Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, a Celebration, Moladh air Deagh Bhàrd
Àrainn Shuaineirt, The Sunart Centre, in Strontian is to host a special conference next Saturday (12th September) to celebrate the life and works of the great Moidart poet Alasdair mac Mhaighster Alasdair.
This celebration of the life and times of the famous 18th century Moidart bard, possibly the greatest and certainly the most versatile of Gaelic poets, will gather distinguished academics, writers, poets and musicians for a unique conference and dinner followed by the “ClanRanald” Blas concert on Saturday and a cruise on Loch Shiel, “Retracing Alasdair’s steps,” on Sunday.
The conference will be a unique opportunity to hear Gaelic literature and Jacobite history specialists bring new perspectives on the lead up to Alasdair’s involvement in the Jacobite Rebellion from the point of view of the Enlightenment movement.
Speakers will include Prof Murray Pittock, who is currently bringing out the second edition of his influential book “the Myth of the Jacobite Clans”, Ronald Black, of Edinburgh University and an acknowledged Alasdair specialist, with historians John Watts who has an extensive knowledge of the area's religious history and D.W Stewart, who will shed light on Alasdair's role within the clan, as well as contemporary Gaelic poet and actor Angus Peter Campbell who will chair the event.
By offering everyone from the layman to the specialist an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the area, the context in which Alasdair's poetry was composed and providing access to the poetry itself both in Gaelic and in translation, the conference will emphasise the huge importance of poetry in the indigenous culture of the Highlands, and the debt owed to Alasdair in that respect.
The conference location in Strontian is of particular relevance as the poet became famous for the number of bawdy satires he composed in response to the social changes brought by the introduction of mining to the area. The conference is being promoted by Ealan nan Eilean/Island Arts in partnership with The Highland Council, and will result in the publication of a book of the conference papers and other interpretative materials as a legacy.
The conference will coincide with an evening concert as part of the BLAS Festival, a celebration of Clanranald, featuring renowned Glenuig pipers Allan (Narrator, Researcher & Pipes), Iain (Pipes & Whistles) and Dr Angus MacDonald (Pipes), accompanied by Ingrid Henderson (Clarsach & vocals) and Margaret Ford (vocals), and supported by the Fèisean Lochaber Cèilidh Trail.
To round off the weekend there will be a Sunday Cruise on MV Sileas on Loch Shiel, “Retracing Alasdair’s steps”, which will take participants to Dalilea, Alasdair’s birthplace, where the oaks he planted are still standing, and St Finnan Island, the little visited burial island of his ancestors.
Tickets for all events are available online at thebooth.co.uk, and more information can be had from the Sunart Centre website www.sunartcentre.org (tel: 01397 709228) or the Blas website blas-festival.co.uk.
Note to editors:
Àrainn Shuaineirt (the Sunart Centre) is the community wing of Ardnamurchan High School in Strontian. The centre is managed by The Highland Council in partnership with the local Àrainn Shuaineirt Management Committee.
Please phone Eoghan Carmichael on 01397 709228 for further information or if you would like to visit the centre.