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Gaelic Day in Pictou By ELIZABETH LORD

Pictou's Gaelic Day was part of the New Scotland Days festival held from 16-18 September. Though many events - including the reenactment of the settlers landing from the Ship Hector in Pictou in 1773 - were cancelled due to weather, not even Ophelia herself could stop a Gaelic story.

PICTOU (22 September 2005) -- AN enthusiastic group gathered in Pictou on 17 September to partake in Gaelic language and song workshops and enjoy a storytelling/song circle as part of New Scotland Days. Well known and highly respected Gaelic instructors Angus MacLeod and Hector MacNeil, both from Cape Breton, led the day's Gaelic events.

Hector MacNeil lives in Sydney River and is Gaelic Director at the Gaelic College in St Ann's. He has an MA in Celtic Studies from St Francis Xavier University. MacNeil teaches Gaelic courses at UCCB as well as at the Gaelic College.

Angus MacLeod hails from Goose Cove. Both of his parents were Gaelic speakers; however he learned the language as an adult with a determination to become proficient in the language. He learned the language with the help of his mother and other local elders, as well as various classes and workshops, and classes at UCCB and the Gaelic College. MacLeod currently teaches at the Gaelic College in St Ann's.

Gaelic Day began at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church with two levels of Gaelic language instruction. A beginner level workshop was facilitated by Hector MacNeil. The beginner workshop introduced students to some basic Gaelic greetings as well as the background of the Gaelic language.

Angus MacLeod led the intermediate level workshop. This workshop was conducted using TIPS methodology. "TIPS" refers to "Total Immersion Plus". Through the medium of Gaelic, the students learn how to speak through the utilization of props and repetition. No reading (grammar), writing or translation from Gaelic to English is used during TIPS workshops.

Following the language workshops, both the beginner and intermediate students gathered for tea. A song workshop followed with MacLeod and MacNeil each teaching a Gaelic song. Towards the end of the song workshop everyone joined hands, swinging their arms to the beat of "Cruinneag Na Buale" (The Maiden of the Fold). The song was led by Hector MacNeil with everyone joining in on the chorus as would be done at a milling frolic.

The day's Gaelic events then moved to the Hector Heritage Quay where a Gaelic Storytelling/Song Session took place. Storytelling began with Hector MacNeil. As MacNeil told a humorous story in Gaelic, Angus MacLeod gave the English translation. This was followed by MacLeod telling a Gaelic story with MacNeil translating along the way. As both storytellers traded stories back and forth, the audience sat listening in awe. Their appreciation was evident in the loud applause that followed each story.

In the spirit of true Gaelic hospitality, tea was again provided. After the tea break, Angus MacLeod, Hector MacNeil and Calvin MacInnis each sang a Gaelic song. A lively question and answer period followed. To close off the Gaelic portion of the day, a final Gaelic story was told.

As many stayed on to chat with, and take pictures of MacNeil and MacLeod, it was evident that everyone enjoyed the day's activities held in Gaelic, the language of those settlers who arrived in Pictou County on the Ship Hector.

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