Manuscript (booklet) for a play ‘Beitidh’ by Mary A MacKinnon (1888-1980), Heylipol, ca 1916. Written in aid of the Tiree Memorial Fund.

Màiri Anna Theònaidh was the daughter of John MacKinnon, the ground officer. At thirteen, Mary Ann moved from the estate house in Heylipol to Glasgow, where she trained as a teacher. In 1924, she married Captain Alasdair Campbell, who had the misfortune to be torpedoed three times in his naval career. Mary Ann Campbell (or MacKinnon) was the first published female Gaelic playwright.  The first of three published dramas was the 1916 Beitidh / Betty:

“[Campbell’s] eponymous Beitidh ends up winning a doctor in Glasgow who is also a Gaelic-speaker. This is a rather neat solution that serves also to teach Beitidh not to be ashamed of her Gaelic (a reprise of the ‘don’t forget your Gaelic’ trope). This is the main theme of the play which is bilingual: the action is in Gaelic when set in Tiree and in English when in a Kelvinside drawing room. The women in the play are strikingly independent and full of character. Beitidh’s mother is quite happy to state that the men would be nothing without their women. Her English-speaking friend Rosie is very quick-witted and likes to shock, principally by smoking.”

The Stornoway Gazette praised the play, concluding: “It is probably impossible to-day to show any series of events of Highland life significant enough to dramatise apart from English influence.” As if in response to this, her next play Clann nan Gàidheal ri Guailibh a Chèile ‘Children of the Gaels, Shoulder to Shoulder’, was set against the backdrop of the Great War. Mary Ann Campbell was an early member of the Tiree Association in Glasgow, and produced the First World War Roll of Honour for the island. She retired to ‘Caladh’ in Balevullin.

See article: Ross S Identity in Gaelic Drama 1900-1949, Glasgow University https://ijosts.ubiquitypress.com/articles/216/galley/425/download


Object Details

Other Number: not specified
Normal Location: Filing Cabinet 9: drawer 2
Current Location: normal location

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