Glasgow Letter from Robert Robertson 24.10.19


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As the final notes of the massed choirs rang out down Buchanan Street on Saturday morning, a historic week in Glasgow came to an end, and plenty of Highlanders began the journey back up north.

Except, of course, for those Highlanders who live in Glasgow who began the journey back to their beds where, I imagine, they will remain for quite some time after a wild week takes its toll.

Congratulations, first and foremost, must go to all the competitors who turned up in their hundreds to make Mòd Ghlaschu 2019 a great  year for entries. Particular congratulations must go to the winners – who were all very deserving of their medals.

Rather than linger too long on the subject of the competitions, however, I am going to write about a fringe event which was one of the best days and nights out I have had in Glasgow, where I have been lucky enough to live for the past eight years.

On Wednesday, Seonaidh MacIntyre, from Lochcarnan, South Uist, and friends set out to break the world record for the most amount of Gaelic waltzes sung in succession.

Seonaidh put a band together including his Trail West compadre, Ian Smith, on the box as well as Beinn Lee’s Seoras Lewis on the drums, Mànran’s Ewen Henderson on the fiddle, and Lochaber’s Martainn Skene on the piano. The boys played for one hour, six minutes, and six seconds accompanying a host of fine Gaelic singers: Seonaidh, Ian and Ewen (from the band), Robert Nairn, Sìneag MacIntyre, Iain Beggs, Darren MacLean, Penny Burgess, Ruaraidh Gray, Alasdair Whyte, and the Kishorn ‘craic dealer’ himself, Donnie Morrison.

Talk about a massed choir – this was quite something! The difficulty involved was that, for it to be continuous, we all had to sing one after the other which required some nimble movements on and off the small stage of the Park Bar.

When I got up to sing Balaich an Iasgaich, I had to begin as soon as Ian had finished Am Falbh Thu Leam. As I was handed the microphone, I attempted to untangle it slightly from its stand and unintentionally pulled the cable right out, causing a big bang through the speakers both as the cable came out and again when I pushed it in again.

Well done, Robert. My contribution to the world record attempt (which, by the way, was being aired live on the Park Bar Facebook page and watched by hundreds of people) had begun as unprofessionally as it is possible to imagine.

I am glad to report everything then continued without incident and the world record, if such a thing actually exists, was broken successfully.

Unfortunately, there was nobody there from the Guinness book of World Records to clarify that we had indeed broken any existing records (I think the plane from Dublin must not have gone that day) but there was certainly plenty Guinness flowing from the Park Bar taps so perhaps that counts.

What a wonderful day it was – with so many great people revelling in Gaelic music and song which, aside from the serious competitions, is exactly what the Royal National Mòd is all about.