Uists prepare to celebrate islands’ bounty

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The bounty of the foreshore to the people of Uist has long been recognised through song, story, economy and livelihood.

This heritage, as well as the future economic potential for the community, will be the subject of Ceòlas’ 2018 community symposium from July 22 to 24 in Ìochdar, South Uist.

Philip Kerrison, from the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI at Dunstaffnage, will give two lectures in Sgoil an Ìochdair on Monday July 23: History of Scottish Seaweed (2pm) and The Modern Seaweed Industry and Its Future (6pm). This will be followed by the annual piping recital at 8pm in Talla an Ìochdair.

On Tuesday July 24, Dr Kevin Grant, Historic Environment Scotland, will explore the archaeology of the seaweed industry in Taobh a Tuath Loch Aoineart, both in a talk at Sgoil an Ìochdar (1.30pm) and by guided walk to sites at the lochside.

Between events, a special service at Eaglais Thobh’ Mòir will be held at 3pm, featuring Gaelic psalm precenting from John Angus MacKillop of Beàrnaraigh na Hearadh.

Guided walks along the foreshore, east and west, will start on Monday and Tuesday at 10.30am and a family cèilidh will close the symposium on Tuesday in Talla an Ìochdair, with Mòrag MacDonald, BBC Radio presenter, bean-an-taighe.

The symposium will start on Sunday July 22, with a mass in Eaglais Àird Choinnich in Ìochdar and a family fun day from 4-6pm.

Martin MacIntyre, Gaelic author and storyteller, will launch his new novel, Samhradh ’78 (Luath  Press), with an evening of readings, discussion and archival recordings he made in Uist over several decades. Among the voices captured on the tapes held in Museum nan Eilean’s archives are Alasdair Mòr, Eilidh Wilson and Seònaid MacAuley.

The symposium will aim to provide a more holistic view of the seaweeding, with which many islanders have been involved for generations. As Seonaidh Caimbeul of Taobh a Tuath Ghleann Dàil sang:

’S fhuair sinn mar fhasan or seanair ’s or seanmhair,
Nuair thig an t-earrach bhith teannadh ri feamnadh.
(Seonaidh Caimbeul, Am Feamnadh)

Full details on the Ceòlas website or from the Ceòlas office on 01878 700154. It is being funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Creative Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and HIE.