Cultural Exchange Project 2023
Sharing language through stories, music, song, dance and fun activities in each place.
Turas took place between 10th-13th November in Conemara (story below) and dates yet to be confirmed in the Highlands and Islands.
The project will bring together twelve young people from Scotland and Ireland to explore their shared Gaelic heritage through stories, music, song and dance. Participants will be aged between 12 and 16, fluent in their respective languages and at an intermediate to advanced level in their chosen specialism.
Participants will take part in two face-to-face residential weekends (one in Conemara and one in the Highlands and Islands) led by our team of tutors and supervisors. In addition, there will be online workshops developing language skills and exploring the resources of Tobar an Dualchais and the Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann (Irish Traditional Music Archive).
For more information, get in touch with email@example.com
Turas in Conemara
It wasn’t a mere sample, but a weekend immersed in Irish culture that a group of teenagers from all over Scotland got, who spent a weekend in Connemara in November.
They had a long day of travelling on the Thursday, with people travelling by bus, plane and ferry to reach Glasgow, where the group met up before an onward flight to Dublin, a bus to Galway and finally a mini-bus to Spiddal, and indeed the Western Isles contingent had an extra day of travelling on top of that! But if anything could be worth that journey, it is the welcome they received from their host, with pots of tea and fresh scones on arrival, at ten o’ clock at night!
The group stayed with a local Bean an Taighe- a woman who hosts groups of Irish students each summer, to ensure an immersive environment for them to use Gaeilge every day. As such, when the group weren’t speaking Gaelic, it was Gaeilge they were speaking, and it was amazing how easy Patsy’s Gaeilge was for them to follow.
Friday was spent in workshops along with local young musicians at the beautiful Stiúideo Cuan, learning traditional Irish tunes from top-quality musicians and teaching tunes and songs from our own culture. In that sense, it truly was an exchange trip- an exchange of music, culture and language. It was very little of any other language that was spoken all weekend (other than a little bit of Galician, Cornish, Manx Gaelic and Jèrriais, of course), with tutors and the young people speaking Gaelic and Gaeilge the whole time (except when totally necessary) and understanding each other. The students and teachers put together a mesmerising concert on the Friday evening, where they performed the new tunes and songs they’d learned. Not only is Stiúideo Cuan an incredible studio, but also a beautiful concert venue, a taigh-cèilidh and a true centre for Gaelic, beside the sea in beautiful Spiddal. It was a joy for the tutors to see the group of youngsters starting an impromptu and unprompted session after the gig, and they kept the tunes going until they headed home at the end of the night.
The group managed to get some relaxation on the Saturday with a trip to Galway to see the sights, saunter around the streets, spend in the shops and learn about the area in the museum, and they event got to see a stunning view of Galway from above in the Ferris Wheel (even if it was a bit breezy at the top!). They were collected again by the mini-bus driver late in the afternoon who took the back to the accommodation where Patsy had prepared a mighty feast for them, and ensured they were fed until they were splitting at the seams.
Not a dull moment was had by this wandering band though, and they were out the door again to another session shortly after dinner, with the local young musicians they had met the previous day, where they sang songs and played tunes from both traditions, for and with each other. A great session was had by all, especially Joe, the bus driver who had been running the group around all weekend) who ensured the group that the craic the provided was mighty!
Back to the house then to pack their bags and get ready for a very early departure, but there was time enough for one more pot of tea, pile of fresh scones, and a quick quiz before bed.
We, at Fèisean nan Gàidheal, would like to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who made this invaluable opportunity happen, and made it an unforgetable experience for this great group of young people, with special thanks to our partners at Ealaín na Gaeltachta (Micheál, Máire and Freda) who made everything as easy as it possibly could have been and who organised activities for us in Connemara, to Mirren Ward who travelled with the group as a leader (and who taught us a song by her great grandfather, the King of Tory Island!), to all the fantastic tutors (Síle Denvir, Pax Ó Faoláin, Muireann Ní Shé, James Dumbelton and Máire Nì Churraoin), to Patsy for her superlative hospitality, to Joe for driving us around all weekend and for collecting us at 4am for our plane, and to Colmcille for funding this project.
We’re looking forward to welcoming the Irish to Scotland now!