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The Bard of the Braes of Balquhidder

Magi McGlyn, Balquhidder hermit, image from DC Thomson, Dundee Courier, 28/4/2014 While decluttering recently my wife drew my attention to an article by Derek Lambie.which she had kept from the Dundee Courier of 28th April 2014.

Derek reported that Magi McGlynn, the bard of Balquhidder, was worried that he would not be able to vote in the 2014 referendum as his ramshackle hut in Auchtubh, Balquhidder does not have a postal address.

Derek wrote that the bard who pens patriotic poetry about Scottish Independence from his reclusive hideaway in the woods of Balquhidder was pleading for assistance to ensure that he could have a vote.

Living rough in one of Scotland's most spectacular glens and habitually dressed in a grubby kilt, leather jacket and bonnet, Magi has been described as a modern-day cross between William Wallace and Robert Burns.

Since 1991, the poet, who calls himself the "Bard of the Braes of Balquhidder" has written hundreds of poems and songs from the shelter of his stone "bender", not far from Rob Roy's grave.

Yet Magi was concerned that he would be unable to cast his vote in the Referendum because his primitive dwelling might not qualify him to join the electoral register. So he asked election officials at Stirling Council to help him find a way to take part in the Referendum.

Magi McGlynn, who was born in 1954, said "I can vote with my heart, I can vote with my head, but that's not the same. For me, there would be no better feeling than to be able to put my cross in that box."

Mr McGlynn gave up a conventional life in 1991 to help establish one of Scotland's first organic eco gardens. A former apprentice glassblower, he set up camp with 50 other people in the township of Auchtubh, near the Kirkton of Balquhidder, but the landowner soon served eviction notices on the community. Magi said that the trauma caused his partner to give birth prematurely and their daughter died shortly after her birth on the banks of a stream.

Magi refused to leave and still lives on the same site in his makeshift home. He may not be technically homeless but he feared that he would not be able to vote as he does not have a recognized postal address. Electoral Commission officials said that registering as if he was homeless via a "declaration of local connection" application would be the answer. The official said that anyone can still have their say at any election or referendum even if they do not have a fixed address. The declaration allows an individual to register any location where they spend a large proportion of their time including, for example, a park bench. However, any final decision has to be made by the electoral registrar of the relevant local authority, in this case Stirling Council.

Magi is a well kent face throughout Scotland, and certainly one of our most active poets in Scots. He is also a musician and his performances of music and poetry are increasingly appearing on youtube. Musick Art and Dance is one of his favourite poems although it has never previously been in print. Magi is very much part of the oral tradition, being descended from the Williamsons and the Stewarts. This poem well expresses his heartfelt belief in the future of our country. -
Musick Art and Dance by Magi McGlynn

Magi's rendition on YouTube of "A Man's a Man For a' that", by Robert Burns