New AMC plaque highlights Angus McIntosh’s focus on human relations

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The AMC’s new plaque

It is with great pleasure that the AMC received the above finely crafted wooden plaque, which bears an excerpt from a letter from the Centre’s namesake to J. H. Delargy.  The words highlight Angus McIntosh’s belief in the importance of human relations as a key to gratifying, successful professional endeavours. We are happy to strive towards this end even today.  The plaque was presented by Dr Margaret Mackay, Honorary Fellow, Celtic and Scottish Studies, and Honorary Member of the AMC. Dr Mackay was formerly a student and colleague of Angus McIntosh; latterly she was also his friend.

Dr. Mackay had the following to say about the plaque’s significance:

The words on the plaque come from a letter written by Angus McIntosh to James Hamilton Delargy, Head of the Dublin-based Irish Folklore Commission on June 29, 1951. Angus’s close friends, the pioneering collectors of Gaelic oral traditions John Lorne Campbell of Canna and his wife Margaret Fay Shaw, had helped him make a connection with Delargy who, as an Antrim man, had had Scotland “in his sights” since youth and had long wished that Scotland should have a centre similar to his own for the study of its lore and its languages.

Delargy and McIntosh formed a bond of friendship at that time which was to be life-long. He gave great encouragement and practical support to Angus in his endeavours at the University of Edinburgh and especially in his creation of the School of Scottish Studies, which had come into being in 1950-51. Its first full-time collector, Calum Maclean, received his formative folklore training under Delargy’s supervision in Ireland and, through Delargy’s good offices and following his own experience as a young man, from folklorists in Sweden as well.

I was encouraged by Angus to take up postgraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh on my graduation from the University of Toronto in 1967 and I was privileged to have Angus and Jack Aitken, Editor of A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, as supervisors of my PhD and as friends and mentors. Through Angus I in turn was introduced to Delargy and to the place of the Irish Folklore Commission in the life of Ireland. In the 1970s I became a member of the School of Scottish Studies staff and, in the 1990s, the Director of the School.

I have long felt that the founding of the School of Scottish Studies had friendship at its core and that the belief expressed in Angus McIntosh’s letter of June 29, 1951 informed all he did in his work at the University of Edinburgh and more widely and in his interactions with others, students, scholars, family, friends. Along with everyone who has felt the influence of Angus McIntosh I was delighted at the news that his many contributions would be honoured in the name of the Centre. I am very grateful to have been invited to be an honorary member.

Many thanks to Dr. Mackay for this very elegant and apt memento.

The plaque has been made from Scottish silver birch by Simon Baker of The Evergreen Studio, Edinburgh.

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