Gaelic Literature  of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   


Non-traditional creative prose: D - M







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DOMHNALLACH, Màrtainn (1937- )


Skye-born journalist and broadcaster.  See his entry in the section for journalism and miscellaneous prose.


Falach Fead’


i     Gairm, 36 (An Samhradh 1961), 301-304


ii    Dorcha tro Ghlainne.  Deasaichte le Domhnall-Iain MacLeòid.  Glaschu: Gairm, 1970, dd. 26-32


A sensitive, beautifully crafted study of a boy on the threshold of adolescence.



DOMHNALLACH, Tormod (1904-1978)


Tormod Domhnallach, Norman MacDonald, was born at Valtos, Staffin, on 15th August 1904.  He was educated at Valtos Primary School, Portree High School and the University of Glasgow.  He served as a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada from 1933 until 1942, before returning to Scotland, where he served in various places until his retirement in 1972.  He died in 1978.

(Lamb 1961: 396; Tocher 30: 406).


See also the Rev. Domhnallach’s entries in the section for journalism and miscellaneous prose.  It must be admitted that as far as style and theme are concerned, there is no real distinction between much of the material noted below and material noted in the Rev. Domhnallach’s entry in the section for traditional prose.  What distinction there is has more to do with origin than with style and theme.  It will be noted that a high proportion of his traditional material consists of his versions of tales and anecdotes from the oral tradition of his native Skye.  Several of the items noted below are similar, but have no clear indication of a Skye origin.  However, I include them in this section. as examples of the Rev. Domhnallach’s creative writing.


(1)   Tormod Domhnallach.  ‘Mar a gheibh thu mach a’ cheàird a tha an dàn do d’ mhac a thogail’.  An Gaidheal, 42 (1946-1947), 31.


An amusing tale from An Gaidheal’sOisinn na h-Oigridh’ column.


(2)  Tormod Domhnallach.  Bodach na Moch-Eirigh’.  An Gaidheal, 2 (1946-1947), 47.


How an old man’s plans for early rising went awry.


(3)  Tormod Domhnallach.  Fuasgladh na Ceist’.  An Gaidheal, 51 (1956), 20.


Moral tale about two old men’s dispute over a point of Scripture.


(4)  Tormod Domhnallach.  ‘Mac an Allabain’.  An Gaidheal, 52 (1957), 21-23.


Story of a Gaelic Good Samaritan and how his kindness was rewarded

many years later.


(5)   Tormod Domhnallach.  Iasgairean ri Port’.  An Gaidheal Og, 9 (1957), 6.


How some Islay fishermen gained a safe passage from Mull with the aid of witchcraft.


(6)   Tormod Domhnallach.  a shaoileadh E?’.  An Gaidheal, 53 (1958), 4-6.


Hair raising adventures of a young emigrant bride in Australia.


(7)  Tormod Domhnallach.  ‘Air Chéilidh air Goiridh’.  An Gaidheal, 53 (1958), 103-105.


About an old man and his many tales: several about a Cameron of Coire Choillidh, and one about how a MacDonald of Sleat lost and regained his land during the time of George IV.









GRANND, Domhnall (1903-1970)


Domhnall Grannd was born in Camuscross, Sleat, Skye.  He was educated at Duisdale School, Portree High School, Glasgow University and Jordanhill Teacher Training College.  He taught in various schools until his retirement in 1968, serving as headmaster in three of them.  He also taught Gaelic at Jordanhill from 1951 to 1954.  He died in Glasgow in 1970.


In his youth, Domhnall Grannd was a noted shinty player and throughout his life he served on numerous bodies concerned with Gaelic language and culture.  He achieved considerable success as a Gaelic poet, playwright and prose writer.


(Information from the Rev. T. M. Murchison’s account of Domhnall Grannd’s life in Tìr an Aigh)


(1)  Domhnall Grannd.  Tìr an Aigh.  Glaschu: Gairm, 1971.  243d : dealbh.


