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Margaret Bennett - St Fillans

Margaret Bennett - St FillansMargaret Bennett is a prize winning author, folklorist and singer who continues to write from her home on the edge of St Fillans (Dunira). Though originally from Skye, Margaret has had a Perthshire connection for thirty years, from the time that her mother moved to Balquidder.

Margaret was brought up in a family of tradition bearers with Gaelic on her mother’s side and Lowland Scots on her father’s. School years were spent in Skye, Lewis and Shetland before studying in Glasgow. In the mid-sixties, the legendary Hamish Henderson, singer, poet, folklorist and political activist inspired her career choice. In 1968 she emigrated to Canada to study Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, after which she spent a year in Quebec as a folklorist for Canada’s Museum of Civilization. From 1984 to 1996 she lectured at The University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies and now teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A prize-winning author, she has written ten books, contributed to over 40 others, featured on media productions and several musical collaborations with her son, Martyn Bennett (1971–2005), including the National Theatre of Scotland’s acclaimed production, ‘Black Watch’. Recipient of previous awards for contributions to literature, folklore and culture, an Honorary Doctorate of Music (Glasgow, 2010), ‘Le Prix du Québec’ (for contributions to Quebec cultural studies, 2011) and was made an Honorary Professor of the Royal Scottish Academy in 2012.

Margaret Bennet was nominated for inclusion in our authors and books pages by neighbours and LETI members Jim and Liz Bradley of Riverside Cabins, St Fillans.


In Our Day by Margaret BennettBook by Margaret Bennett 

Book Titles:

  1. THE LAST STRONGHOLD: Scottish Gaelic Traditions of Newfoundland, (200 pp.), co-published by Breakwater Books, St. John's, Newfoundland and Canongate Publishers, Edinburgh, l989. (Winner of the Michaelis Ratcliffe Prize for Folklore)

  2. Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave, (300 pages + 16 pp. photographs), Polygon, Edinburgh, 1992. Reprinted 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001. (On Scottish Best Sellers List, 1992) Second edition [updated], 2004 (Edinburgh: Birlinn)

  3. Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec, (325 pp) John Donald, Edinburgh and McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1998. Second edition, Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2004. Winner of the Canadian Historical Society’s Cleo Award for History.

  4. Then Another Thing…. Remembered in Perthshire, (60 pp), with Doris Rougvie, Perth & Kinross Council, Museums Dept., Perth, 2000.

  5. Edited work:“Recollections of an Argyllshire Drover” & Other West Highland Chronicles by Eric R. Cregeen, Birlinn: 2004

  6. ‘See When You Look Back….’ Clydeside Reminiscences of the Home Front, 1939—45, Glasgow, 2005.

  7. ‘It’s Not the Time You Have…’ Notes and Memories of Music-Making with Martyn Bennett, Grace Note Publications, Edinburgh, 2006.

  8. Dileab Ailean: The Legacy of Allan MacArthur, with 2 CDs (based on 40 years of archive recordings from the one family), Grace Note Publication, Ochtertyre, 2009.

  9. Ties that Bind and Skills that Endure: Transferable Crofting Skills of the Hebridean-Quebec Settlers / Ceanglaichean agus Sgilean a Mhaireas: Sgilean Croitearachd Luchd-tuineachaidh Innse Gall ann an Cuibeac, [tri-lingual publication] Grace Note Publication, Ochtertyre, 2010

  10. ‘In Our day…’ Reminiscences and Songs from Rural Perthshire, illustrated by Doris Rougive, (CD included), Grace Note Publication, Ochtertyre, 2010

  11. Jerome—Just One More Song! Local, Social and Political History in the Repertoire of a Newfoundland-Irish Singer, Grace Note Publication, Ochtertyre, 2012

  12. Nell Hannah: Aye Singin an Spinnin Yarns (Grace Note Publication, Ochtertyre, 2013)

Chapters in / Contributions to Books

  1. “Folkways and Religion of the Quebec Hebrideans” (100 pp.) in Cultural Retention and Demographic Change: Studies of the Hebridean Scots in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, ed. Laurel Doucette, the National Museum of Man Mercury Series, no. 34, published by the National Museums of Canada, Ottowa, l980.

  2. Two contributions, ‘Scottish Folksong’ and ‘Hebridean Foodways’ in For What Time I am in this World: Stories from Mariposa, ed. Bill Usher & Linda Page-Harper, published by Peter Martin Associates Ltd., Toronto, l977.

