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  • A good turnout expected at Scourie feis
    will be classes for children aged 8 to 18 in guitar fiddle keyboard tin whistle song dance and drama as well as Gaelic language sessions for adults and Gaelic games for everyone In addition to the main fèis there will also be a Fèis Bheag a taster session for children who are not yet of main Fèis age but who want to get involved in the fun The fèis is being organised by the local development group Am Parbh which Lisa explained is not only the Gaelic name for Cape Wrath but also literally means turning point There used to be a local group by this name and this is a kind of reincarnation of it We hope that it will really be a turning point for the language and put an end to the decline Lisa is a fluent Gaelic speaker and recently qualified to tutor the language using the Ulpan system She said This whole area is in danger of becoming a Gaelic void In the long term it would be lovely if there was Gaelic medium education available but that is a great challenge Glenda Cairncross who has done a huge amount of the organisational work said that she sees the fèis as just the start of plans to encourage interest in Gaelic We are planting little acorns she said and we hope to have the fèis on an annual basis along with other cultural events that help people to get a chance to learn and use Gaelic There are now forty three fèis events organised around Scotland each year with more than 13 000 children taking part Lisa MacDonald said We ve had funding and a huge amount of help in getting organised from both Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Fèisean nan Gàidheal We ve had lots
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Feb11/feb11_scourie-feis.html (2013-01-14)

  • Nature’s call
    black wing tips combined with the snowy white rump unmistakable I drove along and kept pace with him for about 500 metres before he suddenly veered off and headed away across the field This was the first hen harrier I had seen near home for some considerable time and to be blessed with such a fine view of his hunting technique was priceless That one simple experience cheered my mood immensely and instantly the day seemed far better That s one of the beauties of wildlife they have the ability to thrill and cheer us as they just go about their daily routine with no cost to us or them I didn t have to spend a fortune or plan a special trip somewhere to witness this wonderful sight These chance encounters are often some of the most thrilling and memorable I urge everyone to keep those eyes peeled and never miss the opportunity to check out anything you think you may have seen That day it could well have turned out to be just a gull but without checking that grim day may have stayed just grim I do hope turkey wasn t the only bird you were concerned with this festive period and you all made a particular effort to keep feeding and watering the wild birds while the snow lay on the ground At home I was thrilled to be regularly visited by groups of hungry skylarks and reed buntings which were very grateful for the bird seed and scraps I was putting out for them on the snow There are usually flocks of them in the surrounding fields during the winter but up to fifteen at a time were happy to come right to the house for the chance of an easy feed One particular day
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Feb11/feb11_natures-call.html (2013-01-14)

  • Shot in arm for Gaelic in North West
    area There used to be so many It s the language of this place As well as James Graham Assynt now has two other qualified Gaelic language tutors Claire Belshaw and Morag Mackenzie Lisa MacDonald from Scourie also qualified Morag Mackenzie said I ve always been interested in Gaelic I trained because I really want there to be tutors in Assynt For years we have had to bring tutors in from elsewhere which makes it so expensive and they sometimes spend more time travelling than actually teaching the language Efforts to bring tutors into the area have been beset by difficulties for years A fifth tutor Tom MacAilpein came all the way from Oban to do the course Just as here in Argyll there are more people wanting to learn Gaelic than tutors can cope with so Tom s skills will be in demand He starts teaching in Oban in January He learned Gaelic after school and said I feel a real connection to Gaelic It s been in my family for generations The more you learn the more you love it Several of the Assynt students also had Gaelic in their family One of them is Carol Ann Macrae Her mother is a Gaelic speaker but because her father was not it was not spoken much in her home while she was growing up She said I have the heritage but don t have the Gaelic I have wanted to learn for a long time but this is the first opportunity I ve had The Ùlpan course has been great I did an O level in Gaelic thirty years ago but this is very different because the emphasis is not on grammar It really recognises the musical nature of the language Dàibhidh Grannd says The traditional approach to teaching Gaelic has been to take advantage of adults literacy skills but this often produces grammarians rather than speakers This is because students are taught to view Gaelic meta linguistically i e as a giant puzzle to be solved through the acquisition of complex grammatical rules This excludes the non academically minded and those without sufficient time to study in the traditional sense Ùlpan by contrast focuses on speaking with an emphasis on the rhythms of whole phrases repeated over and over until they become familiar It also involves lots of games jokes and humorous dialogues Having fun is built into the course as part of the learning experience surely a big reason why the students were so keen despite the weather to keep coming back for more Andy Summers one of the students said at the end of the week I m tired but it was good I ve always wanted to learn and started ten years ago but got bogged down This approach frees you It s quite hard work at times but there s been great camaraderie and it s a great way of learning He is looking forward to being able to use his growing language skills
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Jan11/jan11_shot-in-arm-for-gaelic.html (2013-01-14)

