Eleanor Thomson

The Evolution of Scottish Gaelic Drama: Calum MacPhàrlain’s ‘Am Mosgladh Mor’ from 1914 to 1925

Calum MacPhàrlain (1851-1931) is a critical, yet neglected, figure in Scottish and Gaelic Studies. He was integral to Gaelic publishing; the establishment and evolution of Highland and Gaelic Societies; and the literary, linguistic and cultural evolution of the Gaelic movement in Scotland and Ireland. This paper will examine MacPhàrlain’s Gaelic play for children, ‘Am Mosgladh Mor’. It was first published in the Celtic Monthly in 1914, before a redacted version won second prize in the Mòd competition for Gaelic literature in 1925. Translated as ‘The Great Awakening’, the Queen and her court come under a sleeping spell, only to finally be awoken by the return to the island of its rightful descendants and the defeat of the invading Queen. The play acts as a satirical comment on the perilous state of the Gaelic language and the aspirations held, by MacPhàrlain at least, for its future. The paper will examine the justifications and ramifications of the play’s revisions; provide insight into the evolution of Gaelic Drama within the cultural, political and literary context of the Gaelic movement; and answer calls from current scholarship to increase the visibility of Scottish Gaelic Drama in the dense field of Scottish Literatures.

Eleanor Thomson, University of Glasgow, Scotland