NA FIDGET SPINNERS AIG FIONN - FÈIS FARR GU RUIGE SEO

(There is an English precis of this blog ‘Fionn’s Fidget Spinners - Fèis Farr so far’ below)

Bhruidhinn mi aig Coinneamh Bhliadhnail Fèisean nan Gàidheal mu na pròiseactan a tha air a bhith a’ dol againn aig Fèis Farr feadh na beagan bhliadhnaichean a chaidh seachad. Chaidh iarraidh orm bruidhinn cuideachd aig Co-labhairt airson luchd-teagaisg a’ coimhead gu sònraichte ris na h-ealain thraidiseanta is foghlam air a’ bhlàr a-muigh aig Pròiseact na h-Airigh as t-sàmhradh. Seo cunntas air na rudan air an do bhruidhinn mi aig na tachartasan sin.

‘Se cuireadh a tha ann sgeulachd a bhuineas dhan sgìre agad; cuireadh gus sealbh a ghabhail air cultar na h-àrainneachd a tha mun cuairt ort. Bheir iad dhan òigridh cead dham mac-meanmhna a bhith beò ann, gun bhacadh, gun teagamh, bho na mullaich air an tàmh na gaisgich no gu grunnd an locha ‘s a bheil each-uisge a’ feitheamh.

Ann a bhith a’ sgrùdadh seann mhapa who 1875 air làrach-lìon NLS, thug mi an aire gun robh ‘Cathair Fhionn' /Fhinn. sgrìobhte air mòinteach lom shuas mu Loch Athasaidh. Air an ath dreach den mhapa, cha robh sgeul air. Sgeul a bh’air a dhol à sgeul! Nan robh Fionn ‘sna badan seo, bha mi airson an tuilleadh a chluinntinn. Cò an Gàidheal òg no eile nach b’ fheairrde cluinntinn mu na gaisgich ‘s iad air an starsaich.

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Chuir mi romham sgeulachdan na Fèinne agus òrain a thigadh dhan rèir a chleachdadh mar teama na fèise ionadail. Bha cothrom an seo gin de sgeulachdan na Fèinne a chleachdadh. Bha rannsachadh a dhìth. Leugh mi pàipearan mu eachdraidh na sgìre is seanchas a dh’fhàg fear às a’ baile seo, Andy Cummings againn is chuir mi a dh’Eirinn gus sgeulachdan a bhiodh a’ freagairt air a’ chlann a lorg (gun cus fuil is feannadh!). Rinn mi tionndadh Gàidhlig air na sgeulachdan à leabhraichean eirmseach Lenihan is Clarke. ‘S e Aonghas Maclèoid aig Fèisean nan Gàidheal a thug na sgeulachdan beò dhan chloinn le cleasachd a bha èibhinn, beòthail is misneachdail is geamaichean stèidhichte air na sgeulachdan. Fhuair e taic boh Catriona NicNeacail is Calum Barker. Bha a’ chlann nan lùban a’ gàireachdainn is air an tarring gu mòr gus tilleadh seachdainean sreath a chèile. Mìle moladh mòr orrasan! Chleachd sinn an geama traidiseanta ‘Aireamh mhuinntir Fhinn is Dhubhain’ , òran beag laghach à Eirinn ris an do chur sinn ainmean-àite na sgìre - ‘s i Julie a dh’ionnsaich seo dhan chloinn le cupanan pàipearan air an cluich gus buille a chumail agus cuideachd rinn mi pupaidean-faileasach gus an gabhadh na sgeulachdan aithris ann an dòigh eile. Rinn sinn brataich mhòra - brataich air crainn a dheidheadh ann an Clach na Brataich. Is toil leam an dealbh seo shìos gu h-àraid - Briogais Fhinn - ‘s e cho mòr ‘s nach faic thu dheth ach sin!

Ghabh sinn suas dha na làraich fhèin latha breagh samhraidh gus Clach na Brataich fhaicinn, far an do thogadh bratach a’ bhuaidh leis an Fhèinn agus Buaile a’ Chòmhraig /na Còmhraig, buaile bhreagh ‘s a bheil tursachan an-diugh nan sìneadh. Chan eil fhios fhathast gu dè a bha sa bhuaile seo ‘s e àraid leis gun robh clachan uair nan seasamh ann. Is mathaid gur e dùn oir tha an t-uabhas ballachan cloiche air na tuathanasan as fhasige. A-rèir an t-seanchais ‘s ann an seo a dheisich iad airson a’ chatha. Gabh sinn tron choille, a bha sàmhach ach airson ceileireadh nan eun agus guthan òga agus an sin a’ thànaig sinn air a’ Bhuaile, geal le crotal is falaichte ann an doimhneachd na coille.

‘S e aon de na h-adhbharan a tha mi den bheachd gu bheil na sgeulachdan sgìreil cho togarrach is prìseal, gu bheil cothrom ann an ùrachadh. Gheibh a’ chlann eòlas air an saoghal as fhaisge orra ‘s tuigidh iad gu bheil sgeulachdan ann a bhuineas dhaibhsan fa leth, gur leothasan a tha iad gus an ùrachadh. Thuirt Katherine Stewart na leanas na leabhar ‘A Croft in the Hills’ ,

If a human is to hold onto his identity he must somehow or other keep on making his own discoveries.

The coibhneas is cùram cuideachd ann a bhith ag ùrachadh, a’ càradh ‘s a’ tilleadh. Ma ‘s e mapaichean, ainmean àite, sgeulachdan no òrain, bheir an oidhirp is an ùidh a dh’àitichean ùra thu, ge b’e dè am frith rathad air an tòisich thu. Mar a fhuair mise a bhith a’ rannsachadh ‘s a’ sireadh ‘s a’ dealbh ‘s ag aithris, tachraidh tu air daoine as d’ fhiach ‘s nì thu ceangalaichean ris an cultar is an talamh air an seas thu.

Mar phàrant, tha na sgeulachdan às an dualchas saor bhon chruaidh-reic a th’air a dhèanamh air caractaran à fiolmaichean - bathair is treallaich den a h-uile seòrsa a’ sanasachd an aon fiolm, gus an nochd an ath fhear. Chan ann le luchd-an-airgid a tha sgeulachdan no an comas a-mhàin sgeulachdan a dhèanamh tarraingeach no fiù ‘s an fheadhain as fhearr a thaghadh, no faisg air uaireanan.

Mar mhìneachadh air tiotal a’ bhlog seo agus gus dearbhadh gu bheil sgeulachdan san àrainneachd a’ cur ri mac-meanmhna...

An latha bha seo dh’fhaighnichd an gille agam dhiom ‘A bheil famhaire nas motha na crann-gaoithe?’ (Tha tuathanas gaoithe air a’ bheinn pìos bhuainn)

‘Chan eil mi cinnteach, dè do bheachd a fhèin?’ arsa’ mise.

‘s fhreagair esan ‘Uel, nan robh, dhèanadh iad fidget spinners matha dha Fionn’.

Am Mapa Mòr - Seanchas Shrath Narainn

Am mapa mòr - a map of stories from gaelic tradition and their places, Starthnairn & Stratherrick, including native wildlife and important places chosen and drawn by the children, farr log cabin, summer 2018loch

Am mapa mòr - a map of stories from gaelic tradition and their places, Starthnairn & Stratherrick, including native wildlife and important places chosen and drawn by the children, farr log cabin, summer 2018loch

Chur sinn romhainn pròiseact ùr fheuchainn as t-samhradh - smaoinich mi air mapa mòr a dhealbh a nochdadh sgeulachdan na sgìre, fiadh bheathaichean is eunlaith an àite, a tuilleadh air àitichean a bha mòr ann am beatha na cloinne an seo (sgoil, pàirce, taighean, nead speach is a leithid). Chaidh na sgeulachdan innse ann an Gàidhlig ‘s am Beurla ‘s chaidh sinn gu làraich cuid de na sgeulachdan (faic an tom shìth ‘sna dealbhan gu h-ìosal). Chaidh Catriona Meighan fhastadh gus an obair ealain a mhìneachadh ‘s i a rinn obair mhath dheth.

A-measg na nochd air a’ mhapa; Fionn ‘s na Lochlannaich, An Rìgh Dubh ‘s an Rìgh Bàn, Gnùis-àillidh (caractaran à sgeul eile), each-uisge Loch Ruadh Bheinn, Tursachan, Sìthichean ann an tom shìth, Crannag a nochd às ùr am bliadhna (nach eil air mapa sam bith eile), Learga-ruadh a buineas dha Loch an Eòin Ruadh (Loch an Eòin Ruaidh), pìobairean Srath èireann (ainm airson a’ ghaoth bhon Ear-dheas). Bhruidhinn sinn air ainmean nam mullach, nan loch ‘s nan aibhnichean ‘s nam bailtean / an taighean fhèin ‘s làraich eile mun do dh’innis iad fhèin. Bha e laghach air fad am feasgar a thàinig Alec Sutherland gus fonn a chaidh a sgrìobhadh le Julie a chluich. Bha am fonn a’ dèanamh dealbh air a’ gaoth a’ tighinn thar na mòintich. Seo am fonn air a bheil ‘Pìobairean Srath èireann’. Chuir a’ chlann a’ ghaoth air a’ mhapa ‘s iad ag èisteachd ris a’ cheòl. Seo na rinn iad an ann 4 feasgairean. Chaidh am mapa a thaisbeanadh aig cuirm-ciùil anns an talla mar phàirt de fhèis ‘Blas’ far an d’ fhuair a’ chlann cothrom bruidhinn mu na rinn iad ‘s cairtean-puist le bileag a reic.

Ma ‘s e ‘s gun las sgath den a seo sradag le duine is gun rannsaich iad seanchas na sgìre aca, math fhèin is chòrdadh e gu mòr ruim cluinntinn mu dheidhinn.

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bragadaich le cailc - sin fuaim a’ ghreusaiche san tom - knocking with chalk, the sound of the fairy cobbler in the hill

bragadaich le cailc - sin fuaim a’ ghreusaiche san tom - knocking with chalk, the sound of the fairy cobbler in the hill

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A wee précis of this.

I was asked to give a couple of presentations about recent projects run at Fèis Farr, for the Fèisean AGM and at a day conference on Traditional Arts and Outdoor education at the Sheiling Project. This is a brief account of what I spoke about and some of what we’ve done to date.

A story that belongs to a place is an invite; an invite to take cultural ownership of the environment around you. It invites the imagination of the children to inhabit the whole place from the tops where the heroes live to the loch bed and the kelpie there.

Looking at the first edition of the local OS map on the NLS maps website I’d noticed Cathair Fhionn/Fhinn, Fionn’s Chair marked on the moor up by Loch Ashie. On the next edition, there was no sign of it. If Fionn and the Fianna had been hereabout I wanted to know more. Who wouldn’t want to know more about pan-Celtic super heroes on their own doorstep?

Here was an invite to use these stories and songs to theme the local fèis. Research was needed, as I’d missed out on these things myself. I took it as read that we could use anything from the canon of material associated with the Fèinne. I read essays on the history of the area and material left by a man from this area, Andy Cummings and sent for some brilliant books produced in Ireland by Lenihan and Clarke (stories without the gory stuff). Aonghas MacLeòid from Fèisean nan Gàidheal along with Catriona Nicholson and Calum Barker brought those stories to life with lively, funny role-play. We played games based on the characters in the stories. The children laughed their socks off and came back week after week in large part because of Aonghas’s commitment to craic. Julie Fowlis came to teach a great little song featuring the characters of these legends and adapted to include local place names. We used paper cups to keep the beat. I had a go at making shadow puppets so that the stories could be told another way. We made big flags on bamboo poles that could be raised in Clach na Brataich/the Banner Stone where the Fingalians raised their standard having won against the Vikings. I like the photo above of Fionn’s Trousers - he’s so big that’s all you can see of him!

