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News ... Naidheachd

31 December 2014Sùil air ais

Life with Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh is a constant surprise, and 2014 was full of surprises: new places, new experiences. Even our regular engagements could provide surprises, as when on one of our visits to Auchindrain Township our car narrowly missed being struck by a tree blown down on to the road. And this was in July!

Our visits to Auchindrain this year were marked by wildly varying weather conditions: bitter cold, thick fog, bright sunshine, and of course, torrential rain! But we enjoyed it all, even the day when the peat fire gave off such a reek that we could hardly see across the table! As usual we had lots of visitors from all over the world, even Argentina. (No, it wasn't him!) Click here for a visit to Auchindrain on a foggy day which cleared up nicely!

For the fifth year running, we spent a day in August waulking in Duart Castle on Mull. Sir Lachlan and Lady MacLean welcomed us graciously as usual, and Sir Lachlan took a turn at the waulking board with us - surely the first time in history that a clan chief has done so! He was kind enough to say, "The summer wouldn't be the same without you!"

We always enjoy our sojourn on Mull, combined with what has now become a regular visit to the Isle of Ulva. This year we were certainly taken by surprise on Ulva, when the torrential rain poured down on us through the thatch on Sheila's Cottage! The good side of that was meeting Camilla and Kenny from Patagonia, who swept the water out for us, once the roof stopped leaking as the thatch expanded. See some pics here of Sgioba Luaidh on Ulva and Mull, 2014.

Our other regular summer outing was to Féis Cothlam in Benderloch, where we had a brilliant day, waulking a new tweed. Click here for a full description of the process. And all the photos of the day are here.

New places: the magnificent Trades Hall in Glasgow, for a posh evening with the Incorporation of Weavers; Pics here.

still in Glasgow, the Sphere project at Renfield St Stephen's (where seven-year-old Maeve remarked on our performance, "I didn't just like it - I LOVED it!");

Moirlanich Longhouse near Killin, reminiscent of our own dear Auchindrain;

Cardwell Garden Centre, where we shivered in the March wind; (Pics here.)

Castle Lachlan, beautifully situated on Loch Fyne, where we waulked for the Clan Lachlan Gathering - despite the Clan Chief, Euan MacLachlan, referring to us as "the wailing women"! Pics.

Another Clan Society event was the re-enactment of the 1646 massacre of the Lamonts. This was memorable first of all for the downpour which forced us to re-locate in the Queen's Hall, instead of performing outdoors. Fortunately, we didn't get massacred, but enjoyed a fine performance by pupils of Dunoon Grammar School, with two members of the Walking Theatre Company (the other kind of walking).

Four of Sgioba Luaidh were involved in another drama production in Greenock's Albany Theatre. We joined up with pupils from St Columba's, Gourock, for three performances of Working the War, a moving tribute to local people caught up in the First World War. We had great fun with the young people, who were a joy to work with, and we all got quite emotional as the lads went off to war. Click here for pics.

Working in schools is always an important part of what we do. This year we went to Lawthorn Primary School in Irvine, and twice to Toward Primary, where we taught the children a waulking song for their new CD. Frances also had a solo trip to Auchindrain to teach a song to pupils of Sandbank Gaelic Unit, who were spending the day at the Township.

In September we were excited to be given a commission to compose a new waulking song for Absent Voices, a project commemorating Greenock's long-gone sugar industry. Frances got her thinking cap on to try to find some connection with sugar. At last she came up with a song based on a sad story from her own family history. We recorded it in the atmospheric surroundings of Auchindrain.

You can watch the video here. Click here for words, translation and information about the song.

During the year the members of Sgioba Luaidh once again rose to every challenge, and proved their intrepidity. There was Rhona, who sang valiantly despite having a funny tummy after travelling the twisty  country roads to Lochwinnoch. And Eleanor, who performed heroically after having a wisdom tooth extracted earlier in the day. Nothing deters Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh!

2014 was a busy year, full of variety. We are looking forward to 2015, particularly since we have another new tweed up our sleeve. We hope to waulk it at Auchindrain Township later in the year.

Click here for some highlights of 2014.

Tha sinn a'guidhe slàinte, sonas is sìth dhuibh uile fad na bliadhna a tha romhainn.

18 December 2014Last engagements of the year

Our last two engagements of 2014 were both way down in Ayrshire. First was a Guild night at Straiton, a long run of sixty miles. The ladies greeted us with the welcome words: “You’ll need a cup of tea after coming all that way.” Then they sat us down at a table laden with sandwiches, pancakes, scones and cakes. A good start to what turned out to be a lovely, happy, friendly evening, with much hilarity, and some interesting chats afterwards (over more tea). The evening was a fundraiser for Mary’s Meals, for which Sgioba Luaidh were delighted to waive our fee and travel expenses.

Then on 4 Dec we travelled to Kilmarnock to a meeting of Ayrshire Country Link. They are a small group, but were very enthusiastic about our performance. They asked lots of questions – just what we like! The Portmann Hotel provided a nice supper. (We like that too!) A lovely end of term!

We are now on holiday until 12 January, when we have our Old New Year ceilidh. First practice on 2015 is on Monday 19 January.

Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh (and Seumas the Sheep) wish all our friends and supporters a very happy and peaceful Christmas. Beannachdan na Nollaige dhuibh uile.

 

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