The sun was shining on the afternoon of Monday the 7th of July when Fèis Bharraigh kicked off their week of traditional music tuition by welcoming the Queen’s Baton outside Castlebay School on the first leg of its journey through the Western Isles. Katie Morag carried the baton off the plane and between four baton bearers it made its way to Castlebay, accompanied by music from a pipe band of Fèis tutors and attendees. A group of tutors was on hand to play a set of tunes at the final stretch where the crowd awaited the baton, and as it arrived the pipers and drummers started up again with Highland dancers lining the street to perform. Clyde, the Commonwealth mascot, was taught how to do a Highland Fling and the baton bearers danced a Scottische.
Monday afternoon set the tone for the rest of the week and the Fèis got underway, with over 100 in attendance between the Little Fèis, the Middle Fèis and the Main Fèis eager for a week of fun and learning. The older ones had a choice of a variety of different traditional subjects eg Gaelic singing, drama, shinty, media skills, dancing and several instruments. Tuesday night hosted a Children’s Cèilidh where they all got to know each other better with music provided by a selection of tutors. Throughout the week they learned new skills, songs and tunes, and the weather provided a stunning backdrop for the media class who recorded a video of themselves dancing on the street and for some of the other classes who ventured outside with their instruments. The children’s week came to an end with a concert on Friday afternoon where they showcased their new-found talent to parents and the community alike and it was a great success.
The tutors also had plenty of opportunities to show off their musical expertise, beginning with a night of traditional music in the wonderful setting of Kisimul Castle. Each tutor got a chance to perform, including members of different pipe bands among them who came together as a group, a clàrsach trio, an accordion duet and a group well accustomed to playing together. Northbay Hall hosted a Piping Hot curry night on Thursday night which saw performances from the piping and drumming tutors, local artistes and Highland dancers. The week came to an end with a concert and a dance with Skipinnish in Castlebay Hall and a Highland dancing competition took place on Saturday morning.
Fèis Bharraigh enjoyed a thoroughly successful week with a fantastic group of tutors, helpers and participants working together to make the event memorable.