Painting shows red haired woman from the back, overseeing a burning ship on the water. Raven and black cat motifs. Text reading 'Lochaber Times' 'local', 'legend' and 'Lochaber.'


uhi west highland

gaelic languages and placenames, gaelic culture, shipwrecks

Gormshùil Mhòr na Maighe

Gormshùil Mhòr na Maighe (‘The Great Gormula of Moy’) was a wise woman from Lochaber. There are various stories about her with myriad variations on each telling. She had second sight, and hunters and fishermen would seek her blessing for a successful outing. She is said to have saved the life of Cameron of Lochiel when she warned him that a meeting with the Duke of Atholl over setting the boundary between Lochaber and Perthshire was a trap and he should take more men to defend himself- and so it turned out. Another story recounts that she sunk a ship of the Spanish Armada that had reached Tobermory Bay on Mull- this is the legend depicted in this painting. In some versions she takes the guise of a black crow...

According to legend Gormshùil died when she accidentally drowned in a burn between Gairlochy and Achnacarry when attempting to catch a salmon in the burn. In some versions she was en-route to save her son wrongfully arrested and about to be hung by the same Duke of Argyll whose life she had saved.

As contributed by Laura Howell

Image: aintign and collage on canvas. Artist is Laura Howell

This story and image were submitted as part of a collaboration with the UHI West Highland Creative Arts programme.