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March 27, 2012 – Tartan Day Dedicated to Derick S. Thomson

Ellis Island Celebration Dedicated to Prof. Derick S. Thomson

Worldwide Scots Gaelic Community Mourns the Passing of the Famed Bard and Teacher

The Scots-Gaelic community has lost a giant. Professor Derick S. Thomson has died. The distinguished scholar, poet and renown advocate for the promotion of Scottish Gaelic literature and poet died peacefully at his home in Glasgow, Scotland. He was 90 years old.

Professor Derick S. Thomson

“The world has lost a brilliant poet and teacher,” said Robert Currie, president of the Clan Currie Society. “Clann Mhuirich and the entire worldwide Scots-Gaelic community have lost one of its finest contemporary bards.”

In addition to his manifold educational and publishing credits, Thomson was a noted researcher and writer on the MacMhuirich bardic dynasty. His research papers, delivered largely through the Gaelic Society of Inverness were largely responsible for our understanding and appreciation of the MacMhuirichs.

In tribute to Thomson, the Clan Currie is dedicating their annual Tartan Day on Ellis Island program to the memory of this longstanding friend of the Clan. The exhibition, “An Leabhar Mòr” – the Great Book of Gaelic is a profoundly fitting tribute in that one of Thomson’s poems, “An Turas” or “The Journey” is featured in the book.

About Professor Derick S. Thomson

Derick Thomson, known as Ruaraidh MacThòmais in his native Scottish Gaelic, was a Scottish poet, publisher, lexicographer, academic and writer. He was originally from Lewis, but spent much of his life in Glasgow, where he was Professor of Celtic at the University of Glasgow from 1963 to 1991. He is best known for setting up the Gaelic publishing house, Gairm, along with its magazine, which was the longest running periodical ever entirely in Scottish Gaelic, running for over fifty years under his editorship. He was an Honorary President of the Scottish Poetry Library, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy. In June 2007, he received an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow.

Educated at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, he went onto the Universities of Aberdeen; Cambridge and Bangor University. He would later teach at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. He became Professor of Celtic at Glasgow in 1963, and retired in 1991. He was Chairman of the Gaelic Books Council 1968-91; President Scottish Gaelic Texts Society; former member of Scottish Arts Council and was the first recipient of the Ossian Prize in 1974. Professor Thomson was Chairman of the SNP’s Gaelic Committee in the Seventies.

He was the author of numerous books including An Introduction to Gaelic Poetry, The Companion to Gaelic Poetry, European Poetry in Gaelic, and collections of Gaelic poetry, including his collected poems Creachadh na Clàrsaich (Plundering of the Clarsach) which shared the Scottish Book of the Year Award in 1983. He also edited The Companion to Gaelic Scotland. His English-Gaelic dictionary came out in 1981, and was for many years the most practical reference of its kind.

Read “The Journey” (English)

Read “An Turas” (Gaelic)

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