Caledonian Ceilidh Trail in Grangemouth 2 - cropped

Falkirk East MSP commends the cultural outreach of Forth Festival Cèilidh Trail

The centre of Grangemouth was alive with the sound of traditional Gaelic music and song last week. As part of their 2015 tour, young performers from the Fèis Fhoirt ("Forth Festival") Cèilidh Trail played in the town's York Arcade to an enraptured audience of shoppers, office workers and passers-by.

The Celtic ensemble returned to the district on Wednesday when they were joined at the Kelpies by their counterparts from Ross-shire, Fèis Rois, and local MSP, Angus MacDonald.     

Caledonian Ceilidh Trail at Kelpies with Angus 2 - cropped

Originally from the Gaelic-speaking Isle of Lewis, Mr. MacDonald, who is also Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Gaelic (Buidheann Thar-Phartaidh Na Gàidhlig), commented, "It was a delight to meet up with the Fèis Fhoirt young musicians on their cèilidh trail, later joined by Fèis Rois who were also on their cèilidh trail. Fèis Fhoirt are a fantastic group of local young musicians who have been touring the Falkirk, Stirling and Trossachs area for the past three weeks."

"Based on the Gaelic term for festival, the Fèis movement provides people with the opportunity to come together and celebrate Scotland's Celtic arts. Using traditional instruments and under the banner of the Highland-based association ‘Fèisean nan Gàidheal’, regional Fèis groups bring the vitality of Gaelic song, music and dance to communities all over the country and in a variety of accessible venues: from concert halls and churches to shopping centres and residential care homes."

"I was especially glad that this year's Fèis Fhoirt Cèilidh Trail performed at several settings in my own constituency of Falkirk East, including venues in Stenhousemuir and Bo'ness as well as in Grangemouth, where my office is based. As Convener of Holyrood's Cross-Party Group on Gaelic as well as the MSP for the area, I was thrilled to see melodic favourites such as Donald MacIntyre's Òran na Cloiche ('Song of the Stone') and Jean Finlayson's Fear a' Bhàta ('The Boatman') being enjoyed by constituents who's traditional tongue is Lallan Scots. The sharing of cultural and linguistic traditions between Highland and Lowland communities, which occurs naturally in projects such as Fèis Fhoirt,  is something that can only serve to enrich our national life – a theme we also celebrated here in 2008, when the National Mòd was brought to Falkirk."   

Local Cèilidh Trail Co-ordinator, Siobhan Anderson, remarked, "This has been the fourth Fèis Fhoirt Cèilidh Trail and it has been steadily gaining momentum and interest every year. The group have toured across a huge geographical area this year, from Kenmore and Tyndrum down to Grangemouth and Stenhousemuir."

Ms. Anderson added, "The Cèilidh Trail originally started in the Highlands, so to have such a project working in a traditionally non-Gaelic speaking area is fantastic. It's also been a real encouragement to have had the MSP for Falkirk East, Angus MacDonald, meet our talented team on tour and hear them perform an assortment of Gaelic classics on instruments ranging from guitar, Scots fiddle and smallpipes to the ancient Celtic frame drum, the bodhrán, and the celebrated harp of Scotland's medieval royal court, the clàrsach. Angus's support for the ongoing Fèis Fhoirt cultural enterprise is greatly appreciated."

Caledonian Ceilidh Trail at Kelpies with Angus - cropped

Caledonian Ceilidh Trail at Kelpies 1 - cropped

Mr. MacDonald concurred with this sentiment, "The Cèilidh Trail initiative was originally established by Fèis Rois in 1999, with the laudable aim of encouraging teenage musicians to develop their performance skills and to generate a vibrant traditional music programme in the Highlands. Over the years, the project has been replicated by Fèis organisations in other areas and has proved to be an outstanding success in the Scottish Lowlands too. Fèis Fhoirt is the 43rd member of the wider Fèis movement and its own Cèilidh Trail programme is now in its fourth year and continues to gather momentum."

"I congratulate the band and their hard working co-ordinator, Siobhan, for the inspired cultural outreach work they are doing across Falkirk, Stirlingshire, the Trossachs and beyond. They are helping make Gaelic culture accessible, engaging and enjoyable for people of all backgrounds. I wish the group well with the release of their music CD, which they recorded at the Stirling Tolbooth yesterday, and with their big concert performance there tonight.” 

“I shall shortly be tabling a Parliamentary motion officially congratulating Fèis Fhoirt on their successful three-week cèilidh trail and welcoming the fact that Fèis Rois also called in at the Kelpies.”  

Caledonian Ceilidh Trail at Kelpies 2 - cropped

This year's Cèilidh Trail troubadours, pictured above, comprised Ilona Kennedy (fiddle/pipes), Eilidh McIntyre (whistle/vocals), Euan Meikle (accordion), Anna Michels (piano/fiddle), Orla Stevens (fiddle/vocals) and Lewis Walker (guitar/percussion). A talented teenage ensemble, they have relished their summer role of mobile musical ambassadors for Gaelic throughout the Trossachs and Forth Valley.

More information about the Fèis Fhoirt association and the programmes they run can be found at the following link: 




Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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