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Friday, June 19, 2015

On our last night in the UK, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express at the Glasgow airport. Sean found a vegan restaurant downtown called The 78 with a set menu and a reggae band playing later that evening, so we took a cab in. On the way, I struck up a conversation with the cabbie about Gàidhlig, and he was able to give me "Ciamar a tha thu," but that was all he had.

Dinner was great, and the atmosphere was cool. It was interesting to me that our first experience of Glasgow was this hip, modern place with a mostly young and liberal clientele. While we were waiting on the cab home, I struck up a conversation with three young vegans sitting at a table outside. The young woman among them worked in government and pronounced Gàidhlig dead. Then she amended the statement to say that there were people trying to revive the language, but they weren't doing enough, so it was mostly dead. The two young men had no Gàidhlig at all and didn't care.

On the way home, I struck...

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

People. I wrote my first puirt à beul tonight. I was in a song class, and we had this awesome ethnomusicologist, and she was teaching us how to write songs in Gaelic, and I was like, wow. And I wrote this:

Duilleagan dearg 's duilleagan gorm -
Na bidh thusa dubhach an-diugh!
Duilleagan dearg 's duilleagan gorm -
Tha duil agam as t-fhoghar.

Fosgail an doras, fosgail an doras -
Na bidh thusa dubhach an-diugh!
Fosgail an doras, fosgail an doras -
Tha duil agam as t-fhoghar.

It's a jig, by the way. I wrote a haiku too, but it wasn't as good.

Here's what it means:

Red leaves, green leaves -
Don't be gloomy today!
Red leaves, green leaves -
I'm expecting in the autumn.

Open the door, open the door -
Don't be gloomy today!
Open the door, open the door -
I'm expecting in the autumn.

It'...

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Monday, August 26, 2013

The Ruin of Beltany Ring has received another good review, this time from Rebecca Buchanan of BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature. Thank you kindly, ma'am!

In other news, our new home has weathered its first crowd of Gaels, who came to stay from Friday to Sunday for a weekend retreat and training session. Everybody had a bed, everybody was fed and we even managed to have a wee outdoor fire Saturday night.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm always hesitant to say 'this is the way it is' when I speak or write of Gàidhlig and the community; I don't believe I have that authority yet and might never have it. So this blog entry is only about a recent experience of mine, one that means a great deal to me.

My friend and Gàidhlig mentor Séidheag once told me that sometimes Gàidhlig songs just come to you. At the time, we were discussing Oran na Cloiche, a great but difficult song I'm still learning beag air bheag. I understood what she meant intellectually, but I didn't understand it fully until I had a song from Griogair Labhruidh last week. It's a song of the Cailleach of Beinne Brice, a protector of deer who 'moves in and through the herd' near the high, sacred spring of the mountain. Griogair's arrangement...

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

I've just finished a brilliant week at Colaisde na Gàidhlig, where I received expert instruction in tin whistle, pipe chanter, Gàidhlig song and Gàidhlig language. Sean and Beth very much enjoyed their fiddle classes together as well.

I met many good Gaels this week and came to know a few more a little better. I also had the pleasure of coming to know my niece/foster daughter (in the old definition of Gaelic fosterage) much better, which is priceless to me.

Sean and I have come away from our experience even more committed to Gàidhlig, which needs every one of her champions. We're also excited to be practicing new instruments together, and I am resolved to dedicate more time to Gàidhlig song (quite a bit more, in fact, though I'm not yet certain what shape that learning will take).

I told Sean last night that as I left the college, I thought that I might have been heartbroken to have to leave Cape Breton after such an experience. As it was, we only drove two...

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Some of you might remember that I was a sound extra for a Gaelic short film in 2011. That film is The Fiddler’s Reel - Ruidhle an Fhidhleir, and it's finally coming to DVD! You can pre-order it now from Sìol Cultural Enterprises, and it's listed on the front page of Sìol's web site.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I've been puttering at my Ancestry.com family tree this afternoon to put off the housecleaning and finding little new information in the way of support for my Gaelic heritage. Of course, my father's people were Suhres of North Germany and Sweden (MacCath isn't my maiden name), but I've never felt connected to my father's fathers, and my Ancestry.com researches haven't yielded much beyond my great-grandfather's generation. My mother's people are Patricks, and I have quite a lineage for her father's fathers, but I've had to delete several generations of Patricks and their antecedent Kilpatricks from my family tree because the public tree I took them from many years ago was sloppy the farther back it reached. What I've been left with is the relative certainty that a Robert Patrick emigrated from Edinburgh to New England in the early 1700s and thereafter died in Maryland. Before him there might have been a Hugh and another Robert in Edinburgh and before them a John and a Thomas...

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

I bought two beautiful new books at An Là Mòr yesterday and won a third in a door-prize drawing. Very exciting! Am Mabinogi is a mid-level hardcover book in Gaelic with full-page illustrations, Gaelic Folk and Hero Tales from Argyllshire is primarily comprised of Fenian tales in Gaelic with English translations, and the book I won, Brìgh An Òrain is a history of the great Nova Scotian singer and storyteller Lauchie MacLellan, with songs and stories both in Gaelic and English.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Note: My Gaelic class last night was really great. Shay taught us how to make two herbal medicines that we foraged, cut and prepared ourselves. I thought I'd share one of her recipes with you, but I just can't write it in English after her careful, Gaelic instruction. So for better or worse (and it's probably worse!), here it is anns a' Ghàidhlig. You can read my English translations by hovering the text.


