Frances Tolmie was bom in the parish of Diminish on Skye in 1840, where she was brought up bilingual. She became one of the leading experts on Gaelic folklore and song, and collected a great amount of material that she thought was in danger of disappearing. By songs of occupation she means what nowadays are often called work songs. She experienced life outside the Islands, in Edinburgh, Cambridge in the early days of women students, and amongst John Ruskin's circle at Coniston. She spent her last years on Skye where she died at the end of 1926.
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