  • Anyone remember the Highlands & Islands Film Guild (1946-1970)?
    were the forerunners of the post war Highlands and Islands Film Guild The Guild initially based in Edinburgh before moving to Inverness was formed in 1946 and aimed primarily to improve the educational cultural and recreational amenities available to rural communities by organising the exhibition of films on a non profit making basis This involved a fleet of mobile cinema vans and recruited operators who would take cinema to communities in the Crofting Counties The rural cinema operators were key figures who made arduous journeys in often difficult weather to reach the destinations which would be made into what the secretary of the Guild Tom Morris termed the wee cinemas Morris describes how in the early years of the Guild the isolated setting of Eshaness in Shetland provided a special example of its appreciation The hall there stood in the middle of what was almost a peat bog and there was no access road The problem was a simple one no road no film The Shetlanders love a challenge a common saying among those descendants of the hardy Vikings is Say du nawthin but that does not mean they do nothing The men set to carted stones and rubble dumped it into the old track and so made their road whilst the women equally anxious and willing to forgot their knitting and attended to the refreshments In a day and a night the job was done and George Horne the Guild s first operator drove his van up for the show The operators developed close and fondly remembered relationships with their audiences which would also often make their own special journeys to see the film show Local communities would also assist with publicising the films preparing the halls and running the shows The halls varied from village halls drill halls Nissen huts to private houses and required a process of conversion and improvisation in order to create the exhibition space These were not the well heated and plush conditions of the picture palace and these cinemas existence depended in the early years on generators for power For many people this type of cinema and its home made characteristics offered them their first experience of film Programmes were aimed at a family audience and would consist of a Pathe newsreel a cartoon the main feature film and a trailer for the next film Local amateur films were sometimes included in the programmes too and the Guild also showed films in schools So far respondents have mentioned the crow of the cockerel that introduced the Pathe newsreels the film of the coronation A Queen is Crowned war films and Westerns and films about Scotland such as Whisky Galore The national archive in Edinburgh also mentions less familiar films such as The Baking Secrets of Elizabeth Craig which was produced to promote Brooke Bond tea But it is the experience of watching films and being involved in this type of exhibition films that outweighs what was seen It seems that the films sometimes
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Jan11/jan11_highlands-and-islands-film-guild.html (2013-01-14)

  • View from the croft gate
    it was wrapped Just a theory but I would be interested in knowing if anyone else experienced a similar problem this year The bales are not holed and so that is ruled out as a reason We are glad that we managed to get most of the calves away before the cold weather set in but rather regret keeping the heifers back for future stock and so putting an extra strain on the fodder supply One pleasant result of the deep snow was that the parish was turned into a Christmas card countryside The birch woods suffered once again as they were weighed down with the weight of snow and like as of last year some have split or broken Come the Spring I can see myself having to take out the chainsaw once again to clear my favourite burnside walk At one time this was a well used path through a small birch wood gorge with a nice waterfall at its head People used it for a place to go on a Sunday in the days when walking was the only safe alternative to consulting the good book I must admit that since my youth and associated urge to cast a rod in our local burn I rather neglected this walk as did most other people and so the birch and bracken took over Then a year or two ago health problems led to me being strongly advised to walk a lot as it was good for me and I remembered this path which led to the falls It was pretty much a no go area and so the real exercise began when I set about to hack and saw my way through the jungle to reclaim the old footpath It was not even on our own land but on that of a neighbouring common grazing so what I was doing was probably illegal But such is the situation as regards many common hill pasture lands in this day and age that very few know or care unless there is issue over development value I think back to the days when I was a youngster and a time when the parish was criss crossed with walking or cart tracks They were well used by the people of the parish as shortcuts to school church shop or neighbour But the older generation died out and were replaced in part by people not having grown up in the parish at a time when these paths were regularly trod and so they were not inclined to use them Add to this the coming of the car for every croft and nobody walked any more It is surprising how soon a footpath can almost disappear when not used turn your back and birch whin and bracken will take over in no time Then a new generation or incoming people question if there was ever a path there in the first place Some will erect a fence way across the old path and if
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Jan11/jan11_view-from-croft-gate.html (2013-01-14)

