Còmradh-caraid – A new Gàidhlig learning opportunity

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A chairidean choir,

We have been thinking about how our learning programs have evolved over the past few years, and we’re very happy to have been able to create varied opportunities for language learning, in-person and online.  The challenge that we see right now is having the appropriate venues for people to actually use the language often enough to develop good conversational facility.  Most of our learners know more than they think they do, but lack enough avenues for the kind of casual use of the language that is so important to developing easy familiarity with it and confidence in daily settings.  If a couple or a parent and child are learning together they have the ideal partnership for developing fluency.  However, most of our students do not have those relationships.

We are considering a couple new formats to open in 2018 to foster more use of the language, at whatever level you are currently comfortable.

One of those options is connecting study partners. This is as simple as it sounds. Two people who are in comfortable range of each other’s language abilities become friends.  This is a method used at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, where they refer to a learning partner as còmhradh-caraid, conversation friend (or perhaps more accurately a dialogue between or among friends).  It’s a good label because that’s what we see the friends doing – connecting by phone, Skype, in-person, or however it’s best for at least weekly casual conversations.  They can certainly learn new things together, but the main point is to build confidence in using the Gaelic.

Sgoil Ghàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhóir and Gàidhlig Photomac will partner on this new initiative. Continue reading


Interview with Scott Morrison

Gaels on the Chesapeake Interview with Scott Morrison

Scott Morrisonscott-1

Scott was born in 1969 in Nashville, Tennessee. The family moved to Silver Spring, Maryland in 1982.  Music and teaching form the core of Scott’s life.  He graduated from Frostburg State University in 1994 with a B.S. in Music, double concentrating in K-12 Music Ed and Percussion Performance.  He expects to graduate from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Gaelic College, Skye, Scotland in December 2018 with a B.A. in Scottish Gàidhlig Language and Culture.  He studied through the college’s distance learning program.

dileab-phreisel-1Scott started teaching Gaelic in 2010, and is a former president of An Comunn Gàidhealach Aimeireaganach (Scottish Gaelic Society of America).  In addition to teaching, he is a freelance Celtic musician in the Baltimore/D.C. area. Scott has been teaching classical and folk music lessons since 1993, and as the owner of Rimshots Percussion Studio since 1997.  He lives in Howard County with his wife and four children.

RG: What brought you to the study of Gaelic? Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey into Scottish Gaelic. How does it fit into the story of your family and your personal experience and identity? Continue reading

It’s a big week for things Scottish in the Baltimore/DC area

A chairidean chóir,

This is a week you can immerse yourself in all things Scottish.  First, this Thursday (25 January) you can attend one of the warmest, most intimate Burns Nights you’ll come across and celebrate the life of the ¨Ploughman Poet” in Baltimore’s most authentic Irish pub.

Then, on Saturday (27 January) gather in an Alexandria, Virginia Irish pub to enjoy readings and songs of some of Scotland’s greatest Gaelic poets,once again in a warm, intimate environment.  For this one, space is very limited and nearly full.  Contact the group very soon.

In the end you’ll have traversed the Scots and Gaelic language cultures of Scotland, and felt you were welcomed with great hospitality.

Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd dhuibh.

7th Annual Burns

7th Annual Burns Night at O’Flynn’s in Baltimore

Thursday, 25 January, 2018
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

O´Flynn´s Crab & Cask House
3432 South Hanover Street
Baltimore, MD 21225

Join us as we celebrate the 7th Annual Scottish Dinner as we celebrate the ¨Ploughman Poet¨ of Scotland, Robert Burns.

The evening´s events include Piping In & Address of the Haggis, a four-course meal featuring a Kale Waldorf Salad, Cock-a-leekie Soup, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with Arran Whisky Cream Sauce, Raspberry Cranachan. Enjoy llive Traditional Music and lots of awkward poetry reading.

Special guest performances by Aaron Halevy and Sean Alexander Gearhart.

Featuring Innis & Gunn from Scotland:
Enjoy the unique bourbon ageing process of our featured Innis and Gunn with flavours like vanilla and toffee with the malty characted of the Scotch Ale to create an incredible taste experience.

Buy tickets here.

Oidhche nam Bard header

Oidhche nam Bàrd: Gaelic Poetry Night

Sponsored by
Gàidhlig Photomac (The Potomac Scottish Gaelic Society)

Saturday, 27 January 2018
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar
112 King St, Alexandria, Virginia 22314

For our first big event of the new year, we’ll celebrate some of the works of Scotland’s great Gaelic poets, enjoying readings and songs in a relaxed atmosphere with appropriate food and libations at Daniel O’Connell’s in Old Town Alexandria! This event will be appropriate for learners at all levels — and those just interested in Gaelic language and culture.

We’ll start at 5 pm with drinks and a welcome, and follow at 5:30 with a brief conversational Gaelic lesson. At 6 pm we’ll order supper, and at 6:15 begin our poetry program. We’ll introduce to you to six poets, from the middle ages to the present day. Some of our members want to share poetry with you. And we’ll have songs and music and, at the end, a toast to ALL the bàrds.

