The cultural significance of a barnstorming tour to promote traditional Gaelic music has been recognised in the halls of Holyrood.
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has long been a champion of all things Gaelic and was one of the main movers and shakers who helped bring the National Mod to Falkirk back in 2008 when he was local councillor.
Now Angus is heaping praise on the young performers, Ilona Kennedy (fiddle/pipes), Eilidh McIntyre (whistle/vocals), Euan Meikle (accordion), Anna Michels (piano/fiddle), Orla Stevens (fiddle/vocals) and Lewis Walker (guitar/percussion), who have taken on the role of mobile musical ambassadors for Gaelic in this year’s Feis Fhoirt Ceilidh Trail.
Eilidh, from Camelon, and Anna, from Denny, were performing close to home recently with a jam for shoppers in Grangemouth’s York Arcade and a visit to The Kelpies with Angus himself acting as tour guide.
The MSP, originally from Gaelic-speaking Isle of Lewis, said: “It was a delight to meet up with the Feis Fhoirt young musicians on their ceilidh trail. They are a fantastic group of young musicians who have been touring the Falkirk, Stirling and Trossachs area for the past three weeks.
“Based on the Gaelic term for festival, the Feis movement provides people with the opportunity to come together and celebrate Scotland’s Celtic arts. Using traditional instruments, regional Feis groups bring the vitality of Gaelic song, music and dance to communities all over the country in a variety of accessible venues – from concert halls and churches to shopping centres and residential care homes.”
The Ceilidh Trail initiative launched in 1999 with the aim of encouraging teenage musicians to develop their performance skills and help generate a vibrant traditional music programme in the Highlands.
Over the years, the project has been rolled out by Feis organisations in other areas, including Feis Fhoirt four years ago, and has also proved successful in the Scottish Lowlands.
Angus said: “I was especially glad this year’s Feis Fhoirt Ceilidh Trail performed at several settings in my own constituency. As convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on Gaelic, I was thrilled to hear them play melodic favourites such as Donald MacIntyre’s Oran na Cloiche, or Song of the Stone, and Jean Finlayson’s Fear a’ Bhata, or The Boatman, being enjoyed by constituents who’s traditional tongue is Lallan Scots.
“The sharing of cultural and linguistic traditions between Highland and Lowland communities, which occurs naturally in projects such as Feis Fhoirt, is something that can only serve to enrich our national life .”
Local Ceilidh Trail co-ordinator Siobhan Anderson said: “This has been the fourth Feis Fhoirt Ceilidh Trail and it has been steadily gaining momentum and interest every year.
“The group have toured across a huge geographical area this year, from Kenmore and Tyndrum down to Grangemouth and Stenhousemuir. It’s also been a real encouragement to have MSP Angus MacDonald meet our talented team on tour and hear them perform.
“Angus’s support for the ongoing Feis Fhoirt cultural enterprise is greatly appreciated.”
Visit www.feisfhoirt.org.uk for more information.