Series of workshops exploring Gaelic culture, music and nature launch in Leith

A series of workshops exploring Gaelic culture, music and nature has launched in Leith, with the intention to strengthen links between Gaelic and English speaking communities.

By Neil Johnstone
Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 1:24 pm

In a partnership between Earth In Common and Edinburgh’s Gaelic community, participants of all ages will learn how to speak in Gaelic and discover the stories behind Gaelic folklore as well as sing songs and learn about the environment.

Co-organiser, Petrea Cooney, said: “I had a vision to develop Gaelic in the community and make Gaelic more open. They’re for anybody who wants to learn a little bit about Gaelic.

“Its one of the indigenous languages and it’s a dying language and I wanted to make the effort in the community to create this positive, lovely environment where we sing, talk about Gaelic culture and talk about the stories behind folk tales.”

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Children participating in the workshops will work collaboratively to make a Gaelic and nature themed soundscape that will be unveiled at the launch of Earth In Common's new community building in September this year.

Youngsters will also have the opportunity to make their own harps from recycled materials and use recording equipment to capture sounds from the local environment to create a special soundscape that will be unveiled later in the year.

Deborah Shaw, a professional harpist and pianist who will lead the music sessions, said: “I’m really excited to be able to work with young people and to incorporate the Gaelic language into a contemporary setting as well.

“We’ll be recording the sound from the croft, the children will write their own poetry or lyrics, and we’ll combine that with the sounds they’ve collected from the croft to make a soundscape.”

Ms Shaw, who is currently the composer in residence at Earth In Common, explained that the workshops for children will also touch on environmental issues and the climate crisis.

She said: “I think listening to nature is a really good way of just allowing everyone to be more mindful of what is around us, and recycling is such a big thing right now.

“It was actually my overflowing recycling bin that inspired me to make instruments out of these materials because I always feel slightly sad when I see the amount of plastic we’re still using in our society.”

There will also be sessions for adults that focus on learning Gaelic and celebrating Gaelic culture through storytelling and choir singing.

Located at Earth In Common’s croft on Leith Links, the outdoor learning workshops will run until September with a short break over the summer holidays.

Leith resident Petrea, who has been learning Gaelic for the last year, said she hopes the upcoming workshops will encourage people from both Gaelic and English speaking communities to come together and form relationships.

She said: “We’re really keen for the community to get involved, because I feel the sooner we do this, the better chances we have for the survival of Gaelic.

“It’s just a beautiful language and we want to share it with the rest of Scotland.”

She added: “It’s the start of something very exciting. I’m really hoping we have a home in the local area to grow an interest in Gaelic in the community at every level.”

Tickets for Gàidhlig, Nàdur, Ceòl is Seinn cost £7 and for more information you can visit www.earth-in-common.org. No experience of Gaelic is necessary.