THE FOUR day Ceolas Symposium ‘Slighe na Beinne’ was hailed a great success as participants appreciated the various exhibitions, speakers and activities during the popular event, which opened in Gerinish Hall, South Uist on Saturday 21st July, by Rev John Smith with a photographic exhibition from the East side.
The community had put a great deal of time and effort into their presentations, which will be on show daily until Saturday 11th August.
The seafarers Mass, which was full to capacity, was moved from Lochcarnan to St Michaels Ardkenneth due to the poor weather forecast. The church was full to capacity and the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Joseph Toal led the mass with Fr Donald MacKay and Fr Michael MacDonald.
Iochdar School became the home for the speakers and after a wonderful ‘Blas na Mara’ meal on Sunday evening, clips from the film ‘The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black Black Oil’ were shown. Jo MacDonald’s interview of Dolina MacLennan about her experience of working with 7.84 was also riveting.
The film was new to younger members of the audience but many people present had seen the play on its original tour.
Angus John MacDonald brought the evening to a close with stories he collected in his youth from people who considered that they had seen things in their youth - the etiquette of what to do when you meet a ghost – was explained to the enthralled audience.
Monday morning saw the Ray Burnett talk about the policies, places and people from the east side and how evidence from the records is cross-referenced and how many of the local stories can corroborate and contradict the evidence.
Fr. Michael MacDonald followed with his tracking of the Johnstons from Rossal, as he said it’s easier to follow a Johnston in the parish archive than a MacDonald – of which there are a myriad.
Willie Cameron led the walk to the Garbh Leathad with his son Donald John and grandson Ruaraidh – the route was busy and descriptions of the 40 walkers from ‘Slighe na Beinne’ was that it was like Piccadilly Circus!
The Monday evening Piping Recital was full – a tribute to both Seonaidh MacIntyre and Angus MacColl, supported by youngsters Mairi MacInnes and Andrew MacIsaac and the quality of the piping was excellent.
Tuesday morning’s talk by Tommy MacDonald about fish farming in South Uist was well illustrated with slides of the works down the years.
The audience were enthralled with the level of change from hand rearing to mechanised farming.
The community discussion prior to lunch led by Morag MacDonald became animated and the talk continued on the walk out to Caolas led by Dr MacRury. As with the walk on Monday it finished with home baking and drinks.
The Tuesday evening Céilidh hosted by Morag MacDonald regretted the absence of Cathy Ann MacPhee, who was detained in Barra but a great programme was offered by Kathleen MacInnes, Seonaidh MacIntyre, Mairi MacMillan, Angus MacColl and many members of the community including the young dancers.