Celtic & Scottish Studies

LLC at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2018

We highlight nine great events in Scotland’s annual celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity.

The 30th Scottish International Storytelling Festival takes place from 19th to 31st October 2018 on the theme of Growing Stories.

At the heart of the programme is the shared culture of Scotland and Ireland, with their international connections and influence, and the way in which Celtic traditions unite word, image and sound to pack a big emotional punch.

Home to the longest-established Celtic department in Scotland, our School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) is proud to support the Festival in many ways, including through the participation of our staff and alumni in performances, and the use of our research in events.

Here’s a selection of what’s on offer…

A’ Seinn na Sgeulachd: Bàs Chonnlaoich

Margaret Stewart by Euphoria Photography
Margaret Stewart. Image © Euphoria Photography.

From chiefs’ halls to ceilidh houses, heroic ballads and their stories have been at the heart of Gaelic culture for centuries. Organised by Abigail Burnyeat in Celtic and Scottish Studies, in collaboration with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, this event brings together two exceptional performers - singer Margaret Stewart and storyteller Pàdruig Morrison - to share the story of the death of Connlaoch using tale and song.

Padruig Morrison by Joseph Wilson
Pàdruig Morrison. Image © Joseph Wilson with kind permission of Edinburgh College of Art.

Describing how the son of the Scottish warrior-princess Aoife and Irish hero Cú Chulainn came to die at the hands of his own father, Bàs Chonnlaoich forms one of the cultural and artistic high points of Gaelic tradition, known from the earliest medieval Gaelic manuscript tradition and from later oral tradition and performance. Margaret and Pàdruig's unique performance was a highlight of the major international conference, Ulidia Finn, on Skye earlier this year and we are delighted to bring it to the Netherbow Theatre in Edinburgh on 20th October 2018 supported by the Hope Scott Trust and the Royal Celtic Society.

Find out more and book tickets on the SISF website

The Alan Bruford Lecture - Scotland’s Fenian Lays

The annual Alan Bruford Lecture honours the memory of one of our most eminent folklorists, archivists and Celtic scholars. In his lifetime, Alan was exceptional in his work on the singing of Fenian Lays centred on the legendary figure of Finn mac Cumhaill. This year’s lecture on 23rd October, with John Purser, will let you hear and see just how significant Scotland’s part of this shared Celtic inheritance was. Previous Alan Bruford Lecturers include our colleagues Will Lamb, Mairi McFadyen and Gary West.

Find out more and book tickets on the SISF website

Jock’s Jocks

Performance of Jock's Jocks
Jock's Jocks featuring Gary West (second from left). Image © Callum Farrell.

Between the 1930s and 1980s, folk singer Jock Duncan interviewed around 60 veterans of the First World War, mainly in his native North East of Scotland. In this one-act play, Gary West (Personal Chair in Scottish Ethnology) uses the exact words of these soldiers as transcribed by Jock over many years. The result is a unique and illuminating collection of first-hand witness testimony to the horror, and humour, of The Great War. Featuring Gary, Scott Gardiner, Chris Wright and Charlie West, the performance takes place on 29th October 2018 at the National Library of Scotland.

Find out more and book tickets on the SISF website

OSSIAN - The Pipes & The Story

In his role as Chair of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS), which runs the Festival, Gary will also be hosting the opening event of SISF 2018 in the Great Hall at Stirling Castle on 18th October. OSSIAN - The Pipes & The Story will combine Scotland’s richest traditions of bagpipe music with some of its oldest stories. Among the stellar line-up of musical talent will be Celtic and Scottish Studies alumnus, Allan MacDonald, whose 1995 thesis explored the relationship between piobaireachd and Gaelic language rhythms in song. Allan will also be appearing in two Festival events on 27th October: Scotland and Ireland: Diarmaid in Life & Death; and Open Hearth.

Find out more about the Festival’s opening event and book tickets on the SISF website

Aince there Wis a Loon Caa’d Stanley…

Master storyteller, singer and piper Stanley Robertson was a passionate champion of the traditions of his Scottish Traveller heritage. In this celebration, Heather Yule will present stories and songs from Stanley’s rich legacy, many of them collected by her mother, Dr Barbara McDermitt Yule, when she was a postgraduate student at the School of Scottish Studies. The event takes place at Netherbow Theatre on 21st October.

Find out more and book tickets on the SISF website

Open Hearth - Full Moon

Storytellers and musicians gather round the hearth for a relaxed traditional session of stories from home and abroad. This magical weaving of stories, songs and Lunar lore from many traditions includes Celtic and Scottish Studies alumnus, Linda Williamson, among the guest storytellers joining host, Claire Hewitt. The event takes place at Netherbow Theatre on 24th October 2018.

Find out more and book tickets on the SISF website

Ossian Supper

Hosted by Festival Director, Donald Smith, this unique event combines feasting, comradeship, poetry, story and song to honour Ossian, "Scotland’s other, ancient Bard", and share the traditions of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and his warrior band. Held in the Storytelling Court at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on 25th October, it will feature Abigail Burnyeat, Lecturer in Celtic.

Find out more and book tickets on the SISF website

Growing Up With Books

Promotional image for Growing Up With Books
Growing Up With Books is a collaboration between SELCIE and the Museum of Childhood.

This major exhibition explores the history of children’s literature as glimpsed through the collections of the Museum of Childhood, with books dating from the 1700s through to the mid-20th century. Based on research by Valentina Bold, Sarah Dunnigan and colleagues in Scotland’s Early Literature for Children Initiative (SELCIE), it marks the culmination of two years’ work with the Museum, including by a dedicated team of postgraduate volunteers in various subjects across the universities of Edinburgh and Napier.

Events associated with the exhibition include 'Once Upon A Book', a partnership between the Museum of Childhood and the Scottish Storytelling Centre on 20th October. Featuring an array of storytellers and sessions for different age ranges, it sees old books brought back to life through storytelling, drawing and a mini ceilidh.

Find out more about Growing Up With Books on our events pages

Strike for Freedom

Linked to the transatlantic research project, Our Bondage and Our Freedom, this treasures display at the National Library of Scotland situates African American activist and author Frederick Douglass and his family in relation to transatlantic abolitionism and black radical reform movements. Opening during Black History Month in the UK, it is the first display of its kind to show the family's manuscripts, letters and photographs, as held in the Walter O. Evans Collection.

Our Bondage and Our Freedom is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Walter O. Evans Foundation, National Library of Scotland, The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Maryland State Archives, the Banneker Douglasss Museum, the Black Studies Research Center at the University of California Santa Barbara and the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah. Our involvement is led by Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier and Dr Andrew Taylor, co-authors of the new Edinburgh University Press book, ‘If I Survive’.

Find out more on our research pages

Are you interested in Celtic and Scottish Studies at Edinburgh?

As the longest established department of its kind in Scotland, Celtic and Scottish Studies at Edinburgh is a major international hub for research, teaching and learning. We offer three undergraduate degrees and a number of postgraduate programmes, drawing on world-leading expertise, collections and archives.

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