Gaelic Literature  of the Isle of Skye: an annotated  bibliography   


Journalism and Miscellaneous Prose:  MacG - Z







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MACGREGOR, Alexander  (1808-1881)


The Rev. Alexander MacGregor was the son of the Rev. Robert MacGregor, a native of Perthshire.  At the early age of twelve he entered King’s College, Aberdeen, where he made the acquaintance of the Gaelic poet and scholar Ewan MacLachlan.  When he was fourteen his father was called to the parish of Kilmuir in Skye, and in 1844 Alexander was ordained as colleague and successor to his father.  After several years in Kilmuir the Rev. Alexander MacGregor accepted a call to the Gaelic Church, Edinburgh and in 1853 he became minister of the West Kirk, Inverness.  He remained in Inverness until his death in 1881.


Rev. MacGregor was a prolific writer in both Gaelic and English.  He contributed the account of Kilmuir to the New Statistical Account of Scotland, 14 (1845:237-287).  At the request of Prince Louis Bonaparte, he translated the Apocrypha into Gaelic, copies of which are now very rare (MacLean 1915: 6).  He contributed numerous essays, tales etc. to various periodicals, both Gaelic and English.  Discussing the Rev. Alexander MacGregor’s prose style, Dr. Donald John MacLeod comments upon its directness combined with formality, occasionally enlightened with a striking flight of the imagination (MacLeod 1976: 207).


When writing, the Rev. Alexander MacGregor frequently used pseudonyms such as ‘Sgiathanach’ and ‘Alasdair Ruadh


(Information from two obituary notices of the Rev. MacGregor in The Highlander (1:185-186) and Celtic Magazine (792-99).)


i      ‘Sgiathanach’.  Fionnghal, Nighean Raonuill Mhic-Aonghuis Oig agus Prionnsa Tearlach’.  Cuairtear nan Gleann, 2 (1841-1842), 224-228.


About Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Rev. MacGregor also published a full length English biography of Flora which is not to be regarded as being historically accurate.  See Elizabeth Gray Vining’s

Flora MacDonald (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1067).


ii      Uisdean Cleireach’.  Uisdean Mac-Ghilleaspuig Chléirich’.  Cuairtear nan Gleann, 3 (1842-1843), 251-253.


Story of the treacherous nephew of Domhnall Gorm Mór, eighth chief of the MacDonalds of Sleat.  Two later Gaelic accounts are largely derivative: those of Murchadh MacNeacail (Celtic Annual, 1914:57) and Eoin

MacDhomhnaill (An Gaidheal Og, 9:21-22).  Iain N. MacLeòid gives another account: see his entry below.  In Vol. 6 of Carmina Gadelica there is an account of Uisdean Mac-Ghilleaspuig Chléirich’s imprisonment in Duntulm (Matheson 1971: 68).


I am reasonably certain that the writer ‘Uisdean Cleireach’ is the Rev. Alexander MacGregor.  This Cuairtear nan Gleann version of the story follows fairly closely the English language version which appears in Rev. MacGregor’s account of Kilmuir in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, 14 (1845:258-260).


iii    ‘Sgiathanach’.  Lachlunn MacThearlaich Oig’.   An Gaidheal, 3 (1874), 120-121, 145-148.


Account of the 17th / 18th century Skye poet’s life which I suspect contains much speculation rather than fact.  An English language version appears in Celtic Magazine, 1 (1876), 91-94.  See entry for Lachlann Mac Theàrlaich Oig in the section for poetry and song of known authorship.


iv   ‘Sgiathanach’.  An t-Eilean Sgiathanach’.  An Gaidheal, 4 (1875), 363-365.


Mostly a description of the natural wonders of the Quiraing in East Trotternish and their effects on the mind and spirit.  Includes quotations from the poetry of Sheriff Alexander Nicolson, Alasdair Mac Chaluim.



MACGREGOR, Catherine.  See: NICGRIOGAIR, Catriona



MACILLEATHAIN, Domhnall (20th Century)


I have been unable to trace any information on this writer.


i     Domhnall MacIlleathain.  Obair, Obair, Fhearchair’.  Sruth (4th May 1967), p. 5.


