Local Stars Shine at Uist Concert

A host of local talent from Uist performed at the ‘Dualchas Uibhist’ concert, recently held in St Peter’s Hall in South Uist in what proved to be a memorable evening. The concert was organised by Ceòlas and Tobar an Dualchais and brought together musicians, singers, dancers, and pupils from Sgoil Dhalabroig. Drawing inspiration from local sources, and especially those available on the Tobar an Dualchais website, the concert was full of community spirit, Gaelic, heritage and warmth.

The sterling line-up included Seonaidh MacIntyre on the pipes (Trail West), Pàdruig Morrison playing on the box (Beinn Lee), and singers Joe MacNeil, Arabella Manchester, and John Joe MacNeil, as well as local choir Guthan an Iar. Highland dancer Chiara Fisher performed beautifully and there was also the opportunity to take to the floor for a few ceilidh dances.

Some of the highlights included Class 1 & 2 of Sgoil Dhalabroig singing five Gaelic songs flawlessly, while the school choir sang some local songs superbly, including ‘Machaire Bhòrnais’. All the children recited the local Hogmanay Rhyme, Duain na Cullaig, which brought back some lovely memories for the audience. All this was under the direction of their teacher Iseabail MacDonald.

Some of the Daliburgh pupils who impressed the audience with their incredible singing. / Copyright Tobar an Dualchais

The BA Gaelic & Traditional Music students from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye were special guests for the evening, and performed sets as well as supporting some of the other acts. In preparation for the concert, the students carried out research on music from South Uist on the Tobar an Dualchais website and performed some of the tunes on the night.

Some of the BA Gaelic & Traditional Music students from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig playing a set of tunes. / Copyright Tobar an Dualchais

John Joe MacNeil, Head of Ceòlas, said: “There was a fantastic turnout at the concert and the atmosphere was great. We’re very fortunate with the musical talent we have in Uist, and as part of our work we provide learning and teaching to help people develop their musical abilities. We also seek to celebrate and promote the Gaelic language, culture and heritage in collaboration with local communities, and the concert was an excellent example of this.”

The concert came at the end of a two-day course organised by Tobar an Dualchais in collaboration with Ceòlas. The course ‘Creative Connections’ was designed for creative people who wanted to learn more about the Tobar an Dualchais resource, why the material was collected and by whom, and how and why it is of value today. The course had a strong focus on Uist and the recordings made throughout the islands.

The course was delivered by leading scholars and creative practitioners with extensive experience with the material, including Dr Mairi McFadyen, Raghnaid Sandilands, Dr Domhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart, Dr Decker Forrest, Liam Crouse & Floraidh Forrest.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Tobar an Dualchais PhD student Liam Crouse presented some of his most recent research on the Gaelic Otherworld in Uist. / Copyright Tobar an Dualchais

Floraidh Forrest, Director of Tobar an Dualchais, commented: “This is the first time that the course had been delivered in person and we were delighted with the attendance. Over 40 people from across the Highland & Islands took part and the feedback we received was very positive. We welcomed the opportunity to work with Ceòlas and we hope to do so again. Our thanks go to Creative Scotland whose funding made the concert and course possible.”

Frank McConnell, who attended the course, remarked: “It was a really great course and there was a lot of information and inspiration around the stories, songs, heritage and people of South Uist which are available on the website. The course highlighted for me that, although many of the audio recordings are old, their content is still very relevant to the world today.”

Participants Catriona MacIntyre and Catriona Black enjoyed their two days learning more about Tobar an Dualchais. / Copyright Tobar an Dualchais