Bòrd na Gàidhlig celebrates wider accessto Gaelic’s rich traditions

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has hailed as a “significant milestone” one of the most notable weeks in Gaelic entertainment and wider access to the hitherto hidden gems of music and song. It encompassed a period which saw, amongst other achievements, another Gaelic singer recognised for producing the best album of the year and the new Tobar an Dualchais/Kist of Riches going live on the internet.

Later today (Thursday, December 9, 2010) more than 15,000 items of Gaelic, Scots and Doric in a variety of forms of original recording will be made available on the internet through Tobar an Dualchais/The Kist of Riches. The material draws on the vast resources of the BBC, The School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh and the National Trust for Scotland’s remarkable Canna Collection. It is the culmination of a research project which show-case the work done by a number of collectors over a period of 80 years.

The project has been co-ordinated in Skye at the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and at various points it has seen around 40 people working from home across the Highlands and Islands, cataloguing and researching the material.

The material was processed over the last five years through the Tobar/Kist and has now been transformed from the recordings’ variety of original formats to digital material.

The project received £322,250 of funding from Bòrd n Gàidhlig during its development phase. Arthur Cormack, Cathraiche (Chair of the Bòrd said: This is a priceless store of material and it is a vital part of Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. Tobar an Dualchais will open everyone’s eyes and ears to music and song from throughout Scotland, and not just Gaelic. I doubt if there is any similar resource world-wide and we should all be very proud of what has been achieved so far. I am sure that the facility will be widely welcomed and we are grateful to the likes of the School of Scottish Studies, which has thrown its doors wide open in this way, and to the BBC which has made around 2,000 hours of recorded material from Mod competitions to church services available for the website.”

Mr Cormack also welcomed the Scottish Government’s confirmation of £250,000 of support for Scotland’s traditional arts which was announced at Saturday’s Scottish Traditional Music Awards ceremony in Perth when Gaelic entertainers were once again amongst the award winners.

The award for best CD of the year went to singer Julie Fowlis for Uam; Iain Morrison was awarded the composers’ prize; Eilidh MacKenzie was named Gaelic singer of the year and the legendary Donald MacRae was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In addition to the personal nominations, a special award for services to Gaelic Music, sponsored by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, was made to the BBC for their year-long series Bliadhna nan Òran (the Year of Song). Mr Cormack was involved in the series in a personal capacity at various stages, including being part of the final judging panel. He said: “On a personal level I took a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure from the series and it would be wonderful if it could be extended! However, at another level altogether, Bliadhna nan Òran has shown everyone how rich the Gaelic tradition is through song, music, composition and writing, not just in the past, but in the modern era. As a resource for singers, and especially young singers who are trying to extend their knowledge base and repertoires, this is an invaluable asset. It is simply fantastic to be able to go onto a website such as this and listen to people singing songs in their own styles and variations, whilst being able also to access the words and the history of the song, as well as information about the background and composers.”

“I would like to congratulate all the Gaelic performers who picked up awards in Perth. The way in which they individually and collectively represent Gaelic on the wider stage, in part through the recognition that award-winning status brings, for example for picking up the best CD title for the second time, shows that the Gaelic arts are in very robust health. Putting all of that alongside the Scottish Government’s commitment of £250,000 confirmed by the Minister Fiona Hyslop MSP it has been a very good week for Scotland’s traditional arts, and the Gaelic arts in particular.”

For further information about Tobar an Dualchais/Kist of Riches, see: http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/