A general discussion of the diatomite industry.


ii    Domhnall MacIlleathain.  Tuilleadh Obrach Fhearchair’.  Sruth (1st June 1967), p. 3.


Suggests Loch Cuithir, three miles off the Portree-Staffin road, as a suitable site for the retrieval of diatomite.



MACKINNON, Hugh (1894-1972)


A distinguished tradition-bearer of Eigg.  For further information, see his entry in the section for traditional prose.


Eoghann MacFhionghuin.  Eige’.  Sruth (25th January 1968), p. 3;  (8th February 1968), p. 8.


An account of Eigg, reviewing some of the people and events of its past and discussing its then present condition with a much reduced population.



MACLEAN, Donald.  See: MACILLEATHAIN, Domhnall



MACLEOD, John N.  See: MACLEOID, Iain N.



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.


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 it could be classified as traditional prose; for details of this see the section for traditional prose.  Some I have classified as non-traditional creative prose; for details of which see the appropriate section.  Below are listed those sections of the collection which could be broadly classified as journalism and miscellaneous prose.


Eachdraidh agus Mac-meanma (History and Imagination).  pp. 22-37.


An Clachan a Bha Ann’, pp. 22-33. 

(Previously in: Leabhar a’ Chlachain (MacKay 1911:135-145) )


‘Far an Robh Naomh’, 33-37.


A’ Ghaidhlig (Gaelic).  pp. 50-59.

Oraid Bheag mun Ghàidhlig’, pp. 50-51

‘O Leanabas gu Fearala’, pp. 51-56

Earail do Bhuill a’ Chomuinn’, pp. 56-59


Daoine (People).  pp. 59-80

Gàidheil a B’aithne Dhomh’, pp. 59-67

Litir gu Caraid’, pp. 68-70

‘Iain Og Morragh’, pp. 70-74

‘An Ceàrd Mòr’, pp.74-78

Maighstir Domhnall’, pp. 78-80


Searmonan (Sermons).  pp. 81-114

Ceòl anns an Oidhche’, 81-83

Searmon Foghair’, pp. 83-85

Sgeul a dh’innseadh’, pp. 85-87

‘Na Seann Chomharran-chrìche’, pp. 87-91

Calbhairi’, pp. 91-94

Ardachadh is Isleachadh’, pp. 94-97

Solas an t-Saoghail’, pp. 97-101

Anns an Oidhche’, pp. 101-103

Urram dhasan dan dlighear Urram’, pp. 104-107

Bualadh aig an Doras’, pp. 107

‘Na Ceithir Marcaichean’, pp. 109-114


(See also entries for Kenneth MacLeod in the section for poetry and song of known authorship and the Kenneth MacLeod Collection in the section for traditional poetry and song).



MACLEOD, Malcolm.  See: MACLEOID, Calum



MACLEOID, Calum  (died c. 1987)


A native of Raasay.  A notable feature of his Gaelic is the almost total absence of borrowings from English.  See also his entry in the section for traditional prose.


i     Calum MacLeòid.  Turas a Bhotail Uisge-bheatha’.  Gairm, 121 (An Geamhradh 1982-83), 61-64; dealbh.


How a bottle of whisky was lost on Raasay, found, lost again, then ... A true story!


ii    Calum MacLeòid.  ‘Bi Aoigheal ri Luch-turais – Ach Leugh Sel!’.  Gairm, 122 (An t-Earrqach 1983), 174-178.


Story of an unexpected guest who unwittingly brought trouble in her wake.


iii   Calum MacLeòid.  An Tuagh-cloiche’.  Gairm, 125 (An Geamhradh 1983-84), 38-39; dealbh.


Interesting account of his finding a Stone Age axehead, of a type which he believed had not previously been found in Raasay or Skye.


iv   Calum MacLeòid.  Sheann Uidheam’.  Gairm, 126 (An t-Earrach 1984), 132-133; dealbh.


Description of two implements of old: the criathar (sieve) and the cliabh-gaoithe, a special creel for the storing of newly combed and oiled wool.


v   Calum MacLeòid.  ‘A’ Chas-chrom’.  Gairm, 127 (An Samhradh 1984), 223-227; dealbhan.


