Here is the programme of events for our annual song festival. Click on the Programme link above.
Gillebrìde MacMillan is from the Milton in South Uist. He comes from a family with a strong Gaelic background. Gaelic is his first language and Gaelic songs and traditions were always an important part of family life.
Gillebrìde stars as Gwyllyn the Bard in Starz Outlander where he regales those in Castle Leoch with traditional Gaelic songs and tales. In Starz Outlander, Gillebrìde sings traditional songs and a song specially composed by Bear McCreary.
‘Air Fòrladh / On Leave’ is Gillebrìde’s second CD. His first ‘Thogainn Ort Fonn!’ was released in 2005 and he has also sung on CD with ‘Na Seòid’ and on ‘Home to Argyll’ – a collection of the songs of Ethel McCallum.
Although she has a parallel career as an actress and television presenter, Kathleen MacInnes is also widely regarded as one of the twenty-first century’s finest exponents of the art of Gaelic song. She was born and raised in South Uist in the Western Isles, a hotbed of Scottish traditional music.
MacInnes had been singing since childhood and established her profile with appearances on the music and arts programmes Tacsi, Aig Cridhe Ar Ciùil and Bàrd Nan Òrain. Her recording debut ‘Òg-Mhadainn Shamhraidh’ (Summer Dawn) was released in 2006. Later in the same year MacInnes was voted Gaelic Singer Of The Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards. The popularity of this album was followed by the 2012 release of a stunning second album ‘Cille Bhrìde’ (Kilbride), featuring some of the UK’s finest traditional musicians, including John McCusker, Michael McGoldrick, Donald Shaw, Iain MacDonald and Cathy Ann MacPhee. A Guardian newspaper reviewer said; “Anyone with the misconception that Gaelic song is all twee and interminably mournful should spend a minute or several listening to Kathleen MacInnes. The South Uist singer has a voice like peat smoke and good whisky, as robust, sassy and soulful as it is supple and expressive.”
He was attending whistle classes in The Armagh Pipers Club when he was moved into the Uilleann pipes classes. After some years with Brian, Tiarnán was then moved into Mark Donnelly’s class in the Armagh Pipers Club. Tiarnán is indebted to both for their time, patience and generosity with their music. Sadly Mark passed away tragically in 1998.
Tiarnán was a member of a ceili band in Dundalk, Ceoltóirí Óga Oirghiall.
He has been touring and performing on a regular basis since 1995. His music has taken him to Europe, United States, Canada, Japan, Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
Pipes Tiarnán first pipes were a practice set of Robbie Hughes pipes on loan from Brian Vallely. He now plays a full concert set that Dave Williams made in 1997. The set is made of African Blackwood and stainless steel. Dave died tragically in 2004. Tiarnán also plays an Eamonn Curran concert pitch boxwood 14 inch chanter and a B-flat chanter made by Brendan O Hare.
Rona MacDonald is from Gearraidh Sheilidh in South Uist. She was brought up in a family steeped in Gaelic tradition and after moving to Glasgow to live and work it was natural that she graduated towards the Arts. She is an Arts Producer, Gaelic Tutor, Poet and freelance drama practitioner, a dynamic and committed arts producer with fifteen years experience working across art form in arts development, venue management and strategic application. She is also a Gaelic tutor and recently published poet.
Dr Will Lamb is currently a lecturer in Scottish Ethnology at the University of Edinburgh. Between 2000 and 2010, he was a lecturer at Lews Castle College in Benbecula and set-up its traditional music programme. Focusing broadly on Gaelic ethnology, his research interests range from linguistics to oral tradition. While editing his 2012 book, Keith Norman MacDonald’s Puirt-à-Beul, Will became interested in the history of dance song in Scotland, and its connection to early instrumental music. He has explored the topic in a number of research articles, and is now broadening his focus to include dance song traditions in Ireland and mainland Europe. Apart from his academic work, Will is as an accomplished bouzouki player, and has performed with folk such as Fin and Hamish Moore, Fred Morrison and Lurach.
Naomi Harvey is a singer of Gaelic & Scots song from the Glasgow area. She learned Gaelic language & song through the Fèisean movement as a child, and went on to study the language at Glasgow University. She then moved to Benbecula and studied traditional song at college there for three years, learning from local singers such as Isa MacKillop, Paul McCallum and Catrìona Garbutt.
