Highlands & Islands

Gaelic adaptation of Compton MacKenzie's Whisky Galore

Mary and Alistair Johnston pictured in the Am Politician pub, Eriskay Image copyright Peter Dibdin
Image caption Eriskay-born Mary and Alistair Johnston in the Am Politician on the island

A new modern re-telling of Compton MacKenzie's book Whisky Galore in Gaelic is to be taken on a tour of village halls and arts centres.

The sinking of the cargo ship SS Politician off Eriskay in 1941 was the inspiration for MacKenzie's story.

The book was later adapted for a famous Ealing comedy of the same name.

The story has now been turned into a play by Iain Finlay Macleod and will be performed across the Highlands and also in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It will be performed almost entirely in Gaelic, with English subtitles, and adult audience members will be offered a dram at lunch-time and evening performances.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Bottles of whisky recovered from the SS Politician wreck in 1987

The production will also mark the launch of a new Gaelic theatre company, Robhanis.

The play will debut at the Sunart Centre in Strontian on 10 April.

Performances will follow at other venues including in Stornoway, Ullapool, Plockton and Inverness.

The National Theatre of Scotland, Robhanis and A Play, A Pie and A Pint are staging the production.

As well as its work with the play, the National Theatre of Scotland has celebrated Whisky Galore in its Belong season, a photographic essay that included an image of Mary and Alistair Johnston in the Am Politician pub on Eriskay.

The Johnstons were born in Eriskay and moved to Clydebank, but return to Eriskay every summer.

Thousands of bottles of whisky were among the cargo of the SS Politician, which was headed for Jamaica when it ran aground on the northern side of Eriskay in bad weather.

Islanders recovered hundreds of cases of whisky from the wreck and some of the bottles were buried to keep them hidden from customs officers.

Other bottles have since been found washed up on the island's shores and also recovered by divers.

Two out of eight bottles recovered in 1987 sold for £12,050 after an online auction in 2013.

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