Plaque added for Gaelic bard

City of Dunedin Pipe Band piper Oe Hayward plays during the unveiling ceremony for Angus...
City of Dunedin Pipe Band piper Oe Hayward plays during the unveiling ceremony for Angus Robertson’s Writers’ Walk plaque in Dunedin on Thursday. Photos: Gregor Richardson
A Gaelic bard who ran away to sea at the age of 8 before settling in Dunedin is the latest addition to the Octagon’s Writers’ Walk.

The Otago Scottish Heritage Council, the Dunedin Public Libraries and the Dunedin Unesco City of Literature celebrated the unveiling of a new Writers’ Walk plaque for Angus Cameron Robertson in the Octagon on Thursday.

Mr Robertson was an honorary bard of the Gaelic Society of New Zealand, which started in Dunedin in 1881.

He was a singer, story-teller, piper and poet, writing in both Gaelic and English.

After having spent 20 years at sea, Mr Robertson settled in Dunedin in 1899 at the age of 32.

Dr Alison Thornton described him as a lively and charitable man.

Five grandchildren, three great granddaughters and one great great grandson of Mr Robertson attended the unveiling.

"There were nine family members who all turned up just to open a plaque," Dr Thornton said.

"That makes it alive, it keeps his story alive."

Angus Robertson’s Writers’ Walk plaque.
Angus Robertson’s Writers’ Walk plaque.
Mr Robertson married Martha Maria Herrell in 1900 at her parents’ Invercargill home, later having four sons together.

Ms Herrell worked as an officer in the Salvation Army, inspiring Mr Robertson to help them collect funds for various widows and their children.

Mr Robertson wrote many poems including Dunedin: The City Beautiful which he published in 1925.

After struggles with his mental and physical health he found work in the Otago Daily Times and the Otago Witness office.

In 1927, Mr Robertson published his book Salt Sea Tang, a collection of poems and prose.

He spent the next 20 years writing and adding to his books before he died in September, 1945.

Dr Thornton paid credit to Catriona NicIomhair Parsons, a Gaelic professor in Nova Scotia who, after discovering Mr Robertson’s book Salt Sea Tang, felt strongly that he should be acknowledged with a plaque.

Dr Thornton said the unveiling was "just wonderful" and was grateful the event connected her with family.