The Carmina Gadelica is the most comprehensive collection of poems and prayers from the Gaelic tradition of oral poetry. Gathered by Alexander Carmichael, in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, 'from Arran to Caithness, from Perth to St. Kilda'. The poems had been handed down through the generations in a living oral tradition. This tradition and the way of life which sustained it have w disappeared but these poems and prayers live on to remind us of the faith of the unkwn poets who composed them. Previously only available as a bilingual text in six volumes, this one-volume edition in English only is an important contribution to the wider awareness of Celtic literature. John MacInnes' introduction puts the poems in the context of the life and folklore of the Gaelic community.
Alexander Carmichael was born in 1832 on the island of Lismore. His work as a civil servant took him all over the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides. During his travels he recorded these poems and prayers. Two volumes of the collection appeared before his death in 1912. The remaining volumes appeared later, edited by his daughter and grandson.