Gaelic Arts, Culture & Heritage

The Gaelic arts scene is currently at its most lively with Gaelic performers now amongst the best-known and widely broadcast in the UK, never mind Scotland. They also feature regularly in awards lists and are given top billing at major events nationwide and Gaelic CDs are thought to outsell other Scottish CDs by a factor of 2:1.

One of the most ambitious and high profile Gaelic arts projects of recent years was Leabhar Mòr na Gàidhlig – The Great Book of Gaelic – which was taken on a tour of North America and is still be exhibited across the world. Produced by Pròiseact nan Ealan, it involved more than 150 poets, visual artists, calligraphers and typographers from Ireland and Scotland. Between them they have left an enduring legacy that will captivate generation after generation.

The Royal National Mòd is Scotland’s best-known Gaelic festival and the equivalent of the Welsh Eisteddfod. The word “mòd” itself means a “gathering” or “event”. The Mòd is organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, which is one of the oldest Gaelic membership-based organisations. The National Mòd takes place in October each year at various venues throughout Scotland and there are local or provincial mòds in various communities as well as mòds in places like America and Canada.

Gaelic is featured in a whole range of other festivals and events the length and breadth of the country, From Celtic Connections on Glasgow, to the Edinburgh Festival, Blas throughout the Highlands and Islands and the Hebridean Celtic Festival based in the Western Isles in July.

The Fèis movement is also a vibrant scene with more than 47 festivals throughout the country offering traditional music tuition and a Gaelic arts experience to over 13,000 young people annually. The movement is now one of the most successful arts initiatives in Scotland and accredited with giving major impetus to the revival and increasing popularity of Gaelic and Scottish music and song amongst young people.

Fèisean nan Gàidheal also organises around 200 summer concerts through its Fèis Cèilidh Trail initiative and is involved in Gaelic drama development.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland offers an honours degree in Scottish traditional music and offers broad-based training to talented traditional musicians, enabling them to pursue a variety of careers, or further study. The National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music – Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd – is based at Plockton High School in Wester Ross, at the heart of a wide community which has long been known for its support of traditional music and Gaelic culture.

For those interested in history, the Comuinn Eachdraidh (Historical Societies) offer a fascinating insight into the traditions of the Gaels, many of which are still practiced today.

Useful Words

Ceòl Music
Òran Song
Port/ Sreath phort Tune/ Selection of tunes
Seinneadair Singer
A’ gabhail òran Singing a song
Cuirm Concert
Cèilidh Gathering
Fèis Festival
Fidheall Fiddle
A’ cluich na fìdhle Playing the fiddle
Fìdhlear Fiddler
Clàrsach Small Scottish Harp
A’ cluich na clàrsaich Playing the harp
Clàrsair Harper
Pìob Bagpipe
A’ seinn na pìoba Playing the pipes
Pìobaire Piper
Neach-ciùil/ Luchd-ciùil Musician/Musicians
Còmhlan Band
Dealbh Picture, photograph
Neach-ealain Artist
Leabhar Book
Sgrìobhadair/Bàrd Writer/Poet
Dualchas Heritage
Eachdraidh History
Comunn Eachdraidh History Society
Cha phàigh taing am fìdhlear Thanks alone will not pay the fiddler
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