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The January Cèilidh

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Composer, singer and songwriter Josie Duncan.

2021 is now well underway, both the new and old years, so before the month is over we thought we’d look to lift our spirits with another virtual Harris Cèilidh.

For anyone a little late to the party, we’ve been working hard to celebrate the joys of community and connection no matter how far apart we find ourselves in these unusual Covid times.

The Gaelic word cèilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is often associated with kilts, highland dancing and a full band of Scottish musicians. But, it's a word which simply means visiting and socialising with friends and requires no fuss or formality. Just bring yourself, and something to drink!

Shona Masson, talented fiddle player from the Isle of Skye

It’s been no mean feat trying to replicate the life-affirming warmth and welcome of these traditional island gatherings, filled with friendship and conviviality, music, stories, and more…

There’s inevitably been one or two hitches and glitches as we try to harness 21st century technology from here in the heart of the Outer Hebrides, but it’s been a lot of fun so far and we’ve quickly learned from our mistakes.

So, on Saturday the 30th of January at 8 pm UK time, we cordially invite you to join us at a safe social distance for some more storytelling, music and a bit of craic from the comfort of your own home.

Calum Barker from the Isle of Harris Distillery.

Once again, your online hosts will be the ever-charming Iona Cairns and Calum Barker from the Harris Distillery, and they’ve three more great musical guests from the Gàidhealtachd to entertain us.

Joining them for some toe-tapping tunes on the night will be…

Composer and songwriter Josie Duncan from the Isle of Lewis is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was awarded a BBC Young Folk Award in 2017. She has toured the world sharing heartwarming songs and captivating audiences with her melancholic harmonies and searing melodies, and we can’t wait to welcome her to our wee gathering.

Iona Cairns from the Isle of Harris Distillery.

We’re also delighted to bring you Shona Masson, an incredibly talented fiddle player from the Isle of Skye. After picking up her instrument at the age of 9, Shona was accepted to the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, developing her musical skills under the tuition of some of Scotland’s top trad musicians. She has been immersed in Gaelic music and culture ever since and tonight she’ll be playing a reel or two just for you.

Finally, last but not least, we’ll be rounding things off with the help of box player Graham MacIllinnein. Graham started learning the accordion at the tender age of 7 at Fèis Eilean an Fhraoich under renowned local multi-instrumentalist Andy Yearley. In pre-Covid days he could be found playing in The Graham Maclennan Trio, a 3 piece band based in his home town not too far to our north, but on Saturday he’ll be going solo with us, live from Stornoway!

Accordion player Graham MacIllinnein from the Isle of Lewis.

Also, joining us to represent the Isle of Harris, will be the wonderful Sandra Fraser head of our distillery Tour team. If you’ve visited the distillery before, you’ll likely have seen her smiling face somewhere along the way. Hailing from the west-coast village of Seilebost, Sandy will be chatting with Calum and Iona and helping the cèilidh craic go with a local swing

If you’d like to take part in the proceedings then you’re very welcome to join us. Simply send an email to to receive your Zoom invite, details on how to join, and a special Harris Cèilidh cocktail recipe to help keep the island spirit flowing.

"Thigibh a chèilidh!” as we say here in Harris, and hope to see you there!

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