Gerard Cairns

The Honourable Ruaraidh Erskine of Marr and the Prism of Ireland

This paper focuses on Ruaraidh Erskine of Mar (1869-1960), a Scottish nationalist and an influential Gaelic revivalist, and his engagement with Irish nationalism and its representatives. It will touch on the following topics:

  • An early Home Rule Education – touring with Parnell (the last tour in 1890; Parnell committing to independence; Herbert Vivian and the Whirlwind)
  • Pan-Celticism (links to the Gaelic League; Patrick Pearse; Guth na Bliadhna)
  • Becoming a Sinn Feiner (writing for the Sinn Fein Daily over 1907-08)
  • “Who Fears to Speak of Easter Week?” (reaction; qualified support; Scottish Review)
  • Doing his bit for Ireland – Erskine and the Irish War of Independence
  • A Scottish Pearse? (Scots National League; plans for a Fianna na h-Alba; links with Art O’Brien and the IRA)

In conclusion, I will discuss Ireland as a prism driving Scottish nationalism; Erskine’s involvement with the socialist leader John MacLean; and also the historian Bob Purdie and his view of ‘cognitive dissonance’.

Gerard Cairns, independent scholar, Glasgow