Ceòlas festival that was sprinkled with stardust
ON FRIDAY (July 8) the final fling following a successful week of workshops by Ceòlas on South Uist was hosted by Kirsteen MacDonald, who was surprised and impressed by the quantity and quality of the talent performing.
Rachel Walker, Christine Primrose and Alasdair C Whyte had taught song classes all week to great acclaim by the students. Griogair Làbhruidh sang Pìobaireachd song as well as performing his trademark rap, to the delight of the audience. Piping was provided by Fin Moore and Angus Nicolson, who had been tutoring all week and was supported by Seonaidh MacIntyre, who had been playing for the dancers. Dance took centre stage during the week with Frank McConnell, Mats Melin and Jayne Macleod making it all look easy, till you tried. Jamie MacDonald and Sarah Hoy provided music for the dancers and our Cape Breton guests Shelly Campbell also danced as well as played fiddle. Calum MacKen- zie taught fiddle although his great piano skills were used to accompany Fin and Sarah Hoy’s set at the Ceilidh Mòr. He also accompanied his wife Alexis MacIsaac, who played a lively set on the fiddle. Allan Henderson, who had been teaching youth fiddle all week, was called on several times to accompany the singers and fiddlers. Patsy Reid wowed everyone with her fiddle playing and Patsy Seddon’s clarsach playing was sublime.
The concert was streamed live on An Radio and there were more than 500 people from across the globe listening in as well as the locals who could not get a ticket for this sold-out event.
From registration on Sunday through until everyone left the Ceilidh Mòr on Friday evening, the atmosphere was fantastic and people expressed this throughout the week. One hour into the welcome ceilidh on Sunday evening a firsttime participant told Iain MacDonald that she was planning on coming again next year.
On Monday, the singers concert was the highlight of the week for many locals who love song. Local group Guthan an Iar showed their own talent, as did Sandy Jones, who had launched her book, and Penny Burgess sang songs from her new CD.
Rachel Walker, Alasdair C Whyte and Christine Primrose all performed to the highest standard, Patsy Seddon offering accompaniment for parts of the evening. Rona Lightfoot was her usual entertaining self as bean-an-taighe (MC) for the concert. Tuesday’s walk in Eriskay led by D R Campbell was taken by 40 people who were introduced to the new poetry trail recently set up. Tuesday night was house ceilidhs and the Ceòlas participants appreciated the welcome given by our local hosts, D J and Pat Peteranna, Fr Donald, Mairi Wilmot, Eric and Jane Twelves, Penny Burgess and Catriona Martindale.
Pipers’ ceilidh on Wednesday night was wonderful with the first half being led by our local young people: Sheena Peteranna, Cailean Martindale, Andrew MacIsaac and Calum Craib warming the audience for Seonaidh MacIntyre, Griogair Labhruidh and Angus Nicolson. Rona Lightfoot was bean-antaighe for this event also. Visitors were amazed at the quality of performances and one Ceolas student asked: ‘Who has been sprinkling stardust at Ceolas this year?’
Thursday night dance attracted a crowd of almost 200 and the fiddlers were given their space to perform while the dancers caught their breath.
A damp drizzly evening was transformed into a glorious fun event with the step dancers showing their skills as well as
sheer joie de vivre of the quadrilles.
Three book launches took place during the week. On Monday afternoon Sandy Jones launched her new book
Crotal Ruadh, a collection of poems. On Tuesday afternoon, Mats Melin launched his book to Ceòlas One with the Music and on Saturday night a local book From small
lochs to great lakes, by Donald MacDonald, was launched at a full house in the meeting room at Kildonan museum.
Ceòlas is increasing its engagement with Gaelic and there were four teachers doing an immersion course in Gaelic alongside a much larger than usual group of people coming to do Gaelic in Uist owing to the strength of the language in this community. Gaelic tutors Alex Bhaltos MacDonald, Catriona MacIntyre and Catriona Black were instrumental in fun generated by the Gaelic students’ drama at the Crossover concert on Friday afternoon, an event that local families attend. During the week various speakers came in to talk about local skills, activities and traditions. Lawrence MacEachen, Roddy Johnston, Rona Lightfoot, Mairi MacInnes
Ceòlas is a finalist the National Lottery Good Causes Awards Heritage Sector and if you have not voted yet, please do so before July 20 at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or ring 08448369676.
Thursday night dance in St Peter’s Hall, Daliburgh.
Allan Henderson and the young fiddlers.
Young piping students.
Shelly Campbell’s Cape Breton fiddle class.
Finale of final concert.