From the comfort of an armchair and with the aid of this new book, the reader can travel to the Breadalbane and Argyll of Duncan Bàn Macintyre; the Skye and Raasay of Sorley Maclean; and the Caithness and Sutherland of Neil M. Gunn. Photographs, maps and place-names linked to key passages in the texts will immerse readers in the landscapes which songs, poems and tales have described and enlivened over the ages.
For those who wish to brave the weather, the insects, the sheer drops, the morasses and the vast spaces, the book can be used as a field guide taking the same walks followed by the author. The touch, smell and landmarks of song, poem and tale can be experienced.
The author has immersed himself further in the Gaelic literature of place so that readers, with book in hand, can make the past come alive and appreciate the extracts about a place and what has happened there. As an adult, Neil M. Gunn saw himself as a boy, sitting on a slab in the middle of the river cracking hazelnuts with a stone. Through the eyes of Duncan Bàn Macintyre see Ben Dòbhrain and the journey of the deer to the holy spring, from the vantage point of Patrick’s stone. On Dùn Cana sit at the centre of the swirl of place-names in Sorley Maclean’s Hallaig. Journey around the north and east coasts of Caithness and Sutherland in the wake of the White Heather and the Seafoam, in the Silver Darlings.
Literature of the Gaelic Landscape compares Gaelic literature with other world traditions and their relationship to place and storytelling, providing an overview of how the literature relates to landscape and place over the ages.
Acknowledgements. Prologue. Introduction. Place, Place-naming and Stories. Places, Mapping and Wayfinding. Toponymy, Mnemonics and Topo-mnemonics. Landscapes of Finn MacCoul – Fionn mac – Chumhail and the Fianna, Laoidh Fhraoch and Laoidh Dhiarmaid – The Lay of Fraoch and the Lay of Diarmaid. Donald Mackinlay of the Songs – Domhnuill mac Fhionnlaidh nan Dàn, Song of the Owl – Òran na Comhachaig. Duncan Bàn Macintyre – Donncha Bàn Mac an t-Saoir, Óran do Ghunna Ainm Nic Coiseim, Óran do Chaora, Coire Cheathaich, Moladh Beinn Dòbhrain and Cead Deirreanach nam Beann Song to Gun named NicCoshem, Song to a Sheep, Misty Corrie, Praise of Ben Dorain and Final Farewell to the Bens. Sorley MacLean – Somhairle Mac 'ille Eathain, The Cuillin – An Cuilithionn and Hallaig. Praise of Beinn Dobhrain / Moladh Beinn Dòbhrain and Hallaig compared. Neil Gunn – Butcher's Broom, The Silver Darlings, Highland River and Young Art and Old Hector. Conclusion: Staging the Gaelic Landscape. References. Index of Place-names
This will be of huge appeal to everyone with an interest in Gaelic literature, songs, poems and stories as well as outdoor enthusiasts such as climbers and walkers.
‘…a distinct and original contribution. Murray’s work is a stimulating contribution that raises fundamental questions about land, places, names, language and memory and will repay close reading and further thought’. Scottish Literary Review
‘…for Gaels the importance of place is particularly strong. Murray explains how place names in the Highlands are linked to experiences and legend, and how this is expressed in Gaelic poetry. If, as you walk the bens and glens of the Scottish Highlands, you would like to visit to improve your understanding of the cultural heritage of the places that you visit, Gaelic Landscape is the book to read’. Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal
‘...makes startling use of place-names to illuminate some of the profoundest questions to literature. ...he shows how place-names can relate to memory, community, culture and the self. ...this masterly book... ...the book’s greatest satisfaction in giving concrete evidence for much that we have hitherto only inferred’. Scottish Place Names Society Newsletter
‘...is equally informative and recommended... ...for anyone learning the Gaelic... ...we learn how those Highland folk – now mostly gone – understood, celebrated and remembered the Gaelic Landscape in word and song’. Mountain Bothies Association Newsletter
‘... successfully synthesizes a range of analytical tools from geography, literary criticism and anthropology, and offers observations about Gaelic literary expression with an eloquence that approaches poetry. ... is a delightful read which makes an important contribution to Gaelic literary criticism by presenting texts and critical approaches that can be appreciated by a non-specialist audience’. An Naidheachd Againne, E-zine of the American Gaelic Society
‘...once begun I couldn’t put it down. It is an absorbing read. The book, explores and expands on the close links and ties of the Gaelic language with the landscape, is well-considered and researched. ...a gem of a read. ...John Murray’s insightful book will certainly grace any book shelf’. The Munro Society Newsletter
‘...shows very clearly why Gaelic is so important to Scotland as a nation as a whole... His latest book is equally remarkable, and equally enlightening. The end result is a book of truly lasting value, and an important book that shows why the Gaelic language matters to all of us’. Undiscovered Scotland Click here to read the full review
‘…John Murray explores how the Gaelic language, rooted in a sense of place makes poetry of the Highlands. … Drawing and abstracting the pattern of place-name narratives or song-lines makes possible a new and different understanding of Gaelic literature’. The Scotsman