Uist nominees line up

Chaidh sgioba beòthail agus tàlantach ainmeachadh airson 21mh Duaisean Ceòl Traidiseanta na h-Alba aig MG ALBA a tha a’ taisbeanadh na tha de thàlant ann an saoghal ceòl traidiseanta na h-Alba.
Fans of the genre were able to vote for who they think deserves to take home each prestigious award, with the winners announced at the annual glittering awards ceremony at Caird Hall in Dundee on Saturday 2nd December 2023.

Le cànan is ceòl aig cridhe nan eilean, chan eil iongnadh ann gu bheil a leithid as na h-eileanan air an ainmeachadh airson na duaisean urramach a tha seo. Tha na duaisean seo a’ sealltainn an luach a thathar a cuir air na tha a h-uile duine air a’ gheàrr-liosta air a choileanadh fad bliadhna.
Le ath-bheothachadh drùidhteach air a’ ghnè, a’ ruighinn luchd-èisteachd nas fharsainge le fèisean is tachartasan ùra a’ tighinn am bàrr bliadhna às deidh bliadhna, tha na duaisean – air an cur air dòigh leis a’ bhuidheann ‘Hands Up For Trad ‘– a’ seasamh mar theisteanas air tarraingeachd leantainneach an t-saoghail.

From new events and festivals making history to the country’s best bands and composers, the successful nominees represent the past, present and future of a world traditional Scottish music and are located all over the country.


John Joe MacNeil

Ceannard, Ceòlas

How could there be a world without Gaelic?

A few weeks ago, on an unusually warm September evening, I headed to Stoneybridge beach for a walk.  It was a particularly stunning evening with the glow of the sun setting to the west, the sound of the crashing waves filling up the silence of the deserted beach and the whisper of the wind whistling through the marram grass.

As I journeyed across the edge of the water, I started to reminisce about childhood days.  The image of me walking the Tràigh Mhòr in Barra with my grandfather in search of cockles came into my head.  He would often pass on many stories and traditions as we walked the length of the beach.  He would every so often stop, search for cockles, grasp two together and after expertly opening them up, eat them straight from the shell.  An experience which I closed my eyes to with distain.  Nonetheless, a tradition and an important tradition of his generation.  

Traditions are central to a way of living and of understanding the land, the sea and the surrounding environment.  They give us a sense of belonging and connect us to our intergenerational heritage whilst providing us with continuity.  Traditions are not only of the past, but they are also of the present and the future, and for us, murmuring through all of these, is Gaelic. 

Gaelic is simply not just a beautiful language; it is a way of living, it is our cultural identity, it connects us to our environment and climate, it is the lens to the past and the key to the door for our sustainable future.  Gaelic encapsulates our very being and allows us to see the world with such magnificent vision.

I often spend a long time looking out on the horizon watching the sky as it changes – the colours, the moods and the shapes.  Distracted by the glistening sun setting to the west that evening, I started to move my thoughts to the negativity I hear about the language and our traditions – perhaps the changeable horizon is an interesting metaphor for us to visualise.  Of course, people are welcome to their opinions.  However, more often than not, the negativity surrounding the language is through fear and the lack of understanding of the history, the injustice, the political and economic narrative, the beauty and intricate meaning of each word and phrase not comprehendible in any other language, and the cultural significance of the language.  I could go on.  The apprehension by some not to allow others to view the world through a non-English lens, to me, is difficult to comprehend and is unacceptable.  

Positivity always outweighs the minority of negative views that exist.  Yet, positivity requires work and commitment from each and every one of us regardless of where we are on our language learning journey.      

Those of us with fluent Gaelic, whether from birth or whether learnt, must use our language. Let us not be afraid to use it at every opportunity and let us not be afraid to continue to learn more about our language and its culture.  I frequently think that our biggest fault is that we are too kind – a stunning trait in us islanders and Gaels.  Whilst it is important to be hospitable, we cannot always sacrifice our language and our culture.  We must always remember that English is the dominant language.  It is everywhere.  It will never be at risk of leaving our shores.  Let us also not be afraid to pass on our culture, our traditions and customs to help shape the future generations of Gaels.  We must be proud that we have been given such a gift.  I used to hear a cailleach in our village use the well-known saying – ‘there’s always tomorrow’.  Tomorrow is permanently on the horizon, but we must all act now and take our responsibilities seriously to allow for the next generation to experience what we take for granted.  How could there be a world without Gaelic?   

If you are on your learning journey, firstly, thank you.  You are a beacon of hope.  Keep going and the more you learn, the more you will experience the joy of the language and all it brings.  There is always support near at hand.  Take every opportunity to use what you have learnt to build your confidence in speaking the language.  Do not be shy and remember that we all make mistakes.  Fluent speakers – let us remember to be patient with those learning and help them along the road.    

If you have not started learning Gaelic, there is always today.  There are plenty of people and resources out there to support you on your journey.  You do not need to commit to fluency but perhaps try to take the first steps on your own voyage of discovery.       

We also must respect those who do not wish to learn the language.  There are many reasons for this.  We Gaels, new and old, should not have to ask for mutual respect, remembering that we need to flex our language and its intertwined culture to allow it to flourish and not just become a language of the history books.     

As the sun begins its final descent for the day into the calm still waters of the Atlantic and my footprints are washed away by the impeding waters, I look back across over to the far side of the beach.  I hope that somewhere among the sand that my imprints remain and that one day, in many years to come, someone will walk across these shores feeling the passion and pride that I feel to be a Gaelic speaker.  I hope that whilst the wind continues to whistle through the marram grass, the next generations hear our language, our culture and our traditions – a language written in the wind.    

‘Gur truagh a’ Ghàidhlig bhith na càs,

On dh’fhalbh na Gàidheil a bh’ againn;

A ghineil òig tha tighinn nan àit’,

O, togaibh àrd a bratach.’