Lochaber Events 2014

Meet the People :: See the Places :: Settle the Heart

Howling Events, a west Lochaber coalition of heritage organisations has announced its programme of events for the forthcoming Year of Homecoming in 2014.
The events are an impressive mixture of genealogy and heritage resources, mixed with exciting, and truly unique events based around clan and place.
Howling Events’ Project Co-ordinator, Chas Mac Donald said, “We are delighted to have been able to put together such a stunning array of things for visitors to see and do when the Scottish diaspora comes ‘home’ to Scotland in 2014. The organisations involved in HOWL are going to be involved in a lot of brilliant events to provide a welcome to people who are seeking their ancestral roots in west Lochaber.
Mr. Mac Donald outlined Howling Events’ strategy, which comes in two parts. The first is a family history database, ‘An Diasporran’, which aims to bring as much local family record together as possible in one archive, so that roots seekers can have a single source to go to in the local area. This is to avoid situations where visitors simply turn up looking for information, not sure if it even exists.
“It is clearly a real waste of money if people travel from Australia or north America only to find there is nothing to be found, or nobody to supply it. And that is not at all unheard of,” Mac Donald says.
“Indeed, it is one reason people do not come so readily, because the information is locked in
someone’s head, or a drawer, but nobody knows.
“If we can confidently tell people that there is a certain amount of information here, and somebody who can help them with it, and help them to find places and people, then they are far more likely to make their long and expensive trips.
The second part of the project is ‘An Tilleadh
2014’ (The Return), which is events based. The first in an impressive line-up is a steam train trip from Fort William to Mallaig, a ferry trip to Skye, followed by a ceremonial march to Armadale Castle and the Clan Donald Centre and Museum of the Isles, for a lawn party with Highland Dancing, Piping, food and craft fairs, and museum tours.
Mr. Mac Donald believes “this opening is worth the trip to Scotland in itself.” The West Highland Line rail trip is a multi award winner having been top rail journey in the world three years running. The Clan Donald Centre on Skye also has may awards, including for the Museum of the Isles, which holds an excellent exhibition of artefacts, as well as a large amount of genealogy data.
Fifteen days of events will end on July 30th when the Clan Ranald Gathering at Arisaig Highland Games hosts a Clan Donald Gathering.
Arisaig Games has been holding a Clan Ranald Gathering since 2004, so the full Clan Donald gathering will be a tenth anniversary event in tself. Arisaig Games is actually growing which is unusual on the Scottish Games calendar, and is noted as a great day out.
However, Mr. Mac Donald stressed these were not just bookend events. “There is much more in between,” he said. “We have a piece of new musical theatre in planning; some historical tours looking at the history of warfare in west Lochaber; human and archaeological heritage exploration resources on the Rhu peninsula in Arisaig; a bardic festival, and there are a number of books mooted.
“But most important are the Roots Days we are going to be holding. These will allow people to visit an area and meet people who know it well, know where settlements were, who lived there, what the history is. The Roots Days are an extremely important part of the whole project. Ancestry is all about people and places, and we must facilitate that for seekers.”
There have been several press reports regarding the Year of Homecoming and the grand Gathering event that was planned for Stirling in mid July, but was dramatically pulled by Stirling Council some weeks ago.
Mr. Mac Donald acknowledged that it had not helped the efforts of the groups he works for.
“We are launching our programme so far ahead in a much more finished form because the debacle caused by Stirling Council and EventScotland was creating a great degree of anxiety and uncertainty in diaspora communities. One clan group of 200 visitors who had already booked travel and accommodation tried to cancel, but couldn’t. Some others were more fortunate and were able to
cancel. Reaction abroad has been extremely negative at times, with potential visitors suggesting they would just go elsewhere.
“We felt it was important to try to get the message across to Albaphiles across the globe that there is a great deal planned in west Lochaber, and perhaps the more regional events are a better thing to be considering as part of their trips.
“A big march up a street in Edinburgh or Stirling might be spectacular, but it’s not quite the same as getting out to the wee places where a great welcome awaits. At any rate, it’s clearly not that important to Stirling. But it is very important to the people I work with.”
The Howling Events programme will run at various points throughout 2014, with the An Diasporran database launch planned for April, and An Tilleadh events in July and the autumn.
In the meantime Howling Events has linked up with a Canadian travel operator of Scottish birth in an effort to make the trip more accessible for travellers. Charter flights are planned where feasible, with the aim being to cut costs, and to avoid having to travel through Amsterdam and Heathrow en route to Glasgow.

West Lochaber a very beautiful area of the Scottish Highlands

West Lochaber – a very beautiful area of the Scottish Highlands

An Clàr
The Programme

28 June, Saturday

Air Falbh ‘s Air Adhart

15th July, Tuesday

tu Air Falbh ‘s Air Adhart
Fort William

16th July Wednesday

Cruinneadhadh ‘s a Cheò
Fort William, Mallaig, Armadale
A Gathering in the Mist
A stunning and unique day trip of fun and culture

A Jacobite Steam Train trip, on the ‘Hogwarts Express’ from the shadow of Ben Nevis; along the stunning, triple winning top train journey in the world ‘Road to the Isles’ route; viewing the Jacobite monument from the Harry Potter viaduct; through Jacobite, SAS, SOE, and Commando country, to the most westerly station on the British mainland; across the shortest river in Europe; past the deepest loch in Europe (with it’s own monster, by the way); to Mallaig, once busiest herring port in Europe; from there a short but spectacular sea trip past Loch Nevis and Knoydart; piped onto the Skye shore; march from the pierhead to Armadale Castle, historic seat of the chiefs of Clan Donald, now The Clan Donald Centre who will host visitors in the grounds with spectacular displays of piping and dancing; a local food and craft fair; access and guided tours of the award winning Museum of the Isles; access to genealogical resources; an opportunity to explore the gardens in this spectacular part of the Garden of Skye; an early evening music event; march back to Armadale and the ferry, and a unique late evening steam trip back to Fort William. This is just a stunning event which also gives a fantastic opportunity to see the land of the Gàidheal which the diaspora was forced to leave, and to pick up a whole series of cultural and heritage references, with an unparalleled set of iconic Highland experiences.

