seaboardgàidhlig

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Eaglais Chille Mhìcheil fo Chruth-Atharrachadh

An Giblean 2012

Cha mhòr còig bliadhna air ais, sa Ghiblean 2012, sgrìobh mi pìos an seo mu Eaglais Chille Mhìcheil san Eilean Dubh, an seann eaglais ud le cladh ri taobh Bhàgh Uadal. Leis nach deach càil a dhèanamh rithe thar nam bliadhnaichean,  bha i ann am fìor dhroch stàit.  Ann an 2012 bha planaichean aig Urras Chille Mhìcheil (buidheann shaor-thoilleach) an eaglais a shàbhaladh agus a h-ath-nuadhachadh mar ionad eachdraidheil agus mar ghoireas coimhearsnachd. Bha coltas gu math àrd-amasach aig na planaichean, nan dèanadh tu coimeas eadar an tobhta a bha anns an eaglais aig an àm sin (fiù ‘s na bu mhiosa às dèidh dhan mhullach tuiteam  a-steach fo shneachd trom san aon bhliadhna) agus dealbhan spaideil na làrach mar a bhiodh e às dèidh nan obraichean rùnaichte uile. An-diugh tha mi airson sùil a thoirt air na h-adhbharan air cudromachd na làraich, agus cuideachd air na thachair anns an eadar-àm.

Chaidh an eaglais a stèidheachadh sna Meadhan Aoisean le paraiste aice fhèin, bho 1662 a-mach còmhla ri Cùl a’ Chùdainn mar pharaiste ùr, Ruigh Solais.  San latha an-diugh ‘s e àite sàmhach, iomallach a th’ ann, ach cha robh e an-còmhnaidh mar sin. Feumaidh cuimhne a bhith againn gun robh Baile Dhubhthaich na àite-taistealachd cudromach cliùiteach sna Meadhan Aoisean, agus thar nan linntean thàinig iomadh taistealach bho cheann a deas na h-Alba, gu tric a’ leantainn na seann slighe bho sgrìn Naomh Fionan aig Taigh Mhàrtainn ann an Gall Ghàidhealaibh.  Ghabh an luchd-siubhail seo – is iad luchd-turais an linn, agus cuid dhiubh beartach gu leòr – an rathad bho Mhanachainn Mhic Shimidh tron Eilean Dubh thorrach fhuranach gu Crombadh gus am bàta-aiseig fhaighinn gu Neig agus an rathad gu Baile Dhubhthaich. Nam measg bha an Rìgh Seumas IV, a bha ann am Baile Dubhthaich ochd tursan deug mu 1500, is e a’ measgachadh taistealachd agus poilitigs.  ‘S e ‘Slighe an Rìgh’ a tha air an rathad seo an-diugh fhathast.

An t-Iuchair 2012

Mar sin chan eil ann an àite iomallach bochd a bha anns na paraistean seo, ach ann an sgìre thrang shoirbheachail, agus an luchd-fearainn gu tric beartach gu leòr airson eaglaisean a thogail agus leacan-uaighe mòr-sgeadaichte a phàigheadh, mar a chì sinn anns na h-eaglaisean aig Cille Mhìcheil agus Cùl a’ Chùdainn agus sna cladhan aca. Lean seo fad linntean, fada às dèidh àm nan taistealachan cuideachd, agus mar sin tha leacan agus carraighean-chuimhne gu math drùidhteach aig an dà chuid, Cille Mhìcheil agus Cùl a’ Chùdainn, bho na Meadhan Aoisean gus an 19mh linn. Ged a chaidh an dà thogalach o fheum mar eaglaisean-paraiste o chionn 200 bliadhna, agus chaidh Cùl a’ Chùdainn a dholaidh, chaidh Cille Mhìcheil a chleachdadh fhathast mar thrannsa-adhlacaidh do phrìomh theaghlaichean na sgìre. Bha e ro anmoch Cùl a’ Chùdainn a shàbhalachdh, ach bha an t-Urras agus mòran sa choimhearsnachd den bheachd gun robh Cille Mhìcheil, le a h-eachdraidh fhada inntinneach agus a leacan agus a carraighean brèagha, airidh air ath-nuadhachadh.

an t-Sultain 2016

Agus às dèidh dhaibh mothachadh a dhùsgadh agus maoin a thogail agus iarrtasan-tabhartais gun chrìoch a lìonadh fad fichead bliadhna, ach iad-fhèin an eidheann chronail a thoirt falbh agus na ballaichean a propadh suas, tha iad air a’ chùis a dhèanamh mu dheireadh thall. Le cuideachadh bho iomadh buidheann, nam measg bho Mhaoin-Dualchais a’ Chrannchuir, thòisich an obair mhòr air an togalach. Tha na bha ri fhaicinn sna planaichean còig bliadhna air ais ri aithneachadh beag air bheag ann an da-rìribh a-nis. Tha a’ chompanaidh Laing Traditional Masonry dèanadach leis na ballaichean agus a’ mhullach, anns a bhith a’ cleachcadh na seann chlachan agus sglèataichean cho fad ‘s a ghabhas, agus dòighean-obrach tradiseanta. Mar sin ‘s urrainn do luchd-obrach òg na sgilean seo ionnsachadh, agus bha bùthan-obrach de mhuinntir na sgìre cuideachd. Ghabh mi fhìn pàirt ann an tè airson obair-snaidhidh cloiche, agus chuidich mi mar shaor-thoileach na h-arc-eòlaichean a bha a’ cladhach an làir am broinn na h-eaglais.

arc-eòlas san làr

Anns an eadar-àm cha mhòr nach eil am mullach agus na ballaichean deiseil, tha leacan air an làr, tha iad a’ cur sìos càballan dealain, agus tha iad a glanadh agus a’ càradh nan carraighean-cuimhne, gu h-àiridh an ‘Regnard memorial’ bhrèagha chlasaigich. Nuair a bhios sin deiseil, bidh iad a thoirt a-steach agus a’ taisbeanadh cuid de na leacan snaidhte às na 14mh agus 15mh linntean bhon dà chladh. Tha a’ chuid ann an Cùl a’ Chùdainn gu sònraiche àlainn – tha iad gu ìre mhòr fon fhòid fhathast. Tha iad fìor phrìseil agus sònraichte, mòran le ìomhaigh claidheimh le seòrsa cuibhle mun dòrn-chur agus geugan a’ tighinn às an lann, ach tha iad an cunnart bho na siantan agus bho na lomairean-feòir làidir aig a’ Chomhairle.

Cùl a’ Chùdainn

Chan eil cho doirbh idir a-nis creidsinn gum bi an aisling a bha aig an Urras ga firinneachadh. Tha iad rim moladh airson am foighidinn agus an dìlseachd, agus airson na rinn iad dhuinn uile. ‘S e goireas mìorbhaileach dhan choimhearsnachd agus do dhualchas Rois an Ear a bhios ann,  ionad-tadhail a tharraingeas thaistealaich ùra air ais do Shlighe an Rìgh. Agus nuair a bhios bàta-aiseig Neig-Crombadh a’ ruith a-rithist as t-samhradh, cha bhi e fada idir bho Bhailtean Mhachair Rois….

BBC Naidheachdan: https://www.facebook.com/BBCNaidheachdan/videos/10154953034253735/

Radio nan Gàidheal, Aithris na Maidne 30.01.17 ,  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0894k3d Bho ca. 1.25.14    gu  1.29.40

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The transformation of Old Kirkmichael

Sep 2016

Almost 5 years ago, in April 2012, I wrote a piece about Kirkmichael Church in the Black Isle, that old church with a graveyard beside Udale Bay. As nothing had been done to it over the years, it was in truly desperate condition then. In 2012 the Kirkmichael Trust (a voluntary group) had plans to save and restore the church as a historic monument and a community resource. These plans looked pretty ambitious when you compared the ruinous church then (even worse after the roof fell in after heavy snow) with the attractive pictures of the site as it would look after all the desired works. Today I want to have a look at the reasons for the importance of the site, and at what has been happening there in the meantime.

Cullicudden churchyard

The church was founded in the Middle Ages with its own parish, from 1662 combined with Cullicudden as Resolis parish. Nowadays it’s a quiet spot off the beaten track, but that was not always so. We have to remember that Tain was a famous, important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, and over the centuries many a pilgrim made his way there from the south of Scotland, often following the old pilgrims’ route from the shrine of St Ninian at Whithorn in in Galloway. These travellers – the ‘tourists’ of their day, many of them wealthy – took the road from Beauly’s priory through the fertile, hospitable Black Isle to Cromarty, to get the ferry over to Nigg and the road to Tain. Among them was James IV, who visited Tain 18 times around 1500, combining pilgrimage with politics. The route is called the King’s Way to this day.

Cullicudden mediaeval sword-slab

These parishes were therefore not poor, isolated places, but part of a bustling, prosperous area, where landowners were often rich each enough to finance churches and pay for ornate grave-slabs, as we see in the churches of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden and their graveyards. This continued down the centuries, long after the time of the pilgrims, and so we see impressive memorial stones in both Kirkmichael and Cullicudden, from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Although both buildings went out of use as parish churches about 200 years ago, and Cullicudden Church became completely ruined, Kirkmichael was still used as a burial aisle for the leading families of the area. It was too late for Cullicudden to be saved, but the Trust and many in the community believed that Kirkmichael, with its long, interesting history and its fine memorial slabs, was well worth restoring.

And now, after 20 years of raising awareness, and funds, and filling in countless grant applications, and themselves removing damaging ivy and propping up the old walls, they have finally reached their goal. With help from many bodies, among them the Lottery Heritage Fund, work on the great project has begun. What we saw in the ambitious plans back then can gradually be recognised in reality. The firm Laing Traditional Masonry have been working industriously on the walls and roof, re-using the old stones and slates as far as possible, and using traditional methods. In this way young masons can learn these old skills too, and there have also been workshops for the community – I took part in a stone-carving one myself. I also volunteered on the dig run by archaeologists in the floor of the church.

