The Road to the Isles – Kenneth MacLeod (Feb. 6, 1871 – July 9, 1955), Scottish folklorist, writer, and Church of Scotland Minister.


‘The Road to the Isles’ is a famous Scottish traditional song. It is part of the Kennedy-Fraser collection and appeared in a book entitled ‘Songs of the Hebrides’, which was published in 1917. Kenneth MacLeod was a contemporary of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, the writer of ‘Eriskay Love Lilt’, and the two often collaborated musically.  Kenneth was also missionary of the Church of Scotland in various highland and island locations, and was subsequently ordained to the church’s  ministry.  


Kenneth MacLeod not only wrote Gaelic lyrics, but also contributed a considerable amount of English-language material to the Songs of the Hebrides series by way of notes, tales, Gaelic-to-English translations, original English-only compositions.   



The tune associated with the ‘Road to the Isles’ is an air that was composed by Pipe Major John McLellan of Dunoon and played by Malcolm Johnson of Barra on a chanter.  It was originally titled ‘The Bens of Jura’. Kenneth subsequently wrote the words for a voice and harp (or piano) arrangement of this air by Patuffa Kennedy-Fraser.