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27 January 2016A busy start to the year

2016 opened with our usual house ceilidh chez Frances. Being traditional souls we normally celebrate Old New Year (12 January) on the Monday nearest the day, but this year our ceilidh on 4 January was earlier than usual, nearer to “new New Year”, because our first engagement was the following Monday. We had our usual singsong, and a Gaelic song quiz – with dismal results! Keep listening to Mire ri Mór, girls! Click here for some pics.

On the 11th we duly set out for High Blantyre, where we gave a performance for the ladies of Auchentibber SWI – and one young man, sitting quietly at the back, waiting to give his mother a lift home. He took it in good part when we attacked him with our poit mhùin and threatened to douse him with maistir! Must observe the old traditions!

Frances and her passengers had an interesting journey home when the car hit a series of potholes and burst a tyre. No spare wheel in modern cars! And there was a rip in the tyre, so the pump was useless. The RAC man fitted an emergency tyre, and all got home safe and sound – eventually! Next day Frances and Margaret enjoyed a nice wee jaunt to Rutherglen to return the borrowed tyre. A good opportunity to reconnoitre where Sgioba Luaidh will be performing in February.

Next was a chilly early morning start to take part in a Gaelic Open Day in the historic Lanark Tolbooth. It was great to see so many of the public coming in for a look around. We were kept busy, with plenty of volunteers willing to join us at the table. Our animal puppets were busy too, with lots of cute kids singing “Ee i ee i o”. We particularly loved wee Calum, who was very taken with the “cheeky bó”, and came back specially to say “Tiaraidh” to her!

We took time off to listen to an interesting talk on “Gaelic in Clydesdale”, then we were treated to a lovely lunch in the Wallace Tearoom. Even more people flocked in after lunch, including the local MP and MSP, who had a go at waulking with us. By this time the snow was on, so reluctantly we decided that it would be prudent to leave a bit early. We made it home safely, the only problem being road signs that were obliterated by snow! Click here for pics.

Another SWI night, this time in West Kilbride, where we partook of a wonderful haggis supper, with a variety of gorgeous puddings. We then listened to a fascinating talk by Mark Hogarth, marketing manager of Harris Tweed Hebrides. He is an expert on Harris Tweed, but had never hand waulked before! Good for his professional development! Pics here.

Then, a few days later, more haggis! We were invited at short notice to join the Chit Chat club in the Beacon for their lunchtime Burns Supper! We enjoyed some great entertainment, piping, fiddling, recitations, and lovely wee country dancers from Aileymill Primary.Then we did a brief demonstration before tucking into the haggis and neeps. Some pics here.

2016 has got off to a good start. We look forward to what the rest of the year may bring.

31 December 2015Sùil air ais

Click here for some pics of 2015 highlights.

2015 has been another busy and enjoyable year for Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh. The year began with some school visits, which meant very early starts (7.30 am!) on cold and frosty January mornings.

There were two visits to Balclutha Care Home in Greenock, notably on their Tartan Day when all the residents were suitably bedecked. We partook of a buffet, and had a wee dance. "Did you enjoy that?" one of the care assistants asked an elderly gentleman after our performance. "Not particularly!" Ah well, you can't please everyone!

We had our usual round of Guilds and the like, which took us to places like Johnstone, Rothesay, Kilwinning, Dunoon – and King’s Park, where Seumasina made her appearance, Frances having forgotten to bring Seumas the Sheep. Innes rose to the occasion and concocted a wee sheep out of her niddy-noddy and some bits of fleece.

Some special events were: Singing our own composition, Mìle Marbhaisg air an t-Siùcar, as part of an event celebrating Greenock’s former sugar industry. This took place in the Studio Theatre at the Beacon in Greenock. We revelled in the beautifully appointed dressing room – not at all what we are used to!

Then there was a trip to Edinburgh for the sumptuous dinner which concluded the annual conference of Business and Professional Women UK. We did an hour’s performance with a wonderfully responsive audience. One kind comment was: “This was the best after-dinner entertainment I have ever experienced!”

We had, of course, our regular trips to Auchindrain Township. And we paid an extra visit at the behest of three ladies from Prince Edward Island who were keen to see us in action while they were in Scotland. They very kindly gave us Canadian pins for our fleeces and two cans of wonderful maple syrup, which sweetened our next few practice meetings.

It is always a special occasion when we have a new tweed to shrink, and this year we had two, which we waulked on our July and September visits to Auchindrain. In July we were joined by our friend Fiona and her daughter Kirsty, whose artistic blue hair elicited the question from a small girl: “Are you a mermaid?” Our September luadh was attended by another three Canadian ladies, who had arranged their trip to Scotland to coincide with our performance. One of them has started a group in Quebec city, and sang a couple of Canadian milling songs as we worked.

