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21 July 2014Number five!

You can see some pics of our trip to Benderloch here.

In glorious July weather (What?) five of Sgioba Luaidh took the road to Kintaline Farm, Benderloch, for our annual visit to the Woolféis, a three-day extravaganza of all things crafty and woolly. This year was special as we were to waulk a new tweed woven by Sam Goates of Buckie (Woven in the Bone.) Sam says: The name Woven In The Bone comes from the poem of the same name by Donald S Murray (in his book Weaving Songs). In this case the tweed is inspired by the iodine black and deep seaweed greens... so I have called it "Kelp".

The cloth was about ten yards in length, 34 inches width. It was hard work, as only four of us were available to waulk. (Rhona’s job was to explain to people what we were doing.) We had some help off and on from volunteers, particularly Susan, a spinner from Islay, who spent a long time with us; and also Beth from New Zealand, whose ancestor was a weaver in Appin. Beth not only joined us at the cleith, but helped to fetch water for the final rinsing.

Thirty or so songs, and the tweed had shrunk down to 29 inches in width. It has turned out beautifully soft and thick. There is a full account of the waulking process here. This is the fifth tweed waulked by Sgioba Luaidh. It is always a very special experience to do a full luadh.

Next day we had a relaxing morning before going up to the Victory Hall for a session with our dry demo tweed – which felt really light after the heavy work of the precious day! We had some interested and interesting visitors, and enjoyed browsing round the lovely craft stalls. In the evening there was a fascinating talk about weaving done by the Bedouin in Kuwait. We thought Myra's looks were enhanced by the costume! Click here for pics.

Thanks to Jill and Tim once again for feeding us and looking after us so well; and to Helen for once again allowing to tramp through her lovely house.

Sunday 27 July will see us once again at Auchindrain Township, then we will be getting ready for our annual trip to Mull in August. (Sheila’s Cottage, Ulva on Friday 8th, Duart Castle on Saturday 9th.)

14 July 2014Treading the boards.

Four of Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh answered a call for ladies of a certain maturity to join the cast of a play marking the centenary of the First World War. The script was written by a group of St Columba’s High School pupils, working with local writer Dan McCahon; and pupils from the school made up the bulk of the cast.

We had an intensive series of rehearsals with inspirational Director, Donald Pirie, who also directed the never-to-be-forgotten “Identity” drama which we took part in two years ago. The scenes of the play alternated between the trenches and the paper shop back home in Greenock, with a couple of visits to the Torpedo Factory, with the “munitionettes” in full voice.

The young people were a joy to work with, and we found it very moving to think that these boys were so close in age to those who went off to fight. Christine and Frances are sensitive souls, and some rehearsals ended in tears!

The Albany theatre in Greenock was packed for all three performances. It went brilliantly well (although we say so ourselves!) We were all on a high, and the audiences were very generous with their applause and kind comments. Councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld even took the trouble to write to the “Tele”: “The tone and the message were … just right. Not only recognising and acknowledging our heritage, but emphasising the futility of war, and the Great War’s effect on the local population… Congratulations and thanks … to the marvellous cast and support.”

We had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and made new young friends. Got to sing a Gaelic song too! Take a bow Pauline, Christine, Irene and Frances. Click here for pics.

12 July 2014And suddenly, it's summer!

Frances had a solo trip to Auchindrain to teach a Gaelic song to pupils of Sandbank Gaelic Unit who were spending a day at the Township. We had great fun, with a mini-luadh in Martin’s House. Some of the P7 children remembered Sgioba Luaidh’s visit to their school when they were in P1. We hope it won’t be so long till we are invited back!

In late June Sgioba Luaidh had a brilliant day at the Clan Maclachlan Gathering and Strathlachlan Festival. The previous day Frances made an exploratory trip to see the lie of the land, and met the clan chief, Euan Maclachlan. “Oh yes, the wailing women!” said he.

On the day the sky was overcast, but hey! the rain stayed off, and the midges didn't venture out until we were ready to leave! We had a very, very busy day, waulking hard, and meeting lots of lovely people, Maclachlans and friends from Caithness to Gloucestershire, from Canada, New Zealand, Texas, Arizona (They were cold!), Dunoon … all enjoying a wonderful event in the gorgeous surroundings of Castle Lachlan on Loch Fyneside. A highlight was a lovely lady from Lewis, in her nineties, who was delighted to waulk with us.

We were all finished, some of us had already left, when two girls stopped by. They had earlier heard us singing “Bha croit mhath mhór…” (“Old Macdonald had a farm”) with some children, and wanted to make a video. So we hauled out the puppets again and enlisted two passing small boys to help us. We will be immortalised in Vancouver!

A wee quote from  the nice thank-you letter we received from the organiser of the event: “Our visitors from both near and far just loved you all.” (Wailing women indeed!) Click here for some pics of the day.

06 June 2014Springing into action.

Sgioba Luaidh took part in a gala evening at the end of April with the Incorporation of Weavers at the magnificent Trades House in Glasgow. Interesting to hear about the history of the Weavers, and what they do. Nowadays they are a charitable organisation, but were one of the old Trades of Glasgow. Our friend Christine MacLeod from Kilbarchan Weaver's Cottage gave a talk; there was another talk about the Scottish Tartan Society; there was musical entertainment; there was a sumptuous buffet. And our performance was very well received. An interesting evening. Click here for pics.

May has gone by in a whirl of activity. We had sessions at two primary schools, Toward, and Lawthorn in Irvine. We were in Ardenlee Care Home in Dunoon, where we met a lovely gentleman, Willie from Lochs in Lewis, who reminisced about weaving as a teenager, and seeing the women waulking when he was young. He sang Peigi a ghràidh for us. I hope we revived some happy memories for him.

Our beloved Auchindrain re-opened for the season on 1st April, and so far we have  been there three times. The first time, in April, was pretty chilly! On our second visit we could hardly see across the table, the peat fire gave off such a reek! Pics here. Our third visit, on 1st June, coincided with the Big Lunch (when everyone is supposed to have lunch with friends and neighbours) and we were kept really busy, with visitors from Canada, Italy, France, Argentina, England, and quite a lot from Dunoon! We did overtime that day! Click here for a pic of Little Bo Peep (It's Myra, really.) and a scary one of Karol.

We did a programme of work songs for Inverclyde Historical Society. One of the members presented us with a copy of an article from the Greenock Telegraph, 1924, with a picture of "the ladies of Greenock Highland Society who are to render Gaelic songs at the annual gathering of the Society." The article explains that "The atmosphere of the waulking song is one of cheerfulness accompanied at times by amusing by-play and the general effect is such as to explode the last remnants of the fiction regarding the gloomy Celt." They sound a lot like Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh! Click here to see if you think they look like us too!


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