12 November 2011
Gaelic news and events in London, November 2011
Comunn Gàidhlig Lunnainn - Lean gu dlùth ri cliù do shinnsir
Newsletter, November 2011
AGM, 19 November
The AGM of the Society will take place on Saturday 19 November at Crown Court Church Hall,
Covent Garden, at 7pm. The business meeting will be followed by an informal céilidh and
refreshments. Nominations for Council may be sent in advance to our Assistant Hon. Secretary,
Iain Fleming, at 27 Stevens Avenue. London E9 6RX or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Consultation on National Gaelic Plan
Public consultation on Bòrd na Gàidhlig's draft National Gaelic Language Plan 2012 - 2017 has
begun. The London consultation with representatives of the Bòrd takes place on Saturday 10
December at the Dragon Hall, 17 Stukeley Street (Green Room) at 7.30pm. This is your chance
to have your say about the Plan. Please come along and share your views! The draft Plan is
available at: http://www.gaidhlig.org.uk/en
There was a large and good quality entry from mainland and island schools this year and thanks
are due to teachers for their support and preparation, and to the pupils for their entries. Special
thanks, as usual, to the adjudicators and, of course, to our Chief, Joyce Seymour-Chalk, for
another year of hard work and inspiration.
At the Fundraising Evening on 11 June we were delighted to welcome Alasdair Whyte of Mull as
our special guest. Alasdair, 2006 Mod Gold Medallist, came to us highly recommended as an
exciting young singer and he more than fulfilled our expectations. We are most grateful to
everyone who attended and all who contributed to the Fund. Special thanks to Waitrose for their
donation of wine. We also benefitted from the generosity of Norman MacLeod and the Gaelic
Services Committee, when a collection made on the occasion of the September visit of
Professor Ken MacKinnon to give a sermon and lecture was donated to the Education Fund.
Cuach Seirbheis nam Meadhanan Gàidhlig (Senior): The Nicolson Institute
The Scottish Knights Templar Medallion (Junior): Paible School
Cuach Chomunn Gàidhlig Lunnainn (Infants): Back School
The Hugh Seymour-Chalk Salver (Learners): not awarded
Senior Fluent, S3-6: Annabel MacLennan, Nicolson Institute. Merit awards to Eilidh Johnstone,
Calum MacPhee and Lorraine Morrison, all Nicolson Institute; Karen Oakley, Charleston
Academy; Megan Grant, Inverness Royal Academy; Emily MacKinnon and Eilidh MacRitchie,
both Millburn Academy; Ruby NicPhaideir-Domhnall and Alison MacVicar, both Oban High
Senior Fluent, S1-2: Mairi MacLennan, Back School. Merit awards to Leanne MacDonald and
Catherine MacDonald, both Back School; Yarima Conway and Jessica Warren, both Inverness
Senior Learners (Advanced), S3-6: Anna Hulme, Gairloch High School. Merit award to Kirsty
Alexander, Gairloch High School
Senior Learners, S3-6: James Staddon, Gairloch High School. Merit award to Lynn MacLeod,
Junior Fluent: Marion MacCorquodale, Paible School; Merit awards to Kenny MacKillop, Paible
School; John Alasdair Bain and Eilidh Murray, both Back School; Lauren Matheson, Alex John
Morrison and Eilidh Ann MacIver, all Barvas School; Ciorstaidh Gillanders and Charlie
Matheson, both Staffin School
Junior Learners: Eilidh Ross, Acharacle Primary School; Merit awards to Jessie MacPherson
and Claire Ford, both Acharacle Primary School; Alison Smith and Finlay Emmott, both Back
Infant Fluent: Ross MacIver, Back School. Merit awards to Ellie MacDonald, Back School; Emily
Davidson and Annabel Matheson, both Barvas School; Orin Shepherd and Mairi MacIain, both
Infant Learners: Erin MacLeod, Back School; Merit awards to Ruth Cunningham, Back School;
Rachel Ford, Acharacle Primary School
The year so far
In February we welcomed back as our guest, after a long absence, Pamela MacKay Wilson.
Despite her fears that she may have forgotten all of her songs, Pamela sang as beautifully as
ever! At Suipear nam Bàrd the following month, another old friend and favourite of the Society,
Donnie Murdo MacLeod, led the celebration of the poetry of Uilleam Ros. This was another
extremely popular and inspiring event in the series. Donnie Murdo's thoughts on the poet and
his work, and his singing of the songs, were truly memorable.