Rinne mi ìocshlaint sa mhadainn seo. Sè Bearnan Brìde a th' ann. Tha i math airson cnàmh, 's sè mòran mèinnireach a th' innte.

Reasabaidh

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Last night's Na Sgeulaichean "The Storytellers" was a great success and tremendous fun. We had fiddle tunes, songs and stories aplenty along with homemade, vegan oatcakes (Thank you, Norma!), tea, coffee and other treats. We gave away an awesome basket of Gaelic goodies that alas, I didn't win, a 50/50 pot and a music CD. Doug and I weren't completely awful as emcees, and both Cathy and her daughters worked tirelessly before, during and after the event to make certain everyone else had a good time. Today, therefore, I am content.

I'm happy for another reason, as well. I didn't need the English story translations to understand them, and I spoke Gaelic at least a third of the night. I had a breakthrough moment about a month ago in my studies while listening to a band called Mànran. The song was "Latha Math", and it was all about a good day on the island and how great it was to be alive. I was halfway through listening to it for the first time when I realized I...

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Friday, March 23, 2012

It's far too warm as I write this update, but the forecast for the weekend promises cooler temperatures and snow on Monday! Very strange, but I can't say I haven't enjoyed the sun.

I've already posted most of what follows in social networking feeds, but I thought I'd consolidate it here for the sake of a proper update. On the writing front, the big news is the Scheherazade's Facade Kickstarter campaign, which is three-quarters of the way funded after its first week. Mòran taing to all who have promoted and donated to bring this anthology to print. Your support has meant a lot to me.

In other news, I've filled the great, grizzly plot hole in the center of my novel in a flash of inspiration that left me thinking, "Oh yeah! Of course that's what happens!" I'm a little later finishing up than I had hoped, but at least it's all downhill from here. No word on the agent front yet, but I'll post...

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Monday, February 6, 2012

It's been awhile since I posted anything of the Gàidhlig variety, but I do have some interesting things to report.

On the Sgoil Ghàidhlig front, winter TIP classes are ongoing, and the Board is gearing up for a couple of interesting and fun late-winter and spring projects. On March 29th, we'll be performing a demonstration of milling songs at the Best Western in Burnside during a teachers' professional development workshop for the new Social Studies 3 curriculum and resources - Provincial Identity. On May 10th, we'll be hosting a Gàidhlig taigh-cèilidh at the Military Family Resource Centre Windsor Park. We're booking storytellers, singers and musicians for this event, and it promises to be a great evening of entertainment. I'll be acting as an emcee along with fellow Board member Doug MacDonald - and get this - we'll be doing it bilingually...

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Some of you might remember that I participated with a number of local Gaelic singers in a recording of traditional songs at the An Cliath Clis milling frolic last spring. The CD that was to be made of that recording is on indefinite hold for various reasons. Should anything change on that front, I'll post a note.

However, I do have word from Siol Cultural Enterprises that the short film Ruidhle An Fhìdhleir will be out soon. That's the film the usual suspects among us helped to finish as sound extras one afternoon last summer. When it's released, I'll post a note about that as well, along with a link for purchase.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last Wednesday, I began an intermediate session of TIP (Total Immersion Plus) Gàidhlig classes through Sgoil Gàidhlig. Tomorrow, I begin the Atlantic Gaelic Academy Intermediate I Gàidhlig session of classes via Skype. I confess I didn't study nearly as much through the summer as I had planned, but I still believe my Gaelic has improved tremendously in the last year.

I like the combination of formats I'm utilizing to learn the language; the informal Sgoil Gàidhlig classes that focus on speaking skills and the formal AGA classes that focus on grammar. However, I should stress that I've come to believe it's not possible to achieve fluency via grammar-based classes alone. Here in Nova Scotia, I meet with other Gàidhlig speakers and learners once a week, and I also have the opportunity to interact with fluent Gàidhlig speakers quite often in social settings. So I believe my most meaningful learning is happening...

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Ruidhle an Fhìdhleir (web site|Facebook) premiered last night as part of the Atlantic Film Festival. Sean and I went to see it along with the set of short films it appeared with. It was the best of them, inasmuch as I could be an objective critic, and it was lovely to see so many familiar faces on the screen. I was also pleased to find my name in the credits!

When the film is available for purchase, I'll post a note with information about it. In the meantime, here's a link to another of Marc Almon's Gaelic films, Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid (The Wake of Calum MacLeod), which is also excellent.

To watch Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid, click here.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today I spent much of the afternoon at the CBC Radio studio in downtown Halifax volunteering as a set-dancing, Gaelic-singing, Gaelic-speaking extra for the forthcoming Gaelic short film from Opolo Pictures entitled, "Ruidhle an Fhìdhleir/The Fiddler's Reel. This was a post-production sound fill for part of the film that needed new material, including the sounds of feet step-dancing (hence the title of this post), the sounds of people clapping and encouraging a fiddler and step-dancer, additional singers for the chorus of a Gaelic love song (which most of us already knew) and 'walla' conversation in Gaelic.

The film premieres on September 18th at the Park Lane Empire in a block of films called 'Atlantic Shorts' and tells the tale of a mysterious fiddler who falls for a farmgirl in depression-era Cape Breton. It has won the National Screen Institute Drama Prize and stars Shannon MacDonald, Patrick Bennett (a talented performer and an all-around great guy), Angus MacLeod and...

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