Oct 2016

By now the walls and the roof are nearly finished, there are stone slabs on the floor, they are laying electricity cables , and they are cleaning and repairing the memorial plaques inside the church, especially the fine classical ‘Regnard memorial’. When that is all finished they will be bringing in and displaying some of the carved 14th and 15th century grave slabs from both graveyards. Those in Cullicudden are particularly beautiful – they are largely covered by turf nowadays. They are all precious and very special, many of them with a carved sword with a kind of wheel around the hilt and branches coming out of the blade, but they are in danger from the elements and the council’s hefty lawnmowers.

Jan 2017

It’s not so hard at all now to believe that the Trust’s dream will really come true. They are to be congratulated for their patience and their faith, and for what they have done on behalf of us all. It will be a marvellous resource for the community and for our Easter Ross heritage, a visitor-centre that will draw new pilgrims back to the King’s Way. And when the Nigg-Cromarty ferry starts up again for the summer, it won’t be far away at all from the Seaboard Villages…

Feb 2017 (Pic. Andrew Dowsett – mìle taing!)

Kirkmichael Trust: http://www.kirkmichael.info/  (videos and pictures, background)

Kirkmichael on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirkmichaeltrust/

The King’s Way: http://walkingandwriting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/blogger-has-unfortunately-become.html

BBC Naidheachdan: https://www.facebook.com/BBCNaidheachdan/videos/10154953034253735/

Radio nan Gàidheal, Aithris na Maidne 30.01.17 ,  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0894k3d Bho ca. 1.25.14    gu  1.29.40

 

 

Gràdh geal mo Chrìdh‘, the Eriskay Love Lilt, agus am Mòd

eriskay-princes-beach

Eriskay, Prince’s Beach

Tha mi a’ sgrìobhadh seo aig àm a’ Mhòid Nàiseanta, a tha ann an Steòrnabhagh an turas seo, tachartas mòr na bliadhna Gàidhlig. ‘S e gràinne-mullaich na bliadhna dha na ceudan a bhios a’ gabhail pàirt sna farpaisean aon-neach no còisire, agus dha na mìltean a bhios ag èisteachd ris beò no air an telebhisean no rèidio, agus tha e le cinnt math dha-rìribh do dh’eaconamaidh a’ bhaile far a bheil e ga chumail. Ach chan eil am Mòd gu tur gun chonnspaid. Ann am beachd iomadh Gàidheil chan eil an dòigh-sheinn agus gu h-àraidh an rèiteachadh-ciùil aig farpaisean nan còisirean “Gàidhealach” gu leòr – tha iad ro chlasaigeach. Chaidh am Mòd a steidheachadh ann an 1892 agus thathar ag ràdh gu bheil buaidh fàsanan-ciùil an linn sin agus blas romànsach Celtic Revival aige fhathast. ‘S ann aig farpais nam Bonn Òir san t-Seann Nòs a-mhàin a tha dòigh-sheinn nas tradiseanta, nas nàdarraiche ri lorg. Air an làimh eile, bidh lionrà nam mòdan ionadail agus farpaisean na cloinne is inbheach a‘ toirt daoine òga is eile gu bàrdachd agus gu seinn Ghàidhlig, agus tha craoladh nan cuairtean deireannach sna meadhanan na shanas mhath airson cànan agus ‘s dòcha cultar na Gàidhlig.

Tha connspaid coltach ri sin aig na leabhraichean Songs of the Hebrides a dh’fhoillsich Marjory Kennedy Fraser, ‘Marsaili nan Òran’, eadar 1909 agus 1925. Bha eagal aig Marsaili gun rachadh òrain thradiseanta nan Eileanan Siar bàs, agus shiubhail i mun cuairt gan cruinneachadh agus gan clàradh air siolandairean cèire – rud math gun teagamh.  Ach chan e sin a dh’fhoillsich e, ach rèiteachaidhean romànsach airson piano no clàrsaich agus guth clasaigeach, le faclan Beurla – eadar-theangachaidhean gu math saor agus litreachail ann am fàsan an linn leis an Urr. Coinneach MacLeòid. Dh’fhàs i gu math ainmeil leis na cuirmean-ciùil a ghabh i còmhla ri Patuffa, a nighean, san Roinn Eòrpa agus sna Stàitean, far an robh an luchd-èisteachd a’ creidsinn gur ann (gu ìre) mar sin a bhiodh na h-eileanaich gan gabhail.

Marjory Kennedy Fraser

Marjory Kennedy Fraser

The unaffectedness and evident sincerity of the artists is one of the chief charms of their work….. The subjects range from poetic rhapsodies founded on the natural features of the islands or its life to the homelier songs that are sung as an accompaniment to various forms of manual labor. They are prefaced generally with a short talk explaining their origin and the manner in which they were heard and written down.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjory_Kennedy-Fraser

‘S e The Eriskay Love Lilt an t-òran as ainmeile aice san latha an-diugh (faclan gu h-ìseal), agus ‘s e òran brèagha a th’ ann gun teagamh sam bith. Chaidh a chlàradh le iomadh seinneadair gun cheangal idir ri Gàidhlig no ri Alba, tionndaidhean tlachdmhor le Judith Durham (the Seekers), Paul Robeson, agus Nana Mouskouri (uile air YouTube, ceanglaichean nas ìsle), agus feadhainn eile à Alba fhèin, mar The Corries agus Barbara Dickson.

Ach cha d’fhuair an t-òran tùsail, Gràdh Geal mo Chrìdh,’ bàs, as dèidh a h-uile càil. Mhàir e sin beò cuideachd. Tha clàraidhean-làraich aig tasglann Tobar an Dualchais, m.e  Nan NicFhionghain à Bhatarsaidh ann an 1952 http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/88482/1, agus bidh e ga sheinn fhathast.  Faodaidh mi an tionndadh air leth aig Iseabail NicAsgail a mholadh gu mòr, air Sìoda, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfDtTHC8BoY  no am fear aig Artair Cormaig, air an CD Ruith Na Gaoith. Nam bheachdsa tha an seann òran Gàidhlig seo fada nas brèagha agus – nas cudromaiche – fada nas drùidhtiche, nas cumhachdaiche, a thaobh nam faclan tarraingeach dà-sheaghach agus an fhuinn, na an tionndadh Beurla aig Marsaili chòir, brèagha ‘s gu bheil sin.  Dèanaibh sibh fhèin coimeas. Agus na h-òrain eile a chruinnich i? Nach math gun do dh’fhàg Marsaili mar dhìleab dhuinn ann an Sgoil Eòlais na h-Alba na siolandairean cèire aice cuideachd, còmhla ris na pàipearean agus na tionndaidhean Beurla.

 

 

mod-signinverness

Mòd sign, Inverness

I’m writing this at the time of the Mòd, held in Stornoway this time, a major event in the Gaelic year. It’s the highlight of the year for the hundreds taking part in the solo and choir competitions, and the thousands listening live or via TV and radio, and it’s certainly a great boost to the economy of the host community. But the Mòd is not entirely uncontroversial. For many Gaels the style of singing and especially the arrangements for the choir competitions are not ‘Gaelic‘ enough – they are too classical. The Mòd was founded in 1892 and it’s claimed that it’s still influenced by the musical fashions of the time and has a ‘Celtic Revival’ flavour to it. It’s only in the Traditional Gold Medal competition that you hear more a natural, traditional way of singing. On the other hand, the network of local mòds and the competitions for children and adults bring young people and others to Gaelic song, and the broadcasting of the final rounds in the media are a good advert for Gaelic language and (maybe) culture.

A similar controversy surrounds the volumes Songs of the Hebrides, published by Marjory Kennedy Fraser (‘Marjory of the Songs’) between 1909 and 1925. She feared that the traditional songs of the Hebrides would die out, and she travelled around collecting and recording them on wax cylinders – undoubtedly a very good thing. But these are not what she actually published, but romantic arrangements for piano or clarsach and classical voice, with English lyrics – extremely free and literary translations after the fashion of the day by the Rev. Kenneth MacLeod. She became quite famous for the concerts she gave with her daughter Patuffa in Europe and the States, where the listeners believed that that is (approximately) how the islanders would sing them.

The unaffectedness and evident sincerity of the artists is one of the chief charms of their work….. The subjects range from poetic rhapsodies founded on the natural features of the islands or its life to the homelier songs that are sung as an accompaniment to various forms of manual labor. They are prefaced generally with a short talk explaining their origin and the manner in which they were heard and written down.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjory_Kennedy-Fraser

The Eriskay Love Lilt is the most famous of her songs today (lyrics below), and it’s a lovely song by any measure. It’s been recorded by many singers who have no connection to Gaelic or Scotland, with delightful versions by Australian Judith Durham (the Seekers), Paul Robeson, and Nana Mouskouri, and others from Scotland itself, e.g. the Corries, Barbara Dickson (all on YouTube, links below).

Eriskay Church

Eriskay Churchl

But the original song, Gràdh Geal mo Chrìdh’ (Fair Love of my Heart), didn’t die out after all. It lived on, and is still sung, and not just in archive recordings like the one by Nan Mackinnon from Vatersay in 1952, on the Tobar an Dualchas site: http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/88482/1 . I can’t recommend highly enough the gorgeous version by Ishbel MacAskill on the Sìoda CD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfDtTHC8BoY , or Arthur Cormack’s on Ruith na Gaoith. To my mind the old Gaelic song is far more beautiful, and – more importantly – more moving, more powerful, as regards both the fascinatingly ambiguous lyrics (did she leave him or not?) and the tune, than Marjory’s sweeter version, lovely though that is. Make your own comparisons – listen to Ishbel. And what happened to the other songs Marjory collected? Well, we are very fortunate in that she actually left us her wax cylinders, in the School of Scottish Studies, as well as her papers and the English versions.

 

Faclan / Lyrics:

Eriskay Love Lilt

Chorus
Bheir me o, horo van o
Bheir me o, horo van ee
Bheir me o, o horo ho
Sad am I, without thee.

Thou’rt the music of my heart;
Harp of joy, o cruit mo chrìdh;
Moon of guidance by night;
Strength and light thou’rt to me.

In the morning, when I go
To the white and shining sea,
In the calling of the seals
Thy soft calling to me.

