The publication of Margaret Callan’s book “Air Bilean an t-Sluaigh: Sealladh air Leantalachd Beul-Aithris Ghàidhlig Uibhist a Tuath”, which won the prestigious Donald Meek Literary Award in August 2011, was recently celebrated at events in both Glasgow and Uist.
On 31st March, The Gaelic Books Council and Clo Ollscoil na Banriona jointly hosted an evening of discussion and song at Glasgow’s CCA. On 4th April the book was formally launched at the Claddach Kirkibost Centre in North Uist before an informal ceilidh in Carinish Hall.
In considering the transmission of North Uist’s oral tradition, “Air Bilean an t-Sluaigh” studies the social and cultural contexts of the tradition, the function of various aspects of the tradition within the community and the reasons for its decline.
It also considers the relationship between the transmission of oral tradition and society, the role of women in the transmission process and the extent to which the Gaelic language was at the heart of the culture and the traditions it embodied.
Professor Donald Meek said: “I have no doubt that this landmark Gaelic publication will be very, very warmly received by the people of Uist - it is a great ‘present’ to them - and by many others from the Hebrides and farther afield. The book will be ideal in universities, not only as an important study of modes of transmission, but also in teaching students how to present complex subjects through the medium of Gaelic. This is a truly outstanding achievement.”
Margaret Callan was raised in North Uist and is known as a traditional Gaelic singer. She won the Gold Medal for traditional singing at the Royal National Mod in 1994 and now lives with her husband and three children in North Lanarkshire where she is employed as a solicitor in private practice.
She is also a guest lecturer on the subject of the Gaelic Song Tradition within the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh and is currently editing a CD of Gaelic songs from North Uist from the archive of the School of Scottish Studies which will be released on the Greentrax label as one of the Scottish Tradition Series later in the year.