A MURAL TO RECOGNISE LOCAL ACHIEVEMENTS.
Niall Munro (from Birch Café, Portree) started this wonderful mural, painted by his father Donnie, in the centre of Portree featuring the Old Man of Storr. Inspired by this, we decided that we would like to complete the mural and to recognise a couple of local people whose achievements in both music and Gaelic have really put Skye on the map.
We commissioned Iain Smith and Donnie Munro to paint the next two murals of Neist Point and a view from the Quiraing. A board was added featuring the music of Skye’s well-loved musician and composer, Blair Douglas and a poem from the great Scottish Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean.
Born and raised on Skye, Blair Douglas is a well-loved local musician and composer with an instantly recognisable music style. Blair has been a founding member in several bands including Runrig, Mac-Talla and Cliar and has gone on to create a series of highly-acclaimed recordings under his own name. Along with Arthur Cormack, Shona MacDonald and photographer Colin MacLean, Douglas collaborated in a project named ‘Skye, The Island’ – a touring exhibition of photographs, songs and music inspired by Skye’s unique island culture and stunning landscapes. As the exhibition toured, the recorded label Macmanmna was established to distribute Douglas’s music.
Blair was recognised as the Composer of the Year in 2008 at The Scots Trad Music Awards and today continues to write and compose.
If you would like to listen to Blair Douglas’ music, please click here to visit his official website.
Additionally, we wanted to celebrate the great Scottish Gaelic Poet Sorley MacLean. Born at Òsgaig, Raasay in 1911, Sorely MacLean is considered to be one of the greatest Gaelic poets of the twentieth century. Maclean has been described by the Scottish Poetry Library as “one of the major Scottish poets of the modern era” due to his “mastery of his chosen medium and his engagement with the European poetic tradition and European politics”
“GREAT ISLAND, ISLAND OF MY DESIRE, ISLAND OF MY HEART AND WOUND” – SORELY MACLEAN
MacLean studied English at Edinburgh University from 1929, achieving a first class honours degree. It was during this time that he encountered and found an affinity with the work of Hugh MacDiarmid, Ezra Pound, and other Modernist poets. After writing a Gaelic poem, A’ Chorra-ghritheach (“The Heron”) in 1932, MacLean adopted Gaelic as the medium most appropriate for poetry and decided to continue to only to write in Gaelic.
MacLean’s work was virtually unknown outside Gaelic-speaking circles until the 1970s, when the book the Four Points of a Saltire – poems from George Campbell Hay, Stuart MacGregor, William Neill and Sorley MacLean was published by Gordon Wright. Maclean occupies a space in the wider Scottish literacy canon unequalled by any other Gaelic writer. Amongst other awards and honours, he received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1990. Maclean passed on in 1996 at the age of 85.
To find out more about Maclean, please click here to visit his official website.
Look out for the new mural next time you are in Portree.