2018 Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week


When? July 9-13, 2018

Where? Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC.

What? From Sunday to Friday the sounds of Gaelic, the first language of the Scots, will resound in the splendid mountains of North Carolina! Songs, stories, jokes, and fun galore!

Who? You! Absolute beginners to fluent speakers are welcomed! Our experienced teachers come from Scotland and New Scotland (Alba Nuadh, also known as Nova Scotia, Canada).

Why? Sing with us and learn some of the most beautiful songs in the world! Learn Gaelic with us, improve your language skills, or have conversations with other fluent speakers. We offer a great learning experience for all language levels. Enjoy the company of fellow Gaels and join our cèilidhs! Share a song, a poem, a joke, a story — or just listen and enjoy! Folks are friendly and will help you if you don’t understand! Come and join our very welcoming community!

Our 2018 Instructors:

Margaret Bennett

mbennettMargaret Bennett was brought up in a family of tradition bearers, Gaelic on her mother’s side and Lowland Scots on her father’s, sharing songs from several generations in both languages. She has spent her life as a folklorist, widely recording, writing, teaching, and singing world-wide, and is the recipient of several awards. Author of 15 books and many articles, she “wears her scholarship lightly”, and as the late Hamish Henderson wrote, “Margaret embodies the spirit of Scotland”. She is: Professor, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow; Honorary Research and Teaching Fellow, The University of St Andrews; Professor of Antiquities and Folklore, Royal Scottish Academy (RSA), Edinburgh.

Catriona Parsons

CatrìonaA native Gaelic speaker born in the Isle of Lewis and a graduate of Edinburgh University, Scotland, Catrìona NicÌomhair Parsons has been involved in the teaching of Gaelic language and song in North America for decades. For thirty summers, she taught Scottish Gaelic at the Gaelic College, St. Ann’s, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where she was commissioned to prepare Gàidhlig troimh Chòmhradh, a Gaelic course in three volumes with recorded text. For many years, she taught in the Celtic Studies Department of St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia; after retiring, she spent six years working for the newly constituted Nova Scotia Office of Gaelic Affairs. She has written well over a hundred Gaelic-English articles for local newspapers. Her poetry has been published in Scottish Gaelic periodicals GAIRM and GATH, and she has produced her solo CD of Gaelic songs entitled “Eileanan mo Ghaoil” in tribute both to Cape Breton and Lewis. From Seattle, Washington, to Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina; from Toronto to Nova Scotia, Canada; from Sydney, Australia, to Dunedin, New Zealand, Catrìona has been privileged to share her beloved language and culture with motivated students, many of whom are now instructors themselves.

Jamie MacDonald

JamieMcDDr. Jamie MacDonald is a North Carolina native, a descendant of the original Highland Scottish settlers that immigrated to the Cape Fear River Valley in the 18th and early 19th centuries. His education includes a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in Scottish Studies and a degree in Gaelic and Related Studies from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college in Skye. Dr. MacDonald has lived, worked, and studied extensively in the US, Scotland, and Canada. He taught Celtic Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and has tutored many Gaelic learners individually. Jamie has published a number of Gaelic learning materials and books. He is also the founder of the yearly Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Language and Song Week held at Lees-McRae College and the North Carolina Provincial Gaelic Mòd. In addition to ACGA, Jamie has also served on the board of directors for the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia, the Antigonish Highland Society, and the Highland Village Museum in Iona, Cape Breton.

What does it cost, this wonderful week?

  1. Private Room and tuition with meals US $525
  2. Private Room and tuition without meals US $400
  3. Day Student with tuition but no lodging or meals US $275
  4. Family Member with lodging and meals but no classes US $350
  5. If you register by June 1, the prices above hold. After that, $50 will be added to these fees! Be an early bird and save!

If none of these categories fits, let us know! Please email Jamie MacDonald at gaelteach@gmail.com.


Check in from 2:00PM to 5:00PM Sunday afternoon. Dinner is available for those who arrive before 6:00 PM. Classes begin Monday morning and run through noon Friday. There are opportunities for recreation and free-time in the afternoons and evenings, including Scottish Country dancing and hiking.


