27th Annual Féis an Eilein

AUGUST 15-19, 2017

Féis an Eilein is a community-based festival designed to promote the Gaelic language and culture of our area through educational and social activities for people of all ages. Christmas Island is home to the first Féis held outside of Scotland. Friends, relatives, and visitors from near and far come to the Féis each year. If you have even a little of the Gàidhlig we invite you to use it during our events!

If you have even a little of the Gàidhlig we invite you to use it during our events!

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Tuesday, August 15

 Cuirm-Chiùil Na Féise 

“The Féis Week Concert”  

8pm | Adm. $15 ~ Children 14 & under $5
Dithist Fhear An Taighe – Two MC’s, Hughie MacKinnon and Barry George, will welcome you tonight as we kick off our 27th Annual Féis. They will be joined by Brian Madore and Rod C. MacNeil for some Gaelic tunes. We are excited to welcome members of The Cape Breton University pipe band with featured piper Trevor Kellock. Féis instructor Shawnee Paul (fiddle and piano) will be joined by friends Vincent Joe, Vincent Joe Junior, and Mooney Francis to play some tunes. MacDonald brothers Shawn (fiddle), Paul (guitar), and Danny (fiddle) will be accompanied by Leanne Aucoin (piano). Susan MacLean (piano) will join Shawn, Danny, and Paul to play some tunes for our featured step dancers – Féis instructors – Maggie MacNeil and Andy MacMullin. Get ready folks, this kick-off concert will get you all fired up for the week’s festivities!


Wednesday, August 16

 Gaelic Language Classes

10am – 4pm | Adm. $25/per day ~ Seniors & Students $10 | Please bring your own lunch. Tea, coffee, and snacks will be provided.                  

Intermediate/advanced classes with Goiridh Dòmhnallach. Goiridh is a Gaelic singer, composer, storyteller and educator. He was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from some of Cape Breton’s best tradition-bearers, including Seumas MacAoidh, Seonaidh Aonghuis Bhig, Pàdruig Aonghuis Sìne, Fransas Dhùghaill Shandaidh and Rodaidh Ailig Ruairidh. He is one of a musical Cape Breton family, the “Dougalds” MacDonalds, originating in Kingsville, Inverness County. He was influenced by traditional musicians on both sides of his family. Goiridh works as the Gaelic Field Officer for the Gaelic Affairs branch of the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage and prefers to sing in the traditional style he learned from the singers of his native Bràigh na h-Aibhneadh. Goiridh has performed in Scotland, Ireland, and Canada, and is a highly sought after instructor for numerous Gaelic language classes and immersions throughout Cape Breton.

This instruction will be provided mostly in Gaelic and will draw from everyday speech and subjects as well as from the storytelling tradition in Gaelic Cape Breton. This will be a good, relaxed Gaelic immersion opportunity.

Total Immersion Plus/ Gàidhlig Aig Baile classes with Stacey MacLean. Stacey took a great interest in Gaelic language and culture at a young age. She immersed herself in the language and attended the Féis in the early days. She has taught Gaelic in the Public School system and now teaches youth and adults at community based classes and at Gaelic cultural institutions.

Stacey will instruct this 2-day session utilizing the TIP/GAB methodology. Gàidhlig aig Baile (GAB) or Gaelic in the Community, has become the model for community-based Gaelic language learning throughout Nova Scotia. Students learn to speak and understand Gaelic through oral repetition and body language while they take part in everyday activities and conversation.  There is no need to learn to read or write the language, which contributes to a fun and stress free learning environment. Féis an Eilein was the first organization in Nova Scotia to offer this model.

Students are welcome to participate in one or both days of instruction.


Ar Seanachas, Ar Daoine agus Ar n-Àiteachan

“Our Stories, Our People and Our Places”

7:30 pm | Adm. by donation.
Tea & Lunch will be served.