When I’m lonely, dear white heart,
Black the night and wild the sea,
By love’s light, my foot finds
The old pathway to thee.

Gràdh Geal mo Chridh’

‘N àm bhith cromadh ris a’ghleann On turning to the glen
Thàinig snaidhm air mo chridh’ My heart was enthralled
Bho nach d’thug thu dhomh do làmh Since you did not give me your hand
‘S mi’n dùil nach fhàgadh tu mi I hoped you would not leave me
Sèist: Chorus (after each verse):
Bheir mi ò hu ò hò Bheir mi ò hu ò hò
Bheir mi ò hu ò hì Bheir mi ò hu ò hì
Bheir mi ò hu ò hò Bheir mi ò hu ò hò
‘S mi fo bhròn ‘s tu gam dhìth I am sad and you are not with me
Dhèanainn treabhadh dhuit is buan I would plow for you and reap
Chumainn suas thu gun dìth I’d support you and you’d want for nothing
Bheirinn as a’ ghreabhal chruaidh I would take from the hard gravel
Do mo luaidh teachd an tìr A living for my love
Ged nach eil sinn fhathast pòsd’ Although we are not yet married
Tha mi’n dòchas gum bi I hope we will be
Fhad’ ‘s a mhaireas mo dhà dhòrn As long as there is strength in my two fists
Cha bhith lòn oirnn a dhìth We will want for nothing
Dh’fhàg thu sìlteach mo shùil You left my eye tearful
Dh’fhàg thu tùrsach mo chridh’ You left my heart broken
Dh’fhàg thu tana-glas mo shnuadh You left me with a sickly pallor
‘S thug thu ghruag bhàrr mo chìnn My hair is thinned

http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/macaskill/gradh.htm 

 

Ceanglaichean /Links:

  • Eriskay Love Lilt

Paul Robeson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BfpyPy2Cc8

Judith Durham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N995tLcb2t4

Nana Mouskouri:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVAlha5a00U

  • Gràdh Geal mo Chrìdh’

Ishbel MacAskill:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfDtTHC8BoY

Nan Mackinnon (archive): http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/88482/1

Kathleen MacInnes + Blair Douglas (rocky version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUAzWpTazIY

Eamonn Ó Fagáin – Bheir Mí Ó (Irish Gaelic version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vIyP835GgE

 

Taing / Thanks: for Mòd sign photo to Colin Smith

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:An_Comunn_Gaidhealach_-_geograph.org.uk_-_885559.jpg

 

 

 

Cèic Fhlùr Coirce Milis Siotrais

citrus-cornmeal-cake-1

Mòran taing do mo charaidean Gàidhlig aig a’ Chomunn Ghàidhealach Ameireaganach, agus do Kerrie Cheanadach, airson an reasabaidh seo, a nochd ann an iris an t-Sultain 2016 na Naidheachd Againne, ràitheachan a’ Chomuinn. Tha a’ chèic ceart cho blasda ma bhios sibh nur luchd-vegan no nach bi. Mhol mo charaid Cam NicRadh, is i à teaghlach eòlaichean nan cèicean, a bhith a’ cleachdadh rùsg oraindsear agus sùgh liomaideige, agus cò mise a bhiodh ag argamaid!

Dh’atharraich mi cupannan gu gramaichean leis an inneal fheumail seo:

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/531168/cups-to-grams-converter

(Tha flùr coirce milis buidhe ri fhaighinn bho Asda agus Tesco.)

Reasabaidh 

Tha a’ chèic bhlasta seo freagarrach do dhaoine leis an dòigh-ithe vegan. Leasaich Kerrie Kennedy bho Chomunn Luchd-Ionnsachaidh Thoronto an reasabaidh bho reasabaidh aig Martha Stewart. Nì i a’ chèic seo gu tric airson nan clasaichean ann an Toronto.

Grìtheidean tioram:

1 1/4 chupa min-fhlùir

1/2 chupa flùr coirce milis buidhe (min bhuidhe)

2 spàin-tì pùdar-fuine

1 spàin-tì salainn

1 spàin-bhùird rùsg seadaige, sgrìobte (no oraindsear)

Grìtheidean fliuch:

1/2 chupa ola-chroinn-ola (na cleachd “extra virgin”) (112 ml.)

1/2 chupa sabhs ubhail  (112 ml.)

1 chupa siùcair (200 gr.)

1/2 cupa sùgh-seadaige (no sùgh-oraindseir)  (112 ml.)

Tuilleadh siùcair gus a chrathadh air oir na cèice

Stiùireadh:

  1. Ro-theasaich an àmhainn gu 375 F (190°C).
  2. Lìnig tiona-fuine cearclach 8 òirlich le pàipear-fuine agus geir am pana.
  3. Buail na grìtheidean tioram agus an rùsg seadaige le chèile ann am bobhla meadhanach mòr.
  4. Ann am bobhla nas motha, measgaich na grìtheidean fliuch agus an siùcair le chèile gus an tèid am measgachadh mìn agus aotrom.
  5. Cuir na grìtheidean tioram còmhla ris na grìtheidean fliuch agus measgaich iad le chèile gu h-aotrom gus am bi am measgachadh mìn.
  6. Dòirt an taois dhan phana. Crath siùcar air oir na cèice.
  7. Bruich fad 35 gu 40 mionaid anns an àmhainn gus am bi oirean na cèice a’ tighinn air falbh bho thaobh a’ phana.
  8. Fuaraich i anns a’ phana mu 20 mionaid.
  9. Tionndaidh a’ chèic a-mach air racais-uèir agus leig leatha fuarachadh gu tur.

 

Vegan Citrus Cornmeal Cake

Thanks to my Gaelic buddies at the Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach and to Kerrie Kennedy for this recipe, equally tasty for vegans and non-vegans. My friend Cam MacRae, from a family of cake connaisseurs, recommends the combination of orange zest and lime juice, and who am I to argue!

This recipe is from the September 2016 issue of An Naidheachd Againne, the bilingual quarterly newsletter of An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach.

I converted the US cups measurements to metric using this useful tool:

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/531168/cups-to-grams-converter

(Asda and Tesco sell cornmeal, also used for polenta, medium to course-ground yellow  – maybe pre-order for collection, to be on safe side.)

Recipe

This delicious vegan adaptation of Martha Stewart’s recipe was created by Kerrie Kennedy, Comunn Luchd-Ionnsachaidh Thoronto. She often makes this moist cake as a treat for Toronto’s Gaelic group.

Dry ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour (150 gr.)

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (180 gr.)

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

grated zest of 1 grapefruit (or orange)

Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin) (112 ml.)

1/2 cup applesauce (112 ml.)

1 cup sugar (200 gr.)

1/2 cup grapefruit juice (or orange juice) (112 ml.)

Extra sugar for edges of cake

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190°C).
  2. Line bottom of 8 inch round pan with parchment paper and grease the pan.
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients and zest.
  4. In a larger bowl whisk together wet ingredients and sugar until smooth.
  5. Add flour mix to wet and whisk gently until smooth.
  6. Pour batter in pan. Sprinkle edges of cake with sugar (so crust caramelizes).
  7. Bake 35 – 40 minutes until edges pull away from side of pan.
  8. Cool in pan 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack completely.

Blas Festival 2016, An t-Sultain 2 – 10 September

Air feadh na Gàidhealtachd – Highland-wide

Fèis Rois 2012

Fèis Rois (in 2012, Beinn Eighe)

Nuair a thig an t-Sultain dhan Gàidhealtachd, thig còmhla rithe aon de na fèisean Albannach as fheàrr– Blas.  Sgrìobh mi roimhe mu Fhèisean nan Gàidheal agus mun obair luachmhor a bhios iad a’ dèanamh airson ceòl agus cultar na Gàidhealtachd, gu h-àiridh am measg na h-oighridh. Tha sinn glè eòlach air Fèis Rois an seo, le cèilidhean agus cuirmean-ciùil anns an talla againn fhèin ann an iomadh samhradh. ‘S e “Fèis nam Fèisean” a th’ ann am Blas, le rionnagan Gàidhealach sean is òg agus tachartasan air feadh na Gàidhealtachd ann an tallaichean-baile, eaglaisean, taighean-seinnse, taighean-òsda is eile, agus cuideachd ann an Eden Court, Inbhir Nis.

Tha cothroman gu leòr againn ann an Ros an Ear an turas seo a dhol do chuirmean-ciùil no cèilidhean san sgìre seo, agus tachartas no dhà a tha cho inntinneach ‘s gum b’ fhiach e dràibheadh beagan na b’ fhaide.

Tha mi fhìn a‘ dèanamh fiughair, mar eisimpleir, ri consairt le rionnagan òga  ann am Port MoCholmaig Dihaoine 9 den t-Sultain. Cluichidh Kilda, còmhlan ùr aig Norrie MacIomhair (ex-Mànran, a-nis le Skipinnish), Tannara, còmhlan tradiseanta Albannach, agus luchd-ciùil à Fèis Rois fhèin. Tha iad uile a’ cluiche cuideachd ann an Ruigh Sholais, san Eilean Dubh, an oidhche ro sin, mura h-eil ùine agaibh Dihaoine.

