Dramatic success in Barra

The PnE Barra production proved extremely successful
The PnE Barra production proved extremely successful

Pròiseact nan Ealan’s ‘Cutadh is Cogadh’, written by Margaret MacNeil from Barra, reflected island life leading up to, during and after the war. 

The play began in Yarmouth where Barra people were working during the herring fishing season. With the outbreak of The Great War the fishing industry closed down and all the Barrachs, except those who joined the war effort, returned home.  

This specially commissioned play tells the tragic story of the five Barra men killed in the Halifax explosion and the unveiling of an Austrian Gun to commemorate those who did not return home. The play was directed by Cathy Ann MacPhee. 

The Halifax explosion happened in 1917 when the Norwegian ship ‘SS Imo’ collided with a French ship, the ‘SS Mont-Blanc’ which was carrying explosives in the Halifax harbour in Canada. 

The resulting explosion, being the biggest man-made explosion prior to the invention of nuclear weapons, killed around 2,000 people and severely injured another 9,000 – five being killed from Barra. 

Castlebay School’s play was set within a class room at the time of WWI with pupils asked questions about the war whilst also performing songs. 

This production was then followed by a powerful adult interspersed by piping and song. Locals took to stage to perform with the likes of Cathy Ann MacPhee, Duncan Johnstone, Castlebay Folk-Group and Barra Pipe Band.

The herring girls performed ‘Hè mo Leannan’ and ‘Dh’fhalbh mo Rùin, Dh’fhàg e an Cala’; Iain Beggs performed ‘An Eala Bhàn’ and a Barra song about the First World War called ‘’S Fheudar Dhomh Bhith Togail Orm’; and Cathy Ann, along with the whole cast, performed ‘Glagan Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil’, a song written by Margaret MacNeil about the young men returning home safely.
Pròiseact nan Ealan’s next ‘Gairm nan Gàidheal’ production is Sir E Scott School in Harris on Friday 21st March. Further productions will be in Point on the 27th and 28th and Uist on the 29th March.

Tickets are available at the door or in the PNE office. For further details please contact Iain Beggs on 01851 704493 or iain@gaelic-arts.com