Detailed description of the construction and use of the old Gaelic foot plough.  The writer recalls being in Skye when the first tractor p0loughs arrived and meeting MacGhille Treasdair, the last smith in Portree.


vi   Calum MacLeòid.  ‘A’ Chreathail Ghaidhealach’.  Gairm, 129 (An Geamhradh 1984-85), 52-54; dealbh.


Description of the type of cradle used in the olden days in Raasay and Skye.  Mention of the carpenter Fionnlagh MacGhill Fhinnein of Fladda, who made the cradle pictured at the beginning of the article.


vii  Calum MacLeòid.  An Caibe-lair’.  Gairm, 131 (An Samhradh 1985), 223-224; dealbh.


Description of the type of spade used for cutting divots for roofing; illustrated with a photograph of one which was made about 1851 during the time of the Clearances on Raasay.  There is also a detailed description of the cutting and preparation of the divots and the roofing process.


viii Calum MacLeòid.  Turas Dhomhnaill Bhàin air a’ Mhetagama’.  Gairm, 133 (An Geamhradh 1985-86), 67-78.


Account of the writer’s first cousin Domhnaill Bhàn and his eventful time as a crewman on the steamship Metagama.


ix   Calum MacLeòid.  Turas Dhomhnaill Bhàin gu Iodhlainn Alba (Scotland Yard)’.  Gairm, 137 (An Geamhradh 1986-87), 57-63.


Account of the hardships endured upon Domhnall Bàn’s return to work in Glasgow.



MACLEOID, Iain N (1880-1954)


Born and brought up in Skye, Iain N MacLeòid was for a time a schoolmaster in Bernera.  Under the pseudonym ‘Alasdair Mór’ he contributed a column, ‘Litir a Beàrnaraigh’ to the Stornaway Gazette from 1917 to 1954.  A selection of these letters was published as Litrichean Alasdair Mhóir (MacLeòid 1932). 

He edited Bàrdachd Leòdhais, a collection of Lewis poetry and song (MacLeòid 1916), and contributed many articles to Gaelic periodicals.  On balance, it could be argued that his literary interests show a leaning towards Bernera and Lewis, rather than to his native Skye.  Listed below, and in the section for traditional prose, are those of his writings which are of specific Skye interest.


(Information from: MacLeod 1976: 212-214;  MacLeod 1980:130-131;  Thomson 1983: 3)


i     M., I. N.  Dòmhnull Gorm Dhuntuilm’.  An Sgeulaiche, 1 (1909), 44-53


Account of Domhnall Gorm Mòr, eighth chief of the MacDonalds of Sleat, who died in 1616.  Mainly about his relationship with Uisdean Mac Ghilleasbuig Chléirich which ended with the latter’s death in the Dungeons

of Duntulm.  A more balanced account than that of the Rev. Alexander MacGregor (see above).


ii    John N. MacLeod.  Dòmhnull nan Oran (Am Bàrd Sgitheanach)’.  TGSI, 29 (1914-1919), 119-133.


Account of the life of Domhnall MacLeòid, poet of Glendale, Skye and Father of Niall and Iain Dubh. 



MACNEACAIL, Aonghas (b. 1942)


A native of Uig, Skye.  Best known as a modern Gaelic poet (see section: The New Poetry).  See also his entry in the section for non-traditional creative prose.


i     Aonghas MacNeacail.  ‘A’ Ruigheachd’.  Gairm, 77 (An Samhradh 1971), 36-38.


Account of the writer’s removal from his native island and of the mental pilgrimage involved.


ii    Aonghas MacNeacail.  Turusachd – Call Neo Buannachd?’.  North 7, 27 (November / December 1977), 12-14; illus.


An examination of the effect which tourism has had upon the economy and way of life in Sleat, Skye.  Statistical tables and an English summary are included.


iii   Aonghas MacNeacail.  ‘Bho iar-thuath na Gaidhealtachd gu iar-thuath nan Innsean ... ‘s air ais!’.  North 7, 32 (March / April 1979), 30-31; illus.


Profile of a colourful and interesting personality, the late Colonel Jock MacDonald of Goirtean na Greige (Viewfield), Portree.  Unusually for a member of the Highland gentry he was, in Aonghas MacNeacail’s words

cho Gaidhealach ri seann chroitear’.  Among the many recollections of his long life, there is one of the poetess Màiri Mhór nan Oran, who he knew as a small boy.



