This book marks the centenary of Neil MacLeod’s death in 1913 with the republication of some of his work. It also publishes for the first time all of the identifiable work of his brother, Iain Dubh (1847 – 1901), and a representative of their father, Domhnall nan Oran (c.1787 – 1873). Their contrasting styles mark a fascinating period of transition in literary tastes between the 18th and early 20th centuries at a time of profound social upheaval.
Neil MacLeod left Glendale in Skye to become a tea-merchant in Edinburgh. His songs were prized by his fellow Gaels for their sweetness of sentiment and melody, which placed a balm on the recent wounds of emigration and clearance. They are still very widely known, and Neil’s collection Clarsach an Doire has been reprinted six times. Professor Derick Thomson rightly described him as ‘the example par excellence of the popular poet in Gaelic’. However, many prefer the earthy quality of the work of his less famous brother.
This book contains 60 poems in all (32 by Neil, 16 by Iain and 12 by Domhnall), with translations, background notes and the melodies where known. Biographies are given of the three poets, while the introduction reflects on the differences in style between them and places each in his literary context. An essay in Gaelic by Professor Norman MacDonald reflects on the social significance of the family in the general Gaelic diaspora.