Tìr an Aigh was published as a posthumous tribute to Domhnall Grannd and contains a representative selection of his writings; poetry, short stories, essays, sketches and plays.  The poetry is noted and discussed in the section for poetry and song of known authorship.


Domhnall Grannd writes with wit and elegance.  His greatest gift is for humour and satire, but this is not to say that he is not a serious writer.  It is obvious from his work that he cared very deeply about human relationships, and about his native language and culture.  In ‘Aithisg Bhliadhnail an Rùnaire’ (pp. 32-36), he satirises quite savagely the shallowness and indifference of so many so-called friends of Gaelic.  In a gentler note, in ‘Faisneachd Chaluim Bhuidhe’ (pp. 22-26) is a

hilarious send-up of academic pretentiousness and the gullibility of people in general.  ‘A bheil a’ chòir mar a chumar i?’ (pp. 18-21) is a perceptive examination of the use and misuse of proverbs.


Seven of the stories in Tìr an Aigh: ‘An Sgiobair air Tìr’ (pp. 27-31), ‘Tiodhlaic Nollair’ (pp. 37-42), ‘Bliadhna Ur is Beatha Ur’ (pp. 43-50), ‘An Gamhainn’ (pp. 51-57), ‘Tìr an Aigh’ (pp. 58-64), ‘A’ Bhanais’ (pp. 65-71) and ‘An t-Each Bàn’ (pp. 72-78) are centred upon the life of An Glac Uaine, Domhnall Grannd’s archetypal island village.  He casts a perceptive eye upon its people and the events, ordinary and sometimes extraordinary, of their daily lives.  If he pokes fun at their foibles and some of their attitudes, he does so with affectionate humour, never malice.  One apparently autobiographical story, ‘Am Measg nan Cudaigean’ (pp. 12-17), displays the same sensitive understanding of the mind of the young as does ‘Tiodhlaic Nollaig’.


Of the six short plays in Tìr an Aigh, the two most successful are ‘Bùth air Iasad’ (pp. 130-151) and ‘Eadar Cùirt is Coimeasan’ (pp. 152-174).  Both deal with the involvement of various official

bodies in the life of island communities and the sometimes funny and sometimes tragic results.  Mòd Mhic an Toisich’ (pp. 88-106) is a mildly humorous send-up of the Mod ethos; and ‘Air Trèan Mhalaig’ (pp. 205-209) achieves some deft characterisation in the space of this very short play.  Least successful are two plays with historical settings; ‘An Eaglais Eile’ (pp. 107-129) and ‘Air Tìr am Muideart’ (pp. 175-204.  On the whole they lack Domhnall Grannd’s usual deftness of touch.


(2)  D.G.  Aig a’ Chruinneachadh Bhliadhnail’.  An Gaidheal, 57 (1962), 17-18.


An amusing sketch in which an anxious president of An Comunn tries to rehearse his speech for the Annual General Meeting.


(3)   Comhradh: A Feitheamh a’ Bhus.   An Gaidheal, 58 (1963), 52-53.


Not attributed to Domhnall Grannd, but there can be little doubt that it is his work.  One of his best sketches, in which two native Gaelic speakers come up against a fanatically earnest learner.


(4)   Comhradh Eadar Dithis Chaileag.  An Gaidheal, 58 (1963), 92-93.


Like the previous item, not attributed to Domhnall Grannd, but almost certainly his work.  A beautifully observed sketch of two small girls playing ‘nurse and patient’.


(5)  Domhnall Grannd.  ‘Mi fhìn is ainti B’.  Mu ‘n Cuairt an Cagailte.  Deasaichte le Domhnall MacGuaire.  Inbhirnis: Club Leabhar, 1972, dd. 13-22.


Short story.  A young islander’s first year at university and the effect of this transitional experience upon his family relationships and sexual attitudes.



