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Jun 2015


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For thirty-five years, the St. Ann’s Bay Players have been producing plays for a wide audience throughout Cape Breton. Featuring Cape Breton, Scottish, and Irish tales, the mission has always remained − reflect Cape Breton’s rural Gaelic humour, history, and storytelling tradition with a talented group of character actors who know it well. Their theatre has been described as often challenging, thought provoking, and always entertaining with a great sense of very dry, sometimes dark, witty humour.

Out of the 45+ plays produced over the years, 20 have been original works by maritime or Cape Breton playwrights, including Bev Brett, the company’s artistic director. In 2014, Brett adapted Alistair MacLeod’s short story “Vision” as well as writing two short comedies for the Gaelic College’s KitchenFest! music festival and summer theatre series in an acclaimed and visually stunning production.

This year, the Players are back, and staging Cape Breton author and recent Giller prizewinner, Lynn Coady’s short story, “Jesus Christ Murdeena.” Set in Port Hawkesbury during the 1980’s, the satire looks at what happens to a small town when an ordinary but peculiar young woman takes up walking. Featuring a mother and daughter duo as played by Peggy Jenkins and Jitka Zgola, they are joined by Sue Brown, Nancy Smith, and Yvonne Leblanc in a classic, storybook style.

This will be complimented by some hilarious episodes from “Still Game,” a hit Scottish television show that has origins as a stage production. Featuring two pensioners, Jack and Victor and various other eccentric characters, we follow their well-worn path between the local hotspots – home, store, pub, and funeral home. Like a Scottish Coronation Street, the show is as funny as it is poignant, brilliantly portrayed by Murdock MacDonald and George Dauphney.

The Players are also hosting Casting Mill Theatre from Sydney, who will join the Players for the Summer Theatre season at the Gaelic College with four performances of “No Great Mischief,” a production based on celebrated author Alistair MacLeod’s famed novel. Director Todd Hiscock, a member of the Players, will showcase a talented cast from Sydney.

No Great Mischief tells the story of the long history of the Clan MacDonald beginning in 1779 as Calum Ruadh leaves Scotland to begin a new life on Cape Breton Island. Haunted by the stories of their ancestry, two brothers seek to reconcile their past with their present. Filled with Gaelic song and humour, the cast of 8 actors and musicians playing multiple characters deliver a lovely, heartbreaking, funny, and shocking story. No Great Mischief has played to rave reviews in theatres across the country. This play is not to be missed.

Dates for St. Ann’s Bay Players: June 29,30, July 2 and August 6, 7, 13,14, 20, 21. No Great Mischief: July 10,12, 17, 19. All shows are set for 7:30pm. Tickets are $20, and available at the Gaelic College Craft Shop by calling 295- 3441.

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Apr 2015

Thank You, Sons of Scotland Foundation!

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The College just recently received word of new bursaries being donated to assist young learners this summer, and we couldn’t be more excited! Having cultural-programmed learning is one thing, but making it accessible to more is another – and thanks to donations like this, the possibility is there. We asked Keith Feir, President of the Sons of Scotland Foundation out of British Columbia just why they chose to get involved.


How did you hear about Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College? Do you have a connection here?
We searched the web for Universities and Colleges that provided education in Scottish/Celtic studies, as this was our mandate when we organized the Foundation two years ago.


Why did you decide the College was a worthy spot to donate?
Your programming was very diversified and involves the students in a variety of learning experiences. In addition you provide facilities for boarding students from other locations.


What is the prize you are making available in 2015?
We are donating $1800 to cover 3 boarding students and one day student in the youth summer program.


What do you hope comes from this donation?
We want to ensure that the Scottish arts are taught and learned in a manner which will ensure that they live on for many generations to come.


To learn more about the Sons of Scotland Foundation, see their website.

To learn how you can also contribute to our bursary fund, email us at, or phone directly 902-295-3411.