In May, we celebrated with Còisir Lunnainn their 120th anniversary. Along with Mod Gold
Medallist and Gaelic Singer of the Year 2010, the multi-talented Joy Dunlop of Argyll, they
provided a wonderful evening's entertainment. We wish the choir well in this special year and
every success with their CD, 'Sia Fichead - togail na brataich' ('Six Score Years - raising the
standard') which was launched in July.
Linda MacLeod took a break from her research into the songs of her own community in North
Uist to visit the Society in September. She gave a beautiful performance of songs new to most
of us, as well as some old favourites, and provided background about the origin, place and
meanings of each song. We wish her well with the writing up of her study, which will no doubt
prove of growing value and interest as time goes by.
We are very grateful to all the singers who have regularly performed for us and so ably
supported our guests - Kathy Kennedy, Sandy Jones, Anna McCrae, Eóghann Pinkerton, Iain
MacLeod and Angus Nicol. This year, as always, Dorothy Gordon and Joyce Seymour-Chalk
have taken on the bulk of the catering work, and Iain MacLeod and his team worked wonders
with the menu for Suipear nam Bàrd. Thank you all!
The Society's library and records have been moved along with other collections from University
College London to Kew for a period of up to two years. They will eventually move back to a new
building designed for special collections. Joyce has been monitoring the move on behalf of the
The winner of the 2011 Donald Smith Memorial Award for young pipers was 16 year old Sandy
Cameron from Lochaber.
We send best wishes for continued recovery to Donald MacLeod, our former Hon. Treasurer.
We hope to see Donald and Marge back with us again soon.
There will be a Gaelic service at Crown Court Church, Covent Garden, on Sunday 11 December
The Highlands and Islands Society of London will be having their St Andrew's céilidh dance on
Saturday 26 November at the London Welsh Centre, 157-163 Gray's Inn Road, at 7.30pm.
Music will be by the Craigievar Ceilidh Band and there will be songs from Màiri MacInnes,
National Mod Gold medallist. For further information and to book tickets contact Sylvia or
Donald on 01732 850450 or email email@example.com
The English language premiere of Gaelic writer Iain Finlay MacLeod's 'Atman' opened at the
Finborough Theatre on 6 November. Performances will take place on Sunday and Monday
evenings until 21 November. The play was originally written and performed in Gaelic. For further
information see http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2011/produciton-atman.php
With the passing of our former Chief, John Angus MacLeod, in September, the Gaelic world has
lost a much loved, admired and respected leader who fulfilled many roles, whether as poet and
writer - crowned Bàrd at the National Mod in 1971 - or as Gaelic tutor and ambassador for the
John Angus' connections with the Society go back at least to the 1970s, when he attended the
annual Open Days. He later chaired these events and gave talks. He was made an Honorary
Life Member in 1985 and served as Chief from 1995 to 1998, when he moved back to Scotland
from Gloucestershire. For twenty years he taught at Gaelic weekend residential courses at
Wansfell College, Essex. In the late 1980s he set up Gàidhlig Aig Deas (GAD), a support
organisation for Gaelic learners in the south. He worked tirelessly for the language, with
contacts worldwide, always approachable and endlessly generous with his knowledge and his
time. In all of this he was steadfastly supported by his late wife, Nancy. He was awarded Duais
Chomunn Gàidhlig Lunnainn in 2008 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Gaelic.
We extend our most sincere sympathy to his daughters, Shonagh and Marion, Iain, his
grandson and our Assistant Hon. Secretary, and their families.
In August our friend and a generous and loyal member of the Society, Ann Speedy, passed
away peacefully at the age of 91. Ann joined the Society many years ago, and was made an
Honorary Life Member in 1994. Her husband, Jock, who sadly died only six years after their
marriage, was our Honorary Piper. The funeral took place at St Columba's, Pont Street.
'Highland Cathedral' was played on the pipes at the start of the service and Kathy Kennedy
sang 'O Miorbhail Gràis' ('Amazing Grace') as the coffin left the church. Both of these were by
Ann's request. Our sympathy goes to Ann's family. She will be very fondly remembered.
Hector MacAulay of North Uist has been in our thoughts in recent months following the death of
his wife, Mary. Hector and Mary were well-known in Gaelic and Highland circles during their
many years in London and contributed in numerous ways to the life of the Gaelic community.
Mary was a very kind and charming lady and it was always a real pleasure to spend time in her
company. She is sorely missed.
We have received sad news of the death in Edinburgh of Alice, widow of Neville MacKay. Alice
and Neville joined the Society in 1978 and together they were strong supporters of its work,
rarely absent from céilidhs and other events. Neville was our Honorary Piper for a number of
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