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31 December 2017
Sùil air ais 2017

Click here for some pics of 2017

For Sgioba Luaidh, 2017 was marked by the sad loss of our dear Pauline Cannon who died on 21 March. She is much missed. ‘Gad ionndrainn mór, a Pholly. Fois shiorraidh dhuit.

The year began, as ever, with our New Year ceilidh, which is  also a birthday celebration for Eleanor and Frances. This year it was extra special, as Eleanor was celebrating a Big Birthday! And Margaret also had a Big Birthday in March. As you know, the Queen marks her official birthday in the summer, and not to be outdone, our Eleanor had another “official” party in May. Life is one long party for Sgioba Luaidh.

Our first engagement of the year was with Comunn Tìr nam Beann in Edinburgh. We hired a minibus to do the hard work of driving, so were able to relax and enjoy the evening. There were two young ladies from Kentucky in the audience, and they delighted us with a folk song. They saw “ceilidh” advertised, and thought they were going to a dance! We were filled with admiration for Graham Neilson, the token man on the programme, who continued his song without turning a hair when someone tumbled a crate of bottles. You could have heard the crash back in Greenock!

The year continued with trips to places near and far: Rutherglen (flooding, road closures, collapsing piano stool!), Kilncadzow (pronounced Kilcaigie), Biggar (dressing gown day!), and Renfrew (tea and tablet).

We also took part in a number of special events, starting in March with Cumbernauld Gaelic Spring Fling (Féis an Earraich). It was an interesting day, with lots of Gaelic themed activities. Nice also to hear Cumbernauld Gaelic Choir.

In April we were at Stills Gallery in Edinburgh for an event showcasing the work of Australian artist Peta Carlin. She produced a series of fabric hangings, based on photographs of buildings in Melbourne, exploring the relationship between architecture and fabric.

Great work is done by the Gaelic Medium Unit at Whinhill Primary School. (Bun Sgoil Cnoc a’ Chonaisg) in Greenock. We joined the children at the Oak Mall for a Gaelic awareness day organised by Comunn nam Pàrant. The bystanders were somewhat bemused, but Greenock was certainly more aware of Gaelic by the time we finished! The children joined us at the table for a waulking session then performed a programme of songs and poems. This was followed the next day by a somewhat riotous family ceilidh.

Giffnock Gaelic Learners decided to come to Greenock for their summer outing (and why not?). We were invited to perform for them in the Beacon, where they enthused over the superb view of the Clyde. (They enthused over out performance too!) They were eager to waulk with us at the table, and they gave us lunch!

We took part in the Clan Lamont Gathering in Dunoon. Fortunately it was a beautiful day for their march to the monument to the Lamont massacre of 1646. There was a moving wreath-laying ceremony, after which we all adjourned to the beautifully restored and refurbished Burgh Hall. A pleasure to perform in such a splendid venue.

West of Scotland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers invited us for an all-morning session in Milngavie. Innes began with a talk on Donald Sinclair, the last maker of spinning wheels in Argyll. Innes, our spinner,  is particularly interested in him because of a family connection. We then had a lively waulking session, with plenty of willing volunteers lending a hand, after which Frances gave a talk on Harris Tweed.

The next day we headed for Ardess, a National Trust property, away beyond Rowardennan on Loch Lomondside. It was September. It was wet. It was very wet! We had more visitors than we might have expected on such a miserable day. And we fell in love with Pepe, the waulking dog, who joined us at the table. Some members of Haddington Spinners and Weavers were busily spinning in a reconstructed cruck frame house. As a spin-off (yes!) we got an invitation to their spinning weekend at Innerwick.

We duly found our way to Innerwick on a Saturday in November (It’s near Dunbar.), and conducted a waulking workshop for the spinners. Great fun (and a great lunch!) was had by all.

In the summer we had our usual visit to Duart Castle on Mull, and, of course, several visits to our beloved Auchindrain. We had plenty of visitors at the Township, but there were one or two wet, wet days when we only had Cat Liath to keep us company.

Sgioba Luaidh’s overseas connections continue. It was lovely to have a visit from Jeanne Boulier, who spent three months working with us last year. She presented us with a copy of her dissertation. Interesting to see her take on what we do!

We had another French visitor in August, Valentine, a student from Brittany. She is learning Gaelic, and is very interested in waulking songs.

Transatlantic friendships continue, with Frances teaching a waulking song via Skype, to Nancy in North Carolina. Nancy belongs to a re-enactment group, and they did a waulking at one of their events. Very competently too!

We have now established links with a group in Tennessee, who are keen to learn about waulking.

Our final performance of 2017 was at a St Andrew’s Night concert to raise some funds for Fr Nico in Tanzania. When he visited Scotland a few years ago he made the acquaintance of Sgioba Luaidh, and came to our summer caravan ceilidh. His parish in Dar es Salaam was badly affected by floods in October, so we were glad to be able to help.

We look forward to more singing and waulking in 2018, starting with our New Year ceilidh on 8 January, and our first engagement on the 18th, with Dalry and District SWI. (Let’s hope we go to the correct Dalry!)

We wish all our friends and supporters a happy, healthy and peaceful year, filled with laughter and song. Tha sinn a’guidhe dhuibh uile slàinte, sonas is sìth, agus òrain gu leòr ann an 2018 air fad.

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