I hail from a Gaelic area (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) but that doesn’t exactly make me Gaelic. I’m ignorant when it comes to my heritage and my culture. I wish I could say otherwise, but it would be untrue. This week, I’ve been learning about my roots and my “Celtic Colours”; I’ve become a tourist in my hometown and I’m catching up on a few things that I’d been blind to as a youth. I’ve attended The Cape Breton Fiddlers at the Gaelic College, Our Gaelic Kids in Christmas Island, and a Traditional Ceilidh in Iona (the video is to follow within the next few days). Today, I took one more step into learning about the Gaelic community by attending a Milling Frolic at the Highland Village in Iona.
A milling frolic is the process of taking cloth from the loom and pounding and fulling it on a milling table to felt the wool into a tighter fabric, but explaining a milling frolic in my own words doesn’t do it justice. Listen to Jim Watson, a local member of the Gaelic community and an employee at Highland Village, as he explains a milling frolic.
Athena and I joined in. Luckily, it wasn’t real work today because Athena stole the show and most people were paying so much attention to her, including me, that they lost the beat. No one really seemed to mind and smiles remained all around.
Colin, son, and Jim, father, share their Gaelic knowledge and experience with others by working at the Highland VIllage regularly and during the Celtic Colours. They can often be heard speaking Gaelic, sharing stories, and singing Gaelic tunes. Colin’s Gaelic expression extends into music and his knowledge of the fiddle is exceptional.
My sister, Gabriella, joined Athena and I and she sang along during several of the songs. I was thoroughly, and pleasantly, surprised by her use of the Gaelic language; it was obvious that the schools must be incorporating a good amount of the language into the curriculum.
Although I don’t know any Gaelic, yet, I listened intently during the first round of singing and participated during the chorus. I may not have been saying the words perfectly, but it’s a start. I was proud to participate in the milling frolic even if it was just during the chorus.
I’m still a tourist in my own home but I’ve come a long way this week alone.
Go raibh maith agat Dathanna Ceilteach; tú a thabhairt níos gaire dom do bhaile!
(Thank you Celtic Colours; you’ve brought me closer to home.)