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The Harris Cèilidh Marches On

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Gaelic singer and piper, Chloe Steele from South Uist.

Our virtual Harris Cèilidh returns next weekend, another chance to enjoy a traditional Outer Hebridean get-together from the comfort of your own home.

Regular readers will know that our ongoing cèilidh project has set out to share the life-affirming warmth and welcome of Harris and its people with the wider world.

As usual, you can expect good craic, great music, and plenty of island culture from your hosts Iona and Calum as they gather together three more of their favourite performers, and a special guest, for a bit of storytelling and song.

Musician Conal McDonagh from Poolewe.

This month we bring you island piper and Gaelic singer Chloe Steele who was born and bred on South Uist, one of the islands that make up our local archipelago.

Surrounded by music and her native language since she was very young, Chloe first picked up the pipes over twelve years ago, under the tuition of Domhnall 'Ban' MacDonald, before taking her first steps as a solo artist. Expect complex love lyrics and singalong ceilidh songs to get things underway in style.

Next up, we’re delighted to welcome back Conal McDonagh after his recent appearance with us as a supporting side-kick. For March, Conal, who hails from Poolewe in Wester Ross, will be in a starring, solo role this time around with his Irish Uilleann and Scottish pipes, whistles and flute.

Highland singer and musician Donald Barker.

Influenced by both his Scottish upbringing and Irish heritage, Conal has performed all over the world and was winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2014. He continues to work with artists like Duncan Chisholm, Cara Dillon and The Paul McKenna Band as well as with his innovative new band, Inyal.

Finally, we’re keeping it in the family as Calum invites his brother to join him for the monthly session. 21-year old Donald Barker is from the Black Isle, just north of Inverness, and continues his family’s impeccable musical heritage as a talented Gaelic singer and musician in his own right.

In addition to all the great music, we are happy to share some stories with a very fine Hearach and well-known pillar of our community. Popping into our ceilidh house on the night will be Calum J Mackay from the village of Ardhasaig here in Harris. A former assistant headteacher, Calum remains a very active crofter and is quite the expert on local history, particularly the small island of Scarp. We look forward to hearing his tales.

Calum J Mackay from Ardhasaig, Isle of Harris.

If you haven’t joined us for an evening online before then don’t worry, it’s very easy to take part. Simply drop an email to and she’ll send you all you need to know. Just a quick clink of the link she provides will bring you together with your fellow cèilidh mates on the night.

And, a cèilidh wouldn’t be complete without some Isle of Harris Gin, so be sure to have a bottle to hand, and if you fancy creating a special cocktail for the evening Iona will also send you a recipe to try out at home.

So, add Saturday 27th March to your diary and we’ll open our doors to you at 8 pm GMT for another fine night of community and connection, no matter how far apart we may find ourselves in these strange times.

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