Gaelic tales from Lewis passed on to the next generation with launch of new resource

Two schools on the west side of Lewis have recently taken part in Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Beairteas, an intergenerational programme where community-based fluent Gaelic speakers are matched with schools and community groups to strengthen their Gaelic language skills. Last term, students from Sgoil Bhreascleit and Sgoil Shiaboist were taught stories orally, in line with the Gaelic storytelling tradition and have created visual guides to accompany these tales, showcasing their interpretations through beautiful artwork. These visual aids aim to preserve and remember the local stories in a unique and engaging way.

As well as having gained a deeper understanding for their local area’s oral tradition, the pupils’ learning has resulted in an exciting new Gaelic resource. On behalf of all pupils who took part, as well as project leader Christine Macleod and assistant tutor, Donna Barden, Fèisean nan Gàidheal is delighted to launch Sgeulachdan, Rannan & Tòimhseachain an Taobh Siar (Stories, Verses & Riddles from the West Side), a collection of traditional stories, rhymes, and riddles from the west side of Lewis which offer a taste of the area’s rich cultural heritage.

Speaking about the project, project leader Christine MacLeod said: “The aims of this project were to strengthen the children’s language skills and to use their local dialect to do so. We wanted to get them interested in traditional Gaelic stories, local stories and cumulative tales with a pattern that was easy to follow. We also wanted to use stories which aligned with topics each school was working on such as food, crofting and the weather.

The two schools had the opportunity to learn different riddles and tales local to their villages and, on the final week, they met to tell each other their stories. They also met with parents and groups of elderly people in the community to share their stories and, in return, they heard tales from the older people about their younger days.”

Eilidh Mackenzie, Fèisgoil Manager, commented: “Projects that root children in their local villages are hugely important and we are so grateful for the support of Comunn Eachdraidh an Taobh Siar and Christine and Donna for realising this truly unique project. Preserving local idiom, accent and peculiarities adds to the richness of a child’s own language and allows these stories and their unique re-telling to survive for at least another generation.”

The pupils were recorded retelling their stories by Keith Morrison from Wee Studio in Lewis and these videos, along with the written tales and the children’s visual guides, are now available via Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s website.

For further information on the Beairteas project, please contact Fèisgoil Manager Eilidh Mackenzie on eilidh@feisean.scot.

Creative Scotland The Scottish Government Bòrd na Gaidhlig Highland Council Argyll & Bute Council William Grant Foundation We are a Living Wage Employer