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MacDonald of Sleat Poetry Prize 2018

The winner of this year’s MacDonald of Sleat poetry prize is Torquil Macleod from Lochs, Isle of Lewis.

The competition, which is run by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, was instituted by Sir Ian MacDonald of Sleat in memory of his daughter, Deborah, who passed away at an early age.

The theme of the competition each year relates to trees and this year an invitation was extended to anyone who writes poetry, or has an interest in doing so, to compose a poem on the subject, roots.  The Wild Rose was the title of the poem composed by Torquil and selected by the judges, Professor Meg Bateman and Màiri Sìne Campbell. 

Torquil commented on his poem:  “Winning this cometition has given me confidence and great happiness.  I had written the poem while visiting Steimrebhagh, where my mother was from.”

Torquil was presented with his prize at a gathering at Armadale Castle on Saturday 29 September.  Sir Ian commented: “I am proud to present this award as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Clan Donald Lands Trust. The Trust is committed to supporting and promoting Gaelic traditions, both through our museum and archive at Armadale Castle, and in our music and cultural programmes. I congratulate the talented winner of this year’s prize and look forward to seeing the competition continue to flourish.”

Speaking on behalf of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Professor Bateman said: “His poem ‘An Ròs Fiadhaich’ (The Wild Rose) is put together skilfully like a traditional song while he uses the notion of the root as an image for something that gives new growth and comfort. The poem evokes strong feelings for the ruined township of the poet’s ancestors in Lewis. Though there is no-one today to welcome the visitor, a wild rose surprises the poet with its beauty. Though the people were scattered throughout the world, the poet’s roots in the township allow him still to feel their presence.  It is good that this competition is encouraging people to write and we thank everyone who took part.”

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