Blessed (or possibly cursed) with terrific weather, attendances at the classes grew while audiences at some of the evening events were disappointingly down. 2013 marked the 23rd Fèis with a return to the school after a number of years based in An Talla. The extra tutors from the two bands – Trail West and The Scott Wood Trio – meant that the festival simply ran out of rooms at the community hall. Numbers in the classes rose for the third year running, although there were only two Wanting to study the fiddle.
A particular success was the new expanded Fèis Bheag which ran for the full day and included for the first time non-Gaelic speaking children. Another winner was the Gaelic conversation class which was large and enthusiastic. However, the lecture on the Middleton kelp factory and the tutors’ concert were only thinly attended, possibly partly due to the glorious sunshine.
76 people boarded the ferry to Barra for the ‘Muse Cruise’ and were rewarded with a really great day of music and happiness. At Castlebay dancers and musicians from Fèis Thiriodh went ashore and did an Orcadian Strip the Willow down the pier with children from Fèis Bharraigh. And as the boat left the quay, the Barra dancing class lined up and did a Highland dance to a Tiree piper playing from the departing boat. As the dancers made a deep final bow, the Vessel’s master – a Barra man – blew the ship’s horn in salute. There was hardly a dry eye on board!
The final dance, with the two bands Combining, was generally reckoned to have been the best on the island for years. The shape of the Tiree ‘season’ is changing, with the rise and rise of TMF. All the summer events are having to get used to the new world, and Fèis Thiriodh is no exception. But we are looking forward to 2014 with a few new plans up our sleeve!
Dr Iohn Holliday, Chair.