  • Farewell Cathie Barbara
    order as can be seen in the photo below It always had the desired effect Cathie Barbara s background was two fishing communities bilingual in Gaelic and English She was born in Embo the only child of Williamina Mackay from Eilean nan Ròn and Thomas Mackay an Embo man Her father was killed in World War Two when she was a toddler of two and a half Cathie was brought up by her mother and grandparents in Embo For her secondary education she attended Dornoch Academy where one of the subjects she studied was Gaelic On leaving school she attended nursing college in Elgin Cathie then worked in the Lawson Memorial Hospital Golspie spending her later years as a district nurse in the Tongue area where she and Johnny brought up their family of two boys Early exposure to local politics in Embo through her paternal grandfather would surface in later life when she was talked into standing for election representing the people of the parish of Tongue on Sutherland County Council She was elected in 1967 and remained a member until a large scale reorganisation of local government in 1975 She talked of this particular period of her life with great pleasure often recalling the friendships she made with fellow councillors many of them of her parents generation If they were on an overnight stay the councillors would often enjoy a ceilidh Donnie Mac Bain convenor would take out his boxie and Christy Campbell would sing in Gaelic And Donnie MacLeod had his fiddle she told Am Bratach in 2008 But though she appreciated the social side of politics she was not one to neglect the needs and aspirations of the people who voted her into office In 1971 she opened the Kyle of Tongue causeway and bridge an
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Dec10/dec10_cathie-barbara.html (2013-01-14)

  • The Edinburgh-Sutherland’s still going strong!
    in 1895 over the Land League question which divided the members into two rival societies so the County of Sutherland Association Glasgow was established There was rumour at the time that this was prompted by a north coast west coast split However sense prevailed in 1910 and the two were amalgamated under the chairmanship of Alexander Bruce Clyne The Edinburgh Sutherland Association has enjoyed healthy rivalry with its counterpart in Glasgow over the years including curling and golf competitions However such competitions have not been held in recent years The Brusters is an organisation of ten Sutherland men either have been born there or connected with the county through their ancestors who met originally in the Blythswood Hotel on the first Saturday of the month except July and August and always after the Glasgow Annual Gathering They took pride in contributing in various ways to the well being of Sutherland at the same time being members of the Edinburgh or Glasgow Associations Today the Brusters are still active and the Edinburgh Sutherland Assocation s James Maclean is the senior member having joined in 1960 Recent association recruit Andrew Mackenzie a young Stoer born solicitor in the Scottish Government said The Edinburgh Sutherland Association donates money to worthy causes in Sutherland every year We would like to donate more so I hope that more people from Sutherland will join our association and attend our events which we are keen to expand beyond the annual ceilidh so that we can raise more money for such causes We have recently set up a Facebook page and are developing a website in order to encourage more people to get involved in the association Life membership is 20 and annual membership is 3 It is open to natives of Sutherland and their relatives Cheques should
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Dec10/dec10_edinburgh-sutherland.html (2013-01-14)

  • Bookends
    It is also a highly poetical beautiful and at times tragic soliloquy on his own life and on the lives of those around him In order to achieve this within the narrative he has divided each chapter into short sections taken from angling terminology alternating between Cast in which he describes the progress of the expedition and Retrieve in which he looks to the past He also describes conversations with people who knew MacCaig presenting him as a generous man but one who was as capable of irritating people as he was of inspiring them and who didn t suffer fools gladly He apparently got into various scrapes particularly after a dram or three too many The book also contains some previously unpublished poems of MacCaig s as well as one of Greig s own poems Although I have never fished I have spent a considerable amount of time walking hills and moors and I can understand the way that the peace he feels while angling helps him make sense of his own life It is in these passages the Retrieves that this powerful book reaches the heights of its power He looks back at his attempts to become a musician like his heroes The Incredible String Band in the process becoming a lifelong friend with J Joe Boyd s assistant In the 1960s and 70s Boyd managed bands like Incredible String Band Fairport Convention Pink Floyd and others J who drank too much gin smoked too much marijuana and was probably anorexic who had a child few people knew about a child who was adopted and who she never saw afterwards who was a confidant of Bobby Dylan who seduced the much younger Andrew Greig and who was found dead in her bed in 1997 just before hogmanay Greig
    http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Dec10/dec10_bookends.html (2013-01-14)