Gaelic Connections Are Stronger Than Ever

Gaelic Centre in Skye
The Gaelic Centre in Skye

Celebrating their native tongue is an important part of life for the Scots.

And the annual Celtic Connections which brings together the country’s best musicians is the showpiece for spectacular sets.

Held each year from mid-January to the beginning of February, it is a great way to banish the winter blues and with my son, Ruaridh (15) who is very proud of his roots, we decided to embrace ourselves in two very special concerts centred around Gaelic.

Gàidhlig Ghlaschu – a Gaelic Story of Glasgow could not have had a more perfect setting than the iconic cathedral.

Lit up beautifully outside and with the eerie backdrop of the necropolis, an impressive Victorian cemetery, the story of the city was told through songs, poetry and performances, from the 1100s to the present day.

With a packed audience, warmed up with hot refreshments, we walked from the nearby St Mungo Religious Centre, led by the singers, into the cathedral all lit up and with the remnants of Christmas, still insitu.

Focusing on Glasgow’s high street, musicians and singers Alasdair Whyte, Mairi MacMillan were joined by Daibhidh Walker and organist Ruairidh Gray, plus youngsters from Bunsgoil Ghàidhlig Ghleann Dail, the city’s second Gaelic school and told the tale with hauntingly beautiful music and song.

Glasgow Cathedral lit up in Gaelic
Glasgow Cathedral

We even discovered that when iconic drink Irun Bru was first made for the industrial workers, who in turn were all Gaelic speakers.

Education plays a big role in promoting Gaelic and in 1973, the first public education centre, Sabhal Mor Ostaig was established on the Isle of Skye.

Fifty years later, it has gone from strength to strength and a special concert to pay homage to the institution was held at the beautiful City Halls in Glasgow.

The venue, the city’s oldest, going back to 1841, had a £15m refit several years ago and is said to have wonderful acoustics.

The three-hour concert hosted by Joy Dunlop and Ewen Henderson featured Scotland’s finest musicians and singers, many playing on the traditional pipes, whistles and accordions.

Featuring the house band made up of Mhairi Hall, Marc Clement, Patsy Reid, Fraser Stone, Ingrid Henderson and Angus MacKenzie, were Christine Primrose, Margaret Stewart, Julie Fowlis, Peter MacPherson, Sian, Dàimh, Dòchas and Donnie Munro.

With toe tapping tunes and tub thumping singing, the packed house switched between Gaelic and English, for a truly memorable night of Gaelic nostalgia, showing off Scotland’s culture at its best!

Author Bio:

Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.

Photographs courtesy of Celtic Connections 2023

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