GRANT, Donald.  See: GRANND, Domhnall



MAC-AN-ABA, Iain  (19th / 20th Century)


Iain Mac-an-Aba of Kilmuir in Trotternish was of the same family as the eighteenth century poet Niall Mac-an-Aba (q.v.), and was the father of Catriona Dhùghlas (q.v.).  Most of his life was spent as a schoolteacher in his native district.  He composed many songs, see his entry in the section for traditional

poetry and song. 


Iain Mac-an-Aba.  ‘Calum is Bantrach Tharmaid’.  An Deò-Gréine, 18 (1922-1923), 18-21.


A short play which won first prize at the 1922 Mod.  It was reprinted, along with a short play by Iain MacCormaig (MacCormaig 1925: 25-27).



MACAONGHAIS, Iain  (1893-1976)


The Rev. John MacInnes, Iain MacAonghais, was a native of Skye.  He served as minister in several places, including Hopeman, and was an authority on Highland church history.  He was the author of numerous books and articles, notably The Evangelical Movement in the Highlands of Scotland 1688-1800

 (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1951).


(Information from The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Thomson 1983: 174).  See also the entry for Iain MacAonghais in the section for traditional prose).


Rev. John MacInnes.  ‘Trì Seallaidhean’.  Gailig [An Deò-Gréine], 18 (1922-1923), 147-150.


A simple and moving story of a widow’s only son, from happy childhood to his death in World War I.




MAC A’ PHI, Aonghas  (1927-2011)


Aonghas Mac a’ Phi was born in Glasgow of Skye parents and the family returned to live in Harlosh in the west of Skye when he was still a boy.  He was head of the Art Department at Inverness High School until his retirement in 1986. After retiring, he lived with his wife in the Black Isle.  In 1982 he won An Comunn

Gaidhealach’s Duais an Sgriobhaiche for his book Cunnartan Cuain: see his entry in the section for journalism and miscellaneous prose.  In an interview published in Facal air an Fhacal (An t-Earrach 1984:32-35) he discusses his life and work.  Aonghas Mac a’ Phi was also a noted piper.  See also his entry in the section for traditional poetry and song of known authorship.


(1)   Aonghas Mac-a-Phì, and Sheila Denoon.  Aisling Throcuill.  Glaschu: Gairm, 1975.  48d: dealbhan.


A children’s story with a Jacobite theme which won for its author a Gaelic Books Council prize.


(2)   Aonghas Mac-a-Phì.  Na Sgeirean Dubha.  Stornoway: Acair, 1994.  159p : illus.


A children’s adventure story.  I have not had sight of this work.



MACASGAILL, Uisdean  (20th Century)


A native of Skye.  See also his entry in the section for journalism and miscellaneous prose.


Uisdean MacAsgaill.  An Lagan-maise’.  Gairm, 126 (An t-Earrach 1984), 125-131.


Here the author has used the short story format to draw an effective and moving portrait of an actual person.  Alasdair Dubh Thròtarnais, as he is called in the story, was gifted in both physical appearance and qualities of mind and spirit.  However, the combination of a volatile personality and the trauma of World War I

doomed him to be one of life’s losers.






MAC BHATAIR, Aonghas  (20th Century)


Aonghas Mac Bhatair.  Tilleadh’.  Gairm, 146 (Earrach 1989), 157-159.



MACCALMAIN, Tomas  (1907-1984)


Tomas MacCalmain, the Rev. T. M. Murchison, was born in Glasgow and returned to Skye with his parents when he was six.  After attending the University of Glasgow he was ordained to the ministry of the Church of Scotland and served in Glenelg from 1932 to 1937 and in St. Columba’s, Copland Road, Glasgow from 1937 until his retirement in 1972. 


The Rev. Murchison distinguished himself in both his service to the Church and to the literature and politics of the Gaidhealtachd.  Among his literary activities one might mention his edition for the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society of the prose writings of  Donald Lamont (1960), his editorship of An Gaidheal from 1946 to 1958 and the Gaelic supplement to Life and Work from 1951 to 1980.  His weekly column, ‘Comhradh Cagailte’ in the Stornaway Gazette ran from 1955 to 1983 under the pseudonym of Domhnall Donn.  Before he died he had been working on an edition of the prose works of the Rev. Kenneth Macleod which was published posthumously by the SGTS in 1988.