MACPHERSON, John Angus (20th Century)


Fisherman of North Skye.


Jim Innes.  Iasgair Sgitheannach ... Beachdan laidir bho John Angus Mac-a-Phearsain an comhradh ri Jim Innes’.  North 7, 26 (August 1088), 14-15; illus.


John Angus MacPherson, the ‘Duke’, was the acknowledged unofficial spokesman for the fishermen of North Skye.  He related how he followed in his father’s footsteps as a fisherman and discusses the development of

the fishing industry in Skye from the late 1960’s.  An English summary is included.



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



MACPHIE, Donald  (1852-1922)


A native of Roag, Skye.  He was for forty years a schoolmaster in Cumbernauld.  From 1912 to 1922 he edited An Gaidheal and edited all but one of Blackie’s Gaelic Readers.  See also the entry for ‘Daileach’ in the section for traditional prose.


(Information from An Deò-Gréine, 17:177;  MacBean 1921:108;  An Gaidheal, 50:91-92)


Donald MacPhie.  ‘Na h-Orduighean anns an Eilean’.  Eilean a Cheò: the Isle of Mist.  Edited by Fred T. MacLeod.  Edinburgh: Gordon Wilson, [1917], pp. 62-71.


A description of the Communions, a highlight of the Presbyterian year.  It is a composite picture, rather than a description of any particular Communion.



MACRAE, Murdo.  See: MACRATH, Murchadh



MACRATH, Murchadh  (19th / 20th Century)


The evidence of his writings suggest that he was a Skyeman, but I have been unable to trace any further information about Murchadh MacRath.


i     M. MacRath.  Eadar Fhradharc’.  An Gaidhealo, 24 (1928-1929), 121-122.


Account of the return of a long-lost sailor to his family in Portnalong.


ii    Murchadh MacRath.  ‘Frith-Rathaid’.  An Gaidheal, 27 (1931-1932), 59.


Musings on the footpaths and stepping stones which the writer knew in his childhood.


iii   Murchadh MacRath.  Sgeulachd do ‘n Chloinn’.  An Gaidheal, 33 (1937-1938), 85.


Anecdote of a Skye farmer, Ailean MacNeacail, who tended and partly tamed a wounded eagle.







NICDHONNCHAIDH, Seonaid (20th Century)


From Breakish, in Sleat.


Seonaid NicDhonnchaidh.  Aiseag’.  Gairm, 126 (An t-Earrach 1984), 141-143; dealbh.


Account of the district of Aiseag in Strath, Skye and its associations with Saint Maol-Ruibhe or Maol-ruadh.  See also entry for Martainn MacMhaoilean’s ‘Oran Aiseag’ in the section for poetry and song of known authorship.



NICGRIOGAIR, Catriona (20th Century)


Catriona NicGriogair.  ‘Eilean Rùm’.  Gairm, 21 (Am Foghar 1957), 13-18; dealbhan.


The writer came to Rum three years before it was taken over by the Nature Conservancy.  She gives an account of the island and its people as she knew them.  At the time of writing there remained on the island only twenty-eight people and of these only a third knew Gaelic.



NICOLSON, Angus.  See: MACNEACAIL, Aonghas



ROS, Coinneach (1914 – 1990)


A native of Glendale in Skye, after service in the Royal Air Force he attended Edinburgh University and then trained as a teacher.  In 1957 he was ordained as a minister of the Church of Scotland and served in a number of parishes.  Known primarily as an essayist, he also composed poetry of considerable merit:

see his entry in the section for poetry and song of known authorship.  See also his entry in the section for non-traditional creative prose


(Biographical information from Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticane, Vol. 10  (MacDonald 1981:363).)


Coinneach Ros.  Aitealan Dlù is Cian.  Glaschu: Gairm, 1972.  [6], 127d.


The seventeen essays in this collection encompass the interests and preoccupations of the writer; literature, history and dualchas, a fascination with place, both as an idea and as a concrete reality.  They may be seen too

as an autobiography, not in the sense of being a chronological account of the writer’s life but an account of the growth and development of a human personality.  There is a philosophical cast to the whole too.


