Helen Macaskill Watt; born Skinildin, Skye, January 22, 1908, died Inverness, August 25, 1996

EILIDH Watt's commitment to teaching, Gaelic writing, and women's rights were all to some degree rooted in her childhood in the crofting community of Skinidin in Skye.

When she grew up there during the First World War memories of the crofters' fight for land rights 30 years earlier were still fresh. Her father, Calum Macaskill, had been active in that struggle, was still involved in radical politics, and firmly believed in educating his children, even if the local schoolmaster thought an academic education rather wasted on girls.

Eilidh would frequently recall his remark that, given her ability, ``it was rather a pity she was not a boy'', with a wry smile. It fired her determination to fight for parity in a man's world.

After graduating at Glasgow University she returned to the islands to teach English and Latin in Tarbert, Harris, and Portree, Skye, before marriage to Robert Watt took her to spend much of her life in the utterly non-Gaelic environment of his native Dunfermline.

Marriage in the inter-war years meant giving up teaching but her services were required again with the onset of the Second World War. She quickly rose to become head of her department and deputy head of Moss-side Secondary School, Cowdenbeath, one of the few women in Fife's education system to enjoy such promotion.

That only served to sharpen her awareness of the disparity of treatment suffered by her sex and she became an ardent campaigner for equality through the EIS. At the end of the war she channelled her desire for radical political solutions to the poverty and inequality she saw around her into the newly founded and briefly fashionable Commonwealth Party.

In Fife her isolation from her Gaelic background found occasional solace in listening to the infrequent BBC Gaelic radio programmes of those days. A critical letter to the broadcaster Hugh MacPhee on one of his offerings brought an invitation to try to do better herself. She immediately accepted the challenge, submitted a script and thereafter found herself a frequent contributor of talks and short stories.

The art of the short story has been in fairly robust health in Gaeldom in recent years, and Eilidh Watt is one of the writers to whom the credit must go. Her work has appeared frequently in the literary quarterly Gairm, and a number of collections of her stories have been published, including A' Bhratach Dhealrach (The Shining Banner) and Latha a' Choin Dubh (The Day of the Black Dog). She could happily handle a wide range of styles and subject matter.

These latter perhaps derived from her interest in extra sensory perception. Without being in the slightest fey about it, she would admit to having the ``second sight'', a faculty she often found burdensome. She is survived by a son Ronald and his family and was buried yesterday in her native Skye.