Week long celebration of Gaelic Arts at Armadale Castle

Music, poetry and songs of the Highlands will star in a new Clan Donald Gaelic Arts Week taking place at Armadale Castle, Gardens & Museum on the Isle of Skye.

The clan museum at the MacDonald ancestral stronghold of Armadale Castle on Skye

Photograph by: Simon LarsonMuseum at Armadale Castle

The programme opens with a family day on Saturday 1 June, where there will be musical taster sessions, games and craft activities. Visitors can even have a go at playing the clarsach (Scottish harp) and chanter, watch informal performances, and see an exhibition of artefacts from the museum’s archive.

During the week of 1-8 June ‘pop up’ performances by visiting artists will take place in and around the museum and gardens.

Gaelic singer Christine Primrose MBE, fiddle player Ronan Martin and accordionist Eilidh MacFadyen are among those taking part, and audience interaction is encouraged.

Poet Dr Meg Bateman will lead poetry tours in the Museum, and Dr Decker Forrest will give a talk on the history of pibroch or pìobaireachd, the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. Visitors can also enjoy free Gaelic language classes, with taster sessions in the café run by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

More on Armadale Castle and Museum in Scotland Correspondent magazine

Armadale Castle in Scotland Correspondent

The week will culminate with two prestigious musical competitions. On Friday evening, the Donald MacDonald Cuach brings together five of the country’s most talented pipers to compete for the pìobaireachd cup.

Award winning Gaelic singer Griogair Labhruidh will provide the interval music, with contributions by local young musicians. The week ends on Saturday afternoon with the Princess Margaret of the Isles Memorial Prize for senior clarsach.

Four talented harpists will take part in the competition, judged by musician and composer Mary Ann Kennedy. Both competitions will be live streamed online via Armadale Castle’s Facebook page.

“One of the key stories we tell in the Museum is that of the ancient Macdonald Lords of the Isles, who were great supporters of Gaelic culture. We are delighted to continue this tradition and bring these stories alive with this new programme. With a mix of formal and informal live performance, and hands-on opportunities for people to get involved, there will be something for everyone to enjoy,” said Sue Geale, manager of the Museum of the Isles at Armadale Castle.

To develop the programme Armadale Castle has worked with the local Clan Donald Society and staff at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s National Centre for Gaelic language and Culture.

“Armadale Castle is rooted in Clan Donald history and a fitting location for this celebration of Gaelic culture.  We are delighted to support this initiative which will help illuminate clan history and make it relevant for people today and in the future,” said Rev William Mather, President of the Clan Donald Society of the Highlands & Islands.