The Oban Times 06/02/2014

The Glasgow Letter

Glasgow's Gaels Celebrate

 

IT WAS probably a setting that most of us thought had been left in the 20th century.

Yes , the City Hall was packed on a Friday evening ready to enjoy a concert of Gaelic song and west coast music just as it used to be when the local associations held their annual gatherings there.

This was, however, a different occasion, a collaboration between An Lòchran and the local associations in the Glasgow area as part of Celtic Connections 2014.

With the Commonwealth Games taking place in the city later in the year, this was an opportunity to acknowledge the role of the Gaels in Glasgow and their worldwide link via the River Clyde.

There would be many in the hall for whom these links would have been a true reflection of their own past and who can remember when most of the tenement 'closes' had at least one Gaelic speaking family. It was an era when many were employed on the river or on river-related industries and there was a constant coming and going of merchant mariners as well as those who chose to emigrate to different parts of the Commonwealth.

If 'those were the days', this concert proved it is still possible for Gaeldom to stage a night to remember.

Angela MacEachen provided the commentary, in both Gaelic and English, and the singers, Cathy Ann MacPhee, James Graham, Gillebride MacMillan, Robert Robertson and Ceitlin Smith, stirred the heart strings as they sang many of the old favourites related to the theme of the evening.

Brian MacAlpine was the musical director and he was supported by a star-studded house band in which Capercaille was well represented.

Glasgow's Gaelic choirs, including youngsters from Sgoil Ghàidhlig Glaschu, provided backing for some of the items conducted by Kenny Thomson and as a reminder of the dancing venues of the past, accordionists Charlie Kirkpatrick, John Carmichael and Fergie MacDonald played favourite west coast tunes.

Fergie has been ever present at all of the 21 Celtic Connections and since he appeared at the end of the Shinty Heroes event on the last night of the festival, he would be bringing the official proceedings for 2014 to a close.

There was an overwhelming positive response from everyone who attended and for that Linda MacLeod from An Lòchran and Celtic Connections are to be congratulated.