Creative Conversations, 10 Feb: Glasgow’s Gaelic Makar / Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu

After studying and then teaching at the University of Glasgow Niall O’Gallagher went to work as a journalist. Niall O’Gallagher’s first book of poems, Beatha Ùr (Clàr), was published in 2013. It featured love poems in European forms, often set in Glasgow.

Reviewing the collection in the Herald, Aonghas MacNeacail wrote, ‘Gaelic poetry welcomes an exciting new (this time essentially urban) voice’. Completed with the help of a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust / Gaelic Books Council, Beatha Ùr continued Gaelic poetry’s long-running engagement with Scotland’s largest city. The book also suggested an interest in strict forms drawn from both the Gaelic and wider European tradition.

His second collection, Suain nan Trì Latha (2016), made this explicit in a series of poems, many addressed to the poet’s infant son, echoing classical Gaelic love lyrics. Anna Frater described the attempt to write dàin dìreach, with their strict syllable counts and intricate rhyming, on modern themes as ‘nuadh-bhàrdachd san t-seann nòs’ (‘new poetry in the old style’) while bilingual poet Deborah Moffat recommended his work to the readers of the Poets’ Republic, telling Marcus Mac an Tuairneir ‘[he] writes about modern life in a classical style; an extraordinary feat’. Welsh poet Llŷr Gwyn Lewis, himself a writer of modern cynghanedd, described Niall O’Gallagher as a ‘brilliant…contemporary practitioner’ of classical Celtic verse.

Niall was appointed Glasgow’s first Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu in July 2019.

Creative Conversations with Niall O’Gallagher will take place on Monday 10 February, 1pm-2pm at the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel.

All Creative Conversations events are free and open to the public.


First published: 5 February 2020