The programme for the Colonsay conference on 6-9 June has now been finalised. Please click on the link below for details and booking form. Accommodation is limited, so please book early. We are grateful to Awards for All and the Colonsay Estate for their support.
DONALD MacCORMICK –‘An Evening with Books’, Thursday 20th March, 7.30pm: Claddach Kirkibost Centre, North Uist
The Islands Book Trust have developed a reputation for adventure in recent years, and their programme of events for 2014 – just announced – includes several exciting new venues and ventures.
As always, the emphasis is on talks, conferences, and visits which shed new light on the history and culture of Scottish islands. In 2014, highlights include:
* A first ever visit to Colonsay, where a 3-day event is planned in honour of Professor Donald MacKinnon, a Colonsay man who held the first University Chair of Celtic and who died a hundred years ago.
* A 3-day conference in Ireland about St Columba and the development of Slighe Chaluim Chille linking Ireland and Scotland. It is hoped this event will include a visit to Tory Island off the coast of Donegal.
* A boat trip from Uist to Canna to take in Feis Chanaidh. Two talks about aspects of the history of Canna are also planned.
* Evening talks by Mairi Hedderwick, Bill Lawson, Tony Marr, John Love, and Eric Richards, and on themes ranging from the enigmatic Lady Grange to 1st World War graves.
* Boat trips to Ensay, Haskeir, Mingulay, Mealista Island, Southern Pairc, and Ronay.
Alasdair MacEachen, who takes over as chairman of the Book Trust at the start of 2014, said:
‘We look forward to another exciting and varied programme. Our events are open to all, whatever your background, and I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to join in our visits and talks. You can keep up to date with all our activities by consulting our website www.theislandsbooktrust.com or by joining the Trust and receiving regular newsletters.’
A full list of events is appended. Further details and information on advance bookings are available from Alayne Barton on 01851 820946 or John Groom on 01851 880737.
Review in Northwords Now by Aonghas MacNeacail of Aonghas Phadraig’s book ‘An t-Eilean’ .
I hadn’t gone far into this book when I began to feel that I was not the one who should be reviewing it. The layers of knowledge, of tradition, of the culture, that Angus Peter Campbell seemed to be able to access, left me with an ineffable, almost unbearable, sense of loss.
But, in reading on, I realised that, while he could recreate glimpses of what previous generations had taken for granted, in terms of myth and lore, he was also driven by that same sense of what we have lost. His particular gift is to be able to find something to treasure, and vividly reanimate, even in these fragments.
The conceit shaping the book is found in its sub-title (deriving its first six words from the artist Paul Klee): “Taking a line for a walk through the Isle of Skye”. The formal title, An t-Eilean (The Island), by which Skye is known, is a form of abbreviation, as the full Gaelic name is An t-Eilean Sgitheanach which I, a Skyeman, pronounce ‘Sgiathanach’. Continue reading
This compelling book, written by the acclaimed Gaelic poet Myles Campbell and his wife Margaret, tells the amazing story of how they were brought together and how these uncanny or providential events were instrumental in converting Myles to Christianity.
The book also contains new poetry by Myles in Gaelic and English.
Professor Donald Macleod, formerly Principal of the Free Church College, said:
‘This book offers three for the price of one: the spiritual autobiographies of both a Gaelic poet and his wife, interspersed with learned excursions into the scientific findings and philosophical theories which so deeply colour life in today’s western world. It is a story of fulfilled dreams and divine coincidences, interrupted by encounters with Jung and echoes of the Big Bang. Very human at its heart, and tinged with mysticism, yet unmistakeably reflecting its own time; and a fascinating reminder that scientist, poet and religious seeker can happily inhabit one and same mind.’
Myles Campbell was born in Skye and is one of the most talented Gaelic poets of his generation. Margaret (nee Smith) was born in Lewis. John Randall, chairman of the publishers the Islands Book Trust, believes this island background is fundamental:
‘The story told by Myles and Margaret Campbell in this book is inextricably linked to their island upbringing and cultural background, to the extent that it is unlikely to have been written in these terms by people less familiar with the traditional ‘world view’ of island societies . It is a very personal story, and one which honestly seeks to understand and interpret the events they have experienced and the conflicting intellectual and religious ideas to which they have been exposed.’
