Home > CALL, Community, Research, Video > Stòras Beò: Anna Frater

Stòras Beò: Anna Frater

AnnaagusPadruigThe poet and UHI lecturer Dr Anne Frater was born in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, and brought up in the village of Upper Bayble in the district of Point, a small community which has also been home to Derick Thomson and Iain Crichton Smith.

Here, she talks to Pàdruig Moireach for the Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal project.

In the first part she talks about her family and early childhood in Point. Her mother was a teacher and her father at sea. She recalls with appreciation her primary schooling at Sgoil Phabail, and the breadth of extra-curricular activity enabled by her teachers, extending into the 2-year secondary stage. Participation in inter-school activities and local mods, where she won her first poetry prize, is fondly remembered. The area has changed, with much less working on the land. There are many new houses, and more children around again now after a period when there were very few.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/10007

In the second part Anne talks about her experience as a pupil of the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway. She enjoyed the learning, though teenage years can be difficult. While she was interested in science her forte was languages. Again, she appreciated the teachers who encouraged or enabled the development of interests and activities outside the class, such as concerts or sales of work for charity. Then, at Glasgow University she studied French and Gaelic, spending a year in Brittany where she had some exposure to Breton. She liked Glasgow, and went on to do teacher training and then a PhD before finding media work with STV (on Machair) and the BBC (Eòrpa) in Gaelic, and with the Lesley Riddoch programme in English. But city life was beginning to pall, so she listened to her mother and returned to Lewis.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/10008

In the third part Anne and Pàdruig recall the early years of the University of the Highlands and Islands, when colleges co-operated in the creation of Gaelic-medium courses. Anne appreciates the UHI mix of Higher and Further Education, and the opportunity to contribute to courses in Gaelic and English, as well as the range of delivery methods, including online for remote students. Moving on to her poetry, she reveals how her interest started at a young age, and the important influence of local bards, including women such as her great aunt Ciorstaidh Anna. At university Derick Thomson was also supportive, helping her get published in the Gaelic circular, Gairm. And she notes that his father James had been the local schoolmaster for earlier generations of local poets. She also discusses how her work is stimulated, whether through commission or spontaneously.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/10009

In the fourth part, the conversation returns to changes in the area since Anne’s childhood. With less working on the land it has become more a family than a community activity. Stornoway seems quieter, though Sabbath observance has changed. While the community seems less close in some ways, lockdown brought out a strong co-operative spirit amongst neighbours. She considers the islands’ experience of the pandemic has been less burdensome than for many city dwellers. In discussing changing patterns of Gaelic use, she notes that nowadays many children attending Gaelic-medium education do not have the language at home. It is being left to the schools to teach it. There is a general assumption that young people do not speak it by preference. So using it with them, when their own parents don’t speak it, may raise interesting questions. Nevertheless, even though by census figures it is now a minority language in her own community there remains an appetite for Gaelic events.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/10010

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video
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