Cracking the ‘Halloween Nut’ in North Carolina: A Free Public Event

Samhain

You may be aware that Halloween is derived from the Gaelic (and more broadly, Celtic) festival of Oidhche Shamhna and Samhain. The festival, with its pre-Christian roots, commemorated the last phase of the harvest season, ancestors, and the end of the old (agricultural) year. But how much do you really know about the Samhain customs and beliefs of the Scottish Highlanders?

To dig past the commercial trappings of the modern holiday (and modern misconceptions) and get at its roots, plan to attend a free public lecture at the University of North Carolina Oct. 26 called “A’ Cnagadh Cnù na Samha: Cracking the Halloween Nut: Sensing and Making Sense of a Scottish Highland Calendar Custom.” The lecture will be delivered by Dr. Tiber Falzett, the inaugural visiting lecturer in Scottish Gaelic Studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Dr. Falzett will explore the unique and universal aspects of Halloween folkways among Scottish Highlanders in North America and in Scotland, using field recordings of custom and belief within Gaelic-speaking communities, newspaper editorials, and song compositions. Together, these Gaelic voices will bring to life the cultural significance of Halloween for Highland immigrant communities, providing valuable insights into the reasons for Halloween’s near-universal appeal.

Learning more about the Gaelic customs of Oidhche Shamhna will help attendees compare Halloween’s many divergent re-interpretations as it has become popularized around the world. It will also help Gaelic learners and speakers reconnect with the holiday as Scottish Highlanders and their descendants in North America celebrated it yesterday and today.

The lecture is scheduled for 6:30 pm to 8 pm in UNC’s Kenan Music Building, room 1201, at 125 S. Columbia Street in Chapel Hill. There will be a celebratory reception afterward.

The lecture also celebrates the the first Scottish Heritage USA Scottish Gaelic Visiting Lectureship at UNC, a major step in advancing Scottish Gaelic Studies in the United States. The lectureship is funded by Scottish Heritage USA and is the result of a two-year campaign by the Scottish Gaelic Foundation of the USA or Gaelic USA.

Before coming to UNC this fall, Falzett, a fluent Scottish Gaelic speaker, lectured in the Department of History at the University of Prince Edward Island. He previously lectured at St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he taught courses on the folklore and ethnology of the Gaelic communities of Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

For more information, visit the lecture’s event page on Facebook.

Registration open for Mòd Ligonier; Islay’s Alasdair Currie to attend

Alasdair Currie
Alasdair Currie, 2017 Royal National Mòd men’s gold medal winner.

Registration is now open for Mòd Ligonier 2018, which will be held at the Ligonier Highland Games in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Sept. 22, and Sunday, Sept. 23.

Download the registration form in pdf format by clicking on the link below, choose your competitions, and return it to registrar Anne Alexander by email. You may bring payment to the Mòd on Sept. 22.

Mod Ligonier Registration 2018

Mòd Ligonier will feature competitions in Scottish Gaelic song, poetry, storytelling familiar to those who’ve attended ACGA’s U.S. National Mòd in years past. (The national Mòd, which celebrated its 30th anniverary last year, is on hiatus this year as we plan a larger gathering in 2019.)

We’re delighted to welcome as Alasdair Currie and our own Michael Mackay as adjudicators. Currie was born and raised on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, and lived on a farm called Ballachlaven at the north end of the island. He began singing and competing in mòds at a very young age. As a child he won the ‘Dunoon Observer Gold Medal’ for boy’s solo singing 10-12, the James C. Macphee badge for boy’s solo singing 13-15, and the open competition for boys aged 16-18.

In his first year competing as an adult at the Royal National Mòd, Currie won the Silver Pendant in Oban. He finished third in the Gold Medal competition the next year in Lewis and won the Gold Medal in Fort William in 2017.  He is one of more than 20 gold medal winners from the Royal National Mòd since 1998 who have attended the U.S. National Mòd and now Mòd Ligonier.

Alasdair studied bagpipes and small pipes at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, for three years, achieving a degree with distinction in Gaelic and Traditional Music and received tutoring from Christine Primrose, Arthur Cormack and Blair Douglas.

Michael Mackay
Michael Mackay, ACGA president


Michael Mackay
has been learning Scottish Gaelic since the late 1990s, and is now a fluent contributor to BBC radio and television programs such as Aithris na Maidne (The Morning Report) and Prògram Choinnich (Kenny MacIver’s morning show). 
He also, along with Liam Cassidy and Ed Bradshaw, created an Internet Gaelic news topic show, Gaelcast, and produced An Saoghal Againne, a Gaelic news program for Rèidio Guth nan Gàidheal, now archived and available on Mixcloud.

Mackay is president of ACGA. He has adjudicated at the North Carolina Provincial Mòd, connected with ACGA’s Grandfather Mountain Song and Language Week and the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Mackay has won the gold medal at the U.S. National Mòd several times, as well as getting several first place wins at the Royal Mòd in Scotland in prose competitions, and a second place in the Traditional Gold Medal competition.

Lodging

This year, we won’t be staying at the Antiochian Village. Mòd attendees are free to choose lodging that suits their budgets in the Ligonier area. There are many hotels in the area, but it’s best to book early, as the Ligonier Highland Games draws thousands of people to the region.

We’ll be gathering on Friday night before the Saturday event, and the location and schedule should be available soon. Keep an eye on this page for more information!

ACGA ‘Mini-Mòd’ Coming to Ligonier Sept. 21-23

Celebrating after a recent ACGA Mòd in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Join us this year Sept. 21-23 in Ligonier for a "mini-Mòd" as we prepare a bigger event for 2019.
Celebrating after a recent ACGA Mòd in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Join us this year Sept. 21-23 in Ligonier for a “mini-Mòd” as we prepare a bigger event for 2019.

