Friday, November 22, 2019
The skye times mobile

Martin MacIntyre and Flora MacDonald have been named joint winners of the 2019 Macdonald of Sleat poetry prize.

Flora, who wrote The Leaf, was born and raised in Benbecula, with historical links to Clanranald. She has a home in North Uist, where she also has links to MacDonald of Sleat, but her permanent residence is in Glasgow. Flora worked at Sabhal Mòr on summer Short Courses for several years and it was there she was inspired to write her poems on trees.

Martin, who wrote Healing, was raised in Lenzie, near Glasgow but has lived in Edinburgh for over 25 years. He was a student at Sabhal Mòr from 1990 to 1992 and returned there to work on the Tobar an Dualchais project between 1998 and 2003. It was around then that he penned his first proper poem – ‘Canaigh’.

The competition, which is run by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in collaboration with Clan Donald Lands Trust, was instituted by Sir Ian Macdonald of Sleat in memory of his daughter, Deborah, who passed away at an early age.

 

The theme of the competition each year relates to trees and this year an invitation was extended to anyone who writes poetry, or has an interest in doing so, to compose a poem on the subject, Craobh nan Ubhal (the Apple Tree). Martin and Flora’s poems were selected as joint first place by the judges, Professor Meg Bateman and Mark Wringe, both lecturers at Sabhal Mòr.

Flora’s poem, ‘The Leaf’, represents life - a solitary leaf travelling, sometimes following hope, then adversity. It ends with the leaf going into the earth and bringing about new growth. The circle of life is embedded in the poem and eternity is reflected in the earth.

Speaking of receiving the prize, Flora commented: “I was delighted when I received the news. I felt great respect and admiration for the MacDonalds, particularly my own ancestors, Angus MacDonald, who wrote The Clan Donald and The MacDonald collection of Gaelic poetry; and Rachel MacDonald. I am so proud of the South Uist bards; the respected MacDonalds – Donald Allan MacDonald, Donald John MacDonald and the Paisley Bard – and I hope they influenced my writing in some way. I was thankful and happy to be back in Sleat. I felt close to the place, the trees, the MacDonalds and the beautiful surroundings. I slept in “Flora MacDonald”’s room and we were here, together, with our thoughts. Winning this prize has given me great confidence and encouragement and I would like to congratulate Martin, also.”

Martin’s poem, ‘Slànachadh’, is about suffering and healing and he wrote it after noticing a young woman crossing the road, in tears. The judges commended the striking way in which both old and modern imagery were brought together in the poem.

Martin commented: “It is a great honour and hugely encouraging to receive this prize, which is a creative, living reminder of Deborah. I was very pleased my poem was granted joint first place alongside Flora MacDonald’s. I think poetry can offer different things to people – both to those who write it, as well as those who read it; a greater understanding of pain and suffering being one of those things, which can sometimes help the healing process.”

Flora was presented with her prize at a gathering at the Museum of the Isles in Armadale Castle on Saturday 28 September by Sir Ian Macdonald, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Clan Donald Lands Trust. Martin was unable to attend the ceremony.

On behalf of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the judges would be delighted to see even more entrants encouraged to take part next year and to raise a greater awareness of the competition.
B’ e dithis a bhuannaich Farpais Bàrdachd MhicDhòmhnaill Shlèite am-bliadhna – Flòraidh NicDhòmhnaill, a sgrìobh ‘An Duilleag’ agus Màrtainn Mac an t-Saoir leis an dàn ‘Slànachadh’. Chaidh an fharpais, a tha air a ruith le Sabhal Mòr Ostaig ann an co-bhonn le Urras Oighreachd Chlann Dòmhnaill, a stèidheachadh leis an Ridire Iain MacDhòmhnaill Shlèite mar chuimhneachan air a nighinn, Deborah, a dh’eug aig aois glè òg.

Rugadh agus thogadh Flòraidh ann am Beinn na Faoghla le ceanglaichean eachdraidheil ri Clann ’ic Ailein. Tha dachaigh aice an Uibhist a Tuath, far a bheil ceanglaichean aice ri Clann ’ic Dhòmhnaill Shlèite, ach tha i a’ fuireach ann an Glaschu. B’ àbhaist dhi bhith ag obair aig an t-Sabhal air na Cùrsaichean Goirid airson grunn bhliadhnaichean agus b’ ann an uairsin a sgrìobh i a cuid bàrdachd mu chraobhan.