(For information on the life and works of the Rev. T. M. Murchison see: entry in the Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Thomson 1983:206); an article by Fionnlagh Domhnallach in North 7, 41 (September/October 1980), 18-19) and an obituary in the West Highland Free Press (13th January 1984).  See also the entry for the Rev. Murchison (Tomas MacCalmain) in the section for traditional poetry and song of known authorship)


T. M.  MacCalmain.  ‘Na Ceistean a Dh’fheuch ri Catto’.  Gairm, 1 (Am Foghar 1952), 67-73.


The dialogue formula popularised by the Rev. Norman MacLeod in An Teachdaire Gaelach is here used to discuss the economic aspects of Scottish nationalism.  I think however, that a straightforward essay might have

been better suited to the topic.






MACDONALD, Martin.  See: DOMHNALLACH, Màrtainn












MACLEOD, Kenneth (1871 – 1955)


Born and brought up in Eigg, Kenneth MacLeod was for some time a lay missionary of the Church of Scotland in various places in the Highlands and Islands, before being ordained to the ministry and serving in Colonsay and Gigha.  He retired in 1947 and died in 1955.


(Information from Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticane, (4:69; 8:323; 9:392).)


During his long life the Rev. Kenneth Macleod was in contact with most of the well-known names in the Gaelic literary world, but perhaps he is best known as the Gaelic collaborator of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser.  Professor Donald MacKinnon proposed him as collaborator to Mrs. Kennedy-Fraser and from the late spring of 1908 he worked with her on the four volumes of Hebridean song detailed below.  For a discussion of the nature and results of that collaboration, see the introductory notes to the Kennedy-Fraser Collection and the Kenneth MacLeod Collection in the section for traditional poetry and song.


See also entries for Kenneth MacLeod in:  the section for poetry and song of known authorship;



Sgioobhaidhean Choinnich MhicLeòid: the Gaelic Prose of Kenneth MacLeod.  Edited by Thomas Moffatt Murchison.  Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press for the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, 1988.


Kenneth MacLeod wrote beautiful Gaelic prose in a style which owed much to the traditional Gaelic style as well as bearing the mark of his own distinctive personality.  More than thirty years after his death this collection of his Gaelic prose writings edited by the Rev. T. M. Murchison was published in the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society series.  The editor’s English-language introduction (pp. i-xlv) gives a valuable account of Kenneth MacLeod’s life and work. 


Much of the material in this collection had not been previously published.  Some of the material (i.e. nos. 1, 2 and 5) could be classified as non-traditional creative prose which I have listed below along with details of their previous publication.  For details of other material in the collection, please see the section for traditional prose and the section for journalism and miscellaneous non-fiction.   


‘An Cuan Siar, pp. 1-6

(Previously published in: Celtic Review, 5 (1908-1909), 266-272)


Duatharachd na Mara’, pp. 7-21

(Previously published in: Celtic Review, 6 (1909-1910), 241-257;  Rosg Gàidhlig (Watson 1915: 14-32) )


is bliadhna leis na h-Eòin, pp. 38-49

(Previously published in: Celtic Review, 9 (1908-1909), 247-252, 324-332)



MACLEOD, Neil.  See: MACLEOID, Niall



MACLEOID, Coinneach.  See: MACLEOD, Kenneth



MACLEOID, Iain  (20th Century)


Iain MacLeòid.  An Sgàile Dhorcha.  Glaschu; Gairm, 1992.  88 dd.


Novel set in Skye: about the interaction of two young Skye men and a group of Americans.  I have not had sight of this book.  Reviewed by Maoilios Caimbeul in Gairm (159:283-284).



MACLEOID, Niall  (1843-1913)


Perhaps the most popular Gaelic poet of the nineteenth century, Niall MacLeòid was born in Glendale, Skye, a son of the poet Domhnall MacLeòid, Domhnall nan Oran. For details of him, see his entry in the section for Poetry and Song of Known Authorship.