Now living back in the Central Belt, Naomi has worked as a researcher and cataloguer for two important archive websites; the Calum MacLean Digitisation Project and Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o’ Riches. She recently carried out a song-collecting project for Ceòlas in North Uist, focussing on the songs of Anndra Linc of Hòrasairigh, and she is currently a PhD researcher at Heriot-Watt University and the National Library of Scotland, studying archival sound collections of traditional stories and song from across the country.
Will and Naomi will be conducting the ‘Puirt ri Danns’ workshop all day Saturday in two parts; 10am – 12pm & 2pm – 4pm
Laoise Kelly from Westport, Co. Mayo, now living on Achill Island, is regarded as “the most significant harper of her generation” – Nuala O’Connor. She has pioneered a new style of driving instrumental harping showcased in her three critically acclaimed solo albums Just Harp, Ceis and Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh. She recently directed the first, highly successful, Achill International Harp Festival, encompassing her role as musical director of a newly commissioned Suite Sraith Oileán Acla for a 15 piece ensemble.
Laoise was a founding member of traditional group ‘Bumblebees’ with whom she recorded two albums and toured extensively. She is a founding member of ‘Fiddletree’ a group from America, Cape Breton and Scotland who play 8 instruments made from the same tree-they have two albums to date. Her latest album release is ‘Ar Lorg na Laochra’ with Monaghan Uilleann piper Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn.
Throughout her solo career she has recorded on over 60 albums with many of Ireland’s foremost artists including Seamus Heaney, The Chieftains, Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Dónal Lunny, Tommy Makem, Matt Molloy, Tommy Peoples, Mary Black, Maighread & Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, as well as Kate Bush and American country/bluegrass icon Tim O’Brien.
Laoise tours regularly with different collaborators: piper Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn; ‘Albiez Trio’ – Cormac Breatnach & Tola Custy; singer and accordion player Breanndán Begley; award winning Scottish Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes; fiddler Diarmuid Gielty; piper Allan MacDonald; fiddler Michelle O’Brien; Double Bassist Martin Brunsden.
Laoise was Musical Director on Brendan Beehan’s ‘The Hostage’ and Seán O’Casey’s ‘Purple Dust’ with Glasgow theatre company ‘Arches’ at the Edinburgh Festival. She toured with NY based ‘Mabou Mines’ award winning production of ‘Peter & Wendy’ to the Edinburgh Festival and the Old Vic, off Broadway.
She has toured and performed globally and at festivals such as Womad, Celtic Connections, Celtic Colours, Tonder, Dranouter, Lorient, Milwaukee, Armagh Piping Festival and all major harp festivals in Europe.
She has performed for Irish Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese; HRH Prince Andrew at the commemoration of the Battle of Kinsale; for the twenty-five EU Heads of State and Presidents in Dublin. She has represented Ireland with the Irish Embassy in Nigeria, Ghana, Russia, Argentina, and is honored to have been the only harper to represent Ireland at the World Harp Festival in Paraguay.
Laoise has won three All-Ireland Harp competitions and the Waterford Crystal harp at the Belfast Bicentennial Harp Festival 1992.
She has featured on numerous TV and radio programs both in Ireland and internationally including RTÉ’s A River of Sound, The Late Late Show, Sult, Eurovision; BBC’s Folkworks UK Harp tour Documentary, Colmcille sessions, and many of TG4’s music programmes Hup!, Fleadh TV, Féilte, Gradam Ceoil, Mná an Ceoil etc. She recently presented an RTÉ Radio 1 programme of highlights from Viljandi Festival in Estonia where she had also performed.
Laoise has been mentioned in a Leaving Certificate music exam question. Her arrangement of ‘Compliments to Sean Maguire’ is a choice piece on the Royal Irish Academy of Music grade 7 exam. She tutors regularly at the World Academy of Music & Dance at University of Limerick and all year at scoilacla.ie music school.
“Laoise Kelly is a young harpist with the disposition of an iconoclast and the talent and technique of a virtuoso.” Irish Times
“An exuberant and innovative talent which catches the spirit of the modern Irish music movement in a way that few harpers have done to date” Irish Music Magazine
“Her right hand fires out tunes with a fluidity, creativity and clarity that has revolutionised the harp as a solo instrument; her left hand is the source of a new voice in the world of accompaniment and groove, rooted in her engagement with the contemporary world of guitar, bouzouki, bódhran and keyboard while being distinct in its own right. Laoise has made it OK for a harp to sit in the centre of the session and be the heart of the trad band headlining the festival.” Niall Keegan, Irish World Academy, UL.