MABOU: Gaelic Nova Scotia Month is in full swing, and Inverness County had two recent events to celebrate the history of the Gales.
On May 2, the Gaelic Flag was raised at the county’s municipal building in Port Hood. Just minutes after the flag was at full mast, a proclamation was read during council’s regular monthly session that officially recognized May as Gaelic Month in the county.
On May 8, the celebration of all things Gaelic continued at the Alexander Doyle Public Library at Dalbrae Academy in Mabou. The proclamation declaring May as Gaelic Nova Scotia Month was read once again, this time by Dalbrae students. The proclamation was followed by a presentation from Frances MacEachen of Gaelic Affairs.
MacEachen was one of the two visitors to Inverness Council, back on May 2. There, she was accompanied by Janet MacKenzie, a member of the local Gaelic community.
MacEachen’s Mabou presentation focused on the power of songs to the Gaels, and the history of music and poetry, from leaving Scotland to the present day. The discussion was titled “Brigh Na Bardachd,” which translates to “The Power of Our Songs.”
“It’s a real privilege for me to be able to present on this topic,” she told The Reporter, just after her talk ended.
When asked what the main takeaways of the discussion were, she said she hoped people ended up knowing the importance of song to the Gaels.
“Songs weren’t just entertainment,” she said. “Songs were a way for them to preserve their history. Songs were a way for them to celebrate their community. The long tradition of poetry and song in the Gaelic history goes back to the middle ages.”
The work MacEachen compiled on the subject has taken years, but her interest in the subject, she said, was a big motivator to keep pressing on.
Leading into MacEachen’s presentation was a short talk from MacKenzie, who also assisted Dalbrae’s students with the reading of the proclamation.
“I often ask friends and acquaintances if there was Gaelic in their childhood home,” she said. “They cast their gaze off in the distance and a smile slowly spreads across their faces, and they say with warmth, ‘Oh yes, I remember all the singing and the stories.’”
She noted that the importance of composing and singing songs reaches back an extremely long way for the Gaels.
“In years past, both professional bards, or the neighbour next door, composed song-poetry to honour the natural environment, community leaders, their faith traditions, their loved ones, or even their faithful horse,” she said.
“Most importantly, they composed song-poetry as a record of their history and values before and after emigrating to this new land.
“Singing is as natural to the Gales is breathing.”
Community members and a large number of students attended the presentation, and the good attendance seems to be an indication Gaelic culture is still going strong in the county.