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Wester Ross Gille Dubh fairytale brought to life in animation voiced by Outlander star Sam Heughan with help of Laide artist for Gairloch Museum is a global hit

By Ian Duncan

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Abe Locke at work
Abe Locke at work

A WESTER Ross museum has been overwhelmed by the response to an animated film which is narrated by Outlander star Sam Heughan.

Gille Dubh was released this month by Gairloch Museum as part of the celebrations for being a joint winner of the £200,000 Art Fund Museum of the Year – the UK’s largest and most prestigious museum prize.

The film has attracted an audience of almost half a million viewers from across the world within the first 48 hours of release.

It is inspired by local Gaelic folklore and tells the story of the Gille Dubh – the Last of the Fairies.

The story is part of the mythology of the Gairloch area and has been passed down through the Gaelic oral tradition.

He is a male fairy believed to have lived in the beautiful birch woods at Lochadraing, on the peninsula between Loch Gairloch and Loch Ewe – at the turn of the last century many people in the Gairloch area still claimed to have seen the Gille Dubh.

EMMY Award-winning Ralph Creative worked with young local fantasy writer and illustrator Abe Locke to make the Gille Dubh animated story. Mr Locke inspired the Ralph team and helped design and storyboard the video prior to production, including location visits, to ensure the culture and mythology of the Gaelic language was successfully translated for the small screen.

Dr Karen Buchanan, the museum's curator, said: "We were able to create this animation with support from Art Fund as part of our Museum of the Year award celebrations.

"We have been overwhelmed by the attention the film has received. Abe’s illustrations are so evocative of the landscape around Lochadraing and Sam’s narration has put the magic touch to the film. It has captured the public’s imagination all around the world and has been a highlight of our festivities this week."

Laura Davies, the creative lead at Ralph, said: "It has been lovely to use our team’s expertise to bring this beautiful folklore tale to life and shine a spotlight on the local community and culture of Gairloch, particularly working with a gifted artist like Abe and the narration by Sam Heughan, and of course the fantastic team at the Gairloch Museum – this was a truly collaborative effort.

"We’re proud to have created this reimagining of a local story that will hopefully inspire others to both visit the museum and delve deeper into Gaelic culture."

Gille Dubh translates as black boy and probably refers to the colour of the fairy’s hair.

A Gaelic version of the Gille Dubh animation has also been released, narrated by journalist and broadcaster Roddy Maclean.

A behind the scenes Making The Gille Dubh film has also been released by Mr Locke which documents the process of bringing the story to life.

Related: Gairloch Musuem will use prizemoney to invest in outdoor space and outreach programme

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