  3. “A Codroy Valley Milling Frolic” in Folklore Studies in Honour of Herbert Halpert: A Festschrift, ed. K.S. Goldstein and N.V. Roseneberg, Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Publication Series, St. John's, Newfoundland, l980. pp. 99-110.

  4. Eight items, including “First Impressions of a New World”; “Learning the Language”; “Novel Situations”; “Life Among Strangers”; “Tales of Lying”; and several other short contributions from my collection of oral tradition recorded from Hebridean-Quebecers, published in chapters 2,3,7,8,9 in Nothing But Stars: Leaves from the Immigrant Saga, edited by Magnus Einarson, National Museum of Man Mercury Series, no. 5l published by the National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, l984. pp. 19, 38, 47, 56, 59, 81, 93, 113.

  5. “Plant Lore in Gaelic Scotland”, in Flora of the Outer Hebrides by R. Pankhurst, published by British Museum of Natural History, London, May l991, pp 56-60.

  6. “1690-1990: Balquhidder Revisited”, in The Good People: New Fairylore Essays, ed. by Peter Narvaez, published by Garland Publishing, U.S.A., Oct. l991.

  7. “Local Dimensions in Oral Tradition” in Scottish Culture: The Local Dimension, Proceedings at a Meeting of the Library Association Local Studies Group held on March 21, l990 in Glasgow. Editor Don Martin, Motherwell, l991. [pp. 11-19]

  8. “The Folklore of Plants in Scotland”, in Plants and People: Economic Botany in Northern Europe, 800—1800, edited by J.H. Dickson and R.R. Mill, (Procedings from the1993 Symposium of the Royal Botanical Society of Scotland, Plants and People), Edinburgh University Press, 1994.

  9. “The Pot of Gold”, in Legends Told in Canada, compiled by Edith Fowke, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1994.

  10. Contributions to the Dictionary of the Folklore of Plants in Britain and Ireland, edited by Roy Vickery, British Museum of Natural History, London, 1996.

  11. “Waters of Life and Health: Well-Worshipping in Scotland”, [translated into Russian, summary in English], in Proceedings of the International Conference on Ethnic Traditional Culture and Folk Knowledge, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1995.

  12. "Introduction" to The Nineties Collection, T.M.S.A. and Canongate, Edinburgh, 1995.

  13. ‘Hebridean Childhood’ and 3 other contributions in Hebridean Odyssey, compiled and edited by M. Sinclair & M. Newton, Polygon, Edinburgh, 1996.

  14. ‘Canntaireachd’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music, edited by Fintan Valleley, Cork, 1999.

  15. ‘Clarsach’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music, Cork, 1999.

  16. ‘Ossianic ballads’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music Cork, 1999.

  17. ‘Panygeric’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music, Cork, 1999.

  18. ‘Psalms’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music, Cork, 1999.

  19. ‘Puirt-a-beul’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music, Cork, 1999.

  20. ‘Scottish Gaelic lyrical songs’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music Cork, 1999.

  21. ‘The Ireland-Scotland link’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music Cork, 1999.

  22. ‘Waulking songs’, in Companion to Irish Traditional Music, Cork, 1999.

  23. “From Kennedy Fraser to the Jimmy Shandrix Experience in Five Generations” in Crosbhealach an Cheoil: The Crossroads Conference: Tradition and Change, Dublin, 1999.

  24. Foreword to Lewis, by Christina MacDonald, Acair, Stornoway, 1998.

  25. Foreword to Ainmean Gaidhlig Lusan [The Gaelic Names of Plants] by Joan Clark and Iain MacDonald, Belfast 1999.

  26. “Céilidh’, definition in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, London, 2000.

  27. ‘Calendar Customs in Scotland’, in The Oxford Companion to Scottish History,Edinburgh, 2001.

  28. ‘Courtship and Marriage in Scotland’’ in The Oxford Companion to Scottish History,Edinburgh, 2001.

  29. ‘Childbirth and Infancy in Scotland’’ in The Oxford Companion to Scottish History,Edinburgh, 2001.

  30. ‘Now This is True’ in The Brahan Seer Celebratory Booklet, Dingwall, 2001.

  31. ‘So Many Steamers Ago: Memories of an English Nurse in Newfoundland in the 1930s’ in A Festschrift for John Widdowson, ed. Malcolm Jones, Sheffield, 2003.

  32. ‘Being Scottish’, in Being Scottish, ed. by Tom Divine & Paddy Logue, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2002.

