2007 - 2021


Hallaig from Neil Kempsell on Vimeo.

The film is an exploration and visual interpretation of the poem “Hallaig” by Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean. The poem originally written in Gaelic and translated describes the tragic loss and memories of a highland community on the Island of Raasay.

The film depicts symbols of life and time. That in Hallaig, there is something to protect. The woods become alive as women, love is presented as a hunter, and time an apparitional deer. The land of the living and the land of the dead become pervious to each other.

The aim of the film is to enlighten and enrich the words of the poem. The aim of creating this film is to educate, inform and raise awareness of the social problems people endured during the period of the Highland Clearances. To research these events of social history in Scotland, in greater depth through the exploration, interpretation and investigation of the poem’s use of symbolism and meaning to depict tragedy and loss.

The clearances were virtually ignored for many years this century by writers, historians and academics, partly out of a new struggle towards statehood in Scotland. Devolution and The new Parliament being a new centre of focus and attention.

However in recent years there has been a great revival in Gaelic culture and a renewed interest in Highland History. I believe that The poet Sorley MacLean, when writing “Hallaig” saw the poem as representing and exploring what could be seen as a microcosm for other problems and injustices in the world. For example: Ireland, Africa [Zimbabwe], Bosnia, and also the homeless of Edinburgh”.

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  1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    The original Gaelic of MacLean’s poem ‘Hallaig’ is online here:


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