Bidh mi a’ dol cuideachd do dà chuirm-chiùil ann an Inbhir Nis –  cuirm-ciùil a’ comharrachadh “Rona Lightfoot aig 80” – ban-phìobaire, seinneadair Gàidhlig agus ban-teagaisg air leth, còmhla ri luchd-ciùil ainmeal mar Mhàighread Stiùbhairt, Màiri NicAonghnais agus Ailean is Iain Domhnallach (2.09.16). Abair line-up!  Agus nach mi bha fòrtanach agus bhuannaich dà thiocaid dhan tachartas mu dheireadh den t-sreath, Blas Grand Finale, 10.09.16, le Sharon Shannon, cluicheadair bogsa à Èirinn, Nuallan, pìobairean à Alba Nuadh, agus Tide Lines, còmlan ùr aig rionnag òg Robert Robertson (ex-Skipinnish), ainmeil mar-thà leis an òran leantalach “On the far side of the world”. (https://youtu.be/uzbzMRyinyE )

Tha liosta gu lèir le barrachd fiosrachaidh air:  http://www.blas-festival.com/

(Tha tàille-bhucaidh aig Ticketline gu math daor – mholainnse na h-àitichean-cluiche fònadh. Seo bileag le àireamhan fòn airson gach tachartais: http://www.feisean.org/wp-content/uploads/Blas16Leaflet.pdf )

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Norrie MacIver with Mànran (Creative Commons*)

Norrie MacIver with Mànran (Creative Commons*)

When September comes to the Highlands, along with it comes one of the best of the Scottish festivals – Blas. I’ve written here before about the Fèisean movement, and its valuable work on behalf of Highland music and culture, especially among young people. We’re very familiar with Fèis Rois in this area, with summer ceilidhs and concerts in the Seaboard Hall too. Blas is the “Festival of the Feisean”, with stars of Highland music old and young, and events across the Highlands in village halls, churches, pubs, hotels etc, and also in Eden Court, Inverness.

There are plenty of opportunities for us in Easter Ross this time to get to concerts or ceilidhs in the area, and a few events that would be worth a longer drive.

I’m looking forward myself, for instance, to a concert with young stars in Portmahomack on Friday 9 September. The band Kilda will be playing, featuring Norrie MacIver (ex-Mànran, now Skipinnish), as will Tannara, a Scottish traditional band, and Fèis Rois musicians. They’re also all playing in Resolis (Black Isle) the night before, if Friday doesn’t suit you.

I’m also going to two concerts in Inverness – a concert to celebrate “Rona Lightfoot at 80” – the legendary piper, Gaelic singer and teacher, together with famous Highland musicians such as singers Margaret Stewart and Mairi MacInnes, and top pipers Allan and Iain Macdonald (Glenuig), on 2 September – what a line-up! And I was lucky enough to win 2 tickets to the last concert in the series, the Blas Grand Finale, 10 September, with Sharon Shannon, box-player from Ireland, Nuallan, pipers from Nova Scotia, and the new band Tide Lines with Robert Robertson, the young singing star who was with Skipinnish, already famous with the catchy song “On the far side of the world” (listen here:  https://youtu.be/uzbzMRyinyE ).

Here’s a complete list of events with more information: http://www.blas-festival.com/

(The booking fees with Ticketline are quite steep, so I would recommend phoning the venues. Here’s the Blas leaflet with telephone numbers for all the events. http://www.feisean.org/wp-content/uploads/Blas16Leaflet.pdf )

 

Seo liosta beag leis na tachartasan a tha furasda ri ruigsinn bhon Seaboard:

Here’s a short list of events that are easy to get to from the Seaboard:

 

Dihaoine 2.09 Friday

Inverness St Andrew’s Cathedral 7.30pm, Rona at 80 (0844 888 9991)

Disathairne 3 Saturday

Tain Royal Hotel 2pm, family ceilidh with Liza Mulholland (tickets at door)

Là na Sàbaid 4 Sunday

Inverness St Andrew’s cathedral 8pm, Celtic Praise with Paul McCallum, Inverness Gaelic Choir etc

Diluain 5 Monday

Gairloch (worth the drive if tickets available!) Village Hall 7.30pm, Phil and Aly with Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd (01445 712071)

Dimàirt 6 Tuesday

Drumnadrochit Craigmonie centre 7.30pm Blas Commission 2016 Beul na h-Oidhche gu Camhanaich with Mary Ann Kennedy etc (01456 459 224)

Diciadain 7 Wednesday

Ullapool Macphail Centre (same as Drumnadrochit 6 Sept) (01854 613336)

Diardaoin 8 Thursday

Dingwall, The Croft, 12.30pm Lunchtime Theatre ‘Hallaig’, incl. pie+drink (01349 862468)

Resolis Memorial Hall 7.30pm, Tannara, Kilda (with Norrie MacIver) etc (01381 610204)

Dihaoine 9 Friday

Portmahomack Carnegie hall 7.30pm, Tannara, Kilda, Fèis Rois (01862 871452)

Inverness Eden Court 7.30pm, Graham Mackenzie#s ‘Crossing Borders’ + Fuaran project musicians (Tel.01463 234234)

Disathairne 10 Saturday

Inverness Phoenix Ale House 12.30 Lunchtime Theatre ‘Hallaig’ incl. pie+drink (0844 888 9991)

Inverness Eden Court Empire Theatre 7.30pm, Blas Grand Finale, with Sharon Shannon, Nuallan, Tide Lines with Robert Robertson, Angus Peter Campbell. (01463 234234)

And not part of Blas, but also definitely worth going to:

Friday 23 Sept Eden Court: The Shee (with the Seaboard’s Olivia Ross) https://www.eden-court.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-shee-1

Blas poster 2016

Mànran photo credit : 

By Rs-foto – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47367124

Seirbheis san t-Seann Eaglais gus 25 bliadhna an Urrais a chomharrachadh.

Nigg Old Trust was formed on the 22nd February 1991 to preserve the church building and the Nigg Pictish Monument.
On Sunday 3rd July at 6.30pm a special evening service conducted by parish minister Rev Robert Pickles will be held to celebrate the work of Nigg Old Trust. A new plaque has been commissioned by the trust to recognise the achievements of the founding members of Nigg Old Trust and it’s first Chairman Douglas Budge. The plaque will be unveiled by Mrs Elizabeth Budge who succeeded her late husband as chairman of the Trust. All welcome.

https://www.facebook.com/events/498824616973222/

Old Nigg Church

Nigg Stone

Nigg Stone

 

Am Brusach 700

Allt a' Bhonnaich, Obair-ghrèis Mhòr na h-Alba

Allt a’ Bhonnaich, Obair-ghrèis Mhòr na h-Alba

Anns an Ògmhios gach bliadhna thèid Blàr Allt a’ Bhonnaich a chomharrachadh, blàr le buil na bu bhuannachdaile do dh’Alba na Blàr Chùl Lodair a thachair 450 bliadhna as a dhèidh. Tha a‘ bhliadhna 1314 loisgte san DNA gach Albannaich, mar shamhla de shaorsa as dèidh nam bliadhnaichean fada de dh’ainneart fo na rìghrean Shasainn. Nach iomadh tilleadh, pearsanta agus poiliteagach, chaidh aig Raibeart Brus air an obair a thòisich Uilleam Uallas a chrìochnachadh. Fhuair e buaidh an aghaidh airm Shassanaich a bha mòran na bu mhotha, le cath-innleachd ghlic,  m.e. roghainn làraich, slochdan falaichte, schiltrons, le comas ceannardais, agus le saighdearan Albannach dìleas, a’ sabaid airson an saorsa.

‘S e ceann-bliadhna sònraichte a bha ann an 2014 agus chaidh a’ bhuaidh a chomharrachadh ann an dòighean eadar-dhealaichte air feadh na h-Alba.  Bha aon tachartas ann far an lùiginn a bhith ann, cuirm-ciùil air leth ann an Sruighlea, faisg air Allt a’ Bhonnaich, Am Brusach 700. ‘S ann aig Ailean Dòmhnullach, sàr-phìobaire às an teaghlach-pìobaire ainmeil à Gleann Uige, a bha am bun-smaoineas. Bha e airson na seann tradiseanan pìoba, ciùil is bàrdachd a chleachdadh gus dealbh bheothail den bhlàr agus de na làithean roimhe agus as a dhèidh a chruathachadh. Gus na pàirtean eadar-dhealaichte  (caismeachdean, brosnachadh, caoineadh amsaa) a cheangal agus crùth aonaichte is urramaichte a thoirt dhaibh, cho-obraich e còmhla ri Niall MacIain, sgrìobhaiche-ciùil Albannach aithnichte, a chleachd orcastra bheag ri taobh sheinneadairean agus luchd-ciùil tradiseanta le pìoban, fìdhlean, fideagan, clàrsaich, agus drumaichean. Agus thàinig obair air leth às, cuirm-chiùil chruinnte, tharraingeach.

Bruce (by Ad Meskens *)

Am Brusach (by Ad Meskens *)

Cha deach a chluich ach dà thuras, ann an Sruighlea san Ògmhios 2014 agus aig Celtic Connections ann an Glaschu ann an 2015 – iomairt uabhasach doirbh, leis na h-uiread de luchd-ciùil a bha air an ùrlar (nam measg còmhlan-pìoba òigridh à Sruighlea) agus na duilgheadasan a bh’ ann na sàr-sheinneadairean mar Ghriogair Labhraidh, Caitlin NicAonghais, Rod Paterson agus Ailean fhèin a thoirt còmhla. Chaidh a’ chuirm aig Celtic Connections a chlàradh, agus anns a’ Ghiblean am bliadhna nochd an CD, mu dheireadh thall. Ach rud a thug fìor thoileachas dhomh, air nach robh dùil agam idir, ‘s ann gun deach cuirm eile a chur air dòigh sa Ghearmailt, agus b’ urrainn dhomh a bhith ann!

‘S ann ann an Hofheim am Taunus, faisg air Frankfurt, a bha an tachartas, am baile far a bheil an aon Sgoil-Phìoba Albannach anns an Roinn Eòrpa mhòr-thìreach. ‘S e Thomas Zöller, ceannard den sgoil agus co-obraiche fad-ùineach  Ailein Dòmhullaich, a chuir a’ chuirm-chiùil air dòigh – pròiseact doirbh agus daor. Ach b’ fhiach e an t-saothair! Oidhche mhòr leis na h-aon sàr-sheinneadairean agus luchd-ciùil Albannach, fiù ‘s cuid den chòmlan-pìoba òigridh à Srùighlea, ach le orcastra ionadail à Hofheim, Thomas fhèin air a‘ phìob còmhla ri Ailean, agus sgoilearan-pìoba aigesan a‘ cluich cuideachd. Iomairt le fìor spioraid càirdeis, agus an talla loma-làn.

