School is in Session!

Since announcing the creation of Hidden Glen Folk School some six weeks ago, I’ve been incredibly busy doing talks and performances, preparing classes, attending events, writing blogs, producing podcasts (in the Hidden Glen podcast seriesFaceBook group here), networking, and arranging future events. It’s been quite fun and exciting to connect with people interested in and supportive of finding out about Scottish Highland heritage, history, and culture.

Here are some highlights:

Speaking at the Orange County Library, Hillsborough, with Dr. Arwin Smallwood on 30 September 2019.

Building on interest in the Scottish heritage of North Carolina as celebrated in the popular Outlander series, the “Outlandish Hillsborough” series of events began on September 30 with a lecture on the peoples of colonial North Carolina, presented by Dr. Arwin Smallwood (covering Native Americans and African Americans) and myself (covering Scottish Highlanders). The library said that it was the best attended event they’ve ever held.

I also told stories on the two main days of the event at the Ayr Mount historic property: traditional stories of the Scottish Highlands on one day, and stories of immigrant Highlanders in North Carolina on the other.

I attended a conference in Cape Breton about revitalizing languages, which I described in this blogpost. The songs and fellowship provided me with a real boost of encouragement and validation.

Presenting at The Gathering in Greensboro

I presented a talk about the cosmology, belief systems and rituals of Scottish Highlanders at the time of their immigration to North America at The Gathering in Greensboro, North Carolina, a gathering of Neo-pagans, on 19 October. I enjoyed putting these obscure and arcane materials together and exploring their implications for the audience, who responded quite enthusiastically to the talk. I’d love to bring it to other crowds.

Teaching a Gaelic song to Spanish-medium primary school students.

Finally, I made a visit to my daughter’s Spanish-medium primary school to share Scottish Highland heritage with students. (My daughter attends the school, as a result, we use three languages at home: Gaelic, English and Spanish.) I told them about the Scottish Highlands, emigration to North America, relationships between words in Spanish and Gaelic, and about Oidhche Shamhna (“Halloween,” roughly speaking) in Gaelic tradition. I also pointed out that some of them have Gaelic names, I taught them the chorus of a Gaelic song (which they were singing in the picture above) and told them some traditional tales that happen around Oidhche Shamhna, which was their favorite part of my presentation. I got plenty of questions about the sìthichean (“fairies,” roughly speaking) and how to say their names in Gaelic.

This is what I hope to achieve with Hidden Glen Folk School: finding opportunities to help people to connect with Scottish Highland heritage in fun, engaging and insightful ways. As the Irish poet William Butler Yeats is famed for saying, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Why don’t you come to Hidden Glen to have your fire lit? In just over a week we’ll be coming together for these two online courses:

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