AND ON THIS ROCK…: Donald S. Murray

Donald S Murray has been described as having ‘one of the most original and innovative voices in contemporary Scottish Literature’.  Raised in Ness, Isle of Lewis, a weaver’s son, he went to the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway before going to Glasgow University.  He returned to be a Teacher of English in the NI and Sgoil Lionacleit, Benbecula, before moving to Sandwick Junior High School in Shetland.

Donald S Murray – Photo: Carol Anne Peacock

Featured in such different publications as The Sunday Herald, Scotsman, Press and Journal, Shetland Times and Scottish literary magazines, his poetry and prose has been anthologised in national collections while his short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Scotland and – as a Gaelic speaker – BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal.  Lately, among other programmes, he appeared on the BBC 4’s Birds Britannia.

His first short story collection, Special Deliverance was shortlisted for a Saltire Award while his poetry pamphlet West-coasters – largely about the islands off the Irish coast – received the same recognition in the Callum MacDonald Memorial Awards. His non-fiction book The Guga Hunters was highly praised by Will Self in the Telegraph, Jim Crumley in the Scots Magazine and Roger Hutchinson in the WHFP.  Similar attention has been given to his subsequent book, ‘And On This Rock; Italian Chapel, Orkney’.

He continues to write poetry, producing the pamphlets ‘Between Minch and Muckle Flugga, Praising the Guga and Speak To Us, Catriona.  Small Expectations, a surreal and bizarre sequence of stories and poems, chronicles the tussle between remaining at home and going to the mainland that occurs in a bilingual, island boy’s soul.

He is currently working on a book provisionally entitled ‘The Guga Stone’ in conjunction with visual artist Doug Robertson. This comprises poetry and short fiction about an absurd and surreal version of the Hebridean Isle of St Kilda.

In creating Weaving Songs, published by Acair, Donald has put together a collection of verse to commemorate and celebrate the life of his late father. Together with the photography of Carol Ann Peacock, it marks the centenary of the Orb trademark employed by the Harris Tweed industry.      

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