  33. ‘Traditional Song and Music in Scotland’ in SMITHSONIAN FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL: APPALACHIA, MALI, SCOTLAND, published for the 37th Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, DC, 2003 [pp 77—80, ISBN1056—6805]

  34. ‘From the Quebec-Hebrideans to ‘les Écossais-Québecois’: Tracing the Evolution of a Scottish Cultural Identity in the Eastern Townships’, in C. Ray Hyphenated Scots , Univ. of Alabama Press, 2004.

  35. Entries [Kitty MacLeod and Norah Montgomerie] in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, (EUP) 2006.

  36. ‘Stories of the Supernatural: From Local Memorate to Scottish Legend’ in “Fantasticall Ymaginatiounis”: The Supernatural in Scottish Culture, ed. Lizanne Henderson, Edinburgh, 2009.

  37. ‘It’s Mony’s the Race that I have Run’—Interpreting Macaronic Songs, in Emily Lyle: The Persistent Scholar, ed. Frances J. Fischer & Sigrid Rieuwerts, Wissenschartlichter Verlag Trier, Manz, Germany, 2007.

  38. ‘History, Heartbreak and Hope’—Recording the Story Behind the Song, in Essays in Honour of Tom Munnelly, edited by Anne Clue, Milltown Malbay, County Clare, 2007 [ISBN 978-0-9556037-0-9]

  39. ‘A Song for Every Cow She Milked’—Sharing the Work and Sharing the Voices in Gaeldom’inSharing the Voices: The Phenomenon of Singing VI:Proceedings of the International Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, July 1-July 8, 2007, Tamara Reynish, (editor), Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL: Festival 500, 2010

  40. ‘From Perthshire to Pennsylvania: The Influence of Hamish Henderson on Transatlantic Folklore Studies’ in Borne On The Carrying Stream: The Legacy of Hamish Henderson, edited by Eberhard Bort, Grace Note Publications, Perthshire, 2010

  41. ‘The Singer behind the Song and the Man behind the Microphone’ in 'Tis Sixty Years Since: The 1951 Edinburgh People's Festival Ceilidh and the Scottish Folk Revival edited by Eberhard Bort, Crieff, Grace Note Publications, Perthshire, 2011

Articles (selected)

  1. “Scottish Gaelic, English, and French: Some Aspects of the Macaronic Traditions of the Codroy Valley, Newfoundland” in Regional Languages Studies... Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, May l972, pp. 25-30.

  2. “Gaelic Song Traditions in Newfoundland”, By Word of Mouth, Journal of the Scottish Oral History Group, Edinburgh, l987.

  3. Scottish Gaelic Emigrant Traditions’ in Tocher, No. 42, a periodical of the School of Scottish Studies, 1990.(37 of 80 pages)

  4. Tocher, No 44, 1992. Based on fieldwork; 26 of the 64 pages are from my fieldwork; the rest from the work of colleagues.

  5. Tocher, No 45, 1993. Based on my fieldwork and that of Dr. William Montgomerie, and including a short article about his work with Scottish ballads; 19 of the 64 pages are from my work; the rest from the work of colleagues.

  6. Tocher, No 47, 1994. “Weather sayings from Bannfshire”, pp. 310—312.

  7. “Ghosts and Apparitions” (Review article) in Cencrastus, No. 38, Edinburgh, l990.

  8. “The Pipers' Curiosity” in The Piping Times, Vol. 43, July l991, pp. 25—32.

  9. “Parlez Moi de Bretagne, d'Ireland, d'Ecosse” in C.B.C. Journal, Montreal, 1991, pp. 58-59 [in French].

  10. “Gaelic Song in Eastern Canada: Twentieth Century Reflections”, in Folksongs: Chansons, a special edition of Canadian Folklore Canadien, Vol. 14, 2, Ottawa, Canada, 1992.

  11. “Brose and Bannock Day” (pp. 131—132), and with Emily Lyle “Carryanchor Night”, pp. 132—134 in Scottish Studies, No. 31, 1994

  12. “Musical Traditons of the Scots in Newfoundland”, The London Journal of Canadian Studies 1993.

  13. “Stepdancing: why we must learn from past mistakes”, in The West Highland Free Press, Oct. 14, 1994.

  14. ‘Traditions of the Ceilidh’, in Celtic Heritage, Halifax, NS, Canada, 1999.

  15. ‘Gaelic Through and Through: the Poetry of Donand John MacDonald’ (review article), Cencrastus, Nov. 1999.

