Derick Thomson and Ireland

Petra Johana Poncarová



This essay examines the diverse manifestations of a lifelong interest in Ireland in the work of the Scottish Gaelic poet, scholar, and activist Ruaraidh MacThòmais (Derick Thomson, 1921-2012). It touches upon Thomson’s academic engagement with Irish-related topics and follows his comments on the situation of the Irish language and revitalisation efforts in his “manifesto” essay “The Role of the Writer in a Minority Culture” (1966) and other articles, where it serves as a source of inspiration and a point of contrast. Detailed attention is paid to the generous space which was devoted to Irish affairs and literature in the Gaelic quarterly magazine Gairm which Thomson cofounded and steered for fifty years (1952-2002), including his reviews of Irish-related publications. Drawing on references in Gairm and in Thomson’s poetry collections, the essay also brings together evidence of his personal contacts with Irish writers and intellectuals, including Máirtín Ó Direáin, and of his sustained engagement with W.B. Yeats.


Ruaraidh MacThòmais (Derick Thomson), Ireland, revival, Gairm, Máirtín Ó Direáin, William Butler Yeats




Gairm Air-Loidhne / Gairm Online. DASG: Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic. University of Glasgow. https://dasg.ac.uk/gairm.


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“Bibliography.” In Fèill-sgrìbhinn do Ruaraidh MacThòmais – Festschrift for Professor Derick S. Thomson. Scottish Gaelic Studies XVII, edited by James Gleasure and Colm Ó Baoill, 4-23. Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1996.

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Grimble, Ian. “Introduction.” In The Future of the Highlands, edited by Derick Thomson and Ian Grimble, 1-26. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968.

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MacThòmais, Ruaraidh. “Air an Spiris.” Gairm 76 (1971): 297.

MacThòmais, Ruaraidh. “Air an Spiris.” Gairm 171 (1995): 201-202.

MacThòmais, Ruaraidh. “An Sgeilp Leabhraichean.” Gairm 13 (1955): 87.

MacThòmais, Ruaraidh. “An Sgeilp Leabhraichean.” Gairm 71 (1970): 281-83.

MacThòmais, Ruaraidh. “Tìr na Gàidhlig ann a Linn na h-Ola.” Gairm 87 (1974): 209-216.

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Thomson, Derick. An Introduction to Gaelic Poetry. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1989.

Thomson, Derick, ed. Bàrdachd na Roinn-Eòrpa an Gàidhlig / European Poetry in Gaelic. Glasgow: Gairm Publications, 1990.

Thomson, Derick. Creachadh na Clàrsaich / Plundering the Harp. Edinburgh: MacDonald, 1982.

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Thomson, Derick. “The Role of the Writer in a Minority Culture.” Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness XLIV (1964-1966): 256-71.