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Publisher spotlight: Gaelic Books Council

Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know the Gaelic Books Council, which widely supports Gaelic writers and publishers through their work.

What’s your story?

The Gaelic Books Council, founded in 1968, supports Gaelic writers and publishers through commission and publication grants. We are a charity funded by Creative Scotland and by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the public body dedicated to promoting the Gaelic language. From our bookshop in Partick, Glasgow, and via our online shop, we sell to customers and to book retailers, and we ship internationally. We work with a number of Scottish book festivals and other literary organisations to promote Gaelic books through a year-round programme of events.

Tell us about some of your key stories.

Many significant titles have been published with the help of the Gaelic Books Council. Thanks to the vision of our founding chairman, Professor Derick Thomson, pivotal works by iconic Gaelic poets such as Angus MacNeacail (Aonghas Dubh), Sorley MacLean and Derick Thomson himself are recognised within the canon of Scottish Literature.

More recently, the Gaelic Books Council has been supporting authors and publishers of contemporary fiction in Gaelic. The first of these initiatives was Ùr-sgeul, an imprint of the Highland publisher CLÀR, which released 34 books by new and established authors in its first 10 years. In 2023 we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Ùr-Sgeul title, Ath-Aithne by Martin MacIntyre. A legacy of the pioneering Ùr-sgeul project is the flourishing of Gaelic fiction published by Acair, Luath Press, Sandstone Press and others.

What draws you to a story? What makes a good story?

Gaelic stories represent the experiences of Gaelic speakers past and present and we are looking for works that show Gaelic in a contemporary setting as well as those that represent the heritage and traditions of the language. A good story could be a beloved children’s classic, or a love poem, or a history book, or a cutting-edge novel. If it’s in Gaelic, we want to know about it.

What stories should we look forward to or check out this year?

We are collaborating with Acair on a new strand of accessible novellas. Authors will include Morag Law and Morag Ann MacNeil. We also continue to support the Gaelic contemporary fiction imprint from Luath Press with forthcoming titles by Alistair Paul and Angus Peter Campbell.

There are so many exciting books this year. In children’s books we have Cath Gun Chrìch by Raghnaid Sandilands and beautifully illustrated by Gary Dewar, a debut publication by Dreathan Donn, which came out in August. Dealan-Dè are soon releasing Nollaig Ghrumpa, a Christmassy twist on the popular Grumpa series by Ceitidh Hutton. In non-fiction, Father Ross Crichton’s compilation of Gaelic religious and spiritual texts, Stòras Spioradail nan Gàidheal, isdue to be published by Mungo Books. And in poetry, Doras gun Chlàimhean: Murchadh MacPharlain, Bàrd Mhealaboist will be published by Acair in October and launched at the Royal National Mòd in Perth. This collection of poetry, edited by Catriona Murray, encompasses the works of Murdo MacFarlane “the Melbost Bard”.

Learn more about the Gaelic Books Council at @LeughLeabhar and