Art across the sea

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY KYLE GREENHAM kyle.greenham@gan­der­bea­con.ca

Brid­gette Abott off to Ire­land

MUS­GRAVE HAR­BOUR, N.L. – A Mus­grave Har­bour na­tive will soon be show­ing her pro­vin­cial pride in Ire­land.

Brid­gette Ab­bott, 27, will be rep­re­sent­ing New­found­land and Labrador at this sum­mer’s In­ter­na­tional Rose of Tralee Fes­ti­val. The an­nual fes­ti­val cel­e­brates both Ir­ish cul­ture and the ac­com­plish­ments of young women with Ir­ish her­itage around the globe.

As cus­to­dian for the prov­ince this year, Ab­bott is hop­ing to bring along the spirit of small town New­found­land and put it on full dis­play.

“I grew up in a small out­port com­mu­nity where ev­ery­one leans on ev­ery­one’s shoul­der, just like if look back to when the Ir­ish set­tlers came here and had to work to­gether to sur­vive,” Ab­bott said. “I hope to leave a happy and last­ing im­pres­sion. Our cul­ture is rich, we love our mu­sic, we love to have fun, we’re very warm and giv­ing.

“I hope I can re­flect that dur­ing my pre­sen­ta­tion and through my on­stage pres­ence.”

The fes­ti­val, which runs from Aug. 17-21, in­cludes a tour around Ire­land to visit var­i­ous pubs, busi­nesses and his­toric sights. Ab­bott is one of 32 women com­ing from abroad back to the coun­try of her an­ces­try.

Ab­bott au­di­tioned for the fes­ti­val with sev­eral other young New­found­land women. Us­ing skills ac­quired through her small busi­ness “Pretty Ugly”, Ab­bott played a home­made ugly stick along to some tra­di­tional New­found­land folk mu­sic as part of her au­di­tion.

Be­ing for­merly crowned Miss New­found­land and Labrador in 2014 was also a help­ful ex­pe­ri­ence in help­ing Ab­bott dis­play her tal­ents.

When she fi­nally got the news that she had been se­lected, Ab­bott says she was ec­static.

“I was so over­whelmed,” she said. “Ev­ery one of us would have been a fan­tas­tic se­lec­tion, it was such a great group of girls.

“I’m not only rep­re­sent­ing my­self, I’m rep­re­sent­ing this group of girls and our achieve­ments. I’m ex­cited to share that re­spon­si­bil­ity and rep­re­sent the prov­ince.”

As part of her pre­sen­ta­tion, Ab­bott is bring­ing along one of her per­son­ally crafted ugly sticks. She says she’ll be ex­plor­ing New­found­land cul­ture through the work of her hands, and with the stick will be adding some hu­mour to her show­case.

As part of her prepa­ra­tion, Ab­bott also did some con­sid­er­able re­search trac­ing her fam­ily tree. She did much of her an­ces­tral in­ves­ti­gat­ing at The Rooms and the Cen­tre for New­found­land Stud­ies in Memo­rial Univer­sity. She traced her mother’s maiden name Cuff and her great-great grand­mother’s sur­name – But­ler.

Her re­search led her to one of the ear­li­est cen­suses in New­found­land, dat­ing back to 1602.

“I found lots of in­for­ma­tion about the But­ler line, they say it’s one of the old­est last names that ever came from Ire­land to New­found­land,” Ab­bott said. “It made a per­sonal con­nec­tion for me to trace it so far back; it brought a new light to my life and who I am.”

Ab­bott is head­ing to Ire­land on Aug. 12, and is ex­cited for new ex­pe­ri­ences and new friend­ships. While she’ll be trac­ing her an­ces­tor’s steps back to the Old World, Ab­bott plans to bring a piece of her Mus­grave Har­bour home along with her.

“The friend­li­ness I have, the kind, giv­ing spirit I have – that’s in­stilled in me through grow­ing up in Mus­grave Har­bour,” she said. “I hope that shines through my per­son­al­ity while I’m away and I com­pletely owe that to my com­mu­nity. It brought me to where I am and that’s some­thing I’ll never let go of.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Brid­gette Ab­bott will be rep­re­sent­ing New­found­land and Labrador at this sum­mer’s In­ter­na­tional Rose of Tralee Fes­ti­val. The an­nual fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing Ir­ish cul­ture and her­itage is held in Tralee, Ire­land from Aug. 17-21.

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