Cape Breton’s Féis an Eilein Goes Virtual, Puts Concerts Online

Many of us are missing the opportunity to travel to Cape Breton this year, especially to Féis an Eilein, which is celebrating its 30th year despite the coróna-bhioras (COVID-19).

The weeklong event in August is a highlight of the Gaelic year in Nova Scotia. The féis, held on Eilean na Nollaig or Christmas Island, is the first to be held outside Scotland.

But don’t despair. Even if you can’t go to the féis this year, the féis can come to you.

Féis an Eilein has gone virtual, like many events, and its concerts are available on the organization’s website, and through its YouTube channel. They’ll bring Cape Breton into your own home.

First up, Aug. 18, was the Mòd nam Fìdhlearan, the Fiddler’s Court concert.

Second, on Aug. 19, Cèilidh nam Pìobairean, the famous Piper’s Cèilidh.

Keep an eye out for other programs from Féis an Eilein.

ACGA Elects Officers, Plans Online Events, Outreach

An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach (The American Scottish Gaelic Society, or ACGA) has elected a new slate of officers for 2020-21, and welcomes two new members to its board of directors.

The ACGA board chose long-time member and former co-vice president Liam Ó Caiside (Cassidy), to lead the board as president for the next year. Former co-vice president Jeff Justice will be vice president, and former president Mìcheal MacAoidh (Mackay) will be treasurer.

Term limits required MacAoidh to step down after serving as president since 2014.

Eileen Walker of Virginia and Reese MacKay of Colorado both joined the board, after being elected by the membership earlier this year. In addition to Cassidy, Justice, and Mackay, they join current directors Shannon Duncan, Cam MacRae, and Barbara Lynn Rice.

“This new board will continue to build on the strong foundation laid by Mike Mackay over several terms as president,” Ó Caiside said. “We will bolster the events and services we currently provide to members, and introduce new services and initiatives as well, especially online.”

Among the goals set by the board in its August 9 meeting were:

  • Developing a new Scottish Gaelic Learners Grant Program.
  • Holding a Virtual US National Mòd this fall.
  • Holding an online Annual General Meeting before the end of the year.
  • Using Zoom to reach out to Gaelic Learning Communities.
  • Developing a monthly Zoom-based video program.

“During the pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to using video conferencing programs such as Zoom and Skype to work remotely, and we’ve seen how powerful these tools can be,” Ó Caiside said. “ACGA held a very successful Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week entirely through Zoom, with four days of classes followed by a mòd.”

Like other organizations and businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing ACGA to adopt new ways of doing things and to seize new opportunities. “We can’t meet ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ during this pandemic, but we can meet online, and we plan to do much more online this coming year,” Ó Caiside said.


Grandfather Mountain Song & Language Week Goes Online July 6-9


ACGA’s Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week (GMS&LW) will be held online, with four days of classes July 6-9 in Scottish Gaelic song and language taught via Zoom. The virtual event will feature Wilma Kennedy and Màiri Britton as instructors.

After the physical on-site event was cancelled due to the loss of our venue at Lees-McRae College, the GMS&LW committee swung into action and organized an unprecedented online event, with full class schedules — six classes a day for four days — all for $125 per student. All classes will be taught through Zoom, the widely used video and audio conferencing software available at

Wilma Kennedy
Wilma Kenn

You may see the schedule and more information here:

The song and language week will be followed by an online North Carolina Provincial Mòd — a competition in Gaelic song — on Friday, July 10. Attending the Mòd costs an additional $5 — participating as a competitor costs $10.

Màiri Britton
Màiri Britton

Registration is available online, and payment can be made via PayPal. Follow this link to register:

We’re excited about taking this step into online events — even COVID-19 won’t keep us from singing and learning Gaelic. Look for more information here and on our Facebook page. The GMS&LW committee also has a Facebook group that you may join and an event page.