Classical review: Cuairt nam Bàrd/Turas na bhFilí (Poets Tour), Inverness

A PRINTED programme explained that Cuairt nam Bàrd/Turas na bhFilí, although featured in this year’s Blas festival, is one of the longest-running cultural exchange schemes between the two Gaeltachts, dating back over 40 years.

Picture: Peter Jolly
Picture: Peter Jolly

Cuairt nam Bàrd/Turas na bhFilí (Poets Tour)

MacLean Rooms, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness

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Groups of two poets, a singer and a musician from each country, are invited to visit and perform in the other, seeing communities where Gaelic is still spoken, to explore common ground and share traditions.

While Gàidhlig and Gaeilge (to give both kindred languages their respective indigenous names) were of course central to the performance, featuring poets Proinsias Mac a’ Bhàird, from Donegal, and Kerry-based Ceití Ní Bheildiúin, singer/fiddler Eithne Ní Chatháin and uilleann piper Pádraic Keane, it was nonetheless – especially in the context of Blas – aimed at a general audience, which included a number of foreign tourists. Regrettably, though, there seemed to be a basic, awkward uncertainty as to how the bilingual issue should be handled – with the honourable exception of Mac a’ Bhàird, who delivered all of his affectingly understated, often domestically-inspired poems both in the original and in translation.

Elsewhere, though, there was little accordance of parity to the non-Gaelic speakers present, which detracted fairly fundamentally from engagement with the material, while even the musical items, where language barriers were less intrusive, proved far from transcendently communicative.