Gaelic exhibit takes root at Museum of Industry

Amanda Jess
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STELLARTON – Gaelic culture is alive and on display at the Museum of Industry starting Friday.

The executive director of Gaelic Affairs for the province, Lewis MacKinnon, was on hand in Stellarton this week to introduce staff and the media to the museum’s latest exhibit, noting Pictou County’s role in history.

“The Hector is very symbolic because it was the first vessel to arrive with immigrants,” he said.

MacKinnon says the province has seen an increase in Gaelic speaking residents since the 2001 census. MacKinnon believes many programs have helped to keep the Gaelic heritage alive, naming music, dance, humour and hospitality as examples of cultural expression.

“Numbers are only one measure in terms of how healthy a community is,” he said.

The bilingual exhibit features a detailed background of the Gaels, including who they were, their values, language and culture.

That background includes the Hector landing in 1773.

MacKinnon noted that their settlement persisted, and many others made the trek until the 1850s.

“We see where families would forge their own in the New World context,” MacKinnon said, adding that they settled among local communities.

The exhibit was first showcased at a museum in Halifax last year before travelling to Antigonish.

It was also hosted in Sydney last fall.

It may go even further with international interest from Scotland, MacKinnon said, but the details still need to be worked out.

“As long as there’s interest, we hope to move it around.”

It’s headed to Pictou County just in time for Gaelic Awareness Month, joined by Roddy MacLean for a public talk on May 17.

MacLean, a Gaelic advocate, educator and broadcaster, will examine the links between Gaelic language and culture and nature through the naming of plants, animals, and place names.

Some of the pieces of Gaelic culture on display include early weaponry, agricultural implements, pipes, fiddles, as well as samples of milling and garment making.

It runs from May 9 to 31.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

Organizations: Museum of Industry, Gaelic Affairs

Geographic location: Pictou County, Stellarton, Halifax Antigonish Sydney Scotland

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