A busy week in January 2019 sharing Hebridean Culture in the Isle of Lewis.
Tuesday: Clann an La an De the over 60s group in Shawbost,Westside with the Gaelic monologue Os Mo Chionn Sheinn an Uiseig by Eric J MacDonald. The play is about the life of Lewis women who followed the fishing. One lady reminisced about the women gutting herring on the pier on the quay in Stornoway in the 1950s.
Wednesday: Dun Berisay a Stornoway care home with the Outside In films with Cianalas, An Lanntair. The Last Crofter in Laxay filmed by my father in 1990. Cye Ardie was peat cutting, weaving, turning the veg plot, scything the grass, shearing sheep and milking the cow. Comments from a young member of staff included “Was that the same one man who did all that?”
The lovely flowers and crofting animals in Machair Life, a film dedicated to young piper Ivan MacDonald North Uist, sparked off crofting memories. After the film we had an rousing sing song in the wee lounge with lots of laughter and contributions from around the room.
Thursday: Blar Buidhe, a Stornoway care home with Outside In films, where Murdo reminisced about his years weaving on the loom and ladies told of the daily trek to the well after coming home from school.
Saturday: Feasgar na Callainn commemorating the Old New Year customs at Museum nan Eilean, Stornoway. What a relaxed afternoon with Cathie and I singing in the foyer on our coffee break. The museum is one of my favourite places to engage with passersby, whether it is Gaelic learning or traditions, the chat is reciprocated, tenfold.
Then I was invited to a nearby sheltered housing complex. In the lounge within minutes, there was lots of singing and animated Gaelic faces. One man joined us and sang heartily, I made up my mind to ask him, where he hailed from, to pitch the next song from his district. But before we finished singing the song, I observed some disbelief among the others and wondered what was amiss. “I have never heard him utter one single word before” said one incredulous man. “Look at him singing his heart out and he knows all the words”
Another special moment from an impromptu ceilidh.