May 2013 Newsletter

Events were held throughout Nova Scotia this month celebrating the role of the Gaelic Language and culture in our communities. Locally, we have strong traditions in which music, dance, Gaelic language, storytelling and singing are deeply intertwined.

On May 15th, the Judique School of Gaelic and the Celtic Music Centre hosted a spring tea and Ceilidh. We would like to thank everyone who came out to take part. Visitors enjoyed dance music by Kenneth MacKenzie, Allan Dewar, Bill MacDonald and Genevieve Whalen. Tea and treats were provided by the Judique School of Gaelic and afterwards everyone took part in sharing some Gaelic milling songs. This event was made possible in part through the Office of Gaelic Affairs.

Photo by Melanie Holder   Photo by Melanie Holder

See more photos from the Gaelic tea on our Facebook page

On May 28th, the CMIC hosted a presentation, "Gaelic History in Nova Scotia through Songs, Stories, Music, and Dance." The presentation was given by Frances MacEachen, Gaelic Cultural officer for the Office of Gaelic Affairs.

Upcoming events include a presentation on Local Songs and Stories by Effie Rankin on June 21st at 3:30pm and "Cape Breton Tunes and Stories," an evening of Cape Breton fiddling, Gaelic songs, and storytelling on June 28th at 7:00pm.

For more information on Gaelic language events at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, including upcoming summer cultural workshops, ceilidhs and more, please see our calendar of events.

CMIC Opens For the 2013 Season

On Monday, June 10th, the CMIC will be opening for lunch and daily live music. Lunch will be available Monday through Saturday, 11:30am-3:00pm with live music from 11:30am-1:00pm. Our full lunch menu will be available, so come out to enjoy some great tunes and delicious food!

Our Wednesday Evening Ceilidhs will also be starting up for the season on June 26th. The first Wednesday evening Ceilidh of the season will feature music by Shelly Campbell, Kenneth MacKenzie, Doug Lamey, Cheryl Smith and Allan Dewar. The Wednesday evening Ceilidhs will be held every week from 7:00-9:00pm. Admission is $6 and kitchen and bar service will be available.

Rachel Davis & Chrissy Crowley Release New Recordings at the CMIC

Toes were tapping on May 19th at the CMIC as Rachel Davis performed for the release of her second recording, "Turns." Joining Rachel on stage were Allan Dewar on piano and Buddy MacDonald on guitar with special guests throughout the afternoon.

"Turns" is the second release for the Canadian Folk Music Award 'Young Performer of the Year' Nominee. This new release includes both traditional and original fiddle tunes as well as English and Gaelic songs.  

Chrissy Crowley will be holding a release for her new recording, "Last Night's Fun" at the CMIC's Sunday Ceilidh on June 23rd from 3:00-6:30pm. The new recording from the Margaree Fiddler will feature many original compositions. Joining Crowley on the recording are musicians Darren McMullen, Jason Roach, Keith Mullins, Kenneth MacKenzie, Rachel Davis and Colin Grant. Both "Turns" and "Last Nights Fun" are available in our retail gift shop and online store at:

Gaelic Language Strong in Judique
Melanie Holder interviews A.J. MacDougall

The Judique Community is home to rich cultural traditions with deep connections to Gaelic music and language. Judique's own native Gaelic speakers hold a wealth of knowledge of these traditions. A.J. MacDougall grew up in Judique speaking Gaelic as a first language. Throughout his life, he has been active the community. He has served on the board of the the CMIC, the Judique Community Centre and other community organizations. In honour of Gaelic awareness month, we sat down with him to have a chat about the Gaelic language and growing up in the Judique area.

Photo by Melanie Holder

 A.J. was raised in Judique by his grandparents who were Gaelic speakers. "I learned Gaelic through necessity" he says.

At the time, most people in the community were Gaelic speakers. A.J can remember neighbours coming to their home and listening to news of the war on the radio. "The news would be in English," he says, "but the discussion afterwards would be in Gaelic."  There was music in the home as well. A.J's two uncles were "kitchen fiddlers" and Gaelic speakers, and his grandmother, who new had just a few words of English, would often sit spinning yarn and singing songs in Gaelic.

 It was not until he started school that A.J. began speaking English. "[we were] discouraged from speaking Gaelic," he said. "The thinking at the time was that Gaelic would have an adverse effect on your English [and that] you would develop an accent. The thinking now seems to have turned around".

As an adult, A.J. spent twenty years away from Cape Breton working. During that time, he spoke very little Gaelic. "You didn't hear much Gaelic and you got out of practice," he said. "When I got home, Gaelic was on its way out. Most people didn't speak the language."

It was when A.J. enrolled in St. Francis Xavier University that he became involved with Gaelic again. "In mid-life I decided to go to university, and Celtic Studies was one of the courses that I took. I learned to read and write Gaelic and I was able to go into the older books and learn more about the history of the language and of the Scottish people. I read the old poetry and prose." While at St. FX, A.J. studied under the late Dr. Ken Nilsen, who he credits as a major influence on his own study of Gaelic and on the Gaelic revival in Nova Scotia. It was through Dr. Nilsen that he became involved as a presenter at the Fifth Scottish Gaelic Research Conference at St. FX in 2008.

Within the past 10 years, A.J. began sharing his own knowledge with others as a teacher. He taught weekly Gaelic classes in Port Hawkesbury for five years and is currently teaching a class at the CMIC in Judique. "Teaching Gaelic," he says, "has been an opportunity to pass on what I have learned. Learning the language requires a bit of determination that (you) are going to stick with it. You are not going learn it over night."

 However, he believes that the rewards of learning Gaelic are worth the effort. "Gaelic is one of the oldest languages, it has survived throughout the years. While communities here and in Scotland have developed their own distinct dialects since the out-migration of the Gaels, We can still go back and carry on conversations. It is still the same language."

 AJ believes that learning a language such as Gaelic is important for the development of the human being. "It helps develop the total person". He is hopeful about Gaelic's future in Nova Scotia. "There seems to be a revival of the language. There are more people speaking the language now than 30 or 40 years ago." A.J. had recently attended a Gaelic immersion weekend at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's and was impressed by the number of children who were there learning Gaelic and speaking it to one another. "It gave me a bit of confidence that [the language] will continue into the future."

Upcoming Events at the CMIC

June 9th: Sunday Ceilidh
3:00-6:30pm with Troy MacGillivray, Allan Dewar & Cheryl Smith $8.

June 15th: Book Release & Music Session
4:00-9:00pm. The Cape Breton Scottish Collection. Cranford Publications. $5. Free admission for musicians participating in the session.

June 16th: Sunday Ceilidh
3:00-6:30pm. Douglas Cameron $8.

June 23rd: Sunday Ceilidh
3:00-6:30pm. Chrissy Crowley "Last Night's Fun" CD Release $8.

June 26th: Wednesday Evening Ceilidh
7:00-9:00pm with Shelly Campbell, Kenneth MacKenzie, Doug Lamey,
Cheryl Smith, Allan Dewar $6.

June 28th: Cape Breton Tunes and Stories
An evening of Gaelic stories, songs, and fiddle music featuring: Shelly Campbell, Bernard Cameron, Allan Dewar,
Carmen MacArthur, Katie Maggie MacLeod, Ronald MacKenzie and others. 7:00pm. Admission: $5

June 30th: Sunday Ceilidh
3:00-6:30pm with Glenn Graham $8.