A NEW documentary by BBC ALBA pays tribute to the remarkable life and achievements of the hugely influential environmental campaigner, Colin MacLeod, the Birdman of Pollok.
In the 90s, Glasgow didn’t have a Greta Thunberg, they had Colin MacLeod.
Colin grew up in Pollok where gangs, drink and drugs were part of life but he was also a Glasgow Gael and used his own Gaelic heritage as a foundation and set up the Pollok Free State in an area of Pollok Country Park to try to give a voice back to the people.
The programme includes previously unseen archive photos and video footage, kindly loaned by his wife, Gehan, and closest friends.
The story beings with his protest in the early 90s when he spent nine days up a tree in Pollok Country Estate to protect land that was going to be bulldozed to make way for an extension of the M77 motorway.
Pollok Country Park had been gifted to the people of Glasgow and Colin viewed it as a playground for the poor children of Pollok, a place to escape.
When it was under threat, children walked out of school on strike, protesters blocked roads, tens of thousands marched against the environmental impact of the plans for the new motorway.
Alastair MacIntosh, friend of Colin MacLeod, said: “He was a chieftain in the true ancient sense. He broke his heart fighting poverty in Glasgow.”
This fascinating documentary features exclusive new interviews with Colin’s father Donald, his friend and fellow activist Barbara NicGriogair, his wife Gehan, friend and environmental campaigner Alastair MacIntosh, former MSP Rosie Kane McGarvey and her nephew, the author of Orwell Prize-winning book ‘Poverty Safari’ Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey, who dedicated a whole chapter to Colin and his work in his book.
Darren McGarvey spoke highly of Colin in the programme, he said: “He was magnetic. He had those qualities that a true leader has.”
Alan Torrance, who met Colin during the beginnings of the GalGael and still works there today, said: “He was a very brave man. He stood in defiance of tyranny. He led from the front.”
The M77 was extended anyway, but Colin went on to found GalGael ‘the free child of Pollok Park’, a Gaelic-inspired movement for cultural renewal in inner-city Glasgow.
When Colin died aged 39 in 2005, the streets of Govan stopped, with 600 mourners behind his handmade coffin.
Filmmaker, Nina Torrance, said: “There is so much happening today that parallels what Colin was fighting against that it felt we needed to hear his story today more than ever.”
The music was composed by John Cummings (formerly of Mogwai).
The Birdman of Pollok/ Curaidh na Coille airs on BBC ALBA on Monday 30th December at 9pm and will also be available on the BBC iPlayer.
Curaidh na Coille air a chuimhneachadh air BBC ALBA
Tha prògram ùr air BBC ALBA a’ cuimhneachadh air beatha Chailein Mhicleòid a bha aithnichte mar neach-glèidhteachais a chuir iomadh bliadhna seachad a’ strì gus aire dhaoine a thogail gu maith na h-àrainneachd tro na 90an.
Aig an àm sna 90an, cha robh guth air leithid Greta Thunberg ach bha Cailean aig muinntir Ghlaschu.
Chaidh a thogail ann am Pollok, sgìre far an robh trioblaidean aig mòran ri linn deoch agus drugaichean. Fear de Ghàidheil Ghlaschu, chleachd e freumhan a dhualchais airson Stàite neo-eisimeileach Pollok a stèidheachadh agus guth a thoirt do mhuinntir na sgìre.
Anns a’ phrògram, chithear deilbh agus criomagan bhidio nach fhacas roimhe a thug Gehan, bean Chailein, agus a dhlùth charaidean seachad.
Tha sgeulachd Chailein a’ tòiseachadh tràth sna 90an nuair a chuir e naoi latha seachad shuas ann an craobh air Oighreachd Pollok ag iomairt an aghaidh leudachadh mòr rathad an M77 tron phàirce.
Chaidh a’ phàirce a thoirt do mhuinntir baile Ghlaschu mar ghibht agus bha Cailean gu mòr den bheachd gur ann le na daoine a bha an àrainneachd phrìseil a bha seo.
Le uallach gu robhas dol a chall àite a bha leotha fhèin, chaidh cuid de chlann-sgoile na sgìre a-mach air stailc, chuir luchd-iomairt bacadh air rathaidean agus bha na mìltean a’ caismeachd tro shràidean baile Ghlaschu gus seasamh an aghaidh na bha a’ tachairt.
A’ bruidhinn mu Chailein, thuirt a dheagh charaid Alastair MacIntosh gur e ceann-cinnidh a bh’ ann, gun cheist, agus gun bhris e a chridhe a’ strì gus sgìrean a’ bhaile a thoirt a-mach à bochdainn.
Cluinnear cuideachd anns a’ phrògram bho athair Chailein, Donnie, caraidean mar Babs NicGhriogair, a bhean Gehan, a charaid am fear-glèidhteachais Alasdair MacIntosh, Rosie Kane McGarvey a bha uair na BPA agus Darren McGarvey a sgrìobh an leabhar a choisinn Duais Orwell, ‘Poverty Safari’.
A’ bruidhinn mu Chailein anns a’ phrògram, thuirt Darren McGarvey gur e duine a bh’ ann a bha tarraingeach agus gur e fìor cheannard a bh’ ann.
Aig a’ cheann thall, chaidh mòr rathad an M77 a leudachadh ach lean Cailean air ag obair agus a’ strì às leth muinntir Ghlaschu, agus a’ stèidheachadh GalGael.
Nuair a bhàsaich Cailean ann an 2005 aig aois 39, bha sràidean Bhaile Ghobhainn nan tàmh le 600 duine a’ fàgail na h-eaglaise agus a’ coiseachd tron sgìre.
Thuirt riochdaire agus stiùiriche a’ phrògram, Nina Torrance gun robh tòrr de na bha a’ tachairt san latha th’ ann ri fhaicinn san obair ionmholta a rinn Cailean bho chionn faisg air trichead bliadhna.
Chithear The Birdman of Pollok / Curaidh na Coille air BBC ALBA Diluain 30 Dùbhlachd aig 9f agus air BBC iPlayer.
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