Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist by Margaret Fay Shaw

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The fruits of a life’s work, this marvellous compendium of photographs, stories, folklore and songs has been an established classic since its first publication in 1955. It is a wonderful evocation of the vibrant life and history of South Uist and the Gaelic world in which it played so important a part.

Enriched by Margaret Fay Shaw’s photography, Folksongs and Folklore of South Uist, is both an introduction to the life of the Gael and a fitting memorial to a world now largely disappeared. The material in the book was mostly collected between 1929 and 1935 during the author’s stay in South Lochboisdale.

Margaret Fay Shaw’s life spans a century of change. Leaving home and school in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia aged 16, she crossed to Scotland to spend a year at school near Glasgow. It was there that her love for Scotland was born. After studying music in New York and Paris, she returned to live for six years with two sisters in South Uist. Life on the island had changed little from previous centuries, and material comforts were few. But the island was rich in music and tradition, and Margaret Fay Shaw’s collection of Gaelic lore and song are amongst the most important made this century, whilst her photography evocatively captures the aura of a vanished world.

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