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Hallaig is a poem by Sorley MacLean. It was originally written in Scottish Gaelic and has been translated into both English and Lowland Scots. A recent translation (2002) was made by Seamus Heaney, an Irish Nobel Prize winner.

The poem is named after a deserted township located on the south-eastern corner of the Hebridean island of Raasay, the poet's birthplace, it is a reflection on the nature of time and the historical impact of the Highland Clearances, leaving an empty landscape populated only by the ghosts of the evicted and those forced to emigrate.

The poem is notable for its deployment of imagery of nature, and in this respect is redolent of Duncan Ban MacIntyre's Beinn Dorain, particularly in its references to woodlands and deer.

Hallaig is incorporated in the lyrics of The Jacobite Rising, an opera by Peter Maxwell Davies, and can be heard, being read by MacLean, as part of the song "Hallaig" on Martyn Bennett's album Bothy Culture.

MacLean talked extensively about the poem in Timothy Neat's documentary for RTÉ, Hallaig: the Poetry and Landscape of Sorley MacLean in 1984.

The poem inspired an organ work by William Sweeney called " Hallaig 12' " commissioned for the inaugural concert of the Flentrop Organ in Dunblane Cathedral.

The name MV Hallaig was chosen for Caledonian MacBrayne's first hybrid-powered vehicle ferry,[1] launched in December 2012, now serving the Sconser to Raasay route.


  1. ^ "NAME Announced For New Ferry". Inverclyde Now. 4 October 2012. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013.

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Coordinates: 57°22′19″N 6°00′37″W / 57.37205°N 6.01019°W / 57.37205; -6.01019