Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh

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Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh (c.1569–c.1674), also known as Mary Macleod, was a Scottish Gaelic poet.[1]


Born at Rowdil, Harris, she was a daughter of Red Alastair, and through him connected with the chiefs of the Macleods. In one of her poems, she claims to have nursed five lairds of the Macleods and two lairds of Applecross. Most of her life was spent at Dunvegan, Skye, in the Macleod of Macleod household. At one time, however, she was exiled by her chief to Mull for being too profuse in her praise of his relative, Sir Norman Macleod of Bernera. She was afterwards recalled to Dunvegan and died there in 1674.[2][3]


Only a few of her poems, mostly laudations of the Macleods, have been preserved.[2][4]

Macleod is widely regarded as one of the stalwarts of the new school of poetry that was emerging in the 17th century, which eventually replaced the classical Gaelic bards.[5]

The 1893 Encyclopædia Britannica states: "Macleod’s poetry is celebrated for its simple, natural rhythms. Her poems were full of the imagery that was customary in the verse of the bardic poets. Macleod's poems were mostly exalted tales of the heroic deeds of the Macleod family, woven with her strong love for her family... A handful of her poems remains today. Of those that survive, the elegies are the best, poignant yet fresh in their style."[5]


MacLeod is also referenced in Scottish folklore as composing her poetry neither indoors nor outdoors and that she would croon from the threashold.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ Thomson, Derick S. "Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17675. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b MacDonald 1893.
  3. ^ "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  4. ^ edited (1995). Watson, Roderick, ed. The poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots, and English, 1380-1980. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 230–235. ISBN 0748606076.
  5. ^ a b "Mary Macleod". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Sgeul mu Mhàiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh". Tobar an Dualchais. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Crònan Màiri Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh (Hill-iù-an hill-eò-an)". Tobar an Dualchais. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Hill iù-an hill eò-an". Tobar an Dualchais. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 4 June 2018.


Primary Sources[edit]

  • Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh (2014). Ó Baoill, Colm, ed. Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh: Song-maker of Skye and Berneray. Edinburgh: Scottish Gaelic Texts Society. ISBN 9780903586061.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainMacDonald, James Ramsay (1893). "Macleod, Mary". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co.