No one quite like Norman MacLean

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Entertainer Norman MacLean died on Thursday August 31, aged 80.
An announcement on the Uist Facebook page read simply:

Norman Mackinnon Maclean
26 December 1936 – 31 August 2017

It is with much sadness, and a deep sense of loss, that we announce the death of our dear friend, Norman Maclean, at the age of eighty years. Norman had become increasingly frail since the beginning of the year, and on the 3rd of August he was admitted to the Uist and Barra Hospital, where he received excellent care and was shown great kindness and tenderness. He passed away peacefully in the hospital at 2.27pm this afternoon.

The Glasgow-born former Oban teacher rose to fame as an entertainer in Gaelic and English in the 1970s.
He was known for his sharply-observed comedy, piping and was a Mod gold medallist. He also performed over many years at venues across Argyll, where he remained popular throughout his colourful life.

After news of his passing was published by the Argyllshire Advertiser, the paper’s Facebook page received a large volume of comments expressing sadness – but also recalling the life of this remarkable man.

Liz MacInally wrote: ‘I taught with this lovely man briefly at Garthamlock Secondary in Glasgow in the ’60s. He was funny, articulate, highly talented and a shrewd observer of Scottish life. In particular, he said no-one ever gave you praise for your achievements until you died. So come on folks, let’s hear how great this man was. A fine piper, a mod medallist, a Latin and mathematics scholar and a brilliant stand-up comic.’

Sandy Wilson, a colleague of Norman MacLean at Oban High School, wrote: ‘Gaeldom at its best! In the ’70s in Oban High School we lost both our Gaelic teachers and Norman selflessly rearranged his life and came to our rescue. He saw all the Gaelic pupils through their exams while remaining his witty, charming, enigmatic self.’

He added: ‘Norman’s admin was as good as his teaching and his reports on pupils were exemplary: accurate, concise, professional and as a Highland gentleman he always said something positive, even though redeeming features were scarce. On one occasion he concluded with: ‘He has beautiful teeth’.’

Neil Anderson: ‘I’ll miss Norman. Recall sharing the stage with him in the village hall for the millennium Pprty.
Also notable for his brilliant Gaelic stand-up and acting performances and for all the people he taught Gaelic, including Karen Matheson and as the voice of Padraig Phost. Rest in Peace Norman.’

James Brown: ‘I remember Norman well. He was part of a gig with Willie John McAulay and Gaberlunzie when they performed at the Covenanters in the early ’80s. Liked a dram and a top bloke. Shame.’

Alison MacDonald: ‘A very talented man. Heard him on many occasions in the Royal Hotel, Ardrishaig, in the ’80s.’

Ian Mc Pherson: ‘Lovely man, great fun to be with. Filmed a couple of times at Bowmore Distillery while I was there. Will be sadly missed.’

Gordon Cumming: ‘Had the pleasure of meeting Norman and spending some time with him – a scholar and a gentleman, though not given to undue refinement. A loss to his family, friends and the greater community.’

Margaret Shaw: ‘Great man. Loved his humour and Gaelic singing. Will be missed by many.’

Rhetta McLean: ‘I don’t think anyone will ever be able to take his place.’

Elizabeth Reive: ‘A very talented, funny man.’

Jan MacMartin: ‘Sad news, a true legend. x’

Flora MacPherson: ‘Very clever man and an excellent entertainer.’

Moira McDonald: ‘No one like him!’