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Iain Lom (1624-1710) - Poet

He was a member of a family closely related to the chiefs of the Macdonalds of Keppoch, Clann Domhaill a' Bhraighe. Although lain Lom's poetry is a remarkable record of an important period in Highland history, little is known of his life and career, but it is suggested in early histories of Lochaber that he was sent to the Catholic seminary at Valladolid in Spain to train as a priest. A staunch Catholic and a lifelong supporter of the royal house of Stewart, lain Lom acted as a propagandist for their cause and at the Restoration was appointed Charles II's poet laureate in Scotland and awarded a pension. Lom reserved his greatest invective for the Campbells, who supported the Covenanting cause; he attacked them most fiercely in his poem 'La Inbhir Lochaidh' on the Battle of Inverlochy, which took place on 2 February between the Royalist army raised by James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, and Alasdair Macdonald and the army of Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll. There is little attempt in the poem to document the exact course of the battle, but in a rapid succession of tense scenes lain Lom gloats over the defeat of the Argyll army and reserves no pity for the anguish felt by their womenfolk. In counterpoint the valour of the Macdonalds is praised, especially that of their leaders. Lom's other important poems written for the Jacobite cause are: 'Cumha Morair Hunndaidh', a lament for the Marquis of Huntly which unexpectedly transforms itself into a passionate address to Charles II; 'Crunadh an Dara Rtgh Tearlach', an exultant poem commemorating the coronation of Charles II; and laments for Montrose and 'Colkitto' Macdonald, 'Cumha Mhontrftis' and 'Cumha Alasdair mhic Colla'. In later years he continued to comment on contemporary events in poems lamenting the Battle of Killiecrankie; 'Oran air Righ Uilleam agus Banrigh Mairi', a vituperative poem on the accession of William and Mary; and 'Oran an Aghaidh an Aonaidh', a satire on the Act Of Union of 1707, full of bawdy invective against the nobles who took bribes from the English government to support the Union. As a clan poet Lom composed a number of notable elegies and public poems in praise of  the Macdonald chiefs. His poems on the Keppoch murder of 1663 are particularly moving, with a fine combination of sentimentality and sincere emotion. In much of his work he relied on the traditional language, metaphors and metrical techniques of earlier classical poets, but his own poetry is remarkable for its intellectual intensity and creative imagery, and his single-minded loyalty to clan and king has left us a unique view of the events of his lifetime, in many of which he was involved personally. lain Lom is generally considered to have died in the years following the Act of Union and to have been buried in the graveyard of Cill Choiril at Brae Lochaber.

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