’S ann an Lèanaidh faisg air Glaschu a thogadh Màrtainn, agus bhuineadh athair do dh’Uibhist a Deas, ach tha e air a bhith a’ fuireach an Dùn Èideann fad còrr air 25 bliadhna. Bha e na oileanach aig an t-Sabhal Mhòr eadar 1990 is 1992 agus bha e ag obair ann eadar 1998 is 2003 air a’ phròiseact Tobar an Dualchais. B’ ann mun àm ud a sgrìobh e a’ chiad dàn ceart aige – ‘Canaigh’.

’S e cuspair co-cheangailte ri craobhan a tha aig an fharpais gach bliadhna agus b’ e cuspair na bliadhna seo, Craobh nan Ubhal. Chaidh na dàin aig Màrtainn agus Flòraidh a thaghadh sa chiad àite leis na britheamhan, an t-Oll. Meg Bateman agus Mark Wringe, a tha le chèile nan òraidichean aig an t-Sabhal.

Tha ‘An Duilleag’ aig Flòraidh a’ samhlachadh beatha - duilleag na h-aonar a’ siubhal, uaireannan làn dòchais agus uaireannan eile an aghaidh an t-srutha. Tha i a’ crìochnachadh le bhith a’ dol sìos agus a’ dol fodha dhan ùir. Thagh na britheamhan i seo airson ’s gu robh na faclan a’ ruith gu siùbhlach. Tha cearcall na beatha san dàn agus tha an t-sìorraidheachd ga faicinn san ùir.

Bhruidhinn Flòraidh mu dheidhinn a bhith a’ faighinn na duais seo: “Bha mi làn toileachais air a chuala mi a naidheachd. Bha mi faireachdainn spèis is urram dha na Dòmhnallaich, gu h-àraid do mo shinnsear, Aonghas MacDhòmhnaill, a sgrìobh The Clan Donald agus The MacDonald Collection of Gaelic Poetry; agus tè eile dhe mo chàirdean, Raonaid nan Òran.  Tha mi cho moiteil às na bàird à Uibhist a Deas; na Dòmhnallaich urramach - Dòmhnall Ailean Dhòmhnaill na Banaich, Dòmhnall Iain Dhonnchaidh agus Bàrd Phàislig – is tha mi ’n dòchas gun tug iad buaidh air choireigin air mo chuid sgrìobhaidh. Bha mi taingeil is toilichte gu robh mi air ais ann an Slèite. Bha mi a’ faireachdainn faisg air an àite, na craobhan, na Dòmhnallaich agus an àrainneachd àlainn.  Chaidil mi ann an seòmar "Flòraidh NicDhòmhnaill" is bha sinn le chèile an seo le ar smuaintean. Thug e misneachd agus brosnachadh mòr dhomh an duais seo fhaighinn agus tha mi a‘ cur meal a naidheachd air Màrtainn cuideachd."

’S ann mu dheidhinn fulangas is leigheas a tha an dàn ‘Slànachadh’, a sgrìobh Màrtainn ùine ghoirid an dèidh dha mothachadh do bhoireannach òg a’ coiseachd tarsainn an rathaid is i a’ rànaich. Shaoil na britheamhan gun robh an dàn gu math annasach mar a tha e a’ toirt ìomhaigheachd cho arsaidh comhla ri ìomhaigh cho ùr ri fòn-làimhe.

Thuirt Màrtainn: “’S e urram is brosnachadh a th’ ann an duais seo a ghlèidheadh, a tha na cuimhneachan cruthachail, beò air Deborah, nach maireann. Bha mi fìor thoilichte gun deach an dàn agam a chur co-ionnan sa chiad àite le Flòraidh Dhòmhnallach. Saoilidh mi gun tèid aig bàrdachd air grunn rudan a thoirt do dhiofar dhaoine – an dà chuid dhan fheadhainn a bhios ga sgrìobhadh, cho math ris an fheadhainn a bhios ga leughadh; ’s e tuigse nas doimhne air cràdh is fulangas aonan dhiubh sin, is faodaidh sin uaireannan cuideachadh le leigheas.”

Chaidh an duais a thoirt seachad do Fhlòraidh aig cruinneachadh aig Taigh-tasgaidh nan Eilean ann an Caisteal Armadail, Disathairne 28mh Sultain le Sir Iain MacDhòmhnaill, Cathraiche Bhòrd nan Urrasairean air Urras Oighreachd Chlann Dòmhnaill. Cha b’ urrainn do Mhàrtainn a bhith an làthair.

A’ bruidhinn às leth an t-Sabhail Mhòir, thuirt na britheamhan gum bu mhath leotha tuilleadh fhaicinn a’ cur a-steach airson na co-fharpais seo agus gum bu chòir feuchainn ri am facal a sgaoileadh nas fhaide an ath-bhliadhna.

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