See Us – An tSeanBheairic

An tSeanBheairic /Falcarragh Visitor Centre

Exchange trip to Uist with CeangalG

An tSeanBheairic a cultural, heritage, arts and tourism centre located in the town of Falcarragh in the Donegal Gaeltacht. Three members of An tSeanBheairic participated in the exchange visit which took place from Sunday the 15th of February to Thursday the 19th of February. Those who travelled were:

  • Máire Ní Chasaide, manager of An tSeanBheairic;
  • Micheál McGee (board member and arts and cultural officer of An tSeanBheairic)
  • and Claire Nic Ruairí (singer-in-residence in An tSeanBheairic on the Éamonn Ghráinne scholarship).

Uist was chosen as the Ceòlas singers had visited an tSeanBheairc earlier in the year. We had found that Ceòlas were doing similar work to us and seemed to share similar challenges and experiences in the artistic, organisational and funding spheres.

The aims of the trip were:

  • To forge links with traditional singers and with groups that promote the indigenous culture and to discover possibilities for co-operation.
  • To explore how other cultural organisations have developed singing and music on the island.
  • To explore how cultural venues have developed on the island and to learn from their successes, best practice and experiences.
  • To explore possibilities of future collaboration with organisations on Uist.
  • Claire, our singer in residence, hoped to meet other singers and explore similarities in the singing cultures, with a view to seeing if there were ways of bringing singers from both jurisdictions together.

We had lunch with Iain MacDonald, the piper. He gave us an overview of the history, culture, music and socio-economics of the island. We met with the Clachan singers on our first night and attended their rehearsal. This gave Claire an opportunity to learn about the songs of the island, similarities between the canons, and for us to see how we could work together.

Taigh Chearsabhagh

This proved particularly beneficial. General manager, Norman MacLeod; curator, Gayle Meikle; and Heritage officer, Anne MacKillop gave us an in-depth tour of the arts centre, and an thorough insight into how the venue/centre is run and how it has achieved success. As Taigh Chearsabhagh is ahead of an tSeanBheairic in terms of development, we were able to learn an awful lot in terms of ideas, best practice and good management. Particularly beneficial, was a discussion on the success Taigh Chearsabhagh has had with its craft retail unit/ shop (an area an tSeanBheairic are trying to develop). We also learned about how best to fill units and what type of indigenous crafts/enterprises are feasible.

University of the Highlands and Islands; The National Certificate in Art & Design

We were given a detailed tour of the studios and an insight into the BA course offered on Uist. We had a discussion about the feasibility of running art classes in an tSeanBheairic and the course directors were able to give us invaluable advise.

University of the Highlands and Islands; BA in Music on Benbecula

Course administrator Anna Wendy Stevenson gave us a tour of the campus and gave us an insight how the university reaches out to the public as well. We had an opportunity to attend classes given by the students in the secondary school. Again, we received solid advice on how to run music classes and course, the pitfalls and ways of involving the community.

Meeting with Ceòlas and a singing night on a house in Uist

We met with Mary Schmoller, the manager of Ceòlas, and had a discussion on the possibilities of working together. Ceòlas organised a night of traditional singing with a host of singers from the island. This was an amazing night!

Links we hope to develop:

  • An tSeanBheairic manager to keep in contact with Norman MacLeod (manager of Taigh Chearsabhagh) to get advice on the development of an tSeanBheairic’s retail unit, and in other areas.
  • An tSeanBheairic to explore possibilities of exchange heritage exhibitions or lectures.
  • An tSeanBheairic to pass on information on the university courses and to explore opportunities for the students (both arts and music) in Donegal.
  • An tSeanBheairic to help pass on information on residency opportunities in Teach Chearbhasagh.
  • Ceòlas and an tSeanBheairic to explore opportunities to explore possibilities of working together on initiatives (exchange residencies, song exchange/classes on skype).