There have been six editions of Clàrsach an Doire, the collection of Niall MacLeòid’s poetry.  From the second edition (1893) onwards, this work has also included four prose tales.  Three of these are noted in the section for traditional prose and the fourth is noted below.  Details of the sixth edition only are cited.


Niall MacLeòid.  ‘Gaol Gàidhealach: Sgeul Firinneach’.  Clàrsach an Doire: Dàin, Orain is Sgeulaichdan.  Glaschu: Gairm, 1975.  pp. 253-274.


This is clearly based upon the story of the elopement of Donald MacDonald of Monkstadt and Jessie MacDonald of Balranald.  For a traditional version of this story, see Coinneach Mac a’ Phearsain’s entry in the section for traditional prose.  Niall MacLeòid’s version of the story is so far removed from the traditional style that it cannot be regarded as a traditional tale.



MACNAB, John.  See: MAC-AN-ABA, Iain



MACNEACAIL, Aonghas  (1942 - )


Aonghas MacNeacail, Aonghas Dubh, was born in Uig, Skye. He is a writer whose work has encompassed poetry and a range of other forms in several different areas. He is one of what Derick Thomson has described as the ‘third wave’ of modern Gaelic poets (Thomson 1977:265)  After leaving Portree High School he worked for a time on the railways before resuming formal education at Glasgow University.  He has held several writer-in-residence posts and won a number of bursaries and literary prizes.  His work has appeared in a number of publications abroad as well as at home.


For his Gaelic poetry, see the New Poetry section.


(Information from: Gairm (70:167); The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (Thomson 1983: 187-188); New Writing Scotland, 2 (Scott and Aitchison 1984: 164;  Aonghas MacNeacail’s website)


(1)   Aonghas MacNeacail.  ‘ “Is e so Linn an Telebhisean” : Comhradh’.  Gairm, 68 (Am Foghar 1969), 320-325.


Nightmarish pictures of how addiction to television can, in some individuals, take over the personality completely.


(2)   Aonghas MacNeacail.  Faoileann’.  Briseadh na Cloiche Deasaichte le Coinneach D. MacDhomhnaill.  Glaschu: Roinn nan Cànan Ceilteach, Oilthigh Ghlaschu, 1970, dd. 70-81.


A haunting study of fear and prejudice within a small community.  It embodies certain biblical analogies, moving towards a climactic analogy of the Crucifixion of Christ.


(3)   Aonghas MacNeacail.  Seann Sgeulachd, Sgeulachd Nuadh’.  Gairm, 82 (An t-Earrach 1973), 153.


A short parable on the destructive effects of the oil boom.


(4)   Aonghas MacNeacail.  Sgathach: the Warrior Queen.  Nairn; Balnain Books, 1993.  32p: illus. 


Retelling of the tale of the Celtic warrior queen said to have lived in the Cuillins of Skye.  I have not had sight of this book.



MACPHIE, Angus.  See: MAC-A-PHI, Aonghas



MACRUIRIDH,  Iain  (1843 - 1907)


I am indebted to Dr. Ronald Black for drawing my attention to the Rev. John MacRury, who he describes as “probably the most prolific Gaelic writer who ever lived and also a very gifted one”.  He was born in Benbecula and was ordained to the ministry of the Church of Scotland.  From 1886 until his death in 1907 he was parish minister of Snizort in Skye.


The Rev. MacRury was a poet and a prose-writer, and he edited the Church of Scotland’s Life and Work: Na Duilleagan Gàidhlig during his twenty years in Snizort.  For a brief biography of him see Ronald Black’s edition of John Gregorson Campbell’s The Gaelic Otherworld (Black 2005: 647).  For some years now Ronald Black has on a monthly basis published a short extract from the Rev. MacRury’s work in the Uist community paper Am Paipear.
























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













Poetry: homepage 


    Bibliography: homepage


© A Loughran, 2016