The Poets and Poetry of Am Bàrd Cafe
at Gairloch Museum
We are regularly asked about the images and verse that adorn the walls of Am Bàrd Cafe. Am Bàrd means the bard or poet. The Gairloch area has a longstanding bardic tradition. The famous Gaelic poet William Ross, known as the Rabbie Burns of the Highlands, lived and died in Gairloch. He and the many other local bards can be discovered in the Museum galleries. Whilst enjoying a refreshment in Am Bàrd Cafe, visitors can read words of the Gairloch bards and see images of the stunning landscapes that inspired their poetry both on the walls and through our picture windows.
'The hard aged fir with its spread branches, bent and leaning with winds of the bare ocean.'
These lines are from the verse Locha Druing by the Inverasdale bard, Iain Cameron. The image of a wintry Slioch overlooking Loch Maree was taken by Huw Bannister.
The Fionn Loch and the Dùbh Loch and the mountains round about, where have you seen any place that could excel them?
The Fionn Loch (the white loch) and the Dùbh Loch (the black loch) are in the heart of The Great Wilderness, east of Loch Maree. They are separated by a causeway and surrounded by high mountains.
The verse Am Fionn Loch ‘s an Dùbh Loch is well known locally and was written by Roderick Cameron of Inverasdale.
Loch Maree is home to five large wooded islands and more than sixty smaller ones.
The most famous of the Loch Maree islands is Isle Maree, which is associated with Saint Maelrubha of Applecross and is the site of an ancient graveyard and a coin tree.
These well-known lines are from the song Loch Maree Islands by Kenneth C. Mackenzie.
The game is gay young lasses play
On grassy slopes in the vast moor,
In fertile glen glad times they spend
With the cows they tend at pasture
William Ross (1762-1790) is the most famous of the Gairloch bards. He is best known for his love poetry and his exquisite use of the Gaelic language.
In this verse Òran an t-Samhraidh (The Song of the Summer) William Ross celebrates the sense of freedom at the summer shieling. You can learn more about shieling life in the Museum.
The Crasg and The Bed of the White Cow, heading down until you reach
the mouth of the river Kerry at high water, nothing grander has been created.
‘The Bed of the White Cow’ is the large hollow in the Gairloch Golf Course, seen in the photograph. Legend has it that Fingal’s white cow gave birth there.
This verse is from Oran do Gheàrrloch by William Mackenzie of South Erradale.
Learn more about the Gairloch bards and their wonderful poetry in our galleries, reading areas and library and visit Am Bàrd Cafe to see these panels in person.