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George Campbell Hay

GEORGE CAMPBELL HAY was born in Elderslie, Renfrewshire in 1915 to Argyllshire parents. When George was aged 4, his father, the novelist John MacDougall Hay, died and so George and his family returned to Tarbert, Loch Fyne. He immersed himself in the beauty of the village, the culture and the language. He learned to speak and write in Gaelic and was fascinated by the life and work of the local herring fishermen, which inspired him to write some of his greatest work.

As well as being a poet writing in English, Scots and Gaelic, he was fluent in many other languages, including French, Italian, Norwegian and modern Greek and translated poetry from many languages into Gaelic.

He was educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh and then, having obtained a scholarship, graduated from Oxford University

In 1940 as war raged in Europe, George, an ardent Scottish Nationalist, defied the call up and absconded to the wilds of his beloved Kintyre. After 8 months on the run, he was captured and imprisoned, then conscripted into the army to serve in North Africa, Italy and Greece.

Because of his left wing views and his association with local people during his time in Greece, he was accused of being a communist agitator and a failed attempt was made on his life by right-wingers. This event was to haunt him for the rest of his life and may have contributed to the mental illness that hospitalised him for long spells.

George died in Edinburgh in 1984. His work is enjoying a revival and a commemorative flagstone for him was laid in Makars’ Court in Edinburgh in April 2017.

During 2015, the centenary of his birth, Anne and Les began working on musical settings for a number of GCH's poems and in collaboration with Angus Martin, organised a small event in Campbeltown to commemorate this anniversary.

The poems used on this recording can be found in the following publications: The Collected Poems and Songs of George Campbell Hay (Deorsa Mac Iain Dheorsa) - Edinburgh University Press (edited by Michael Byrne) //  ISBN 13:978-0748616213

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