Inaugural Ceòlas Hogmanay Fèis hailed a success

6th January 2016

The first Fèis Chullaig, featuring class tuition, music sessions, evening cèilidhs and archaeology walks, ran from the 28th of December to the 1st of January, giving a welcomed boost to the area during the Holiday season.

Classes, which were attended by both locals and visitors hailing from mainland and international destinations, were overseen by Ceòlas stalwarts Angus Nicolson, Allan Henderson and Sìneag MacIntyre.

Song class in Grogarry Lodge
Song class in Grogarry Lodge

Despite an initial blast of inclement weather, which delayed some students and performers, the opening Dance at Talla an Iochdair saw over 170 people in attendance. Likewise, early evening music sessions in local pubs in the Southend were crowded with Uist residents, visitors and Ceòlas students coming out for a meal and to listen to the world class musicians.

In addition to providing a lift to local companies, the Fèis also dovetailed with other Uist events. The Old Year Cèilidh in Talla Staoinebrig was also a great success, with Ceòlas tutors adding to the talented line-up.

Afternoon classes run by Laura Johnston and Alana MacInnes were complemented by archaeology walks by Dr Rebecca Rennell (UHI Archaeology Institute) at notable sites including Bornais and Howmore. The Family Fun Day on December 31st, complete with bouncy castle, sumo suits and face-painting, was attended by over 50 children and adults.

Local boys taking part in the piping tuition
Local boys taking part in the piping tuition

All evening cèilidhs were filled to capacity. Further tickets were made available for the Piping Recital on Hogmanay due to a high demand, and the audience enjoyed the attendance of the Staoinebrig Hogmanay boys (‘gillean Cullaig’) and the blessing of the ‘caisean Callaig’.

Commenting on the success of the inaugural Fèis, Mary Schmöller, Ceòlas’ Office Manager, said: ‘The atmosphere was excellent and the numbers showed that this is something that we can continue in future years. Running events such as this which are community orientated is so important for Ceòlas.’

Sìneag MacIntyre, the Ceòlas tutor for Gaelic song from Cille Pheadair, remarked that the Fèis was ‘such a great idea and [she] was so pleased that so many of the local community came to the classes at such a busy time of the year. It is amazing what Ceòlas does for the Uist community and may it long continue. Well done all who were involved.’

Catrìona Nic an t-Saoir with the 'caisean Callaig'
Catrìona Nic an t-Saoir with the ‘caisean Callaig’
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Allan Henderson playing at the Cèilidh
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Angus Nicolson playing at piping evening