P1240553Bha a h-uile rud tarraingeach, a’ gluasad eadar innealan-ciùil agus guth, pìoban agus orcastra, pìosan luath agus slaodach, brònach agus aoibhneach. Gabh Caitlin NicAonghais an Caoineadh, agus Rod Paterson Scots Wha Hae, agus bha na pìoban uile gu lèir drùidhteach. Tha e doirbh na pàirtean as fheàrr leam ainmeachadh, ach tha dà phìos ann a tha nam cheann fhathast. An toiseach am Brosnachadh, air a sheinn le Griogair Labhraidh –  bàrdachd tradiseanta chumhachdach a’ brosnachadh nan saighdearan – “A chlanna Gàidheil na h-Albann air allaban ‘nis falbh leam gu buaidh no gu bàs gu bàs”. Agus an t-òran mu dheireadh, Saorsa, air a ghabhail le Ailean Dòmhnullach agus an sgioba-cluiche gu lèir – na bhrosnachadh agus na shubhachas aig an aon àm, laoidh shimplidh is làidir a thogas am meanmna. “O thèid mi fhìn le mo dheòin, Thèid agus gun tèid mi le mo dheòin. O thigibh le chèile le bhur deòin, Nì sinn ar dìcheall gu ceann.“

Faodaidh mi an CD a mholadh gu mòr ma bhios uibh agaibh ann an ciùil Albannach, no ann am Brus, no anns a’ Bhlàr.

http://www.musicinscotland.com/acatalog/The-Bruce-700.html

Tha pàirtean den chuirmean-ciùil rim faighinn air YouTube (lorg The Bruce 700) agus Facebook – ceanglaichean aig an deireadh.

Fiosrachadh sa Bheurla an seo: http://www.pipefest.com/event-news/the-bruce-700-composed-by-allan-macdonald/

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The Bruce 700

Bruce (by Ad Meskens*)

Bruce (by Ad Meskens*)

In June each year the battle of Bannockburn is celebrated, a battle with a more favourable outcome for Scotland than Culloden 450 years later. The year 1314 is etched into the DNA of every Scot, as a symbol of freedom after the long years of oppression under the English kings. After many setbacks, personal and political, Robert the Bruce managed to finish the work William Wallace has started. He was victorious against a much more numerous English army through clever military strategy, such as choice of battleground, hidden pits and the use of schiltrons, though his leadership skills, and with the loyal Scottish soldiers fighting for their freedom.

2014 was a special anniversary and it was marked by various events throughout Scotland. There was one event I would have loved to be at, a brilliant concert in Stirling, near Bannockburn, called The Bruce 700.  This was the brainchild of Allan Macdonald, master-piper from the famous piping family of Glenuig. He wanted to use the classical traditions of piping, music and poetry to create a vivid picture of the battle and the days before and after. To bind the different elements together (marches, calls to arms, laments etc) and to give the whole a unified, dignified frame, he collaborated with the renowned Scottish composer Neil Johnstone, who used a small orchestra alongside traditional singers and musicians on pipes, fiddles, whistles, harps and drums. And it turned into an outstanding piece of work, a rounded and gripping concert experience.

Bannockburn, Scotichronicon c.1440 **

Bannockburn, Scotichronicon c.1440 **

It was only performed twice, in Stirling in June 2014, and at Celtic Connections in Glasgow in 2015 – a challenging project, with so many people on stage (including a youth pipe band from Stirling) and the difficulties of coordinating the schedules of some of the best Scottish singers – Griogair Labhraidh, Kathleen MacInnes, Rod Paterson and Allan Macdonald himself. The Celtic Connections performance was recorded, and in April this year the CD came out, at long last. But the thing that really delighted me, that I hadn’t expected, is that it was to be performed live once again, in Germany, and that I could be there!

The event was in Hofheim am Taunus, near Frankfurt, home of the only Scottish Piping School in mainland Europe. It’s Thomas Zöller, head of the school and long-term collaborator of Allan Macdonald’s, who organised it – a tricky and expensive enterprise. But it was worth it. It was a great night, with the same stellar Scottish soloists and musicians, even some of the youg pipe band form Stirling, but with a local orchestra from Hofheim, Thomas himself on pipes alongside Allan, and some of his own students playing too. There was a real spirit of friendship on stage, and the hall was packed to bursting.

Bruce addressing the troops, E.B. Leighton 1909**

Bruce addressing the troops, E.B. Leighton 1909**

The whole thing was fascinating, moving between instrumentals and voice, fast and slow pieces, sad and joyful ones. Kathleen MacInnes sang the Caoineadh (Keening) and Lament, and Rod Paterson a moving Scots Wha Hae, and the pipes were impressive altogether. It’s hard to name favourites parts, but two pieces have stayed in my head ever since. First the Brosnachadh (Incitement to Battle), sung by Griogair Labhraidh – a powerful traditional poetic song to encourage the soldiers – “wandering children of the Gael, go with me now to victory or death!”  And the last song, Saorsa (Freedom), sung by Allan Macdonald and the whole cast – inspiration and celebration at the same time, a simple but powerful anthem that lifts the spirits. “Oh I will go, by my will…come together with your will, we will reach our goal by our own efforts.”

I can heartily recommend the CD if you are at all interested in Scottish music, the Bruce, or in the battle itself.

http://www.musicinscotland.com/acatalog/The-Bruce-700.html

You can hear parts of the concerts on YouTube (look for The Bruce 700) or Facebook – here are some links:

https://www.facebook.com/neil.johnstone.9/videos/1095905050468126/

https://www.facebook.com/neil.johnstone.9/videos/1065508630174435/

https://www.facebook.com/neil.johnstone.9/videos/1068480819877216/

https://youtu.be/tMq9SRKtun4

https://youtu.be/9vWWwWG-9Z4

https://youtu.be/UljaZyvo1C4

https://youtu.be/Hr9D86Ig4sg

And more details about the work here: http://www.pipefest.com/event-news/the-bruce-700-composed-by-allan-macdonald/

P1240554

*copyright Ad Meskens, Wikimedia Commons, with thanks. Mòran taing!

**  Public domain works of art (via Wikipedia)

5.09.2016:

Artaigil san National / article in The National:

http://www.thenational.scot/culture/the-bruce-700-has-brought-listeners-to-tears-now-its-going-global.21976

“The Bruce 700 has brought listeners to tears … now it’s going global”

Brot is Sailead an Earraich  / Spring Soup and Salad

Tha am biadh seo gu sònraichte math mar lòn no suipear air aon de na làithean earraich ud a tha  grianach ach fionnar, leis a’ bhrot bhlàth bharragach, agus an sailead fuar cruasbach. Tha an dà chuid am brot agus an sailead furasda rin ullachadh, agus tha iad a‘ cumail ceart gu leòr san fhuaradair, ma tha thu airson uimhirean nas mòtha a dhèanamh. Faodaidh tu am brot a reòthadh cuideachd.

Soup 1Brot currann-cnò-bhainne (mu 6 pòrsanan)

500 gr. curranan

1 uinnean

500 ml. sùgh-glàsraich no circe.

1 tiona cnò-bhainne (mu 400 ml.)

1 spàin-bhùird ola (ola chroinn-ola no cnòtha-còco)

Salann is piobar

Agus ma thogras tu:

dinnsear (ùr, ma tha e ri fhaighinn) agus pùdar coiridh, no piobar-tiolaidh teth dearg

cearc phraighigte no ròsta air a geàrradh ann an ciùban

Geàrr na curranan ann an sliseagan agus an t-uinnean ann am pìosan beaga. Bruich an t-uinnean air a shocair anns an ola ann am pana mòr trom air teas meadhanach gus am bi e glainneach soilleir. Cuir na curranan, salann agus piobar ris agus bruich iad le chèile fad còig mionaidean eile. Ma bhios tu a’ cleachdadh dinnsear, coiridh no tiolaidh, cuir iad ris aig an aon àm. Cuir mun cuairt e gu tric. Cuir an sùgh glasraich no circe ris, agus earr-bhruich e, leis a’ mhullach air a’ phana, air teas ìosal gus am bi na curranan bog – mu 20 – 30 mionaidean.

Thoir am pana air falbh bhon stòbha agus nuair nach bi am brot ro theth tuilleadh, pronn gu mìn e leis an inneal-cho-mheasgachaidh. Cuir an cnò-bhainne ris (cum cuid bheag gu aon taobh mar sgeadachadh) agus teasaich e a-rithist.

Ma bhios sibh airson cearc a bhith aige, cuir trì no ceithir ciùban anns gach bobhla agus doirt am brot a-steach. Sgeadaich le spàin-tì cnò-bhainne, agus crath beagan pùdair-thiolaidh air an uachdar ma thogras tu.

Salad 2Sailead soilire agus ubhail  (mu 6 pòrsanan)

2 ubhail

soilire:  mu 6 stocain, an aon chuideam ‘s a tha agad de dh’ubhail ullaichte

50 gr. muilagean seachte

50 gr. cnò-challtainn

100 gr. iogart lom

òla is fìon geur, salann is piobar

Geàrr na h-uabhail agus an soilire glè mhìn (air neo tha an sailead ro dhoirbh ri ithe), geàrr na cnòthan nan dà leth, agus measgaich na gritheidean uile gu math.

Ith e le aran cruasbach is ìm.

Taing do Chairistìona Moll airson nan reasabaidhean seo!  🙂

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This meal is particularly good as a lunch or supper on one of these sunny but cool spring days, with the warm, creamy soup and the cold, crunchy salad. Both the soup and the salad are easy to prepare, and they keep fine in the fridge if you want to make larger amounts. You can freeze the soup too.

Soup 2Carrot and coconut milk soup

500 gr. carrots

1 onion

500 gr. vegetable or chicken stock

1 tin coconut milk (about 400 ml.)

1 tbsp oil (olive or coconut)

Salt and pepper

Optional:

Ginger (pref. grated root ginger) and curry powder, or red chilli pepper

Cubes of fried or roast chicken

Cut the carrots in slices and chop the onion. Sweat the onion in the oil in a large heavy pan on a moderate heat until glassy. Add the carrots, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. If you’re using ginger, curry or chilli, add these at the same time. Stir frequently. Add the stock and simmer it on a low heat, with the lid on, till the carrots are soft, 20 – 30 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat, and when it’s cooled enough, puree it all thoroughly with a hand blender. Add the coconut milk (keep a little aside for garnishing) and reheat.