  16. ‘One and Two Percent: Scottish Gaelic Folklore Studies in Newfoundland and Quebec’, Proceedings from the conference FOLKLORE 150 at The University of Sheffield (July, 1996) in Lore and Language, Vol. 15, No. 1—2, Sheffield, pp. 128—140.

  17. ‘Scottish Customs of Christmas and New Year’ (The University of Edinburgh Journal, 1994)

  18. ‘The authentic voices of Cape Breton’s tradition-bearers’, West Highland Free Press, March 6, 1998

  19. ‘Questions of Taste and Aesthetics: The Gaels’ Perspective versus a World View of Gaelic Singing’, the Canadian folk Music Bulletin de musique folklorique canadienne, Vol. 32, No. 2, June 1998, (pp. 25 – 28).

  20. ‘John Francis Campbell of Islay: Iain Og Ile’ in Journal of the Clan Campbell Society (U.K.), No. 29, 2002.

  21. ‘Taigh Dhonnchaidh—Remembering Duncan M. Morrison’, The Hebridean, Stornoway, 2003

  22. ‘Hamish Scott Henderson, Nov. 11, 1919 — March 8, 2002’ in Folk Music Journal, 2003

  23. Tradition and Change: Reflections on Childhood Celebration of Hallowe’en, (forthcoming Carole Carpenter edn, Canadian Folklore Canadien, Toronto)

  24. ‘Beyond the Border: Sir Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy’, The Journal of The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club, Edinburgh, 2004

  25. ‘A Precious Instant in Time”, Stornoway Gazette, Dec. 1, 2005

  26. ‘Putting Muirkirk back on the Map: A little lotus in the middle of mud’, (re. the work of sculptor and artist Kirti Mandir), The Scots Magazine, Feb. 2006.

  27. ‘Cardinal Points: Images of Emigration in the work of Scottish Artist Will MacLean, exhibition catalogue, 2000 tour of USA & Canada (forthcoming in UK).

  28. ‘Cultural Changes in Quebec since the Gaelic Settelrs’, Island Notes, The Islands Book Trust, Lewis, 2008.

  29. Crofting—An Appreciation of Transferable Skills, The Scottish Crofting Foundation Magazine, Dec. 2007

  30. ‘The Growth of the Oral History Movement in Scotland: The Life and Legacy of Eric R. Cregeen”, Oral History, Spring, 2009, pp. 42—51. [ISSN 01430955]

On-line & CD-ROM publication not included. Reviews, radio, TV & theatre scripts (Many. Not included here)

Prizes and awards

  • l991: Joint first prize winner of the Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff Folklore Prize, Centennial celebration of the International Folklore Congress in London, for “a major contribution to the study of folklore in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.” (for the book The Last Stronghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions of Newfoundland )

  • 1993: Second runner-up to the Katherine Briggs Prize for Folklore, (for Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave).

  • 1994 The Scotch Malt Whisky Society award “for notable service... rendered to the people of Scotland”. (Previous recipients, Hamish Henderson, David Daiches, Norman McCaig)

  • 1995: First prize-winner of the College of Cape Breton Prof. Donald Fergusson Essay Prize ‘for a topic relating to the study of Gaelic traditions’ (for the article, “Gaelic Song in Eastern Canada: Twentieth Century Reflections”) .

  • 1998: Master Music Maker Award ‘in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching, North Carolina, USA. (previous recipients, Tom Paxton, Ralph Blizzard, Billy Jackson)

  • 1999 The Clio Award for Quebec, Canadian Historical Association/Société historique du Canada, premier award for Quebec history, for book Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec

  • 1999: runner-up to Katherine Briggs Prize for Folklore (The Folklore Society, London)

  • 2003: “Exceptional Celtic Woman” Award, for “Lifelong service to Scottish and Celtic Culture” presented by Celtic Women International, Toronto.

  • 2009: in recognition of dedicated services to the arts by the British Polio Fellowship, Runner-up to the award: British Polio Person of the Last Seventy Years.

  • 2010: Honorary Doctor of Music, awarded by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; Previous recipients: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Annie Lennox, James MacMillan and Phil Cunningham, and in 2012, Barbara Dickson and Nicola Benedetti)

  • 2011: Honorary Life Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies, in recognition of contribution to Scottish literature

  • 2011: Le Prix du Québec (for or contribution to Quebec cultural studies, the Government of Quebec Office, London)

  • 2012: Honorary Professor of the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

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