Whisky galore…

March 13, 2009

Whisky Galore

Lizzie here – one of the best bits of my job as Assistant Librarian is making fascinating little discoveries when I’m on the hunt for information; a recent enquiry about the poetry of Father John MacMillan of Barra sent me scuttling to Google (since we had no entries for him on our own catalogue, INSPIRE).

I discovered that, as well as being a local bard on the island, he had been transported to the fictional Little Todday as Compton Mackenzie’s inspiration for the character of Father James Macalister in Whisky Galore. The character was left out of the film version because of the difficulties of presenting a whisky-condoning priest … apparently much to the disappointment of the real priest.

(I hasten to add that having established the poet’s name, I returned to more traditional methods of searching – a bibliography of 20th century Scottish Gaelic publications – to pinpoint the genuine Father’s literary output).

I took an old brown copy of the novel off my bookshelves later out of curiosity, and had difficulty putting it back – so that’s the next on my reading list!

3 Responses to “Whisky galore…”

  1. Handsome Malcolm Says:

    This sweet centre of a story has made my day! Thank-you! What a wonderful life you librarians must have. I wish I could surround myself with brown copies of novels full of such folklore.

  2. spl5 Says:

    Thanks Handsome Malcolm! Glad you enjoyed it. Lizzie cautions that it’s not all fun and games being a librarian, if you were inspired to seek a career change, but yes, these are some of the small graces that find us. Hope you’ll carry on reading with us!

  3. Brian Martin Says:

    The stage version of Whisky Galore is part of this season’s Pitlochry Festival Theatre Homecoming programme, with my good friend, Dougal Lee, playing the part of Father Macalister.

    As a former librarian, I can confirm that it’s not all about reading old brown books, but one did occasionally have serendipitous moments, like the time I came across a rarely opened original 1632 copy of William Lithgow’s “Rare Adventures and Painful Peregrinations” in the local history collection of the now long defunct Lanark County Libraries. I checked it out and would read it on the bus between work in Hamilton and home in Glasgow; a slightly surreal experience!


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