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Bard Macintyre of Badenoch
The First Voice of the Clan (c.1465-1514+)

Dear Alastair,

´The Bard Macintyre´, progenitor of the Badenoch Macintyres,  has been almost entirely forgotten, yet was once a poet of the very highest standing. One day, looking at the work of Scottish artist Will MacLean, I came across his enigmatic piece ´Bard Macintyre´s Box´. This led me to wonder whether he could be the 1496 bard who appears in every potted history of the clan, (courtesy of the Kinrara MS, via 19th century historian Charles Fraser-Mackintosh).

The mystery of the poem, and its very obscurity, historically, appealed to Maclean, who suspected it to be from the 18th century. Thanks to the artwork and its supporting text, I learned that some of this poet´s work had survived intact - and later that they graced the pages of Scotland´s oldest collection of Gaelic verse! On obtaining  full translations, it became clear from clues in the poems that this was indeed the same man, (much earlier than the artist had supposed), and that, from a clan perspective, it was high time to bring him out of the shadows. Duncan Ban Macintyre, two hundred years after his death, enjoys an enduring reputation, though the Badenoch bard in his day was held in equal regard. Using his own words – the earliest surviving words of Clan Macintyre - to unlock some of the poet´s secrets, this is a glimpse into his life and times.

Alistair K Macintyre
July 2014

Download the article here (pdf)

Return to Articles by Alistair K. McIntyre


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