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At the library: Ciad Mìle Fàilte! Celebrating Gaelic Nova Scotia Month

By Holly MacLean

Since libraries were created, we shared stories. We were the space where people exchanged stories, but also continue to be the place where people learn about other traditions. This month when many traditions are celebrated, one of them being Gaelic Nova Scotia Month! From the landing of the Ship Hector in 1773 and the impact it had locally, to efforts to reconnect people to the spoken language of some of our Scottish ancestors (whether it is formally through lessons or passed down from generations still speaking it); those who emigrated here from Scotland centuries ago shaped the history of Nova Scotia in many ways, from various perspectives.

Whether you’re someone trying to learn the language that was spoken (including the above phrase which I’ve learned has many variations), or you’re keen to try some recipes passed down from generation to generation, stop into your local library to explore what we have to offer! If you’re interested in learning more about the culture and what’s going on during Gaelic Nova Scotia Month, visit the Gaelic Affairs website at https://gaelic.novascotia.ca

Learning Gaelic/Gàidhlig

We have material in a variety of formats to help those trying to speak different types of Gaelic. Available to borrow is Everyday Gaelic (Gairm Publications, 1984), written by Morag MacNeill. While the whole of the Gaelic language cannot be contained in one book, MacNeill includes a selection of words and phrases most likely to be useful in everyday situations, for example, meeting and greeting, aspects of travelling, the weather and eating and drinking. Depending on personal preferences, the reader will find the book informative and interesting. Everyday Gaelic was originally published in 1984 but has been reprinted many times.

A different format aimed toward children and families, library users can also access Sheena’s Garden/An Gàradh aig Sìne online under the collections section of www.parl.ns.ca. This English-Gaelic storybook, written by Laurinda Matheson, illustrated by Janice Watson, and animated by David Carlson and Fern MacDonald, is read in Gaelic by Lewis MacKinnon as part of an initiative with the Nova Scotia Office of Gaelic Affairs. It’s a great way to learn Gaelic translations of vegetables, numbers, and the names of some other wiggly creatures too!

Songs, recipes and other resources

A large part of culture can be celebrated through songs and food as well! One book in particular, also selected as one of the ‘150 Books of Influence,’ is Gaelic Songs in Nova Scotia (National Museums of Canada, 1979), written by Helen Creighton and Calum MacLeod. Two notable authorities pooled their talents to compile this popular collection of 93 Gaelic folksongs from Cape Breton. First published in 1964, it has been reissued for a new generation of folklore enthusiasts, music lovers, and Gaelic scholars. The songs were recorded by Helen Creighton in the original Gaelic, which was transcribed and translated by the late Calum MacLeod, professor of Celtic studies at Saint Francis Xavier University. The texts accompanying the musical score of each song include the Gaelic lyrics, the English translation, and detailed explanatory notes.

Those who like to cook might also be interested to know that Ás an Abhainn Mhóir/English-Gaelic Recipes from Pictou County (2011) is also available to borrow from the library. This cookbook features recipes in English and Gaelic, local photos, and stories collected and translated by a dedicated cookbook committee. They, along with community partners, created a delicious way to celebrate the Gaelic language and learn more about local history as well!

For more information on upcoming library programs, special events and services, please drop by your local library branch, follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook, or visit us online at www.parl.ns.ca.

Holly MacLean is the Pictou Antigonish Regional Library’s Community Outreach Assistant for Pictou County.

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