Thursday Ceilidhs

Come and join us, we’ll keep a seat by the fire for you.

Online Ceilidh Blog

In Gaelic culture, winter was traditionally a time for ceilidhs. An acknowledged ‘taigh celidh’ – ‘ceildih house’ – often the home of a local bard or storyteller – would be visited within a township, and music and stories would be shared there throughout the winter months. These ‘taighean ceilidh’ provided a forum for education, entertainment and, most importantly, companionship.

If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are not meant to be solitary creatures. We need the company of our fellow man, and what better way of doing this than transporting the finest traditions of the ‘Taigh Ceilidh’ online.

Here at Lews College Benbecula, we constantly expound the virtues of those traditions on our BA Applied Music, MA Music and the Environment and HNC Music courses, so why not come and join us on a Thursday night between 20:00 and 21:00 and be part of a living tradition.

Feel free to share a song, a tune, a poem, a story or anything that you think might entertain or amuse – the floor is yours. Everyone is welcome.

In times gone by, storytellers, often laughingly referred to as illiterate, were able to recite tales stretching to the length of a whole novel. These would be delivered in instalments over the course of several nights, and would be the cause of much discussion and excitement within a community. Sometimes, attendees would be scared to leave the taigh ceildih for fear of the bochdain (ghosts) that had been brought to life by a particularly talented raconteur.

The bard baile (township bard) would sing songs commemorating, and often lampooning, local events or characters, and those that were able would perhaps favour the company with a tune on the pipes, melodeon, or the fiddle - in communities where that tradition was strong. As with every facet of Gaelic culture, everyone had their clearly defined role, often passed down within families.

So, let’s see if we can’t recreate something of those times and pass a winter’s evening together. We’ll keep a seat by the fire for you.

If you would like to find out more about the music courses and scholarships that we offer here at the University of the Highlands and Islands please follow the links below:

Music Courses (uhi.ac.uk)

Benbecula campus - Uist Music Scholarship 2021 (uhi.ac.uk)

Slàn leibh uile,

Allan Henderson (HNC Music tutor)