January 31, 2022

What Does a Small Highland Community Look like When Viewed over Time Through the Eyes of the Women?

Lisa MacDonald

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PoetryMnathan na Còigich / The Women of Coigach, 2022

The role of the women in the land struggles of the mid-1800s is astonishing, yet the history books reveal little about them. Delving deeply into archives, contemporaneous accounts and academic research offered an insight into their truths, whilst opening much broader questions about women’s perspectives on issues and events which affect their lives as they shape the wider sociopolitical landscape.

This collection of Gaelic and English poetry explores my own small community in the North West Highlands from the famine years of the early 1800s to the present day, touching on the Clearances, rural depopulation, minority language decline, migration, and the current housing crisis. Woven through the context of the everyday, the poems bring to life the stories of fictional women who are nonetheless real. The titles name the women and give their age at the time of the textual snapshot, as well as the year it was taken. The Gaelic and English versions are not translations, but versions of each other, reveling in the additional dimension offered by bilingualism.