The Gaelic Society of Inverness is proud to showcase the story based on the life of Mary MacPherson, Màiri Mhòr nan Oran (Big Mary of the Songs). She was famous as a Skye bard and political campaigner during the Land Wars of the late nineteenth century. She travelled to Inverness in search of work and married Isaac. They raised a family and her life was uneventful until after her husband’s death in 1871. As a widow she worked as a private nurse to support her family. To her horror she was falsely accused of stealing from one of her patients, found guilty and briefly imprisoned. This traumatic event unleashed her poetic voice. She poured her rage and humiliation into a torrent of songs linking her personal distress with the despair felt by her fellow Highlanders being driven from their homes. She moved to Glasgow where she trained as a nurse and midwife at the Royal Infirmary. While following her profession in the city she became involved in Land League meetings and rallies where she became the champion and inspiration for exiled Gaels.
In 1882 she returned to her native island and in 1891 her poems were published. However, she faced the disillusionment of the returning exile and in the end her life reflected the truth of the Gaelic proverb, ‘When the world comes to an end, only love and music will endure.’ Through force of character she overcame the barriers of background, class and gender. She was one of that indomitable collection of Victorian women who refused to accept the constraints that society imposed on them. Her songs are still very much in the musical repertoire and her story has a universal and inspiring theme.
This book will be available for sale at the Mod 2014.