We had a few other memorable moments at Auchindrain this year. On the day of our July waulking the Travelling People had set up re-creation of their summer camp. Travellers were always welcome at the Township in days gone by, and it was fascinating to explore the camp and watch the various crafts and activities. Then there was day we found out how trapeze artistes toughen their hands. (Think maistir and soaking the tweed!) And there was the gentleman who found it necessary to remove his trousers … (See Auchindrain and Lismore. 7 July 2015.)

In July we had a pleasant sail from Oban to Lismore, where we led a workshop session for ten enthusiastic “students”, and gave a performance for a small but discerning audience. We had a very enjoyable and interesting weekend on this lovely, peaceful island.

Of course, summer wouldn’t be the same without our annual trip to Mull. It was wet! It was very wet! Fortunately Sheila’s cottage on Ulva had acquired a new tin roof, so we weren’t washed out as we had been the previous year when the rain poured through the thatch! Although there were a few stray drips! In Duart Castle we were kept busy all day with a constant stream (!) of soaked people taking refuge from the downpours. That’s Mull! We had a great time!

We enjoyed the company of Jeanne, a student from France who spent three months working with us. We hope that the experience was useful to her studies – although we can’t imagine what she will say about Sgioba Luaidh in her thesis!

Our last engagement of the year was a Harris Tweed event in Dunoon. We gave a short demonstration of waulking, then listened to a fascinating talk by Rebecca Hutton, a weaver from Northton in Harris. (Taobh Tuath Tweeds)

And so we come to the end of our fifteenth year. Our very first engagement was a twenty minute spot at a Greenock Gaelic Choir ceilidh in December 2000. It is astonishing to us how far we have come since then, and we look back in amazement at some of the adventures we have had. In developing and presenting our programmes we have had lots of fun, have travelled to some beautiful places, have met some wonderful people. We have done our very best to raise awareness of the richness of Gaelic culture and to share the songs which we love. We treasure the many friendships we have made over the years. So to all our friends, and to former members of Sgioba Luaidh, every good wish for a happy, healthy and peaceful 2016. Bliadhna mhath ùr dha na càirdean gu léir. Slàinte, sonas agus sìth dhuibh uile.

Pics here.

01 December 20152015 draws to a close.

​Six of Sgioba Luaidh made the trip to Kilwinning to perform for the Guild of Mansefield Trinity Church. Nice people - they gave us a cup of tea beforehand as well as after! Christine and Margaret got slightly wandered, but arrived just in time for the start. A very jolly evening. But Kilwinning folk are a bit shy - we could only persuade two of them to join us at the waulking board! All were fulsome in their appreciation, however. Although the voter of thanks said we looked like something out of the Broons!

At the end of October we bade a sad farewell to Auchindrain, as the Township was closing for the winter. We had a quiet day, with no visitors at all till the very end of the afternoon when we were packing up. (It is quite extraordinary how often this happens!) But we enjoyed the chance to go over our songs, and were glad to have time to chat to Scott and Fiona who were busy thatching Bel a' Phuill's cottage (in the rain!). We look forward to being back at Auchindrain when it reopens in the spring.

We'll miss our dear Sheila, who is now retiring from work at the Township. For many years she faithfully lit our peat fire in Martin's house to keep us cosy, and kept us well-fed with her kailyard broth. We wish her a long and happy retirement, and hope she will come back to see us, as she promised. Click here for pics of thatching at Auchindrain.

In November we took the ferry to Dunoon for an interesting event, part of the long-running project to bring the lovely old Burgh Hall back into use. The local community has been involved in workshops to design a new Cowal Tartan, which will be woven by Rebecca Hutton of Northton in Harris. It will then be used for soft furnishings in the newly-renovated Burgh Hall. Rebecca travelled down to Dunoon to give a fascinating talk about Harris Tweed weaving. To open proceedings Sgioba Luaidh gave a brief "taster" demonstration of waulking, which was very well received. Maybe we'll get to waulk some of the new tweed when it is woven! See pics here of Sgioba Luaidh at Rebecca's talk.

Our final meeting of 2015 turned into a bit of a party. Our Myra has just become a proud granny, and kindly provided fizz and cake for us to celebrate the arrival of Isla Grace.

Sgioba Luaidh are now on holiday for the whole of December. Our New Year ceilidh will be on 4 January, a bit earlier than usual, because January promises to be quite busy, with our first engagement being on Monday 11th.

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