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      Stornoway, Broadbay & Lochs news

There was a successful night at the Gaelic Literature Awards 2023, held in Cottiers Theatre in Glasgow last night (Thursday September 14) for Stornoway-based publisher Acair.

A total of five Acair titles were shortlisted for the awards.

Crann-fìge | Fig-tree by Duncan Gillies was the first award presented of the night which won the Highland Society of London Award for Best Fiction Book.

Crann-fìge | Fig-tree was published in November of last year. It is a collection of short-stories in both English and Gaelic which sit alongside each other. Duncan also won the Highland Book Prize 2022 in June with Crann-fìge | Fig-tree.

Duncan said: “I am very happy to win this award and also happy that Acair have had a successful awards ceremony.”

Na Stocan agus na Stùcan, a translation of The Smeds and the Smoos by Julia Donaldson, was shortlisted for the Award for Best Book for Children/Young People. It had been translated into Gaelic by Morag Stewart for Acair. Unfortunately, they didn’t win the award and it was presented to Gwen Bowie for her book, Donaidh Dathach.

It was then time for The Derick Thomson Prize for Best Poetry Book (sponsored by The Scottish Poetry Library). Catriona Murray won this prestigious award for the work she had done to create Doras gun Chlàimhean. For the first time, a bilingual anthology of the poems and songs of the Gaelic poet Murdo MacFarlane from Lewis, the Melbost Bàrd, is available in one volume. In addition to his verse, which covers war, emigration, heritage, language and philosophy, a selection of MacFarlane’s other writings, in Gaelic and in English, is included. A CD featuring MacFarlane singing a selection of his Gaelic songs serves as a portal to the unique voice of the bàrd. The collection cements his standing as a celebrated Gaelic tradition bearer and language activist of the twentieth century and is a unique and valuable contribution to Gaelic literature.

Doras gun Chlàimhean strongly reinforces Murdo MacFarlane's reputation as a poet, a storyteller and a lobbyist for Gaelic in the twentieth century. There are many precious treasures that await everyone who passes through the precious door of Bàrd Mhealaboist.

Catriona said: “It’s a huge honour to win this award, particularly with Derick Thomson’s name connected to it. Derick was my lecturer in University and I am very fond of his own poetry. I hope that Murdo would have been delighted with the honour.”

Two Acair titles were shortlisted for The Donald Meek Award for Best Non-fiction Book; Cha Till Mise by Ruairidh MacLean and Gun Sireadh, Gun Iarraidh by Kenna Campbell and Ainsley Hamill.

Cha Till Mise is about the convoys to Russia during the Second World War. This book tells, in depth, of the danger and hardship endured by those sailors and the story of those who, despite their fears, sailed in these convoys.

Gun Sireadh, Gun Iarraidh, a collection of Frances Tolmie’s songs, is a hugely important part of Highland culture. The work of one of the great unsung heroines of Scottish Gaelic song – Frances Tolmie – is celebrated in a new, expanded edition of her seminal collection of songs which has influenced generations of singers from the early 20th century right up to the present day. Championed by one of the contemporary Gaelic world’s leading tradition bearers, singer Kenna Campbell and one of her former students, Ainsley Hamill, Gun Sireadh, Gun Iarraidh (Without Seeking, Without Asking) promises to open Tolmie’s songs and life’s work up to new audiences in this edition, which re-unites songs, lyrics and background, and which returns Frances Tolmie to rightful prominence.

Kenna Campbell and Ainsley Hamill were delighted to receive the Donald Meek Award for Best Non-fiction Book for the vast work they had undertaken to bring Gun Sireadh, Gun Iarraidh to fruition.

Angus Morrison, Manager at Acair said: “It is a huge honour for Acair to have had any title shortlisted, but to have had five is wonderful! We wouldn’t have any of these books were it not for the authors who create these pieces of writing and indeed the support we receive from other organisations – namely The Gaelic Books Council, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Creative Scotland.”

“We’d like to extend our thanks to The Gaelic Books Council for recognising these wonderful books and the authors involved in them. It is so important that Gaelic literature be acknowledged and celebrated in the same way as English literature and we are seeing an increasing market for bilingual books.”

All of the books named above can be bought on