Live in or near an t-Ubhal Mòr*? The New York Caledonian Club plans a series of Scottish Gaelic language classes this spring. Join the club for classes in Beginning Gaelic, Conversational Gaelic and Reading Gaelic.
New York is home to a growing, vibrant Gaelic Learning Community, and the Caledonian Club is at its heart. Gaelic classes will be held Tuesdays from Feb. 20 through May 1 at the Ripley-Grier Studios, 520 Eighth Ave., 10th floor, Manhattan.
Don Ross will teach the Beginning Gaelic and Gaelic reading classes, while John Grimaldi leads the Gaelic conversation group. You can find more information and register for the classes on this web page.
* By an t-Ubhal Mór, we mean of course The Big Apple.
Everyone, practically everywhere, has heard of Robert Burns and Burns’ Night, but what about Scotland’s Gaelic poets?
They got their due and their own night Jan. 27, when 20 people gathered to celebrate centuries of poets and Gaelic poetry and share poems and songs at Oidhche nam Bàrd in Alexandria, Virginia.
Gàidhlig Photomac, the Scottish Gaelic Learning Community in the Washington, D.C., area, organized the special event, held just a few nights after Robert Burns’ big evening Jan. 25. The venue was the snug Fitzgerald room at Daniel O’Connell’s Irish restaurant.
“We felt it was time the contribution of Scottish Gaelic poets to Scotland and, in fact, the world at large, was recognized,” Liam Cassidy, a co-organizer of Gàidhlig Photomac, said.
The evening combined poetry and song with a brief Gaelic class, dinner and drinks, music and a toast to the bards (all of them).
“Many people are drawn to Gaelic by its songs, and the link between poetry and song in Gaelic is strong,” Cassidy said. “We’ve wanted to do something to celebrate and introduce Gaelic poetry to learners for a long time, and this seemed a good way to go about it.”
The evening’s program featured five Gaelic poets from different eras: Lachlann Mòr MacMhuirich from the medieval period, Mòr Chaimbeul from the 1570s, Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir from the 18th century, Màiri Mhòr nan Òran from the 19th century, and finally, the great 20th century Gaelic poet Somhairle MacGilleathain.
The poems were read in Gaelic and in English translation and copies and information on the poets were shared with attendees.
After the “formal” reading, the informal sharing of poems and songs began. Out of the 20 attendees, nine volunteered to read or sing favorite pieces they brought with them. “We were pleased with the turnout, but amazed by the number of people who wanted to share poems,” Cassidy said.
Oidhche nam Bàrd drew long-time members of the D.C.-area Gaelic community but also new people, including a family with ties to Lochaber, an Irish-language student, and a few people experiencing Gaelic for the first time. The event was the first this year for Gàidhlig Photomac, which publicized the night through Meetup and Facebook.
While most of the attendees were locals living in Northern Virginia, D.C., or Maryland, three came from New York City and one from Richmond, Virginia. The New Yorkers all enjoyed local hospitality.
There was no charge for the event itself. Attendees covered their own tabs. “The fact that the restaurant did not charge for the room meant a lot to us,” Cassidy said. “That helped us make this a free event.”
Gàidhlig Photomac plans to make Oidhche nam Bàrd an annual event, and hopes other Gaelic Learning Communities will host their own events celebrating Gaelic poets and poetry. “The model would be an easy one to follow, even for small groups,” Cassidy said.
A Scottish Gaelic Christmas song performed by a high school rock band is spreading not just throughout Scotland but worldwide.
“‘S e Nollaig a th’ ann! (It’s Christmas!”) was recorded by Làn Chomais, a Gaelic rock band from Greenfaulds High School, and released Dec. 7.
Làn Chomais (which means full of ability or power), recorded the song with the backing voices of 1,000 students from Gaelic language programs at schools across North Lanarkshire.
“This experience has been awesome and has given us an amazing opportunity to promote the Gaelic profile of North Lanarkshire while working at a professional level with hugely inspiring musicians,” said Emily Robertson, the band’s lead singer.
“We have been searching for a way to make people more aware of the fact that Gaelic is alive and well in our area,” said Kevin Rogers, a Gaelic teacher at the high school, located in Cumbernauld, northeast of Glasgow.
“We’re Gaels like anybody else who speaks the language and is involved in the culture,” he explains in the YouTube video.
‘S e Nollaig a th’ ann! is available to download on iTunes, Amazon, Google, and Spotify.
GaelicUSA, an organization working to endow a chair of Scottish Studies at an American university, interviewed ACGA President Michael MacKay about his own experience as a Gaelic learner and his views on Gaelic and the role of ACGA in the Gaelic world.
Of course, we think Mike is dead on target in discussing the importance of the language. Read the interview and form (and share) your own opinions. This quote from Mike, in particular, stand out as important to us, and to everyone around the globe working to keep Gaelic alive:
” We want to actively work with any and all groups that are leading efforts to educate their members about Gaelic, provide resources to those learning the language, and otherwise supporting Gaelic in their activities, to provide them whatever resources we can ourselves, to help get them in touch with other groups here and in Scotland, and to stay in the fight.”
Mòd nan Lochan Mòra/The Great Lakes Mod kicked off this year’s North American mòd season at Akron, Ohio, in the middle of June.
Participants gathered Friday night for a pot-luck supper followed by sight-reading, storytelling, and poetry competitions adjudicated by Angus MacLeod, winner of the men’s Bonn Òr a’ Chomuinn at the 2014 Royal National Mòd in Scotland. Saturday saw the singing competitions, which included both a prescribed song competition and open competitions, and a performance by Còisir Ghàidhlig Ohio.
Mike Mackay came in first in the open song competition, followed by Anne Alexander, organizer of Mòd nan Lochan Mòra, and Sharon McWhorter, who tied for second. Hilary NicPhàidein took first in storytelling, followed by Mike; and Hilary and Cam MacRae tied in the poetry competition.
Cam placed first in sight-reading, followed by Anne and then Hilary. As is usual in mòd competitions, the adjudicator gave oral and written comments to all participants whether they were competing or auditing.
The North Carolina Provincial Gaelic Mòd will take place at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 8, and the season will end with a flourish with the 30th annual U.S. National Mòd and first ACGA Fèis in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Sept. 21-24.
Keep an eye out for news about the U.S. National Mòd here an in the Events section of our website. Registration should open shortly.
And finally, don’t forget the Scotland’s Royal National Mòd, a ten-day annual event that this year will be held in Lochaber, Scotland, Oct. 13-21.