Barra woman wins award

A Barra woman faced off against stiff competition in this year’s international poetry prize and walked off with her head held high.

By John A. MacInnes
Monday, 19th October 2020, 3:13 pm
Morag MacNeil runner up in the Scots Gaelic prize
Morag MacNeil runner up in the Scots Gaelic prize

Morag Ann MacNeil from Barra was awarded the runners-up prize being pipped at the post by winner Niall O’Gallagher at the Wigtown Scottish Gaelic competition.

Her entry Ann an Oisean Cùbhraidh Gàrraidh was highly commended.

MacNeil who lives on the island won the Highland Society of London Prize for fiction at the 2020 Gaelic Literature Awards.

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She said: “I was honoured that my poem was shortlisted in such a prestigious competition, and I am truly delighted to have won a prize.”

Anne Frater, who judged the Gaelic prize, added: “It was a pleasure to read the entries for this year’s Gaelic prize, but also a challenge, given the high quality of the submissions given the wide range of topics.

“It was difficult to come up with a shortlist, let alone a winner. I was looking for imagination, a confident voice, and, of course, good Gaelic, and all these qualities were to be found in both the winning poem and Morag’s runner-up entry.”

The Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize is supported by the Gaelic Books Council. Its Director Alison Lang said: “The Council applauds the poets who submitted work. At such an uncertain time, it’s encouraging that their will to create is as strong as ever and that they continue to fly the flag for Gaelic poetry. The Wigtown Poetry Prize team deserve praise for keeping the competition going despite the current obstacles.

“Well done to Morag Ann MacNeil, Deborah Moffatt and Eoghan Stewart, whose poems were shortlisted, and congratulations to Niall O’Gallagher, who won. Between Gaelic, Scots and English, it’s clear that Scottish poetry remains in rude health.”