By Lauchie MacLellan, John Shaw, Alistair MacLeod
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They replied that they were immigrants from the south of Ireland, singing in their own language, Irish Gaelic. 1 In recounting the chance encounter some twenty years later, Lauchie made it clear that, however unlikely the setting, the socializing and entertainment provided by the Gaels from Ireland was a high point in a long and varied seasonal cycle of “working away” that to this day characterizes the working life of Cape Bretoners. Much of the pleasure in the sessions arose from the ease with which Lauchie and the Irish workers took to each other, sharing conversation and drink as well as songs, yet the significance for Lauchie extended beyond the immediate circumstances to a developing mutual awareness of a tradition shared by all of them – highly valued and like no other.
Whether this place of learning provided the humbler population with any access to literacy in either language is impossible to say, but it cannot be ruled out;20 if literacy was spread informally in this way in the western Highlands, Buorblach would be a most likely place. fm Page 10 Thursday, January 11, 2001 1:48 PM 10 A Story in Every Song At the end of the eighteenth century, North Morar was situated in the parish of Glenelg, which also comprised the districts of Knoydart and Glenelg proper.
There was] a lack of money or work, and the one thing that people did not lack was that they had a sufficiency of food. They raised it on the farms, so they did not go hungry. They had their own dwelling; good or bad, it was their home. That was what was on the mind of every Gael, and others besides – non-Gaels, in fact everyone who arrived in this country – because in the old country, or Britain or Europe, it was difficult for poor people to own land or a home. 8 The sense of relative prosperity, in terms understood by the community, continued until the close of the century.