THE FIRST non-Scot to be honoured with the title of bàrd has hung up his literary crown after clocking up more than 20,000 miles travelling to the Royal National Mòd from his home in Canada, during his four-year term.
Lewis MacKinnon, 44, an accomplished Gaelic poet whose MacDougall ancestors moved to Nova Scotia in 1791, said he was privileged to have served in the honorary post, which is awarded to someone who has made a significant contribution to Gaelic literature.
He said: “Part of it has been about creating poetry, to create and to share poetry, and it is also an opportunity to talk about the role of literature in a vibrant Gaelic community.
“We talk about regenerating and reclaiming the language, and one of the things I think is important is that new creations are coming into the language through adults and youth.
“They become pieces of the collective culture and become resources to the learners and others.”
Mr MacKinnon, who is employed as a Gaelic affairs officer by the Canadian government, said there was a firm movement to fortify Nova Scotia’s links with the Gaelic community in Scotland.
As he bid farewell to the honorary post yesterday, a new appointment was made with Flòraidh MacPhail becoming the 55th Bàrd of An Comunn. Mrs MacPhail, 70, from Tiree is the mother of Angus MacPhail, one of the founder members of the top Gaelic band Skipinnish.
As well as having written a book in Gaelic, Mrs MacPhail has written many song lyrics, including the words for the song Aisling Cuimhn’ (Dream Memory) on Skipinnish’s new album Western Ocean.
The new Gaelic Learner of the Year was also awarded to Christina Mackenzie, an administrator at the Pròiseact nan Ealan in Stornoway.