In praise of John Campbell, Factor Mór

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Historian and writer Robin Campbell is set to give an illustrated online talk next week on a subject of great interest to Argyll and the isles.

On Friday November 20 he will make a presentation to the Gaelic Society of Inverness about nineteenth century West Highland Argyllshire bard, John Macdougall (Am Bard Ruadh) from Ardgour in Morvern and a rare Gaelic poem by this much-neglected cultural figure.

The poem is in praise of estate factor John Campbell from Islay, who served as Chamberlain to the 7th and 8th Dukes of Argyll from 1845. Campbell, a Gaelic speaker, is still remembered today as ‘Factor Mór’ on the islands of Mull and Iona and ‘Am Baillidh Mor’ on Tiree.

He is buried at Kildalton in Islay.

The poem is striking both for its references to the potato famine of 1846, a rarity in Gaelic poems and as an eulogy to a prominent factor.

The talk will conclude with celebrated Gaelic singer Mary Ann Kennedy singing the praise poem, the first time it is believed to have been sung, in its entirety, in more than 100 years.

A book entitled The Land Agent 1700-1920, recently published by the Edinburgh University Press, features a chapter by Robin about the subject of this poem, John Campbell of Ardmore, Islay.

The presentation, starting at 7.30pm, will be streamed live on both the Facebook page and website of the Gaelic Society of Inverness.