As the haggis is boiling and the neeps and tatties are prepped, Scottish trad-rock band Mànran are celebrating the work of Scotland’s earliest Poet Laureate Iain Lom MacDonald with their brand new single ‘Là Inbhir Lòchaidh’ (‘The Battle of Inverlochy’)
Although widely believed that Robert Burns was Scotland’s first Poet Laureate, Charles II named Iain Lom MacDonald as Scotland’s Poet Laureate during his 17th century reign. However as the Stuart line was unseated in 1689, and the subsequent Jacobite Risings failed to permanently restore the Stuarts, their status became a moot point. His stature has further been diminished by the fact that he composed exclusively in Gaelic, which even at that time was a language in decline.
On Friday 2 February, two days before their Celtic Connections gig – which is being widely dubbed as the unmissable Closing Party for the 18 day festival, Scottish supergroup Mànran will release their take on Iain Lom MacDonald’s most famous poem ‘Là Inbhir Lòchaidh’ (‘The Battle of Inverlochy’).
Friday 2 February will also mark 373 years to the day since the 2nd Battle of Inverlochy; a highly significant but now largely forgotten about Highland conflict fought-out near modern-day Fort William.
Famously stating, when offered a sword to battle, “You battle; I’ll tell”, Iain Lom MacDonald sought out a high vantage point above the battleground below to record a blow-by-blow account (often in gory detail that would make the most hardened ‘Game of Thrones’ viewer flinch).
Ewen Henderson – singer, fiddle player and piper with Mànran, and a Fort William native, said: “In marking the anniversary of the battle with this new single we hope to spark a new interest in this fascinating and important time in Scottish history while encouraging a renewed respect for the wealth of Gaelic historical sources and the role they have to play in creating a broader, more nuanced view of Scottish history.”
Set against the backdrop of the ‘War of the Three Kingdoms’, the Battle of Inverlochy took place on the morning of a freezing February 2, 1645 on a hill beside Inverlochy Castle, near Fort William. The battle saw a force of 1500 Irish & Highland Royalists fight against 3000 Scots Covenanters. Aside from its wider political importance, the battle was of enormous local significance as one of the largest and most decisive clashes in the centuries-long struggle for Highland supremacy between the MacDonald and Campbell clans. Ultimately the MacDonalds defeated a Campbell army twice their number and forced the Marquess of Argyll to flee in his galley before the fray had even started.
Iain Lom, bard to the Keppoch MacDonalds and later the first poet laureate of Scotland, played an important role in the build-up to the action, guiding the Royalist forces on the final stage of their heroic counter-march through 30 miles of wintery mountain passes and providing the crucial intelligence that helped surprise the Campbell force lying in wait at Inverlochy.
Mànran: Là Inbhir Lòchaidh (The Battle of Inverlochy) will be released on Friday 2 February 2018. They will play the official Celtic Connections Closing Party on Sunday 4 February in the O2 ABC, Glasgow.
For more information on Mànran go to: www.manran.co.uk/
Tickets for Mànran’s upcoming Celtic Connections gig, with special guests including Karen Matheson will take place in the O2 ABC, Glasgow on Sunday 4 February. Tickets are available here: