Over 250 years ago, Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (Alexander MacDonald) wrote The Birlinn of Clanranald (Kettillonia, £5), an epic poem in Gaelic describing the troubled voyage of a galley from South Uist to Northern Ireland. Scotland itself was going through a stormy period post-Culloden, which the author, as a Jacobite sympathizer, knew fine well.
Poet and Professor of Scottish literature Alan Riach has recently published an English-language version of The Birlinn of Clanranald, and he came into the Library to discuss it. Over 30 minutes he talks about translating from Gaelic when you’re not fluent in the language, Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair’s dangerous times, and why the climatic storm sequence is reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft.