Robert in Lockdown – Thursday March 11

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In amongst a rather busy article last week about the abundance of virtual events happening at the moment, I mentioned the Taynuilt Cèilidhs.

Many a cèilidh I attended in the village hall there when I was growing up in Lochaber and Moira Dunlop, mother of Mòd Gold medallist and BBC weather girl Joy, would kindly invite me through to give a few songs and tunes.

It was always such a warm and encouraging environment to perform in as a young, aspiring musician and I remember pushing myself to learn a new song or two each time I was booked to perform there – many of which are songs I still sing today.

In more recent years, I recall myself and Ally Whyte driving up the road from Glasgow and both being delighted to see a whole new generation of young singers and musicians performing at the cèilidh.

Like everything else, the cèilidhs have had to take a hiatus for the past 12 months but, happily, February saw the first online Taynuilt Ceilidh.

Whilst I didn’t manage to watch it live, I noticed afterwards it is still available to view on the group’s Facebook page so I was able to watch it retrospectively.

Joy, with the help of Hands Up For Trad’s Simon Thoumire, kept it all going and it really had the homely and relaxed feel I recall from the cèilidhs in the hall.

Wilma Kennedy, Ronnie Murray and Nicola Pearson were the singers and Scott Wood, Mhairi Marwick and Grant MacFarlane the musicians.

The good news is there is more to come. This Saturday at 7.30pm, the March edition is free to view on The Taynuilt Cèilidhs’ Facebook page.

Barra’s John Joe MacNeil will be fear an taighe and Michael and Joanie Garvin will play a few tunes on the box and fiddle alongside their family – Anna on keyboard and fiddle, Calum on bagpipes and accordion and Sarah singing a couple of songs.

Other guests for the evening are Mòd Gold Medallists Catriona Watt and Raymond Bremner so it sounds like a cracking night – albeit regular attendees will no doubt miss the tea and the home baking that was always a highlight of the cèilidhs.

Now that I mention it, I have a tea loaf in the freezer that my mum baked me at Christmas so I might use this as a reason to dig that out and cut myself a slice.

Whether I enjoy it with a cup of tea or I treat myself to a wee Saturday evening dram remains to be seen but I will report back next week.

Don’t forget the Glasgow Islay Association’s 159th Annual Gathering which, as I mentioned last week, is also taking place virtually this weekend. Head over to their Facebook page for more details on the event which, featuring Ella Edgar’s Islay Highland Dancers and Islay Community Pipe Band, among other guests, is also bound to be an enjoyable evening.