Feis 2013


The Tiree ‘season’ got off to a great start with a successful Fèis that continued the growth of the last few years.

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.



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Bigger and better! These are the themes of Fèis Thiriodh 2013, which released its line up this week. In a new development, two bands – Trail West and The Scott Wood Trio – will share the teaching duties, leaving plenty of musicians to power the week’s dancing and music making. The Fèis is also developing its side for younger musicians and is working with TMF to start up a new Fèis for more advanced musicians.

The tutors confirmed are Ian Smith (accordion), Andrew Findlater (drums) and Ailean Campbell (guitar and pipes) from Trail West, with Scott Wood (pipes and whistle), Mhairi MacKinnon (fiddle) and Ron Jappy (guitar) from The Scott Wood Trio, who have just released their first CD (highly recommended). Linda Macleod is teaching singing, with Fèis chair John Holliday tutoring flute and whistle.

The festival, kicking off on Monday 8 July and ending late on the Friday night, will be back in Còrnaig School during the day because of the number of tutors. Thursday will see the whole cast list head off to Barra on the ‘Muse Cruise’, which was such a success last year. The evenings will be full of dancing, singing, playing and listening – with a film or two thrown in for good measure!

As well as boosting the tutor numbers, the committee has been working over the winter to develop the Fèis for younger and older customers. Fèis Bheag, which caters for 5 to 8 year olds, will get a boost this year by having the same hours (about 10.30 to 3) as the main Fèis and being open for the first time to English and Gaelic speaking children. A new festival for more advanced players, Fèis na Fèise, has been set up in the lead up to TMF. The Scott Wood Trio will be teaching again, only this time the emphasis will be on playing together in a group. Fèis na Fèise will run on Wednesday and Thursday 17-18 July.

This year the Fèis has been boosted by the appointment of Donna Maclean, the new Music Development Officer for the island. Dr John Holliday, chair of the Fèis, told An Tirisdeach, “We’re already seeing the benefits of having Donna as part of Team Tiree Music. TMF have been asking us for years to set up a second Fèis to boost the teaching side of Tiree Music Festival. Donna will be helping us run this at a time in the calendar when Fèis committee members want to do nothing but sleep for a year! This summer, too, we are delighted to be back at the school. Due to summer building work we have had to move down to An Talla for the last few years. We had a great welcome from the hall’s committee, who were very good to us. It was bright and cheerful and you could smell the music the moment you walked in. But with nine tutors and the expanded Fèis Bheag we simply need more rooms.” Bigger and better indeed! Tiree justifying its reputation as ‘the best wee music island in Scotland’.