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Hebrides News


Death of Gaelic champion

2 Oct 2017

Gaelic writer, playwright and traditional storyteller Chrisella Ross has died at the age of 55 years.

Chrisella Ross hailed from Bayble in Point, married a man from the village and raised up her own family there.

Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha, with which she was involved for many years, said her death is a “grievous loss to her family and to us as a group.

“She was zealous for her language, culture and heritage and knowledgeable about all three.

“Despite her illness she remained positive in outlook and continued to be involved in as many activities as possible.”

Her former university lecturer Chris Dolan said: “Extraordinary to think she is no longer with us, she had such life and warmth and presence, and laughter.

“Such a good writer, a wonderful person. The world's a poorer place.”

Over her varied career, she worked in the Seaforth Hotel in Stornoway, had a brief spell in an office, and library van driver.

Chrisella was in the very small group of students to enrol on the first Higher Education course in Scotland taught through the Gaelic language. The HND in Business Studies was a groundbreaking venture launched by the fledging Sabhal Mòr Ostaig college in Skye in 1983.

Back in Lewis she took up a short term post in the Stornoway museum.

A move to Edinburgh saw her immersed in a lengthy project to research and produce a schools’ resource CD about the history of Gaelic Scotland.

Ten years in the capital was enough and the family returned to the islands where Chrisella became co-ordinator for the newly launched storytelling project at Pròiseact nan Eilean (PNE), the National Gaelic Arts Agency.

The role involved setting up storytelling sessions and workshops throughout the Western Isles and across Scotland. One flagship event was a two day gathering of over 200 ex-Merchant Navy seaman in Stornoway in November 2004 , recounting their experiences at sea.

Later, she became a tutor with the comhairle, assisting parents with children in Gaelic medium classes.

MG ALBA awarded her a scholarship to study a master’s degree in television fiction writing at Glasgow Caledonian University which led on to her scripting Gaelic TV drama Bannan.

The Edinburgh International TV Festival tipped her as a rising star of the industry.

She wrote a children’s book in the language, led Gaelic creative writing workshops with schools and undertook translation work.

Two plays she penned - A’ Tighinn Dhachaidh was about the Iolaire tragedy and Nach Fuar am Poll dealt with a soldier's post traumatic stress - were performed as part of the Gairm nan Gàidheal  WWI commemoration events in 2014.

Chrisella Ross is survived by her husband Donald and children, Màiri and DJ. She also leaves her mother Mairi and sisters Etta and Marisa.

A wake will be held at 9pm on Tuesday in the Free Church Continuing in Sandwick. The funeral service commences at 2.30pm on Wednesday in the same church with the lift at 3pm before burial at Aiginish.


Chrisella Ross