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Feb 2015

Send a Gaelic Valentine!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Why not send that someone special, a little something special? Here’s one of our favourite local sayings that’s perfect for anyone you especially care for. Spread the love!

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Jan 2015

What’s that symbol mean?

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We often get asked about this logo seen on campus and the meaning behind it. Have you wondered yourself? Here’s the scoop!

“This image was developed and presented by the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia on behalf of the Gaelic Community. It represents expressions of Gaelic language and culture unique to Nova Scotia.

The image is that of a salmon in the shape of the letter ‘G’.

The salmon represents the gift of knowledge in the Gaelic storytelling traditions of Nova Scotia, Scotland and Ireland and the Isle of Man.

The ‘G’ represents the Gaelic language and the ripples are the manifestations of the language through its rich culture of song, story, music, dance and custom and belief system.”

The Story of Fionn MacCumhail and the Salmon
Now this salmon was called Finntan in ancient times and was one of the Immortals, and he might be eaten and yet live. But in the time of Finegas he was called the Salmon of the Pool of Fec, which is the place where the fair river broadens out into a great still pool, with green banks softly sloping upward from the clear brown water. Seven years was Finegas watching the pool, but not until after Finn had come to be his disciple was the salmon caught. Then Finegas gave it to Finn to cook, and bade him eat none of it. But when Finegas saw him coming with the fish, he knew that something had chanced to the lad, for he had been used to have the eye of a young man but now he had the eye of a sage. Finegas said, “Hast thou eaten of the salmon?” “Nay,” said Finn, “but it burnt me as I turned it upon the spit and I put my thumb in my mouth”. And Finegas smote his hands together and was silent for a while. Then he said to the lad who stood by obediently, “Take the salmon and eat it, Finn, son of Cumhal, for to thee the prophecy is come. And now go hence, for I can teach thee no more, and blessing and victory be thine.”


Jan 2015

Today’s Tune!

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JOHN MORRISON, ASSYNT HOUSE. Scottish (originally), Canadian; Pipe Reel. Canada; Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton. A Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCDEF (Cranford, Little, Martin): AABBCCDDEEFF (Perlman). The tune was composed in the 20th century by the Scottish Pipe Major Peter MacLeod (1878-1964), born in Aird on the Isle of Lewis. His son, also Peter (1916-1974) was likewise a skilled piper and composer. The Sr. MacLeod enlisted in the 17th Cameronians Scottish Rifles and by World War I was a Pipe Major. Sent to the Middle East, he saw service in Egypt and Gallipoli. After the war he found employment as a shipwright on the Clyde, a career cut short when an accident necessitated the amputation of his right leg. However, with World War II the demand for labor found him re-employed in the shipyards, where he worked until his retirement in 1955 at the age of 77. Peter MacLeod Sr. composed some 200 pipe tunes. John Morrison, Assynt House, was a founder member of the Lewis Pipe Band, formed on the 5th. July 1904, an association that lasted his lifetime.

“John Morrison, Assynt House” was popularized among Cape Breton fiddlers through the playing of Winston ‘Scotty’ Fitzgerald, and has proven a popular and often recorded piece.

Source for notated version: Little got many of his tunes from Cape Breton style fiddler Harvey Tolman (Nelson, N.H.) [Little]; Buddy MacMaster (Cape Breton), Peter Chaisson, Sr. (North-East Kings County, PEI) and Carl & Jackie Webster (Cardigan, Central Kings County, PEI) [Perlman]; Winston Fitzgerald (1014-1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources: Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald), 1997; No. 53, p. 22. John Wilson’s Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music, vol. 1, 1937. Little (Scottish and Cape Breton Fiddle Music in New Hampshire), 1984; pp. 34-35. Martin (Ceol na Fidhle), vol. 4, 1991; p. 11. Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 106.

Recorded sources: BM-91, Buddy MacMaster – “Glencoe Hall.”

See also listing at:
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [1]



Click to download sheet music here (cut and pointed style)

Click to download sheet music here (rounded style as played)


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