When Catherine Eunson taught music in Balivanich School, she noticed the speed and facility with which the then headmaster, Alasdair MacGillivray (now retired), would wrap parcels, for example when the annual nativity play came round. It reminded her of the same skills that her own shopkeeper grandfather had.
Recently, she went round to Alasdair’s house to find out how it started, and discovered the secret lies in his family background. Listen here to find out how and when he learned, and to witness a demonstration. Alasdair still puts his skills to good use, as his grandchildren will happily testify!
Here, Alasdair explains it all in Gaelic.
And here he does it again in English.
Chaidh a’ cho-labhairt aig Soillse ann an Sabhal Mòr Ostaig a chur air dòigh leis an Sgioba Rannsachaidh fo stiùir Tim Armstrong. Tha tòrr dhaoine òga sa bhuidheann seo, agus tha iad gu math beothail agus gu math comasach.
Tha iad air a bhith stèidhte ann an Oilthigh Ghlaschu, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann, Oilthigh Obar Dheathainn, agus Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean, ach uile ag obair còmhla airson rannsachadh air staid na Gàidhlig a thoirt air adhart.
Seo ball eile – Stuart Dunmore – a’ bruidhinn mu dheidhinn na seiseanan san robh e fhèin an sàs air a’ chiad latha.
Seo agaibh guthan òga ùra ag innse dhuinn mu dheidhinn bùth-obrach a chuir iad air dòigh air a’ chiad latha. Bha deagh dheasbad ann, agus bha cothrom aig a h-uile duine a bha ann na beachdan agus na ceistean aca fhèin a thogail.
‘S math a rinn iad!
Since then she has published numerous articles on the subject of Gaelic and its revitalisation both in Scotland and Nova Scotia, where she now lives. Most recently she has become an active blogger. She wrote an interesting piece last month on Gaelic revitalisation and rocket science.
Here Emily talks (in Gaelic) about some of her observations on learning Gaelic in Uist, and how she came to write her piece:
Good to hear a new voice on Guthan nan Eilean!
And, with her kind permission, here’s the piece itself, “re-blogged”:
Saving Gaelic – Is It Rocket Science?
A few years ago, someone criticized my work, saying that Gaelic language revitalization wasn’t rocket science. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, because she was right. Language revitalization isn’t rocket science — it’s far more difficult.
Rocket science, or any type of engineering, formulates and solves problems. Get the math right, solve the problem. On to the next problem. Something breaks or goes wrong? Find the math or programming mistake and fix it. Human error is a factor, but the math is reliable.
Language revitalization, on the other hand, is not so simple.
A formal definition of language revitalization is: “the attempt to add new linguistic forms or social functions to a language which is threatened with language loss or death, with the aim of increasing its uses and users” (Kendall King 2001, p. 4). Basically, it’s the effort to save a language that is gradually going out of daily use.
You can read more posts from Emily on her blog: emilymcfujita.com/blog/
Mary Morrison wrote this blogpost about the “An fheadhainn tha laighe sàmhach” exhibition launch:-
“Last week, on Friday March 13th, the second stage of ‘An fheadhainn tha laighe sàmhach’, the exhibition mounted by Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath, (to gather the reminiscences of the island, together with those of Berneray and Grimsay, on the tragic legacy of ‘An Cogadh Mòr’), was launched, this time as a collaboration with Pròiseact nan Ealan’s travelling exhibition, “Gairm nan Gàidheal”, in the Museum at Taigh Chearsabhagh. Despite some hitches with the weather the week before, which meant that the artefacts only arrived from Harris on the afternoon of the exhibition, Simon MacQuarrie, Chrissie MacCrae from the PnE team and those from CEUT at the Museum still managed to mount an array of compelling items, some on loan from the Flanders Field Museum itself, just in time for the opening.
Neil Ferguson opened the exhibition, thanking all those who had worked to make it successful. He then gave a memorable talk about Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna, and, in a strong and melodious voice, sang some of his war poems, very movingly. Còisir Ghàidhlig Uibhist under the direction of Joanna Peteranna and accompanied by Billy MacPhee then sang the first ‘world performance’ of a poem addressed to the bard by the Rev. John Smith and set to music by a choir member, Peter Cooper. Other local bards of WW1 were represented in powerful contributions from family members Isa MacKillop, Catriona Garbutt, Cathie Laing, Morag Nicholson and Duncan MacKinnon, while Patrick Hughes represented the Irish song tradition, all to great applause. Billy MacPhee played a moving solo, ‘The Battle of the Somme’ and encouraged the audience to join in with some local songs. Neil sang again, ‘An Eala Bhàn’, to great applause and Norman Johnson provided us with poignant and fitting reminders of the role of the piper in WW1, through his inimitable piping during the evening. Ùisdean Robertson gave the concluding appreciation to the contributors and launched the third of CEUT’s annual oral history pamphlets, the first to be bilingual, Isa MacKillop’s ‘An Cogadh Mòr.’
As a result of all these musical contributions, this launch turned out to be a historic and most memorable occasion – there was standing room only, throughout the evening; our estimate is that there were over 90 community members present. Small packets of Flanders Field Poppy Seeds were presented for guests to spread across the islands in remembrance. CEUT is grateful indeed for the amazing support this two year project has evoked amongst the community, local schools and especially those tradition bearers who have participated so generously.”
Shared from “An fheadhainn tha laighe sàmhach“.
Clilstore creator Caoimhìn Ò Donnaìle takes learner autonomy and the spirit of DIY self-reliance to a new level with this demonstration of how to make your own draft excluder with maximum efficiency and minimum cost.
The invention itself is a model of effective simplicity, created in real time before your eyes. All you need is a roll of tape. And the same can be said of the Clilstore demonstration itself! All you need is a camera…
Dè cho Gàidhealach agus a tha sin!
As with many Uist families there were members with direct experience of the war, and some who did not return – and those who did would often not speak about it.
The impacts on the community were brought into sharp focus through his mother’s position as Grimsay postmistress, and therefore deliverer of telegrams to other local families.
This short video was filmed by Laura Donkers for the “An fheadhainn tha laighe sàmhach” project, led by North Uist Historical Society.