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31 December 2015
Sùil 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.

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