If you want to have chicken with it, put 3 or 4 cubes in each bowl and pour in the soup. Garnish with a teaspoon of coconut milk, and sprinkle with chilli powder if desired.

salad 1Apple and celery salad

2 apples

Celery: about 6 stalks, the same weight as the prepared apples

50 gr. dried cranberries

50 gr. hazelnuts

100 gr. plain yoghurt

Oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.

Chop the apples and the celery very finely (otherwise the salad is hard to eat), cut the hazelnuts in half, and combine all the ingredients thoroughly.

Eat with crusty bread and butter.

Thanks to Christine Moll for these recipes! 🙂

2016 An Giblean: a’ Chàisg / April: Easter

P1160428Aig an àm seo den bhliadhna bidh sinn a’ cumail Fèill na Càisge. ‘S e fèill Chrìosdail a th‘ innte, a  tha a’ còmharrachadh aiseirigh Chrìosda, ach tha iomadh nì is cleachdadh na Càisge ann air nach eil coltas Crìosdail idir – peantadh no roiligeadh uighean, ithe uain, geàrr na Càisge, caismeachdan agus bonaidean na Càisge amsaa. Cò às a thàinig na tradiseanan uile sin?

Uill, tòisicheamaid leis an ainm fhèin, oir bidh sin a’ mìneachadh cuid mhath dhiubh. Tha an t-ainm Beurla, Easter, a’ tighinn (a rèir Naoimh Baeda anns an ochdamh linn) bho Ēostre, ban-dhia phaganach cheangailte ri dearg na maidne agus ris an Earrach. Bhiodh urram air a thoirt dhi mu àm a’ Ghiblein, Ēosturmanoth aig an àm seo. Mar a thachair le Saturnalia agus an Nollaig, agus le tradiseanan làidir pàganach eile, chaidh an fhèill sin fhilleadh a-steach còmhla ris a’ Chàisg, fèill Chrìosdaill aig an aon àm den bhliadhna, ach chum i feartan den t-seann fhèill Earraich – mar fhlùraichean earraich sna h-eaglaisean, no air bonaidean, agus samhlaidhean torrachais mar uighean agus uain, agus na geàrran no coineanaich òga pailt.

Will Meredith Creative Commons

Will Meredith Creative Commons

Ach ann an cànanan eile, nam measg a’ Ghàidhlig, thàinig an t-ainm bho fhèill eile – bho “Pesach” (Passover) sa mhìosachan Iùdhach, a bhios ga chumail mu àm a’ Ghiblein cuideachd. San Fhraingis ‘s e Pâques a tha oirre, san Eadailtis Pasqua, agus sa Bheurla tha am buadhair eaglaiseil paschal (m.e. paschal lamb) againn cuideachd. Anns na seann chànanan Breatannach ‘s e Pasg no Pask a bh’ oirre (Pasg sa Chuimris an-diugh), ach anns a’ Ghàidhlig dh’atharraich an fhuaim /p/ gu /q/ (bidh sinn a’ bruidhinn mu p-Ceiltis agus q-Celtis) agus an uairsin gu /k/, agus mar sin ‘s e Càisg a th’ againn sa Ghàidhlig a-nis.

Le Pesach, bidh na h-Iùdhaich a’ còmharrachadh an latha nuair a shàbhail Dìa beatha nan Eabhraidheach fhad’s a chuir e a’ phlàigh mu dheireadh dha na h-Èipheitich aig àm Mhaois – bàs a’ mhic a bu shine. B’ fheudar dha na Eabhraidhich uan ìobradh agus fhuil a sgaoileadh air ursainn an dòrais mar chomharra. Mar chuimhneachan air seo bidh mòran dhiubh aig ithe uain aig àm Pesach an-diugh fhathast, ullaichte air dòigh shònraichte.

freefoodphotos creative commons

freefoodphotos creative commons

Ach càit‘ a bheil na samhlaidhean Crìosdail? Uill, tha hot cross buns againn o chionn nam Meadhan Aoisean, leis an t-samhladh Crìosdaidheachd as ainmeile. Ach tha samhlaidhean ann a dh’fheumas barrachd mineachaidh san làtha an diugh, ‘s dòcha. Nochdaidh uighean agus uain a-rithist, mar eisimpleir. Anns an t-samhlachas Chrìosdail chithear an t-ugh mar uaigh dhùinte Chrìosda, agus briseadh an plaoisg-uighe mar an aiseirigh, briseadh smachd a’ bhàis. Thàinig uighean falamh – na bha am broinn air a shèideadh a-mach –  a pheantadh agus a chleachdadh mar sgeadachadh na Càisge, do shamhladh uaigh fhalamh Chrìosda. Agus tha na h-uighean a tha gan roiligeadh le clann nan cuimhneachan air a’ chloich a chaidh a roiligeadh air falbh bhon uaigh.

Tha ceangail eile eadar uighean agus a’ Chàisg. Anns an eaglais Chrìosdail thràith chan fhaoidte uighean ithe fad a’ Charghais, agus b’ fheudar an gleidheadh air dòigh air choreigin, gu tric leis a bhith gam bruich. Mar sin, bha pailteas de dh’uighean ann aig a’ Chàisg agus cothrom an ithe mu dheireadh thall, le cogais ghlan, is iad làn samhlachais Crìosdail.

P1160369Agus uain na Càisge? Mar a chunnaic sinn ann an sgeul Pesach, bha an t-uan agus an fhuil aige na ìomhaigh làidir mar an ìobairt a shàbhail na h-Eabhraidhich. B’ fheudar do uain-ìobairt a bhith gun smal, agus mar sin chaidh e na samhla Chrìosda fhèin, an t-uan fìorghlan a shàbhail sinn uile. Chì sinn an ìomhaigh seo air feadh a’ Bhìobaill, bho fhàidheadaireachd Isaiah (“thugadh e mar uan a-chum a’ chasgraidh”) gu Eòin Baistidh (“Faic Uan Dhè, a tha a’ toirt air falbh peacadh an t-saoghail!”).

Tha ceangal Crìosdail fiù ’s aig na caismeachdan agus na bonaidean na Càisge. B’ àbhaist do dhaoine a chaidh a bhaisteadh aig a’ Chàisg ròbaichean geala a chur orra fad na seachdain naoimh, agus do dhaoine eile an t-aodach ‘s na h-adan a b’ fheàrr aca a chur orra, agus an sagart a leantainn air caismeachd timcheall a’ bhaile no na paraiste, a’ giùlan fhlùraichean an Earraich, a’ taisbeanadh an sonas mu aiseirigh Chrìosda.  Agus mar a tha nàdar na daonnachd, dh’fhaodadh dùil a bhith againn gun tionndadh seo an ceann ùine do sheòrsa taisbeanadh-fasain.

Anne Harrison Creative Commons

Anne Harrison Creative Commons

Agus na coineanachan-Càisge? Bha tradisean ann sa Ghearmailt uighean sgeadaichte fhalachadh sa ghàrradh agus bhiodh a’ chlann gan lorg. Dh’innis na pàrantan dhaibh gur e ‘Geàrr na Càisge’ a bha air am breith an sin. Chaidh an tradisean seo dha na Stàitean Aonaichte còmhla ris na h-eilthirich Ghearmailteach agus bho sin gu Breatainn, gu h-àiridh ann an crùth choineanachan seòclaid. Chan eil cuimhne agam air an leithid nuair a bha mise nam phàisd; cha robh ach uigean seòclaid againne.

Tha fhios, cha robh cuid de na cleachdaidhean sin air an cumail cho tric ann an Alba Chlèireach, cha robh sna h-eaglaisean fhèin co-dhiù, le fios gu leòr aig na ministearan gun robh tùs ro-Chrìosdail aig mòran dhiubh, agus blas Caitligeach air a’ chàch. Ach bha e riamh doirbh casg a chur air dibhearsainean tlachdmhor, agus mhair na cleachdaidean a dh’aindeoin uile sin, ged nach do mhair am fios mu na bha air an cùlaibh.

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At this time of year we celebrate Easter. It’s a Christian feast, marking the resurrection of Christ, but there are plenty of Easter customs which don’t look at at all Christian – painting and rolling eggs, eating lamb, Easter bunnies, Easter parades and bonnets and so on. Where did these traditions come from ?

Easter Eggs 2007 photo by IrisDragon via Flickr Creative commons

Easter Eggs 2007 photo by IrisDragon via Flickr Creative commons

Well, let’s start with the name itself, as that explains a lot. The English name, Easter, comes (according to the Venerable Bede in the 8th century) from Ēostre, a pagan goddess linked to the sunrise and Spring. She was celebrated around the month of April, called Ēosturmanoth at that time. As happened with Saturnalia and Christmas, and many other persistent pagan traditions, that festival was integrated into Easter, the Christian festival at the same time of year, but it kept many features of the old spring festival – spring flowers in the churches, or on bonnets, and symbols of fertility such as eggs and lambs, and the abundant young rabbits and hares.

In other languages, including Gaelic (a’ Chàisg), the word for Easter came from another religious feast – from Pesach, the Passover, in the Jewish calendar, which is also held around the month of April. In French it’s Pâques, in Italian Pasqua, and in English we have the ecclesiastical adjective paschal (e.g. paschal lamb). In the old languages of Celtic Britain this was Pasg or Pask (Pasg in Welsh today), but in Gaelic the /p/ sound changed to /q/ (we talk about p-Celtic and q-Celtic) and later to /k/, giving us Càisg in Gaelic today.

At Pesach Jews commemorate the day that God saved the lives of the Israelites when Moses called down God’s last plague on the Egyptians – the death of the firstborn. The Israelites had to sacrifice a lamb and spread its blood on the doorposts as a sign. In memory of this many Jews eat lamb at Pesach even today, prepared in a special way.

