Moments

One lady in an Isle of Lewis Care Home is always trying to get on her feet, and doesn’t ever seem to engage in conversation with anyone. Today she managed to stand up as she had a walking stick in her hand.

As I approached, to coax her to sit down, I heard her say something about ‘àirigh’ the Gaelic for shieling. The summer pasture for cattle.
I mentioned ‘aran corc’ oatcakes, ‘gruth’ crowdie and ‘bàrr’ cream as they were staple àirigh food.

She liked the words ‘gruth ’s barr’and tried them out.

I softly sang a verse
Dh’ith thu an gruth s dh’òl thu am bàrr
Dh’ith thu an gruth s dh’ol thu am bàrr
Dh’ith thu an gruth ‘s dh’ol thu am bàrr
S dh’ith’ thu càis an t-sàmhraidh

Yes! This lady joined me on the second line.

At the end of the verse and before I could attempt further conversation. Behind me, I heard two or three voices who having recognised the verse, were heartily singing the chorus.
S i o al o al ay di um
S i o al o al ay di um
S i o al o al ay di um
S i o al um si ou rum

I gently took the standing lady’s arm and walked her around to face the others.
We sang another two verses and three rousing chorus. With this lady heartily singing, hanging on my arm and the second time around, she began to swing her walking stick gently in time.

The faces of the other resident-singers seated, were an absolute picture. Their expressions I believe, to be sheer astonishment. That this lady who did not usually converse at all, was there with us, animated and contributing words to the song, conducting the flow with her stick.

We all watched the walking stick swing back and fore. Non-threatening, it was gently controlled and swinging at ground level, keeping time.

I wonder whether others in the room, went back to swishing a walking stick while herding the cow home from the moor at milking time?

Crowdie and cream from a cow grazing on the heather in the summer. Nothing quite like it.

Dh’ith thu an gruth s dhol thu am bàrr.
Dh’ith thu an gruth s dh’ol thu am bàrr
Dh’ith thu an gruth ‘s dh’ol thu am bàrr
S dh’ith’ thu càis an t-sàmhraidh

I just love those very evocative Gaelic songs and on the Arora project I have found many willing chorus participants. In fact I see them as the best ceilidh audience in the West of Scotland.

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