We went on a lovely summer’s day to the site of Cathair Fhionn/Fhinn, to find the remaining stone slabs beneath the moss, to Clach na Brataich where we put up flags; we walked to Buail a’ Chòmhraig /na Còmhraig, The Fold of the Battle, a forgotten beautiful stone fold with standing stones inside, now lying. It would appear to be quite an unusual site. We came to it through the wood, quiet but for the birds and young voices and there it was, white with lichen hidden in the depths of the forest.

One of the reasons I think the local stories are so uplifting and precious is that there is a chance to renew them. The children build a connection to the world closest to them, to home and they understand that these are stories that belong to them first. Katherine Stewart wrote in ‘A Croft in the Hills’

If a human is to hold onto his identity he must somehow keep on making his own discoveries

There is a measure of kindness and care in mending and fixing and returning these stories to their places. Whether its maps, place names, stories or songs, the effort and interest will take you to new places. I feel that I’ve made new connections to the place I live, the culture and to some good people and hopefully the children will too.

As a parent I like the stories from tradition as they are free from the hard-sell that’s done on characters from films, the same characters on every sort of product from bedspreads to yoghurt, until the next film comes along. Stories don’t belong to the money men and we shouldn’t think that those stories are the only stories worth hearing or that they are the only ones that can animate them.

To explain the title of this blog and perhaps as proof that stories in the landscape can enrich young imagainations, here is something that happened (in Gaelic) …

My wee boy: Mum, are giants bigger than wind turbines? (there is a wind farm on the hills nearby)

Me: I’m not sure. What do you think?

My wee boy: If they were, they would make a good fidget spinner for Fionn.

Am mapa mòr / the big map - Stories from Strathnairn

In the summer past, we set out to create a big charcoal map of the stories, wildlife, birdlife and places significant in the lives of the children here. The stories were told in Gaelic and English and we went to some of the sites to draw them. Catriona Meighan was our lovely art tutor for the 4 afternoon sessions. We based ourself in the log cabin in the community woods and the sun shone and shone.

Here is some of what appeared on the map; Fionn and the Vikings, An Rìgh Dubh/ the Black King and An Rìgh Bàn / the Fair King, Fairy hills, standing stones, the water horse in Loch Ruthven, the crannogs in the same loch (one of which reappeared this summer and isn’t marked on any other map but this one), Red throated divers for Loch an Eòin Ruadh/Ruaidh, Loch of the Red Birds and Pìobairean Srath èireann / the Strathdearn pipers - the name given for the winds from the South East. Alec Sutherland came to play for the children as they drew. He played a new tune that Julie had written inspired by that wind coming over from Strathdearn. Here is the tune called ‘Pìobairean Srath èireann’. We chatted about the place names and the words for the animals as we worked. The map was displayed in Farr hall before a Blas concert. The children explained their work for people who came to see and sold some postcards of the map and a pamphlet/ key of their map that privileged a different history and aspects their own lives.

If any of this lights the touch paper and inspires someone to dig where they themselves stand, I’d be glad and it would be great to hear about it.

Crannag a nochd as t-samhradh à Loch Ruadh Bheinn. air mapa airson a’ chiad uair / the newly appeared crannog on the north end of loch RUTHven - mapped for the first time by the children

Crannag a nochd as t-samhradh à Loch Ruadh Bheinn. air mapa airson a’ chiad uair / the newly appeared crannog on the north end of loch RUTHven - mapped for the first time by the children