Sorley MacLean

Somhairle MacGill-Eain

1911 (Raasay, Scotland) – 1996 (Inverness)

MacLean bears a great responsibility for the survival and revival of Gaelic poetry, and had an important secondary role as critic, when Gaelic literature was suffering from a general lack of critical exposure. He enjoyed a strong close friendship with the older MacDiarmid, who first contacted him to help with translation from Gaelic (probably not realising MacLean was a poet too). Friends until MacDiarmid’s death, both ardent nationalists, MacLean did for Gaelic writing what MacDiarmid did for Scots. When Heaney (who became a great fan) first heard MacLean reading, he was struck by what he called his “bardic dignity.”