garbh’s sister (Nighean Mhic Ghille Chaluim)


iii  Ciad soraidh bhuam fhìn gu m’ eòlas’ (‘Oran Mor Sgoirebreac)


iv   Ciad furan ‘s ciad fàilte


v    Moch Di-luain ghabh i ‘n cuan


vi   Milis Mórag’


vii  Seo a’ bhliadhna dh’ fhàg mi dubhach


viii Coisich a rùin


ix   ‘A Tharmaid ‘Ain mhic Tharmaid’


x    Latha dhomh air Sliabh an Leirg [Deirg] an Eirinn


xi   Tha mo shealgair ‘na shìneadh’ (‘Bràigh Uige’




















Traditional: known authorship

A-C       D-Domhnall       Domhnallach-Dz        E–G       H–L       M–MacA       MacB–MacC        MacD        MacE-MacK,  MacLa-MacLeod        MacLeòid A-H        MacLeòid I-Z        MacM-MacN       MacO-MacZ      M      N      O-Q      R-Z


Traditional: anonymous

A-B      C-D      E-K      L-N       O       P-Z     


Traditional: collections

Annie Arnott       An Cabairneach        Carmina Gadelica        Catriona Dhùghlas        Tormod Domhnallach                  Marjory Kennedy-Fraser         Angus Lamont        K. N. MacDonald         Johan MacInnes          Hugh MacKinnon          Calum I. MacLean         Sorley MacLean        Kenneth MacLeod         Niall MacLeòid        Màiri Nighean Alasdair

Cairistiona Mhàrtainn         Alexander Morison          Kenneth Morrison         Angus Nicolson          Portree HS Magazine   Lachlann Robertson         Frances Tolmie I          Frances Tolmie II



Somhairle MacGill-Eain         The New Poetry



Books etc: A-L         Books etc: MacA-MacL         Books etc: MacM-Z   Periodicals, MSS, AV



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