Hebridean Students Bring Gaelic, Music to NYC for Tartan Day

This past Friday, April 6, was Tartan Day in the United States, and people around the country celebrated Latha an Tartain. New York City hosted its annual Tartan Day Parade on Sixth Avenue, with more than 4,000 registered marchers, including Còmhlan Pìoba Sgoil Lìonacleit, the student pipe band from Sgoil Lìonacleit in the Outer Hebrides.

(See a BBC video report on the band’s trip in Gaelic here).

ACGA director Barbara Lynn Rice had the chance to meet with the students and officials from Sgoil Lìonacleit and e-Sgoil, a distance-learning initiative launched in 2016 by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Western Isles Council. We’ll have more to report later, but for the moment, enjoy this short video from the Tartan Day Parade. Watch for Niseag (Nessie)!

 

Uncovering ‘Hidden History’ in Gaelic Poetry

 

Gaelic songs can tell us a huge amount about life in Scotland and the surprisingly modern ways in which Gaels saw the world. Even when working with English translations, they reveal the words and thoughts of people who are not normally visible in written histories.

So writes Kevin Grant at the start of his blog for Historic Environment Scotland on “Three Gaelic Bards” and the insight their work provides into Gaelic culture and life in their day.

In the blog, Grant, a casework officer with Historic Environment Scotland, examines the poetry of Mairearad Chaimbuel, Seumas Mac an t-Saoir, and Perthshire poet Domhnall Dubh — 18th and 19th century poets.

Grant wrote the blog for International Poetry Day, March 15, but at ACGA we think it’s worth reading year-round.

To read the blog on the Historic Environment Scotland website, click here.

Gaelic song competition Mòd nan Lochan Mòra to be held June 8-10

The premiere Scottish Gaelic song event of the Midwest — Mòd nan Lochan Mòra or The Great Lakes Mòd — returns to Akron, Ohio, June 8-10.

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This year’s adjudicator will be Seumas Greumach (James Graham) of Sutherland, Scotland, winner of the men’s Bonn Òr a’ Chomuinn or Gold Medal at the Royal National Mòd. James has been an instructor at ACGA’s Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week and a guest at the ACGA US National Mòd.

Mòd events will include singing competitions, storytelling, poetry recitations, and a workshop. This year we have some exciting events, including an all new competition — a Folk Band Challenge. You don’t need to already have a folk group; any singer or musician can learn the prescribed piece and we will randomly select groups to compete together.

Kids are especially welcome to come take part in the Mòd. We have a competition for Youth age 14-17, and one for children 13 and under.

Please email Anne Alexander at tinwhistle_aa@yahoo.com for complete information, including the registration form.

Registration Open for 20th Annual Gaelic Song and Language Week

BeinnSeanairThey say time flies, but it’s still hard to believe we will be gathering in North Carolina this July for the 20th Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week, held from July 9 to 13 in Banner Elk, just before the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 12-15.

Every year since 1998, An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach has held a week of classes taught by some of the finest Gaelic singers from Scotland and Nova Scotia, and some of the finest Gaelic language teachers from Scotland, Canada and the United States.

This year we will welcome Margaret Bennett, folklorist, Gaelic singer and teacher, and we’ll welcome back Catrìona Parsons and Jamie MacDonald. We look forward to spending a week with them at Lees MacRae College in Banner Elk, in the mountains of North Carolina.

Lodgings are provided at the college’s “Virginia” dormitory, with check-in the afternoon of Sunday, July 8. Meals are provided through the college, though students may opt to eat off-campus in Banner Elk or other nearby towns as well (see the registration form).

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The week is an unparalleled opportunity to dive deep into Scottish Gaelic song and language, with classes at three levels for learners ranging from absolute beginners to fluent speakers. Students can mix and match classes and teachers and subjects as they please.

The week also features special events such as sessions on Highland folklore, movies in Gaelic, hiking and evening cèilidhs and song sessions. We hold a popular silent auction. In recent years we’ve had sessions on dance, types of songs and songs from specific islands and regions.

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games — now celebrating their 63rd year — follow the event. The Grandfather Mountain games feature the North Carolina Provincial Mòd, a competition in Scottish Gaelic song judged by our Song and Language Week instructors.

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We hope you’ll join us! Tiugainn leinn! For more information, go to the Events section this website and the Grandfather Mountain GSLW page. To register, click here.

Mort Ghlinne Chomhann: The Massacre of Glencoe

Yesterday, Feb. 13, was the anniversary of the infamous Murder or Massacre of Glencoe, or Mort Ghlinne Chomhann. There were several informative posts about the massacre on social media. Here we share a few:

  • The National Library of Scotland: The actual order sent to Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, instructing him to kill the MacDonalds of Glencoe. He was to spare none below the age of 70.
  • The Virtual Gael: In his blog, Michael Newton examines a Gaelic poem on the massacre, “’S mi ’am shuidh’ air a’ chnocan,” and what it says about the political complexities behind the massacre and how they were viewed by contemporary Gaels.
  • History Scotland: Archaeologists plan to investigate the lost settlements of the Glencoe Massacre. We found this article thanks to the Calum I. MacLean Facebook page, which is dedicated to the Gaelic folklorist and scholar.