invites one and all, folks young and young-at-heart of all backgrounds and skill-sets to partake in its second-annual Eilean an Àigh: Gaelic Folkways Festival and Summer Institute onsite in Orwell, Prince Edward Island. The festival aims to increase awareness and foster learning about Prince Edward Island’s rich Scottish Gaelic cultural inheritance, once forming the majority mother-tongue of many Island communities less than a century ago, alongside living Gaelic traditions from Cape Breton, Ireland and Scotland.
Events begin Friday evening, 26 August, at 7PM with the inaugural Bard Jane MacLeod Memorial Lecture (Òraid Chuimhneachaidh na Bana-bhàird Shìne Mhòir NicLeòid) sponsored by the Institute of Island Studies, UPEI. The lecture is named in honour of Jane MacLeod (Sìne Mhòr) of Caledonia, PEI, remembered as both a gifted bard and strongly independent member of the community who emigrated with her parents from the Isle of Skye in the mid-nineteenth century. The inaugural lecture will be delivered by our esteemed guest, renowned sean-nós singer and Gaelic scholar Dr. Lillis Ó Laoire of NUI Galway, entitled “Atlantic Songlines: Gaelic Singing in Contemporary Island Communities.”
On Saturday, 27 August, from 10AM-4PM Ó Laoire will be joined by fellow Summer Institute faculty Mary Jane Lamond, Seumas Watson and Dr. Tiber Falzett for the Summer Institute’s workshops in Gaelic language, song, storytelling and music.
The afternoon workshops will conclude on site at the Macphail Wood’s Nature Centre between 3PM and 4PM with a luathadh (milling frolic), or thickening frolic as it was known locally in English, allowing participants to join instructors in putting skills learned throughout the day to use in pounding the wool cloth to choruses of Gaelic song.
On Saturday Evening, 27 August, from 7:30-10:30PM in Orwell Hall on the site of Orwell Corner Historic Village there will be a Taigh Cèilidh (Ceilidh House) Concert and Square Dance, featuring Gaelic song and music with performances by Mary Jane Lamond, Lillis Ó Laoire, Seumas Watson and friends, followed by a square dance with music by fiddler Rannie MacLellan and pianist Kevin Chaisson, two of our Island’s most celebrated traditional musicians. Participants will be able to pick up square sets that in recent years have been growing again in popularity after a resurgence in interest around the local social-dancing that was once a mainstay of Island life.
All proceeds from the Festival and Summer Institute’s events will go towards funding future programming to facilitate grass-roots community-based renewal of local Scottish Gaelic language and culture in Prince Edward Island. Furthermore, it is part of creating broader awareness in safeguarding and sustaining our province’s intangible cultural heritage and folkways, not only by developing viable cultural partnerships between Prince Edward Islanders and our Maritime and North Atlantic neighbours but also by encouraging Islanders from all cultural and linguistic communities to embrace our Island’s unique forms of home-grown knowledge and heritage.
Bho "Imrich nan Eileanach" (From "The Immigration of the Islanders")
Le Calum Bàn MacMhannain (by Malcolm Buchanan, The Polly Bard):
’S e seo Eilean an àigh
Anns a bheil sinn an-dràsd’,
’S ro-mhath chinneas dhuinn blàth air pòr ann.
Bidh an coirc’ ann a’ fàs
Agus cruithneachd fo bhlàth,
Agus tuirneap is càl is pònair.
’S tà siùcar nan craobh
Ann ri fhaighinn gu saor,
’S bidh e againn na chaoban mòra;
’S ruma daithte, dearg, ùr,
Anns gach bothan is bùth,
Cheart cho pailt ris a’ bhùrn ga òl ac’.
’Tis a beautiful Isle we inhabit the while,
Naught we plant in its soil grows sparely;
Oats will flourish with ease, wheat will wave in the breeze;
Cabbage, turnips and peas grow fairly.
And our sugar is free coming out of the tree,
And we’ll have it in junks to quarter:
And there’s rum to be got in each bothie and cot,
Just as plentifully as water.
(English translation by Rev. Murdoch Lamont)
Thigibh air chèilidh! Bidh fàilte chridheil romhaibh!
Come for a visit! A hearty welcome awaits you!