Each community in the Gaelic world had an active and lively tradition of song composition.  Songs from Central Cape Breton were made by people such as Alec Steele, Captain John MacKinnon, Shamus Campbell, Jonathan MacKinnon, and Mary MacLeod.  Who were these composers and what were their songs about? Do these songs matter in our modern world?  This evening’s event pays tribute to them and examines some of the issues around retaining their songs in the 21st century.

Join long time Féis contributor Bean an Taighe Lorrie MacKinnon as she welcomes Winnie MacDonald and her son Paul MacDonald, Rod C. MacNeil, Mickey MacNeil, and Emily Clegg as they explore some of the composers and singers from our area and the music they created.

Special guest: Alison MacLeod will read from her book, “all the beloved ghosts”.

MacLeod is a novelist and short story writer. She was raised in Montreal and Halifax, and has been living in England since 1987. Her most recent novel, Unexploded was long-listed for the 2013 Man-Booker Prize for Fiction.


Thursday, August 17

Gaelic Language Classes

10am – 4pm | Adm. $25/per day ~ Seniors & Students $10 | Please bring your own lunch. Tea, coffee, and snacks will be provided.                      

Intermediate/advanced class with Goiridh Dòmhnallach and TIP/GAB with Stacey MacLean are continued.


Milling Song Workshop                                             

6pm – 7:30pm | Adm. $6

The instructor for this workshop is Angus MacLeod. He teaches and performs throughout North America and at events around the island. Come learn some milling songs and choruses and join in the singing tonight.

 Traditional Milling Frolic  

8pm | Adm. $10 ~ Ages 14 & Under Free

Singers once gathered around the milling table to keep a constant rhythm while pounding newly-woven cloth – now the work is done for the sheer pleasure and to keep the songs and culture alive. This milling frolic is one of the best known on Cape Breton Island and is not to be missed!       Tea and lunch will be served.


Friday, August 18

Latha De Dh’Òrain – Day of Gaelic Songs

Adm. $6 per workshop

We are pleased to offer this day devoted to the study of the Gaelic Song Tradition. A wide-variety of song styles will be taught. Our instructors are all well- known Gaelic singers.

 11:30am – 1pm Instructor Betty Lord is a Gaelic singer, organizer, and promoter.

1pm – 2:30pm Instructor Colin Watson is a native Gaelic speaker and a long-time contributor to Féis an Eilein.

2:30pm – 4pm Instructor Shay MacMullin has organized and taught numerous Gaelic language classes and song workshops.


Féis Children’s Concert & Family Square Sets 7pm – 9pm | Adm. Free        

Students of our summer music program will perform in a Féis style recital at the Christmas Island Fire Hall. Stay for some square sets with music by Féis Instructors Maggie MacNeil and Shawnee Paul. Former Féis instructor Lauren MacDonald will guide everyone through the figures. Hot dogs, pop, and ice cream will be provided. Donations accepted at the door.

Saturday August 19

Conair Moire – The Rosary

10:30am – 12pm | Adm. $6     

In many homes in our area it was a ritual to recite the Rosary in Gaelic each evening. Some people still up-hold this tradition. Among them is Rod C. MacNeil of Barra Glen who will teach the Rosary and other prayers in Gaelic. Rod is a noted Gaelic tradition-bearer and singer who has taught many classes and workshops over the years. He has supported the Féis since its inception and we sincerely appreciate his support again today.


Gabh do Naidheachd – Tell Your News            

1:30pm | Adm. Free

Fear an Taighe Shamus Y. MacDonald will host this session which is conducted entirely in Gaelic. Held at the Grand Narrows Hotel, it is an opportunity to share stories and be immersed in the language. Refreshments will be served.


Sreath de dh’Òrain Gaelic Song Circle 
3:30pm | Adm. Free     

Bean an Taighe Lorrie MacKinnon will lead the singing at The Grand Narrows Hotel. Tradition bearers and new singers alike will be welcome to share their songs.


We sincerely hope you enjoy your Féis experience and that you can come back to visit us again!