The first Gaelic Poet Laureate has been announced

The first Gaelic Poet Laureate has been announced

Glasgow Life is delighted to announce Niall O’Gallagher as the first Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu/ Glasgow’s City Gaelic Poet Laureate.

The appointment will run from 28th July – 31st October and will be launched as part of the Merchant City Festival’s Gaelic Literature and Song Trail.

Bard Baile Ghlaschu is a municipal role with a city profile and, crucially, the Bard will be in post during the Royal National Mòd in October 2019.  The post is based on the City’s Poet Laureate model, which is in the gift of the Lord Provost’s Office (Glasgow City Council). The city’s longstanding Poet Laureate is Jim Carruth and he will work alongside the Bard in a supportive capacity for the duration of the post.

There has never been a Gaelic poet attached to a city within an urban contemporary context and this is a great opportunity to celebrate the Gaelic Language and its role within Glasgow. 

Niall O’Gallagher won a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust / Gaelic Books Council to work on his first collection of poems Beatha Ùr (Clàr, 2013) which was followed by Suain nan Trì Latha (Clàr, 2016). He’s working on a third, due in 2020. Niall is poetry editor of the Gaelic journal STEALL.

Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu, Niall O’Gallagher said:

I was delighted to hear I was going be named Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu, the city’s first Gaelic laureate. Glasgow’s where I’ve always spoken Gaelic and were most of my poems were written.

It’s right that this in happening in Glasgow, the city that’s been a centre of Gaelic poetry and publishing for years, from Màiri Mhòr nan Òran to Iain Crichton Smith and Derick Thomson.

I want to take the chance to draw attention to that secret history and, in my own small way, add to it. My first collection was a book of Glasgow love poems and I’m looking forward to writing more about the city in the months ahead.

Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu will play an active role in producing poetry and participate in writing events across the city. He will publish a pamphlet of poems relevant to Glasgow, work on the National Poetry Library of Scotland podcast and also participation in opportunities to workshop at schools and within the Gaelic community.

The Royal National Mòd, Scotland’s premier Gaelic cultural festival, takes place annually. This year’s event will take place in Glasgow from 11-19 October. It’s the first time the Mòd has been held in Glasgow for 29 years.

Lord Provost Eva Bolander said:

I’m excited at the appointment of Niall O’Gallagher as the city’s first Gaelic Poet. It demonstrates this city’s commitment to the Gaelic language and culture as well as its creativity and multi-culturalism.

Familiar places in Glasgow like Garscadden, Barlinnie and Garscube originate from Gaelic and Gaelic was widely spoken in the Lowlands including Glasgow but died out before the 18th century.

The reintroduction of the language stretches back to the arrival of people from the Highlands and Islands who settled here during the later centuries on the banks of the River Clyde.

I know everyone will make our Gaelic Poet welcome and it’s great he’s going to be able to welcome the Royal National here in October this year.

This project is supported by the Gaelic Books Council and is being managed by Glasgow Life, Gaelic Arts Programme.

Alison Lang, Director of the Gaelic Books Council, said:

We are delighted to be collaborating with Glasgow Life to celebrate Gaelic poetry in Glasgow in this UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages. We wish Niall O’Gallagher and Jim Carruth well and look forward to seeing the new poems that emerge from this initiative.

The position of Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu will be announced during the Merchant City Festival’s at 2pm before the Gaelic Literature and Song Trail which takes place at 3pm on 28th July, starting at St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life & Art.

Niall will be available for photos and press photographers are welcome to attend the event.