Myles and Margaret will be giving four presentations for Faclan 2011 in Uist, Barra, Harris, and Lewis. The Stornoway session takes the form of a conversation between Professor Macleod and the Campbells about their personal and religious experiences, with readings from the new book.
We are delighted to announce that one of our books, Còcò is Crùbagan (Cocoa and Crabs), by Benbecula author Flora MacDonald, has been shortlisted for the the Tesco Bank Summer Read Competition! The competition was launched at the Aye Write! Book Festival at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow on Sunday 7 March, and Flora was there to read from her book.
The Tesco Bank Summer Read is an initiative by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature to promote reading and new Scottish books and is supported by the Scottish Government and The Herald newspaper. The judging panel for the shortlist included representatives from The Scottish Library and Information Council, Publishing Scotland, Edinburgh International Book Festival, The Herald, and Glasgow Libraries.
The shortlist of twenty books are all set in Scotland or written by Scottish authors and were published between March 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. The titles vary from fiction and non-fiction, adults, teens, children's and Gaelic books across different reading tastes, levels and formats so there is sure to be a favourite for everyone!
There will be special events taking place in libraries around the country during the summer months as well as special features on the short listed authors in The Herald to help you decide on your favourite. All the short listed books are available to borrow from your local library. The five winners will be voted for by the Scottish reading public and the results will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
Còcò is Crùbagan is an evocative and memorable account, in Gaelic and English, of Flora's idyllic childhood memories of growing up in the remote and long-deserted township of Meanish in eastern Benbecula in the 1940s and '50s.
Flora is thrilled to bits that her book has been nominated and was delighted to be asked to speak at the launch in Glasgow. She read a couple of extracts from the book and talked about how she came to write it, saying that it was, 'a tribute to my people, and to all the people of the islands.'
If you would like to vote for Còcò is Crùbagan, you can do so online at www.heraldscotland.com/go/tesco-summer-read-2010
Launched at Faclan (The Hebridean Book Festival) on 1st September 2007
When Frenchman Jean-Didier Hache bought on impulse a 'MacDonald print' in a Paris auction in the 1970s, he had no idea what fate lay ahead: the beginning of close personal links with a remote part of the Outer Hebrides which would last a lifetime, and the unfolding of a dramatic story going back over 250 years which will forever bind together the history of Scotland and France. The culmination of this heady blend of personal coincidence and national destiny is the publication by The Islands Book Trust on 1 September at Faclan (the Hebridean Book Festival) of 'The French MacDonald – Journey of a Marshal of Napoleon in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland', a truly extraordinary story:
- It is based on the previously unpublished travel diary in 1825 of Marshal MacDonald to Uist and other parts of Scotland to see the birth-place of his father Neil MacEachen and meet some of his MacDonald/MacEachen relatives.
- In doing so, the Marshal was remembering, in a very different era, the exploits of Neil MacEachen and Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1746, when Neil played the major role in hiding and protecting the Prince after Culloden.
- Born in France , where his father lived after the failure of the '45, his son Jacques Etienne Joseph Alexandre MacDonald, achieved a meteoric rise to power in military and political circles, a Marshal of Napoleon during the latter's supremacy but also eventually negotiating Napoleon's abdication.
- As a retired elder statesman, the Marshal (who spoke little English and no Gaelic) visited Scotland with the assistance of the British Government, meeting people like Sir Walter Scott, and eventually setting foot in the land of the MacDonalds, including Howbeg where his father was born, and the cave at Corrodale where his father and the Prince had hidden all those years before.
- Only a few years ago, the Marshal's travel diary, not written with a view to publication and containing many frank comments about the Scotland of his time and the people he met, was discovered in the French National Archives in Paris by Jean-Didier Hache , a Frenchman who has been associated with Benbecula for over thirty years.
Jean-Didier Hache has translated the Scottish part of the Marshal's travel diary into English for this publication. Alongside it appear commentaries on the French and Scottish backgrounds to the Marshal and his visit by Jean-Didier Hache and Domhnall Uilleam Stiubhart of Edinburgh University , with some beautiful colour illustrations. Jean-Didier visited many of the locations while working on Caledonia TV's film 'Dòmhnallaich na Frainge' for BBC Scotland and the Gaelic Media Service.
This new publication is important on many different levels – as a valuable record of Scotland and particularly the Highlands and Islands at a time of rapid economic and social change, and as a fascinating footnote to the momentous events of Jacobite and Napoleonic history.