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10 July 2012

Prof. William Gillies Joins 2012 MacMhuirich Symposium

Conference Will Mark the Centenary of the Passing of Folklorist Alexander Carmichael

Professor William (Willie) Gillies, a noted expert on the Clann Mhuirich and the work of Alexander Carmichael is the latest panelist to join the second annual MacMhuirich Symposium hosted by the Clan Currie Society. The symposium takes place in South Uist in Scotland's Outer Hebrides on Saturday 25 July 2012 as part of a weekend of celebrations dedicated to the Clan Mhuirich bards who made their home at Stilligarry on South Uist.

Prof. Gillies joins a distinguished roster of speakers including Dr. Michael Newton from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Prof. Alan Titley of University of Cork and Deborah Anderson, Council Archaeologist for the Western Isles in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.

Robert Currie, President of the Clan Currie Society in New York, commented: “We are delighted to have Willie Gillies join our blue ribbon panel of experts at our annual symposium. His depth of knowledge of the MacMhuirichs is second to none.”

Currie continued, "How appropriate it is to host our annual MacMhuirich Symposium in the village of ìochdar in South Uist, as we will be returning to the site of a series of interviews conducted by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912) as part of his life’s work of collecting the folk tales, hymn, and songs of the Outer Hebrides. It was in the same village of ìochdar that Carmichael first met Janet Currie (still known by her Gaelic name, Seonaid Nic Muirich) in 1865 who shared stories of the Clan Mhuirich and island life. Carmichael would return to this village up until 1890."

The MacMhuirich Symposium precedes the building and dedication of a memorial cairn (stone monument) in honor of the MacMhuirich bards of South Uist at Stilligarry. The cairn will include stones submitted by clansfolk from the four corners of the globe representing the clan's far-flung sons and daughters.

A panoramic view of the MacMhuirich site in Stilligarry, South Uist.

A warm invitation is extended to all events over the weekend of 24 to 26 August, including a welcome reception on Friday evening, a clan ceilidh co-hosted by the renowned Ceolas school on Saturday evening and the unveiling of the MacMhuirich Cairn on Sunday, Aug. 26. For further details and information on how to register for each event visit

About Professor Willie Gillies

Professor William Gillies is an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow of the University of Edinburgh, having retired in 2009 as Professor of Celtic. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Historical Society, and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He received an Honorary DLitt from the University of Ulster in 2006 and was Visiting Professor of Celtic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University in 2009-10.

He has extensive research interests, including the Gaelic of the Middle Ages, the Book of the Dean of Lismore, and the Books of Clanranald, of which he is completing a major edition. His contribution to Gaelic dialectology is most evident in his role in the successful completion and publication of the Survey of the Gaelic Dialects of Scotland (1994-7). As Project Manager from 1994-2001, he led the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue project to its successful conclusion. He is a Language Consultant for the dictionary.

His current projects include the completion of an edition and study of the Red and Black Books of Clanranald, a revised edition of William Matheson's The Songs of John MacCodrum, a revised version of the author's “Scottish Gaelic”, to appear in the second edition of M. J. Ball (ed.), The Celtic Languages; and continuing editions and studies of poems from the Book of the Dean of Lismore. Future projects include a volume provisionally entitled Miscellaneous verse from the Book of the Dean of Lismore, to include some of my previously published and some as yet unpublished editions; the linguistic half of a co-authored book on archaeology and language in Early Scotland; and an edition and study of the works of William Ross.