The Great Book of Skye

Norman Macdonald and Cailean Maclean

The most comprehensive study ever undertaken
of the people of the Isle of Skye…

Book 2 available for £35

with free postage & packaging in the UK

A third volume of the Great Book of Skye was published in December 2018

Book 3 available for £35

with free postage & packaging in the UK

Special Offer - Both books for £50*

with free postage & packaging in the UK
* both books must be sent to the same address

Review and Comment on The Great Book of Skye

“ … a remarkable work of scholarship … more than 600 pages long with more than 1,000 footnotes; the equivalent of two PhDs.”

(David Ross, The Herald, 27th August 2014).

“This book should be possessed by anybody with the remotest interest in Skye… there are 563 entries in The Great Book of Skye. They are mini-biographies (some not so mini) of men and women, illustrated by Cailean Maclean’s photos, by archive illustrations and family portraits … every page is a revelation … buy thus book.”

(Roger Hutchinson, West Highland Free Press, 3rd October 2014).

“Mìle meala-naidheachd ort - tha thu air leabhar ionmholta a chur ri chèile, agus bidh feum – agus fèill-air fad bhliadhnaichean mòra, gun teagamh sam bith. ‘S e goireas prìseal a th’ ann, agus cho tlachdmhor is a ghabhas!” (‘1000 congratulations - you have assembled a precious book and there will be use for it – and desire – for many long years to come, without any doubt at all. It is a precious resource and as delightful as can be!’).

Professor Rob Dunbar, Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities, University of Edinburgh.

“Thousands of previously unknown facts about the Isle of Skye and its inhabitants are revealed in a new book … the result of a major research project by two Gaelic-speaking men who live on the island”

(Sue Reston, The Press & Journal, 5th September, 2014).

“Perhaps the best remembered Argyll-associated name is John Maclean, a native of the Isle of Raasay, educated in Portree … The Great Book of Skye argues for a need for a bibliography of his wide range of publications and recorded materials …”

(The Oban Times, 24th September 2014).

“The work you have produced is an absolutely wonderful addition to the body of literature which already exists on the history of Skye and its people and is a work of fantastic quality, depth and contextual complexity. Congratulations on a work of outstanding worth.”

(Dr Donnie Munro, Musician and Director of Development at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, Isle of Skye).

“While written from the point of view of the Isle of Skye and titled The Great Book of Skye, it touches all the islands, demonstrating how much people travelled for reasons of family, work and education… the fusion of learning, training, research and photographic abilities brings the strands of the islands’ past together to present a richly illustrated and original portrayal”

(The Stornoway Gazette, 28 August 2014).

“Where to start with this remarkable book? (besides the main entries)… if you count additional references and footnotes, there are around 5,000 people who have shaped Skye, or been shaped by it, but who are no longer with us… slave owners to academics, poets to politicians and pipers, they are all represented… what Macdonald and Maclean have done is to map the human heart of a Hebridean community, in a way no other work has done.”

(Review in Arts Supplement, The Herald, 11th October 2014).

“The Great Book of Skye arrived this afternoon. What a lovely publication! Your hard work researching and writing is obvious. It is a wonderful collection. The text, the images, and the photos are so well presented. The book is most attractive throughout - the cover is beautiful. Your inscription to both of us is very nice, too. Thanks!”

(Sheldon MacInnes, musician, academic and author, Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada).

This book is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the people of the Isle of Skye. Ranging across the generations, its detailed focus on the past two centuries gives it an enthralling appeal to all interested in the most famous of Scotland’s islands and its quality of being powerfully and mysteriously fascinating across the world today.

Compiled from local and national resources, oral and written, its medley of themes makes it of interest to the scholar as well as to the person who wishes to find out about the ordinary, and the not so ordinary, people of Skye and their kin. Redolent of the agricultural and fishing community which is Skye’s lifeblood, the book reads in places like a globe-trotting thriller, ensuring its appeal to all. The book was entirely conceived, researched and brought to maturity on Skye.

The collaboration which has become The Great Book of Skye was forged between two Gaelic-speaking men who live on the island. The fusion of their learning, training, research and photographic abilities brings the strands of the island’s past together to present here a richly illustrated and original portrayal of an island which its residents, visitors and lovers care so much about.

Download a sample

Great Book of Skye 8-page Sample


Professor Norman Macdonald is Eòlaiche Eachdraidh agus Neach Rannsachaidh at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic College on Skye. Born and raised on Skye, he has taught at universities in Scotland and Canada and was for 20 years on the Staff of BBC Scotland.

Cailean Maclean was born and brought up in the Outer Hebrides and has been living in Skye for more than 30 years. As lecturer, researcher, publisher, broadcaster and photographer much of his work focuses on Scotland’s Highlands and Islands, though he has also worked in Canada, France, Ireland, England, Spain and Portugal.