Calum Maclean

Male, Deceased Person

1915 – 1960

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Who was Calum Maclean?

Calum Iain Maclean, a Scottish folklorist, collector, ethnographer and author, was born in 1915 in Òsgaig, Isle of Raasay, Scotland, to a family of five boys and two girls to Malcolm MacLean, tailor, and his wife, Kirsty, daughter of Sorley Mor Nicolson of Braes, Skye, and his wife, Ishabel. His four other brothers were the famous Gaelic poet and scholar, Sorley MacLean [Somhairle MacGill-Eain], a schoolmaster and classicist, John Maclean, and two general practitioners, Dr. Alasdair Maclean, and Dr. Norman Maclean. Alasdair was also a historian. Ishabel and Mary, their sisters, were also schoolteachers.

Maclean received his early education at Raasay Primary School and then Portree High School, Skye. Maclean then went to the University of Edinburgh where he took a first in Celtic Studies under the tutelage of two famous Gaelic scholars, Professor William J. Watson, and his son Professor James Carmichael Watson. He won the McCaig and Macpherson scholarships which enabled him to enrol at University College Dublin where he undertook further study in Early Irish under Professor Osborn Bergin and in Medieval and Modern Welsh under Professor J. Lloyd-Jones. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Maclean's studies came to a temporary halt and he had to cast around for some other means of livelihood. At first he worked in a factory in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, and from there he went to stay in Inverin, just west of Galway City in Connemara. While domiciled there, Maclean began to take an interest in the local Gaelic traditions, inspired mainly by the influence and writings of Douglas Hyde. With relative ease Maclean acquired a particular skill in the modern Irish of the Connaught Gaeltacht and was appointed by Professor Seumas Delargy as a part-time collector for the Irish Folklore Commission. During this period, Maclean turned his back on his Presbyterian upbringing and converted to the Roman Catholic faith. From August 1942 to February 1945, Maclean sent a considerable amount of southern Connemara lore to the Commission, amounting to six bound volumes. From March 1945 Maclean was employed as a temporary cataloguer by the Commission in Dublin. During the next few months, Maclean learnt the craft of folklore, extracting excerpts from 19th century printed Scottish Gaelic tale collections and gaining experience in cataloguing.

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Sep 6, 1915
  • Scotland
Aug 17, 1960

on July 23, 2013


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