With limited space in the Fitzgerald Room, attendance is limited to 20 people, so sign up here or at our Meetup.com page. Any questions? Contact Liam at willbcassidy@gmail.com.

C`eilidh na Callainne (New Year’s Céilidh) – 21 January


Sunday, January 21 at 3 PM – 6 PM
Ó Flynn’s
3432 S. Hanover Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21225

Join us for for our C`eilidh na Callainne (New Year’s Céilidh) We will have some home made Haggis by Liam Flynn (and other delicious food), hear about the history of the Haggis dish and it’s complicated relationship to the G`aidhealtachd and the Galldachd in Scotland, learn a traditional New Year’s song and the Gaelic version of Auld Lang Syne, and more – all in the warm, convivial environment of Baltimore’s Best Irish bar, Ó Flynn’s.

Aig a’ chèilidh (At the céilidh)

Gaelic Immersion session – Build your Gaelic through conversation

The Haggis Story

Sharing of songs, stories, music, and poetry – Learn some songs as we sing together and bring your own tunes, poems, stories or songs to share (in Gaelic or otherwise).

Chì sinn uile aig a’ chèilidh sibh! (We’ll see you all at the cèilidh)
Suas Leis a’ Ghàidhlig!


Bliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile! (& Join us for Gaelic in 2018!)

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile! – Happy New Year to you all!
And Happy Hogmanay!

Below are scenes from Hogmanay around Scotland from previous years for you to enjoy. May all your fires burn brightly throughout the year.

Am bi sibh a’ dèanamh amas air Gàidhlig ionnsachadh sa Bhliadhna Ùr 2018?  Thigibh ann cuide ruinn!  (Will you make a resolution to study Gaelic in the New Year 2018? Join us!)  Click here for learning opportunities.

Something to think about: Scottish customs of the new year contain messages that can be relevant to how we think about entering 2018. While bonfires celebrate the lengthening of daylight and thus the “return” of the sun, in our own lives, we can use fire to call forth the light and passion within each of us, calling us to be our best selves in the months to come. By our own candles or fires, we can decide what goals for spiritual and personal growth we will set for ourselves, and link ourselves to our heritage and ancestors.

Hogmanay piper

And even the ancient custom of first footing – the belief that a tall, dark, handsome stranger coming to your door the first thing after midnight of the New Year brings good fortune to the household. The idea of first footing is that the first person who comes through your door indicates the character of your New Year. On the one hand, by offering hospitality to the visitor you begin your year with a generosity of spirit. On the other hand, we can  consciously choose what we admit through the front door, then open that door with great intention and greet it!


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A typical Baltimore Gaelic School céilidh and class:

Happy Hogmanay - 1

Winter greetings to all

Scottish winter - 2
Geamhradh Brèagha, Nollaig Chrìdheil agus
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr air a h-uile duine
(A Beautiful Winter, a Merry Christmas, and
a Happy New Year to everyone)
Guma math a dh’éireas dhuibh le Bliadhna Ùir
agus a bhith blàth fad a’ gheamhraidh.
Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd dhuibh.

Had a great time at Cèilidh Oidhche Shamhna – Hold the date for the next cèilidh on 17 December

Yesterday Gaelic learners gathered at O’Flynn’s in Baltimore City for our autumn cèilidh.  Given the time of year, the theme was Oidhche Shamhna – Halloween, the end of summer, the eve of November, the eve of winter.

Sgoil Ghàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhóir teacher, Scott Morrison, led a fascinating discussion around the Gaelic Fairy tradition.  Do you know your Fairy lore?

Two participants recited the first two verses of the poem Air Oidhche na Samhna bidh ann, after which Scott recited many more verses with everyone chanting the chorus. Originally a wauking song, probably from the late 19th century, The poem is filled with Scottish Oidhche Shamhna traditions.

If you want to take a crack at it, here is the poem: Air Oidhche na Samhna bidh ann.docx

Or, for something simpler, this fun book, Oidhche Shamhna, that one of our classes is reading.  It was written and illustrated by young school children in the Hebrides in the 1980s: Oidhche Shamhna

Everyone shared stories of their ancestors, funny and serious, and we learned a lot of new things about each others while honoring those who walked those long roads of our heritage.

We were in a bar, so why not play cards?  For instance, this group below in a game of Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) Uno.

Uno - 1

And then the sharing of songs and poetry.  Below you can hear one of the participants, Duncan, singing Cànan nan Gàidheal, written by Murchadh MacPharlain. It’s only a portion of the song, the quality isn’t great, and music from another part of the pub was coming through, but you can still hear what a beautiful voice this young man has.

We need to thank Liam Flynn for creating such an ideal Irish pub as O’Flynn’s, his hospitality in making the pub a home to many Celtic groups, and his commitment to Gaelic.


Mark the 17th of December on your calendars
and join us for our next cèilidh, again, at O’Flynn’s.

Tha sinn a’ dèanamh fiughar gus am faic mi sibh uile!
(We are looking forward to seeing all of you!)