Seven of the essays deal with the writer’s native Glendale: ‘A’ Tilleadh Dhachaidh’ (pp. 25-32); ‘Air a’ Bheinn’ (pp. 42-49);  Sailm is Searmonan’ (pp. 50-57); ‘Sgaoileadh nan Sgiath’ (pp. 65-71);  Eileanan saChuimhne’ (pp. 122-127).  In them he examines his relationship, past and present, with the place.  He does not take refuge in sentimentality, but is at times painfully honest.


The Rev. Ros’s honesty is a positive thing.  It enhances, rather than detracts from, the many moments of lyricism in his writing.  The haunting beauty of the Gaelic psalms described in ‘Sailm is Searmonan’ is the more poignant for being set against the narrow and intolerant religion of the ministers and elders depicted in ‘Sgaoileadh nan Sgiath’.  His glen is a real and powerfully appealing place.




ROS, Niall  (1873-1943)


A native of Glendale, Skye, Niall Ros was ordained a minister of the Church of Scotland in 1907 and served in a number of parishes.


A prominent member of An Comunn Gaidhealach, he edited that body’s periodical An Gaidheal from 1923 until 1936.  He edited for the SGTS Heroic Poetry from the Book of the Dean of Lismore (Edinburgh:

Oliver & Boyd, 1939).


Upon the occasion of his death in 1943 several tributes to Niall Ros in both English and Gaelic were published in An Gaidheal (39:49-52).  His nephew, Coinneach Ros, gives a penetrating analysis of his personality in Aitealan Dlù is Cian (Ros 1972: 21-22).


See also the entries for Niall Ros in the sections for: poetry and song of known authorship and non-traditional creative prose.


i     N. Ros.  Ceol-Mór agus Clann Mhic-Cruimein’.  Celtic Monthly, 18 (1910), 26-28, 45-47, 65-67.


An interesting account of the MacCrimmon family and its association with the classical music of the bagpipes.  The writer admits that there is little conventional historical evidence concerning the MacCrimmons, but uses

his familiarity with the oral tradition to construct an historical account of the family, using all the knowledge available to him.


According to Niall Ros’s nephew Coinneach Ros, his uncle composed the Gaelic words on the MacCrimmon Memorial at Borreraig (Ros 1972: 44).


ii    Niall Ros.  Cuairt do ‘n t-Seann Sgìr’.  Life and Work: na Duilleagan Gàidhlig (1932: Aireamh 2), 2-5).


Account of a return visit to his first parish (Hallin-Waternish).  There is much local lore and anecdote, including mention of Major Neil MacLeod of Waternish (see his entry for poetry and song of known authorship).



ROSS, Kenneth.  See: ROS, Coinneach



ROSS, Neil.  See: ROS, Niall






WATT, Eilidh (1908 – c. 1996)


Eilidh Watt was a native of Skye.  She attended Portree High School and Glasgow University, and then taught English for several years in Harris, Portree and Fife.  Upon her retirement she returned to live in Skye.  She was a prolific writer of short stories (see her entry in the section for non-traditional creative prose).


(Biographical information from Facal air an Fhacal (2:44-46).)


i     Eilidh Watt.  Oighreachd a Thathas a’ Call’.  Gairm, 79 (An Samhradh 1972), 259-260).


The writer recalls words and expressions familiar to her in her youth in Glendale and makes a plea for more study of the way of thinking embodied in Gaelic.


ii    Eilidh Watt.  Tha na Clachan Balbh’.  Gairm, 105 (An Geamhradh 1978-1979), 41-44)


About Na Barpannan, the ancient tumuli at Feorlig on the Harlosh Peninsula in Skye. 


iii   Eilidh Watt.  Euchdan Mora  a dh’ Aom: Crionagan bho Eachdraidh Chloinn Mhic Asgaill’.  Gairm, 124 (Am Foghar 1983), 347-352.


The writer, herself born a MacAskill of Glendale, traces the history of the MacAskills of Rubha an Dunain and Glendale.  For her earlier and shorter treatment of the subject, see Gairm, 111/112 (Samhradh/Foghar 1980),




WATT, Helen.  See: WATT, Eilidh



















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


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