ACGA’s National Mòd in Pennsylvania is on hiatus for 2018 as we re-tool for an expanded event in 2019, but we’ve gotten a large number of inquiries and requests to get together in Ligonier again this year, to have a smaller, informal Mòd.

We just can’t let the year go by without keeping the tradition of singing, storytelling, poetry, and good times going in some form! We are very fortunate to have Alasdair Currie, the An Comunn Gàidhealach Royal Mòd men’s Gold Medal winner from 2017, come visit us for the event – and the women’s Gold Medalist, Rachel Walker, is working with us to come over at a future date! 

We will be in Ligonier , Pennsylvania, Sept. 21-23, 2018, just like always, but we’ll be gathering on Friday at a nearby hotel, and anyone who wants to come to the Mòd can find accommodations in the area — whatever works for your budget! More details to come soon!

Preparing for the Gaelic Song & Language Week this July 9-13

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There’s still time to reserve a place at the 20th Annual Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week, which will be held by ACGA  July 9 to 13 in Banner Elk, North Carolina, just before the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 12 to 15.

We’re working on getting everything ready for the weeklong event at Lees-MacRae College, which will feature Scottish Gaelic language song classes taught by Margaret Bennett, Catrìona Parsons, and Jamie MacDonald, with check-in beginning Sunday, July 8.

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 places.

We hope you’ll join us! Tiugainn leinn! Spaces and beds fill up quickly in June, so register early. For more information, go to the Events section this website and the Grandfather Mountain GSLW page. To register, click here. And look for more information here soon.

 

 

Falzett Named Visiting Lecturer in Scottish Gaelic Studies at UNC

Dr. Tiber Falzett, speaking with Woody Beaton, a participant at the 2016 Gaelic Folkways Festival and Summer Institute held in Orwell, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Dr. Tiber Falzett, speaking with Woody Beaton, a participant at the 2016 Gaelic Folkways Festival and Summer Institute held in Orwell, Prince Edward Island.

Scottish Gaelic Studies in the United States takes a leap forward with the appointment of Dr. Tiber Falzett to the first Scottish Heritage USA Scottish Gaelic Visiting Lectureship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The first lectureship of its kind in the United States is the result of a two-year campaign by the Scottish Gaelic Foundation of the USA / Urras Gàidhlig nan Stàitean Aonaichte.

The organization, also known as Gaelic USA, is a 501c3 tax exempt public charity working to reclaim and revitalize the language and heritage of the Scottish Highlands in America, and to build bridges between communities of all sorts, including organizations promoting Scottish Gaelic on a grass-roots level and academia.

“‘S e euchd mhór agus dhoirbh a bh’ ann gu toirt gu buil, ach se comharra dòchais is cliù a th’ ann aig an aon am a thaobh àrdachadh agus leasachadh na Gàidhlig aig ìre oifigeil anns na Stàitean,” Michael Newton, the secretary of Gaelic USA, said in a statement. (“This is a great accomplishment that was difficult to bring to fruition, and it is a mark of hope and respect at the same time for the elevation and development of Gàidhlig at an official level in the United States” — ed.).

Newton also thanked An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach / The American Scottish Gaelic Society for its financial assistance in establishing Gaelic USA.

Last July, Scottish Heritage USA, a separate organization, agreed to fund the entire amount necessary to support the 2018-19 visiting lectureship, the first position of its kind in an American university. “The Carolinas were home to the largest Gaelic-speaking communities outside of Scotland for generations and people of Highland ancestry still make up a large segment of the region’s population,” Rev. Dr. Douglas Kelly, president of Scottish Heritage USA, said at the time. “This is an ideal time to foster scholarship about the Gaelic legacy of the Carolinas and North America as a whole in the academy.”

Falzett is a fluent Scottish Gaelic speaker, as well as a singer and bagpiper. He has performed in a range of venues, from village halls to national broadcast media, in Scotland and Canada. He is a sessional lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he has just finished teaching “Introduction to Folklore” and “Scottish Heritage and Culture.”

He also held a previous lecturer appointment in the Department of Celtic Studies, St. Francis Xavier University, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he taught courses on the folklore and ethnology of the Gaelic communities of Scotland, Ireland and Canada, as well as Scottish Gaelic.

For the past three years, Falzett’s research has focused on the legacy of the Scottish Gaelic immigrant community on Prince Edward Island. His goal is to create models for re-engaging this community with its cultural heritage at a grass-roots level using archived recordings of some of the last Scottish Gaelic tradition-bearers recorded by his doctoral supervisor, Dr. John Shaw, as well as the late Professor Gordon MacLennan.

A fluent Scottish Gaelic speaker as well as a singer and bagpiper, Falzett has presented and performed in a range of venues, from village halls to national broadcast media, in Scotland and Canada. As an active folklorist and musician, he especially values opportunities to share the Scottish Gaelic language and its music with others. He believes that language and music have the power to break down barriers and bring people together.

At the University of North Carolina, Falzett will begin the visiting lectureship by teaching two folklore classes through the English Department using Scottish Gaelic content material. Gaelic USA is planning events throughout the year to promote the lectureship.

For more on the lectureship and Gaelic USA’s plans for Scottish Gaelic Studies in the United States, visit the group’s website: gaelicusa.org.

To Falzett, Gaelic USA and the University of North Carolina, mealaibh ur naidheachd.

— Liam Ó Caiside, with thanks to Tiber Falzett, Michael Newton and Gaelic USA for use of the photograph and other information.