Gaelic Literature  of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   


Traditional Prose: collections and collectors




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MACKINNON, Hugh  (1894-1972)


Hugh MacKinnon, Eoghainn MacFhionghuinn was born in Eigg in 1894 and died there in 1972.  Tribute was paid to this distinguished tradition bearer with the publication of a memorial issue of Tocher (10:Summer 1973), the periodical of the School of Scottish studies in the University of Edinburgh, which carries an appreciation by Fr. Anthony Ross (pp. 37-39). 


In his introduction to the first item noted below, Donald Archie MacDonald writes of Hugh’s remarkable memory and his store of tales, legends, songs, historical, genealogical and place-name tradition.


See also the Hugh MacKinnon Collection in the section for anonymous poetry and song.



Hugh MacKinnon.  ‘A’ Madadh Ruadh agus a’ Madadh Allaidh’.  Scottish Studies, 8 (1964), 218-227.


Text (S. S. S.  R.L. 2105 A.2). recorded from Hugh MacKinnon in 1964 by Donald Archie MacDonald who writes that the tale combines two international tale types: The Theft of Butter by playing Godfather and the Tail Fisher

(Aa.-Th. 15+2), with an element of a third, The Wolf dives into the Water for reflected Cheese (Aa.-Th. 34).  References are to the Aarne-Thompson classification (Thompson 1964).


The fox and the wolf, who live together, find a cask of butter on the shore.  Following the fox’s suggestion they bury it, to be retrieved later.  On three different nights the fox says he has to go to a baptism and disappears.  The wolf suspects nothing until the two of them go to retrieve the butter and the cask is found to be empty.  When returning home over a peat moss the fox again tricks the wolf by telling him that the moon’s reflection in a pool is a piece of cheese.  He advises him that if he puts his tail into the water it will eventually stick to the cheese, which he will then be able to pull out.  The fox is trapped and is eventually torn to pieces by the animals of the district.


There is an English translation and notes.  For a short version of this tale, written by a Barra schoolchild, see An Gaidheal Og, 9 (1977), 3.



Hugh MacKinnon.  ‘A’ Ghobhar Ghlas’.  Scottish Studies, 9 (1965), 108-113.


Learnt by Hugh MacKinnon from his mother and recorded from him by Donald Archie MacDonald in 1964 (S.S.S.  R.L. 2105 A.1).  Mr. MacDonald had himself heard the story as a boy in North Uist.  Animal tale type No. 123 in the Aarne-Thompson classification.


It is the tale of a mother goat, whose three kids are eaten by the wily fox while she is away searching for food.  She finds the culprit, lulls him to sleep and then slits his belly open, whereupon her three kids leap out, alive and well.  Compare with Norman MacDonald’s ‘An trosg a dh’ ith an amhag’.  There is an English translation and notes.



Eoghann MacFhionghuin.  ‘Iain Ruadh Macillfhaolain’.  Sruth (2nd. November 1967), p. 12.


Some anecdotes of Iain Ruadh, originally from South Uist, who eventually settled in Eigg.  he had been servant to Mac ‘ic Ailein and fought with him at Culloden.



Eoghainn MacFhionghuinn.   ‘Am Piobaire Mor’.  Sruth (25th July 1968), p. 5; (8th August 1968), p. 5.


The story of Domhnall MacGuaire, Domhnall Mac Dhomhnaill ‘Ic Lachlainn, a famous piper of Eigg, who lived during the late 17th and early 18th  century.  He had been taught piping by Raghnall Mac Ailein Oig, for an account of whom see Gairm, 49 (An Samhradh 1964), 81-83.


The style of this story is literary rather than traditional and would appear to have been adapted from the traditional style of the story as heard by Hugh.  A different, and unascribed, version of the second part of

‘Am Piobaire Mor’ is in Sruth (6th February 1969), p. 7.



Hugh MacKinnon.  [‘Niall Mac Lachlainn agus an Geidseir’].  Tocher, 3 (Autumn 1971), 72-73.


The story of Hugh’s great-grandfather, a noted distiller of illegal whiskey, and how he outwitted the gauger.  Recorded from Hugh by Donald Archie MacDonald and transcribed from School of Scottish Studies recording

SA 1964/11 B1, with English translation.  For similar tales, see ‘Bodaich Ghleusda nan Laithean a dh’ Aom’ in the Tormod Domhnallach Collection, and An Cabairneach (An t-Og Mhios 1945).



Hugh MacKinnon.  ‘Domhnallaich Lathaig’;  ‘Maighstir Calum MacAsgaill agus a Theaghlach’.  Tocher, 10 (Summer 1973), 40-79.


The MacDonalds of Laig were descended from Raghnall, son of Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair.  Maighstir Calum MacAsgaill (1723-1787), minister of Eigg, was of the family of Rudh’ an Dùnain in Skye.  Frances Tolmie, the noted collector of Gaelic song was descended from him on her mother’s side.


Hugh MacKinnon’s account of these two families forms the greater part of the issue of Tocher devised as a tribute to his memory.   It was recorded by Donald Archie MacDonald in 1964 and what is published here is a transcription of almost all of that recording on tapes SA 1964/6/A4-7B4.



Hugh MacKinnon.  ‘An Dubh Ghleannach’.  Tocher, 15 (Autumn 1974), 250-257.


Further lore about the family of the Rev. Calum MacAsgaill, particularly about the death of Dr. Domhnall MacAsgaill, who drowned when the ship ‘An Dubh Ghleannach’ foundered off Eigg.  From School of Scottish Studies recording SA 1964/7/B5-8/A1.



Hugh MacKinnon.  [‘The Press Gang’].  Tocher, 29 (Autumn 1978), 310-311.


Story of an incident concerning a press-gang in Eigg.  Recorded from Hugh MacKinnon’s recitation by W. F. H. Nicolaisen and Anthony Ross.  In English.  Transcribed from School of Scottish Studies recording PN 1965/10 A.



Hugh MacKinnon.  ‘An Iomain an Eige’.  Tocher, 36-37 (1981-1982), 364-378).


In a conversation with Donald Archie MacDonald, recorded in 1965, Hugh describes shinty as it was played in Eigg before football ousted it in popularity.  Transcription from School of Scottish Studies recording SA  1965/126/7-127/1.













Single items




An Cabairneach


Tormod Domhnallach I

Tormod Domhnallach II

Anna Ghreum

Gilleasbuig Aotrom

Iain MacAonghais

Aonghas Mac a’ Phi

Domhnall MacCuithein

J. G. MacKay

Hugh MacKinnon

Calum I. MacLean

Kenneth MacLeod

Niall MacLeòid

Alasdair MacNeacail

Eoghainn MacRath

Somhairle Thorburn




A-C,  An Cabairneach,

D-M,  N-Z,

Eilidh Watt


Journalism and


A-MacF,   MacG-Z













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    Bibliography: homepage


© A Loughran, 2016