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Life and Work was still very much in its infancy when the decision was taken to publish a monthly supplement for Gaelic-speaking readers in the Church of Scotland.
The first issue appeared in January 1880, and since then its circulation has been unbroken. No Gaelic periodical has had such a long life. In all that time the Gaelic Supplement has sustained only five editors, from different parts of the Gaelic Highlands.
The first editor was the Rev Archibald Clerk, from Lorn, who was minister of Kilmallie. He was married to a daughter of the Rev Dr. Norman MacLeod (Caraid nan Gàidheal), the most outstanding Gaelic prose-writer of the 19th century. He edited a very popular collection of his father-in-law’s prose writings.
Following the death of Dr. Clerk in 1887, the Rev John MacRury, minister of Snizort and Uig in Skye, a native of Benbecula, was appointed editor of the Gaelic Supplement. Mr MacRury was an expert translator of prose and poetry into Gaelic. His translations included The Arabian Nights.
When John MacRury died in 1907, the Rev Donald Lamont was chosen as the next editor. At the time Mr. Lamont, from Tiree, was the minister of Glen Urquhart, but the following year he was translated to Blair Atholl, where he was to spend the rest of his ministry. His long and successful editorship lasted from 1907 until 1951. One of the best Gaelic prose-writers of the twentieth century, many of his own articles, particularly essays, were published in the Gaelic Supplement. (In 1930-31 Dr Malcolm MacLennan, who had edited the United Free Church’s Gaelic magazine, An Fhianais, had shared the editorship with Donald Lamont.)
In 1951 the Rev T M Murchison, born in Glasgow, but brought up in Skye, became the fourth editor. As well as editing the Gaelic pages, Dr Murchison contributed many articles in Gaelic and English to a number of other periodicals. He was minister of St Columba-Copland Road Church, later St Columba-Summerton, in Glasgow, a Gaelic congregation.
After Dr Murchison’s retirement as editor in 1980, the Rev Roderick MacLeod, from North Uist, at the time minister of Bernera, and later minister of Cumlodden, Lochfyneside and Lochgair, was appointed. He continues as editor of the Gaelic Supplement.
The Gaelic Supplement contains a variety of features in poetry and prose. Many of the readers are learners of Gaelic, and it is sometimes used in Gaelic classes. It includes news items from congregations, book reviews, sermons and hymns.