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The Galloway Gaelic Otherworld: evidence from place-names and local stories

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Event Date
September 15, 2023 @ 7:00 pm
Hybrid Hybrid Event

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A window into Galloway’s Gaelic stories of the otherworld and superstition

Pre-reformation Galloway must have been awash with Gaelic superstition, in common with the better recorded parts of the Gàidhealtachd of Ireland, Man and Scotland. Galloway has nothing like the rich collections of John Gregorson Campbell’s Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands or Alexander Carmichael’s Carminica Gadelica but does have plentiful evidence of belief in the supernatural in it many guises.

This evidence come from place-names and stories which record belief in subterranean monsters, fairies, banshees, the cailleach, the deil and more besides. Galloway preserves a memory of Finn Mac Cool’s war-band, the Fianna in its place-names, stories about whom must have echoed around the Galloway countryside. We can imagine the weary traveller coming down the pack road to the inn at Polmaddy being asked the customary question of a stranger ‘A’ bheil dat agad air na Fèinn’ – ‘what stories have you about Finn Mac Cool and his band’ before a night of ceilidh.

Although all that was mostly swept aside by the reformation, some echoes of it survive and persist in the place-names and folk tales of Galloway. Michael Ansell will attempt to bring some of these superstitions back to life at least for a short while in a talk at the Smiddy, Balmaclellan,19:00 Friday 15th September.

This event supports the recent publishing of ‘Galloway: The Lost Province of Gaelic Scotland’ – more info + buy your copy:

Image: Fionn by Beatrice Elvery

UPDATE: 01/08/2023: Event is now being delivered in ‘hybrid’ format, with attendees welcomed either in person in Balmaclellan or online via zoom (details sent out in 24 hours before the event)


Balmaclellan, Balmaclellan
Venue Details
Balmaclellan Smiddy, Balmaclellan
Balmaclellan, Dumfries and Galloway DG7 3QE United Kingdom
Events Details
Date :
15 September 2023
Time :
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
More Info:
Galloway Glens
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