Church seeks £3,000 to repair poet's grave

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AN APPEAL has been launched to cover the cost of repairing the grave of one of the most celebrated Gaelic poets.

Donnchcadh Ban Mac an t-Saoir (Duncan Ban MacIntyre), who was born in Glenorchy in 1724, died in Edinburgh in 1812. Despite never learning to read or write, he composed many songs and poems, mainly inspired by the Argyll landscape.

He is buried in the churchyard of Greyfriars Tolbooth and Highland Kirk, the only church in the city where a Gaelic service is still held every Sunday.

The monument that marks his grave has an engraved epitaph that MacIntyre composed, warning that death comes to everyone.

The repairs needed to the grave are expected to cost 3,000. The appeal has been launched by the Greyfriars Kirkyard Trust, which was set up to repair all the kirkyard’s monuments, including memorials to many famous Scots.

Marion Moffat, the trust’s project director, said: "Unfortunately Duncan Ban’s gravestone, like many others in Greyfriars, has become badly dilapidated and restoration work is urgently needed.

"The appeal is to fund the repair of the obelisk, which has delicate raised stone detailing of flora and fauna associated with the poet. Currently these details are delaminating and will require subtle conservation."

MacIntyre worked as a gamekeeper in his youth and fought in the Battle of Falkirk in 1746. When he began composing he had to trust his memory for the reproduction of his own compositions. The Rev Donald MacNicol, the minister of Lismore, helped with the transcription of the poems.

MacIntyre’s works included Oran an t-Samhraidh (Summer Song) and Moladh Beinn Dobhrain (In Praise of Ben Dorain), the latter translated by both Hugh MacDiarmid and Iain Crichton Smith.

In 1767 MacIntyre moved to Edinburgh and became a member of the City Guard and served in the Breadalbane Fencibles.

Following his death, a public meeting in Glasgow in 1855 decided that two memorials to the poet should be erected, one in Greyfriars and another, a 44ft-high granite monument, standing south of Dalmally overlooking Loch Awe.

The trust has undertaken to restore 830 monuments in the kirkyard over the next three-to-five years at a cost of 1.4 million. Earlier this year the Samuel H Kress Foundation, based in New York, handed over a 5,500 grant to pay for urgent repairs to the monument of Thomas Ballantyne, a major benefactor of Trinity Hospital.