Room and board are provided by Lees-McRae College, where GSLW is held. Basic single and double dorm rooms are available (all rooms are the same rate). WiFi is available to all students. Cafeteria meals are quite good and a salad bar and dessert/ice cream bar are available at most meals. Meals are provided from Sunday dinner to Friday lunch. Additional cafeteria meals and dorm room nights are available for a reasonable charge from the college for those staying for the Highland Games. Unfortunately, the cafeteria can not provide gluten/wheat free meals, but there are restaurants and grocery stores that can meet your needs in the local area.


Registration will be available via this website soon.


Temperatures range from low 60s to mid 80s during July – normally beautiful and cool. However, it can be very warm or wet and cold. It is advisable to bring a fan for your room and blanket for your bed. Shorts and lightweight long pants are appropriate, as are t-shirts, lightweight sweaters, and sun hats. Fleeces and heavy sweaters may be needed as well. A raincoat or umbrella is advised, just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Items to Bring:

  • Bed linens, pillow, blanket
  • Towels, wash cloths, toiletries
  • Room fan
  • Desk lamp
  • Casual clothing for cool / warm weather
  • Walking / hiking shoes
  • Swimsuit/ fishing equipment
  • Raincoat / umbrella
  • Camera
  • Flash light
  • Classroom items:
  • Gaelic reference books
  • Sound recorder and/or pen & paper for note-taking

Other items:

  • Props for cèilidh
  • Musical instruments
  • Items to donate for Silent Auction
  • Cash or checkbook for Silent auction—great bargains!
  • Dancing shoes (if you are a dancer and would like to attend any of the evenings of social dancing at the Thistle School of Scottish Country Dance, $5.00 per night)
  • Gaelic Language videos to share with the group at night (examples are An Ceasnachadh, An Cridhe Cabaireach & The Blood is Strong)

Directions to Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, NC

From Johnson City, Tennessee, and the Tri-Cities Airport area:

Take 321 northeast from Johnson City to Elizabethton. Continue east on 19E across the state line to Elk Park, NC. At Elk Park, go left on 194 to Banner Elk. As you come to the top of the hill and enter Banner Elk, Lees-McRae College is on your right. Total driving time: approx. 1 hour.

From Charlotte Douglas International Airport:

Take I-485 to I-85 West. Take I-85 to 321 North.Follow 321 through Hickory & Lenoir to Boone. At Boone, turn left onto Rte. 105 at large intersection. Take Rte. 105 approximately 15 miles and turn right at traffic light onto Rte 184 (Tynecastle Hwy). Rte 184 ends at Rte 194 in Banner Elk. Turn left. Lees-McRae College is on the left.

From Rte. 421, Boone, NC:

Take Rte. 105 South approximately 15 miles. Turn right at stoplight onto Rte. 184 (Tynecastle Hwy.) Rte.184 ends at Rte. 194. Turn left. Lees McRae College is on the left.

From Rte. 221, Linville, NC:

Take Rte. 105 North and turn left at stoplight onto Rte. 184 (Tynecastle Hwy.) Rte.184 ends at Rte. 194. Turn left. Lees McRae College is on the left.

***Banner Elk is a small town and you should have no trouble finding the college and the dorm. There will be signs.

Staying extra nights for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games:

If you’d like to stay in Virginia Hall Friday (July 13) and/or Saturday (July 14) night(s) after Gaelic Week, please follow these instructions and pay no later than Friday, June 29. You must pay Lees-McRae College online, not ACGA. The rate is $35. per night.

Booking and Payment Instructions:

  • Go to www.lmc.edu
  • At the top right- hand side of the page, choose Community
  • Scroll down and choose Conferencing and Events
  • Scroll to the middle of the page and click Make a Payment
  • On the Make a Payment page, enter “Gaelic 2018”
  • Complete the information requested
  • Under Group Name, enter the dates of stay that the payment is covering
  • Continue to the next page and click Accept
  • This brings you to the Payment page; complete as requested.
  • You will receive confirmation for your payment. Please keep this information for your records.Lees-McRae will also receive a payment confirmation and will note it on the rooming list.
  • Finally, email Gaelic.song.language@gmail.com to let us know the extra nights you’ll be staying.
  • Please note that Friday, June 29, is the cut-off date. After June 29, you will not be able to complete the transaction. So if you’re planning to stay, please submit the info and pay before the deadline.