But where are the Christian symbols? Well, we’ve had hot cross buns since the Middle Ages, with the most famous of all the symbols of Christianity, but there are some symbols that probably require a bit more explanation these days. Eggs and lambs appear again, for example. In Christian symbolism the egg is seen as the sealed tomb of Christ, and the breaking of the shell as the resurrection, breaking the power of death. Empty eggs – the insides blown out through a hole – are painted and used as Easter decoration, symbolising the empty grave. And the eggs rolled by children commemorate the rolling away of the stone from the grave mouth.

There’s another link between eggs and Easter. In the early Christian church it was forbidden to eat eggs during Lent and people had to preserve them in some way, often by boiling them. That meant there was an abundance of eggs available to eat at long last at Eastertime, and with a clear conscience, with all that religious symbolism attached.

And Easter lambs? As we saw in the Pesach story, the lamb and its blood were a powerful image as the sacrifice which saved the Israelites. Sacrificial lambs had to be without blemish, and in that way it became a symbol of Christ himself, the pure lamb who would save us all. We see this image throughout the Bible, from the prophecies of Isaiah (“he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter”) to John the Baptist (“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”).

Flickr Creative COmmons via HuffPost

Flickr Creative COmmons via HuffPost

There is even a Christian link to the Easter parades and bonnets. People who had been baptised used to wear white robes throughout the holy week, and other would put on their best clothes and hats and follow the priest in a procession around the town or parish, carrying spring flowers, showing their joy at the resurrection of Christ. Human nature being what it is, it was only to be expected that in time this would turn into a kind of fashion show.

And the Easter bunnies? There was a tradition in Germany of hiding decorated eggs in the garden and the children would hunt for them. Their parents told them that the ‘Easter hare’ had laid them there. This tradition went to the United States with the German emigrants, and from there to Britain, especially in the form of chocolate rabbits. I don’t remember seeing such things when I was wee – it’s chocolate eggs that we had.

Of course some of these customs were not kept in Presbyterian Scotland, or not in the churches anyway, as the ministers knew quite well that many of them had pre-Christian origins, and the rest smacked of Catholicism. But it’s always been difficult to put a stop to people’s pleasure and enjoyment, and the traditions persisted despite that, even if the knowledge of what was behind them was forgotten.

Charles Tunicliffe display Anglesey

Photo of Ladybird book illustration at Charles Tunnicliffe outdoor display, Holyhead, Anglesey

 Creative Commons photos as indicated, with thanks. All other photos my own.

Barrachd mun Chàisg sa Ghàidhlig air Uicipeid (taing airson cuid den fhiosrachadh!): https://gd.wikipedia.org/wiki/A’_Ch%C3%A0isg

 

 

 

Runrig: The Story

RunrigGed a thoisich Runrig barrachd is 40 bliadhna air ais, agus iad a’ cluiche ann an tallaichean clìuteach mar na Barrowlands agus aig fèisean-ciùil mòra ann an Alba, ann an Sasainn agus thall thairis, air beulaibh nam mìltean de luchd-èisteachd, air dòigh air choireigin cha deach aca riamh a bhith fasanta. Cha robh na lèirmheasaichean no na stèiseanan-rèidio cudromach ro mheasail orra agus cha do ràinig iad  inbhe ‘stars’ taobh a-muigh cearcallan luchd-leantainn. Saoil carson? Cha do chuir fiù ‘s na lèirmheasaichean a bu bheumaiche an sgilean ciùil fìor an teagamh. Ach bha e doirbh ainm gnè a chur air a’ cheòl aca – cus roc airson folk, cus faireachdainn agus bàrdachd airson roc, cus dualchais, spioradalachd agus Gàidhlig gus a bhith ‘cool’.  Tha coltas ann gun ‘tuig’ thu Runrig no nach tuig. Agus tuigidh an-luchd leantainn dìleas gun teagamh – bha agus tha na cuirmean-ciùil daonnan loma-làn, bho na Barras gu Berlin, bho Chambridge gu Copenhagen, agus le luchd-èisteachd de gach aois.

Ach anns na bliadhnaichean as ùire tha atharrachadh ri fhaicinn – tha barrachd ùidh aig na pàipearan agus na meadhanan annta, gu h-àiridh bhon chuirm-chiùil ana-mhòr ‘Party on the Moor’ airson an dà-fhicheadaimh co-là-breith aig Runrig. ‘S dòcha cuideachd gu bheil ginealach ùr de lèirmheasaichean ann, a tha a’ sealladh air Runrig le sùilean ùra agus a’ tuigsinn dè cho math ‘s a tha an còmhlan agus dè tha iad air dèanamh airson an dualchais-chiùil Ghàidhealaich agus Albannaich air feadh nam bliadhnaichean fada sin. Agus tha iomadh còmlan no neach-ciùil nas òige ann, leithid Skipinnish no Mànran no Julie Fowlis, ag innse dè a’ bhuaidh a bha aig Runrig orra fhèin. Tha fìor choltas ann gu bheil iad a’ faighinn – mu dheireadh thall – urram nan dùthaich fhèin. Aig inbhe ‘national treasure’, ‘s dòcha, ach co-dhiù – aithnichte mar luchd-ciùil Albannach cudromach.

Agus tha aobhar sònraichte gu dearbh ann a-nis gu bheil agallamhan còmhla riutha sa h-uile phàipear agus fiù ‘s air an telebhisean – STV agus BBC! – ‘s ann gun do nochd an clàr ùr The Story o chionn dà sheachdain, agus iad ag ràdh gur e an clàr studio mu dheireadh aca a bhios ann.  Maoim anns a’ choimhearsnachd Riggie. Na meadhanan air bhioran.  Cha chreid mi gun do rinn iad sin a dh’aon ghnothach – cha robh na balaich riamh ro mhath air margaideachd – ach rinn e a’ chùis. Clàr mu dheireadh? Runrig ri stad? Seoc is oillt! Feumaidh Runrig an fhirinn inns dhuinn!

Agus mar sin, artaigilean agus agallamhan gun chrìoch, ann an Alba, ann an Sasainn, sa Ghearmailt agus san Danmhairg. Chan eil mi a’ gearan – mar neach-leantainn Runrig fad-ùine mi fhìn, tha e na fhìor thlachd a bhith a’ faicinn an uiread sna meadhanan mun chòmhlan, mu dheireadh thall. Agus tiogaidean gan reic ann an aithghearrachd airson gach cuirm-ciùil san turas. (Fiu’s nas luaithe na mar as àbhaist, ma ghabhas sin.)  Agus an uairsin an deagh naidheachd – cha stad iad. Bidh iad a’ dol air turas, a’ dèanamh phròiseactan eadar-dhealaichte ‘s dòcha, an dùil gum bi clàran eile ann, mar DVDan beò, EP no dhà, rudan mar sin. Bhiodh album studio eile cus a-nis – cus obrach (thug am fear sin bliadhna gu leth obrach cruaidh), agus chan ann nas òige a tha iad a’ fàs. Ach bidh iad ann, greis a bharrachd co-dhiù. Na gabhaibh dragh!  Osna mòr faochaidh bhuainn uile.

Malcolm JonesAgus ciamar a tha an clàr ùr? Nochd aon òran (leis an aon ainm ris an album) mìos no dhà na bu thràithe, mar single le bhideo tlachdmhor – The Story. Sin òran aighearach, sèist sa Bheurla, rannan sa Ghàidhlig, air cuspair a bhios ri chluinntinn sa chlàr ùr air fad – “these early years”. Agus an uairsin nochd an t-album fhèin, ochd bliadhna as dèidh Everything You See. Aig a’ chiad èisteachd tha e iongantach, tha fuaim caran coimheach aige, aig amannan cus synthesiser no orcastra, ach tha na guthan –  Ruiraidh cho tric ri Bruce – an-còmhnaidh soilleir agus làidir.  Mar as motha a bhios tu ag èisteachd ris, ‘s ann as motha as toil leat e. ‘S e clàr làidir agus clàr fìor Runrig a th’ ann. ‘S e Brian Hurren, cluicheadair mheur-chlàir aig Runrig agus am ball as òige, a riochdaich an clàr. Leis gu bheil e cho eòlach air a’ chòmlan, air na neartan is laigsean aca ach cuideachd air an eachdraidh agus na dòighean-obrach aca, chruthaich e obair choileanta, dhrùidhteach, dhàna.

Agus rud inntinneach eile – ‘s e ‘concept album’ a th’ ann, clàr cruinn is aonaichte à peann nam bràithrean Dòmhallach. Tha an dithis aca barrachd is trì fichead bliadhna a dh’aois a-nis (ged nach aithnicheadh tu sin orra) agus tha dòigh-shealltainn gu math fiallsanachail aca, gun a bhith trom. Chan eil eagal orra ro chuspairean doirbh, brònach (Rise and Fall – dealbhan drùidhteach às an Darna Chogadh, 18th July mu chùis-mhulaid  Mhalaysian Airways san Ugrain) no spioradail (Ònar, Somewhere). Ach tha na h-òrain seo uile ag obair le iomhaighean cumhachadach is fosgailte, le faireachdainn seach searmonan, agus sin an rud tarraingeach mun deidhinn. A thaobh a’ chiùil fhèin, tha 18th July am measg nan òran roc as chumhachdaiche ‘s a sgrìobh iad riamh, agus tha Ònar mar-thà na òran-toiseachaidh làidir luath aig gach consairt san turas.

Tha òrain aotrom ann cuideachd, gu h-àiridh The Place where Rivers Run, a’ cuimhneachadh air na làithean tràth nuair a bha Runrig nan còmhlan-cèilidh air taobh an iar agus san Eilean Sgitheanach – “home by Kyle and Broadford round by Memphis Tenessee”  – iomradh air an dà bhuaidh ciùil a bh’ aca bho thoiseach toiseachaidh. Tha iomadh iomradh pearsanta mar sin ann, ri an cluinntinn leis an luchd-leantainn fad-ùine, agus barrachd Gàidhlig na bha air na clàran na b’ ùire – mòran òran le measgachadh Gàidhlig is Beurla, agus aon fhear gu lèir sa Ghàidhlig (An-diugh ghabh mi cuairt). Tha na Dòmhnallaich a’ sealladh air ais, ach gun bhròn, agus iad làn dòchais airson an ama ri teachd – a thaobh saoghal dualchais Ghàidhealaich (“ It’s the badge of our culture – say it loud, and it’s all in the gift of the young and the proud”), agus air ìre spioradail: “Fon a’ ghrian ri teachd / ‘S a’ ghrian a dh’fhalbh / Còmhla sa blàths / Gu deireadh là.”

