You’ll find the headstone of Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912) on his home island of Lismore, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, in the graveyard of St Moluag’s Cathedral. The stone bears a touching inscription:
Be my soul in peace with thee, Brightness of the mountains. Valiant Michael, meet thou my soul.
It is just the kind of poetic gem, with its high literary style, that you’d expect from the man who, in the nineteenth century, collected the tales of his fellow Hebrideans and then recounted them in the greatest anthology of its kind, the Carmina Gadelica. One hundred and twenty years later, Carmichael’s towering collection is still in print and has been called a “bible of Celtic Christianity.”
More than seven hundred pages long, the compendium...