Murchadh Moireach (Murdo Murray) was born in Back, Lewis, in 1890. He went to the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, where he became school Dux in 1909. He graduated with an MA from Aberdeen University in 1913 and started a teaching career. Upon the outbreak of war, he volunteered and joined the 4th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders. By February 1915 he was in France, took part in the battle of Neuve Chapelle, and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in December that year. Most of his war was spent at the front, in the trenches, but he escaped harm until 1918 when he was badly wounded, in the arm. His recuperation was gradual and he did not recover fully until the war was over.
After the war Moireach returned to teaching. He was Headmaster in Foyers until 1925, then in Beauly until 1928, and was appointed Inspector of Schools for Ross and Cromarty in 1928. He had married in 1921, and he and his wife settled in Strathpeffer. Moireach died, at the age of 74, in May 1964.
During his service at the front, Moireach kept a war diary, written in both Gaelic and English. Often in hastily written note-form, the diary records daily routines as well as action, and gives descriptions of his comrades. He also wrote poetry while in the trenches – he had begun writing poetry before the war – but after the war wrote only prose. A few of his articles appeared in Gairm, and the diary together with the poems and essays were published in 1970 as Luach na Saorsa, edited by Alasdair I. MacAsgaill. It included Moireach’s essay on his friend and fellow soldier poet and Lewisman, Iain Rothach. In his book An Introduction to Gaelic Poetry (1974) Derick Thomson considers both Moireach and Iain Rothach to have been influenced to a certain extent by the English-language environment of their period of war service, and the English war poetry which they no doubt read. Moireach did use the sonnet form, and tried his hand at translating poems from English into Gaelic.
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From the Library Catalogue