Bha sinn uile a’ dèanamh fiughair ri na h-òrain ùra a chluinntinn ann an cuirm-ciùil – am biodh iad ag obrachadh beò? Is iad a dh’obraich! Bha mi fhìn aig a’ chonsairt ann an Dùn Èideann agus ’s e oidhche mhòr a bh‘ ann, le measgachadh cruthachail de dh‘òrain (glè) shean, mar Harvest Moon (an luchd-èisteachd air an dòigh glan), agus an fheadhainn ùra. Ged nach robh orcastra no sagsafòn ann gus ‚special effects‘ a chruthachadh, bha draoidheachd gu leòr eile aig Malcolm Jones, gaisgeach a’ ghiotàir, Brian fhèin air na meur-chlàir, agus Iain Bayne air na drumaichean.  Tha bhideothan ùra àlainn cuideachd air cùl an àrd-ùrlair; bha am fear aig Rise and Fall, cuide ri cluich an òrain fhèin, gu sònraichte drùidteach.

Rory & Calum MacdonaldAch bha aon òran sònraichte a dhìth sa phrògram bheò, an t-òran mu dheireadh air an album: Somewhere. Agus tha mi fhìn a‘ smaoineachadh gur e co-dhùnadh ceart a bha sin.  ‘S e òran àlainn, spioradail a th‘ ann, air a bhrosnachadh le Dr Laurel Clark, an speuradair a chaochail ann an tubaist spàl-fanais Cholumbia ann an 2003, ach le sealladh uile-choitcheann. Tha guth Ruairidh air iteig os cionn a’ chòmhlain agus orcastra Prague Philharmonic: “Somewhere in the dark I’ll find you / Somewhere in the light I’ll meet you there/ Where immortal souls collide / Somewhere out there.” Bha Dr Clark na neach-leantainn Runrig on a bha i ag obair san airm Amèireaganach ann an Alba; bha clàr Runrig aice san spàl agus bha Running to the Light na òran-rabhaidh aice sa mhadainn. Aig deireadh an òrain, agus a’ chlàir, tha a guth ri chluinntinn le teachdaireachd mu dheireadh dhan teaghlach, agus i a’ bruidhinn mu Runrig.

Uile gu lèir ‘s e album fìor làidir a th’ ann, aon den fheadhainn as fheàrr leotha. Ma bhios tu ag iarraidh falbh aig àirde do neirt, sin mar a nì thu e. Ach, taing do Dhìa, cha bhi iad a’ stad uile gu lèir fhathast. Agus mar gheall, aig deireadh a’ chonsairt, dìreach aig crìoch Loch Lomond, chluich Malcolm criomag beag de ‘We’re no away tae bide awa.”

 

Runrig: The Story

Iain, Malcolm, BrianAlthough Runrig started out more than 40 years ago and play famous venues like the Barrowlands and big festivals in Scotland, England and abroad in front of audiences of thousands, somehow they’ve never managed to be fashionable. The critics and established radio stations never really took to them and they never reached star status outside their own loyal following.  Why is this the case? Not even their most cutting critics have seriously questioned their musical skills. But their music is hard to categorise – too much rock for folk, too much sentiment and poetry for rock, too much tradition, spirituality and Gaelic to be cool. It seems that you either ‘get’ Runrig or you don’t. And their fans certainly do – their concerts were and still are always sell-outs, from the Barras to Berlin, from Cambridge to Copenhagen, and with audiences covering every age-group.

But in recent years this seems to have changed. The papers and the media are paying them more attention, especially since the huge 40th anniversary ‘Party on the Moor’ concert. Maybe too there’s a new, less prejudiced generation of reviewers, discovering for themselves how good the band actually is and how much they have done for Gaelic’s and Scotland’s musical heritage throughout these long years. There are also many popular younger bands and musicians telling the world how greatly Runrig influenced them, such as Skipinnish, Mànran and Julie Fowlis. I have a suspicion that Runrig have – at long last – actually ‘arrived’; they are finally being honoured in their own country. Maybe with ‘national treasure’ status – but in any case, they’re clearly here now, recognised as important Scottish musicians.

2016 03.51And there’s a particular reason that right now there are all these interviews with them in the papers and even on TV – STV and the BBC! – their new album, The Story, came out 2 weeks ago and they have said that it will be their last studio album.  Panic in the Riggie community. The media twittering with excitement. I don’t honestly think they did it on purpose for the publicity – the lads were never exactly good at marketing themselves – but it certainly did the job. Last album? Runrig stopping? Shock horror! Runrig has to tell us the truth!

And so we have been getting endless articles and interviews, in Scotland, in England, in Germany, in Denmark.  Not that I’m complaining – as a long-term fan, it’s sheer delight to see so much about the band in the media, at long last. And tickets have been selling out instantly for all the concerts in their tour (even faster than usual, if that’s possible). And then the good news – they’re not stopping. They’ll be touring, maybe doing some different projects, maybe the odd new record such as a live DVD or an EP or two, that sort of thing.  But another studio album would just be too much now – too much work and pressure (this one took a year and a half of intense work), and they’re not getting any younger. But they’ll be around for a while yet. Don’t worry! Great sigh of relief from the faithful.

So what’s the new album like?  The title song, The Story, was released as a single a couple of months ago, with a lovely wee video. It’s a catchy song, with the verses in Gaelic and the chorus in English, on a subject that runs through the whole album – “these early years” in their Hebridean homeland. And then the album itself came out, eight years after Everything You See. On first listening it’s a surprise, the sound is slightly unfamiliar, at times too much synthesiser or orchestra, but the voices – Rory singing as often as Bruce – are always clear and strong. The more you listen, the more it gets you. It’s a strong album, and a real Runrig album. It’s Brian Hurren, keyboarder and youngest member of the band, who produced the album. As he knows them so well, their strengths and weaknesses but also their history and their approach, he has created an accomplished, impressive, bold piece of work.

Another interesting thing – it’s a concept album, a rounded, unified whole from the pen of the Macdonald brothers, Calum and Rory. They’re both over 60 now (though you would never know it) and they take a philosophical approach, though never heavy. They don’t shy away from difficult, sad topics (Rise and Fall – moving pictures from World war II, 18th July about the Malaysian Airways tragedy in the Ukraine) or spiritual ones (Ònar, Somewhere). But these songs all work with powerful images that are open to interpretation, with emotion not sermons, and that’s the appealing thing about them.  As regards the music itself, 18th July is one of the most powerful rock songs they have ever written, and Ònar is already established as the fast, stomping opening song at each concert on the tour.

Runrig, EdinburghThere are light-hearted songs on the album too, especially The Place Where Rivers Run, reprising their early days as a ceilidh band on the west coast and on Skye – “home by Kyle and Broadford, round by Memphis Tennessee” – a reference to their two major musical influences from the very start. There are a number of these personal references, spottable by long-term fans, and there’s more Gaelic on this album than on recent ones. A lot of the songs are a mixture of Gaelic and English, and there’s one completely in Gaelic, An-diugh Ghabh mi Cuairt. The Macdonalds are looking back, but without regret, and are very positive about the future, both as regards the world of Gaelic tradition: “ it’s the badge of our culture – say it loud, and it’s all in the gift of the young and the proud”, and on a spiritual level: “Fon a’ ghrian ri teachd / ‘S a’ ghrian a dh’fhalbh / Còmhla sa blàths / Gu deireadh là.” (Below the future sun, The suns that have since gone, We will be together in the warmth Till the end of our days.)

We were all looking forward to hearing the new songs at concerts – would they work live? They certainly did. I was at the Edinburgh concert myself and it was a great night, with a powerful mixture of (very) old songs, like Harvest Moon (some very happy fans!)  and the new ones. Although there was no orchestra or saxophones to create the special effects, there was ample alternative wizardry from guitar-god Malcolm Jones, Brian himself on keyboards, and Iain Bayne on drums. There are also some beautiful new videos showing behind the band; the one for Rise and Fall, together with the musical performance, was especially moving.

Rory MacdonaldBut there was one particular song that was missing from the live programme, the last track on the album – Somewhere. And, on reflection, it was right to leave it out. It’s a beautiful, spiritual song, inspired by the astronaut Dr Laurel Clark, who died in the Columbia space-shuttle tragedy in 2003, but it has a universal perspective. Rory’s voice floats above the sound of the band and the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra: “ Somewhere in the dark I’ll find you / Somewhere in the light I’ll meet you there / Where immortal souls collide / Somewhere out there.” Dr Clark had been a Runrig fan since working with the American army in Scotland; she had a CD of theirs with her in the spaceship (later found in the wreckage and presented to Runrig by the family) and Running to the Light was her wake-up call. At the end of the song Somewhere, at the very end of the album, you hear her voice with her last message to her family – and she talks about Runrig.

All in all this is a very strong album, one of Runrig’s best. If you want to go out on a high, this is how to do it. But, thank goodness, they’re not stopping altogether yet. And as a promise of that, at the end of the concert, at the finish of Loch Lomond, Malcolm played a wee snatch of “We’re no away tae bide awa”.

Dealbhan bho Dhùn Èideann agus Nottingham (taing do JaDa !), an Gearran 2016.

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12-17 RIOCHDACHADH AS FHEÀRR | BEST PRODUCTION

Nach seall sibh air Sgioba Acadamaidh Rìoghail Baile Dhubhthaich – rinn iad seo oidhirp mhòr a thaobh props agus a bhith clàradh air feadh na sgoile agus anns a’ bhaile fhèin, agus b’ fhiach a dhèanamh. Tha iad a’ dol dhachaigh leis an duais airson Riochdachadh as Fheàrr!

Tain Royal Academy made a huge effort this year with props and got out to different locations, all over the school and around the village, and it’s paid off – here they are having won Best Production!

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