History

Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid is a historic venture into Gaelic Cape Breton, one of the world’s most renowned and vibrant oral storytelling cultures. Featuring Gaelic storyteller Angus MacLeod and music by award-winning singer Mary Jane Lamond, Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid is called a “beautifully crafted film … a rare and precious gift” by the Inverness Oran.

Gaelic was extensively spoken throughout North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries by millions of people, the result of massive emigration from Scotland and Ireland. And nowhere was this culture more established than in Cape Breton, an island off the eastern coast of Nova Scotia, where the Gaelic language formed a common currency of communication for nearly 100,000 people.

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The best Gaelic sgeulaichean (storytellers) in Cape Breton were famous for the vast collection of tales stored in their memories. The origins of these stories stretch back hundreds or even thousands of years. One such storyteller was Eachann Nìll Thearlaich (Hector Campbell). Eachann’s fable Am Fear a Chaill am Mulan (The Man Who Lost The Haystack) introduces the mysterious figure of the Baron of the Wind and was an inspiration for Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid.

Despite wide prevalence in Canada and the United States, Gaelic speakers faced systemic prejudice and poverty, and soon the language began to fade from use. Even in Cape Breton fewer than one thousand speakers are left, and like thousands of minority languages around the world, Gaelic faces an uncertain future.

But not all hope is lost. There is a significant revival of interest in Gaelic language and culture both in Scotland and North America. As the first Gaelic drama made in the New World, the makers of Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid are proud to provide audiences a glimpse inside a unique culture that is fighting for it’s right to exist in our modern world.