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‘Renowned over Hundreds’ – Scotland celebrates Sorley MacLean

Scotland’s interwoven communities of islanders, poets and musicians, Gaelic-speakers, scholars and all with an interest in the promotion of Scottish literature and Scottish identity will be gathering on Skye this June to celebrate one of their own.

Under the banner Ainmeil Thar Cheudan,’˜renowned over hundreds’™, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig,  the National Centre for Gaelic language and culture , and the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland are co-hosting a lively commemorative get-together to celebrate the acclaimed Scottish Gaelic poet, Sorley MacLean in the centenary year of his birth.

Emphasising the unique nature of the forthcoming event, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Professor Boyd Robertson said:’This will be more than just an assembly of scholars, important though that is.  It will be a celebratory gathering of poets, musicians and artists who have been inspired by Sorley MacLean’s internationally acclaimed poetry.

‘It will also be an opportunity for the community to come together to share memories, reminiscences and perceptions of a fellow islander and multi-faceted Gael.  Sorley is fondly remembered as a man who both as a person and a poet was deeply embedded in his native island community and culture.’

Leading the distinguished array of local, national and international contributors will be Scots Makar, Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s recently appointed new national poet.  Speaking of Sorley MacLean’s original Gaelic poetry, she  observed that:’For non Gaelic Speakers like myself it is impossible to do other than bear witness to his deepest effect on our Gaelic and bilingual contemporaries.’

However, for herself and the wider literary community in Scotland and beyond it was MacLean’s poetry in his own translations, that’we ourselves have come to love very much’. Such was the impact of the latter, she continued:’that we have lines engraved into us, that Sorley always insisted’were not poems but word-for-word translations’.’
As Lochhead perceptively observes with her poet’s eye and ear:’Some’not-poems’! They seem to this hearer and reader to be great in themselves.’

First and foremost, however, MacLean was a Gaelic poet, someone steeped in the vast heritage of Gaelic poetry and song.  It is this fundamental aspect that the Gaelic poet from Skye, AonghasMacNeacail, is keen to emphasise in his own participation:’By standing against extinction of the language, and placing its creativity on the same plane as the international literature of his time, Sorley MacLean achieved renewal of the Gaelic language while raising our literature to global significance.’

‘But especially, Somhairle kindled hope, desire, and an ambition among succeeding generations of Gaelic writers to add their own creative endeavours to that rich store of tradition.’

It is this inspiration to future generations of younger Gaels and the wider creative artistic community across the islands and throughout Scotland that Ainmeil Thar Cheudan, (‘˜renowned over hundreds’™), Comharrachadh Ceud Bliadhna air Somhairle Macgill-eain, the Centenary Celebration of Sorley Maclean (1911-2011), Wednesday  15 ‘ Saturday 18 June 2011, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye, intends to promote.  Keynote speakers at the event will include Professor Douglas Gifford, Timothy Neat, Professor Maire Ni Annrachain and Christopher Whyte.

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