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Two poets share the inaugural MacDonald of Sleat poetry prize

The inaugural MacDonald of Sleat poetry prize was jointly awarded to two poets. The competition was established by Sir Ian MacDonald of Sleat in memory of his daughter, Deborah, who died last year.

The winning poets were Ewen Henderson, with his poem ‘Foghar nan Gallan’ (Autumn of the Saplings), and Eoghan Stewart, with his poem ‘Panolis Flammea’.

Sir Ian MacDonald said: “The two poems chosen by the judges are quite beautiful and I can see why it was so difficult to choose an outright winner. Our darling daughter died much too young and these poems are skilfully crafted memorials to her. We would wish to thank those who wrote such fine and meaningful words at such a sad time for us. The theme this year was the ‘half-grown tree’.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “We were pleased when Sir Ian approached us at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig with the idea of staging a competition for new Gaelic poetry in memory of his daughter Deborah and we were happy to accept the invitation to organise the competition. It was gratifying that so many writers expressed interest in the competition and that 18 new poems were submitted. We are delighted that two former SMO students shared the prize.”

Dr Meg Bateman, a member of the literary panel judging the competition said: “My fellow judges, Màiri Sìne Campbell and Mark Wringe, and I were delighted that so many poems were submitted for the competition. Each poem made a natural and eloquent connection between the image of the tree and the untimely death of Deborah. There were two poems in particular which stood out from the others, memorable for their beauty and the solace which they offer.”

Singer and musician Ewen Henderson is from Lochaber and from a young age he was steeped in the music and traditions of the area. He has toured extensively throughout the globe with the Battlefield Band and in 2010 he and some of his friends founded Mànran, the band with which he spends most of his time now.

Eoghan Stewart is a Gaelic secondary school teacher in Easter Ross. He was brought up in Perthshire and Inverness, and his mother is from Lewis with strong Skye connections. He was a student at SMO 13 years ago.

The prizes were awarded by Sir Ian MacDonald, Chairman of the Trustees of Clan Donald Lands Trust, at the Museum of the Isles, Armadale Castle on Saturday (3 October).

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