17th July, Thursday

Roots Day 1
Drumsallie, Arisaig / Morar, Acharacle, Strontian

18th Jul, Friday

Facal Nam Bàrd
Fort William
Bardic Festival
A Celebration of the Bàrdic Tradition of Lochaber
The west Highlands has a tradition of strong bards from Iain Lom of Keppoch to Mary MacKellar, to Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, widely recognised as the first bàrd of the Gàidhlig Enlightenment, and of equal quality and importance as Burns. Not only fine bards, they had interesting lives too. More who left for other shores, who had a similar take, but different stories to tell, in places like Canada especially. This festival will bring together scholars, working bards, and the public to celebrate the works, touch another time, and share thinking. Through readings, seminars, and music, a deeper appreciation will develop of the themes at play, the manner in which they were elucidated, and the characteristics which made them so fine.

Roots Day 2
Kilmallie & Achnacarry, Mallaig & Knoydart, Glenfinnan,Loch Ailort & Roshven

19th July, Saturday

Facal Nam Bàrd
Fort William
See description above

Ness and Culloden
Loch Ness, Inverness, and Culloden

Air Falbh ‘s Air Adhart

Inverness Highland Games

20th July, Sunday

Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service for the Emigrants

An Taghadh 1
Fort William

21st July, Monday

Diaspora Tapestry
Fort William (continues till 25th)

22nd July, Tuesday

tu Air Falbh ‘s Air Adhart
Fort William

23rd July, Wednesday

Roots Day 3
Kinlochmoidart & Dalilea, Ardnish, Loch Morar & Tarbet

24th July, Thursday

Loch Shiel trip
Glenfinnan, Glenalladale, Eilean Fhionnain, Acharacle
Loch Sheil, Gleanaladale, and the Green Isle
A spectacular trip through Loch Shiel’s history
From Glenfinnan, in the shadow of the Jacobite monument, this trip will commence down Loch Shiel to Glenaladale. From here left the group of settlers known as the Glenaladales, who had such an enormous impact upon the Canadian Maritimes of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and especially Prince Edward Island, headed up by Captain John MacDonald of Glenaladale, and his sister Nellie. From there we progress to Dalilea and the Green Isle, an ancient, secluded, small island burial ground. And all in a spectacularly scenic area with masses of wildlife, and high, high mountains.

Roots Day 4
Eige, Ardnamurchan, Glenalladale, Arkaig

An Taghadh 2
Fort William

25th July, Friday

Ceòl a’ Chaisteil
Music of the Castle
Music and theatre in & around Castle Tioram
No trip to the Rough Bounds would be complete without a visit to the enigmatic Castle Tioram. Built on a sometimes island on Loch Moidart, this is the Highlands’ version of Mont St. Michel, except not quite as grand. The castle is now cleared for restoration from it’s current status as ruin. This event will be a celebration of music and song culture and will feature local artists. It is hoped that a showing of Air Falbh ‘s Air Adhart will be made on the same evening. And who knows, there may even be a barbecue – we’ll see! The last one – Ranald, Younger of Clan Ranald’s ‘Wild Highland Barbecue ‘- was a blast.

Air Falbh ‘s Air Adhart

26th July, Saturday

Diaspora Tapestry

Turas nan Saighdear 1
Loch Morar – Spean

Sealladh on Bhraighe 1
Fort William

Taigh an Strì

28th July, Monday

Roots Day 5
Strontian, Acharacle, Muc and Canna

Turas nan Saighdear 2

Sealladh on Bhraighe 2

29th July, Tuesday

Clan Donald Event

Arisaig Games Barbecue

30th July, Wednesday

Arisaig Games Village Parade

Arisaig Highland Games

Clan Donald Gathering
Arisaig Games

Note Dates subject to change, but expected to remain fairly stable

Roots Days
Location visits to find ancestral roots

The whole summer season of An Tilleadh 2014 lasts 16 days. An integral element of the whole exercise is to bring people from home and away together and forge relationships which are meaning to themselves, rather than mediated into being. The five Roots Days feature twenty five locations, but have no organised activities. Rather, we will co-ordinate meeting and information points in the various communities to facilitate the efforts of visitors to find out about their own specific heritage. The aim is to create local, personal connections to empower grass roots level heritage exchange, rather than being event driven.

Roots Day 1: Arisaig / Morar; Acharacle; Strontian; Drumsallie
Roots Day 2: Mallaig & Knoydart; Loch Ailort & Roshven; Glenfinnan; Kilmallie &
Roots Day 3: Ardnish; Kinlochmoidart & Dalilea; Loch Morar & Tarbet
Roots Day 4: Glenalladale; Eige; Arkaig; Ardnamurchan
Roots Day 5: Acharacle; Strontian; Muc and Canna

see: www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
email: antilleadh2014@arisaighighlandgames.co.uk

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