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Welcome - Failte Romhat!

When the translation is provided submissions to the blog will be published in both English and Irish. Please send submissions to the webmaster address shown at the very top of the blog. Please visit us often. This blog is the companion of the Ottawa Comhaltas website:

Beidh poist a fhoilsiú i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge nuair is féidir. Tabhair cuairt orainn go minic. Is é seo an blag an compánach an láithreán gréasáin Comhaltas Ottawa:

Thursday 22 November 2012

Make Celtic Christmas Cards - workshop organized by Caint is Comhrá - 24 Nov 2012

Make your own Celtic Christmas Cards at a workshop organized by the Ottawa Irish Language Group, Caint is Comhrá, under the auspices of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Ottawa Branch.

Saturday, November 24th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Bethel Fieldhouse, 166 Frank St., St. Luke's Park. (Off Elgin St. and between Frank and Gladstone on the east side of Elgin St.)

Cost: $10 - includes supplies provided (watercolour paint and card stock) and refreshments

If interested, please contact Toni Forsythe by Thursday at the latest:
613-233-9927 or toni144 at gmail dot com

Tuesday 13 November 2012

"An Ghaeltacht sa 21ú hAois" / "The Modern Gaeltacht" / "La Nouvelle Époque du Gaeltacht" - 15 November 2012

CELTIC CHAIR LECTURE SERIES at the University of Ottawa

SIMARD 422, University of Ottawa

Thursday 15 November 2012 at 7:30pm

"An Ghaeltacht sa 21ú hAois" / "The Modern Gaeltacht" / "La Nouvelle Époque du Gaeltacht"

A "Gaeltacht" is defined as any area wherein the Gaelic/Irish language is spoken as the language of communication. Did you know that there was an Irish language spoken around the world today? Did you know there is a "Gaeltacht" in Canada?

What area fits this description, more than a decade in to the new millennium? Does the term "Gaeltacht" even exist any more? Eoin Ó Catháin will attempt to find out more on this question, and perhaps provide an answer. All are welcome.

Eoin Ó Catháin is an ICUF Visiting Scholar living and teaching in Ottawa. He is a native of County Clare, and has spent over 15 years learning Irish, and recently qualified as an Irish and French high school teacher. Language Planning and the Sociolinguistics of the Irish language are two of his main interests as regards the Irish language.

The Lecture will be given in English.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Caint is Comhrá meetups at Heart and Crown, Fridays!

English follows

A chairde,

Beidh an grúpa Caint is Comhrá ag bualadh suas lena chéile arís amárach sa "Heart and Crown" ag 5.30 pm sa Market. D'éirigh go geal linn an tseachtain seo caite; bhí sé iontach an Ghaeilge a chloisteáil á labhairt  go forleathan in Ottawa; idir ghlantosaitheoir agus chainteoir liofa, idir óg agus shean. Labhair an freastalaí as Gaeilge liom nuair a bhí mé ag imeacht!! Le cúnamh Dé, beidh an méid céanna agus an díográis céanna ann sa tráthnóna amárach.

Agus, a chairde, ná bígí buartha, tá an bord curtha in áirithe agam don tseachtain seo!

Más féidir a scéal a scaipeadh, bheadh sé iontach.

 - - - 

Hi all,

Caint is Comhrá will meet up again tomorrow night (9 Nov.) at the Heart & Crown, at 5.30pm in the Market. Last week was a great success, with about 15 people throughout the evening. It was great to hear Irish being spoken so widely in Ottawa, between beginners and fluent speakers, young and old. When I was leaving the waitress even spoke Irish to me! Hopefully, we will have the same amount- or more- and the same enthusiasm tomorrow evening

And, don't be worried, I have a table booked this time.

If you could spread the word, I would really appreciate it.

Feicifidh mé ann sibh/ I'll see ye there


Wednesday 7 November 2012

Interview with Ellen MacIsaac on competing in sean-nos singing at the Oireachtas na Samhna, Letterkenny

CCE Ottawa Branch member, Ellen MacIsaac, who this past week competed for the first time in sean-nos singing at the Oireachtas na Samhna in Letterkenny, has graciously consented to a brief interview. This is what she told us in her own words.

Describe in your own words what sean-nos singing is all about.
For the uninitiated, sean-nos refers to a highly ornamented, unaccompanied style of singing in the Irish language. It has its own repertoire, regional styles, and adherents, quite apart from the English language tradition (In fact, you'll kind of insult Irish speakers by calling English language traditional singing "sean-nos"). It's an intensely personal, intensely emotional kind of singing that elicits intense opinions, discussions, and reactions. It's also all about community. You sing the songs of your community, you are supported by your community, and singing the songs in a session helps reinforce community ties.
How did you develop interest in sean-nos singing?
I got interested in the style when I went to Ireland to do my Masters' and my Doctorate [studies]. I wanted to understand the mythos that surrounded this kind of singing, and how people from outside of the traditional communities had gone about becoming part of the community of singers and known for this style of singing.

How did you qualify to go to Ireland to compte, and how do you prepare for competition?
I took part in the sean-nos singing competition at the Oireachtas Gaeilge Cheanada (, and got first place. The prize was the plane fare to come to Ireland to compete in the Oireachtas na Samhna, which is the festival on which the Canadian one is based. You have to understand, though, that the expectation is that you`ll have your songs memorized, so I spent most of the four months between the Oireachtas in Kingston and the one in Letterkenny memorizing words, practicing the ornaments, and figuring out the best key to sing the song in.
How was the competition organized?
The "old" Oireachtas (as people were calling it up in Letterkenny) has every competitor in a category sing a slow song. Based on how well they did, the judges call back five of the best to sing a fast song, and then make their decision of a winner based on that. In Canada, we tend to let everyone sing both a slow and a fast song. We don't have 20 competitors per category - yet!
Describe your experience at the competition?
The competition itself was like pretty much every other competition I've ever taken part in; it was nerve-wrecking to start with, but at a certain point the work I put in during practice took over and I just went up and did it. I won't lie, I was a little disappointed at not being called back for the second song, but I also realize that pretty much no-body gets the call back on their first time. The other competitors had been doing these competitions for years. But what was interesting to me was seeing how the singing style fits into the bigger whole of the culture - the singing, dancing, poetry, literature, music, all of it is one big continuum.
Do you have any advice for people that would like to compete at the event?
Yes, there's a couple of pieces of important advice for anyone who wants to give this a serious try:
a) Work at getting as much of the language under your belt as possible. The more you have the easier things will be for you pretty much all the way through.
b) It's helpful to pick a regional style and repertoire, and get familiar with the best, most representative singers of that area. Connemara style is the most commonly known, and the most popular style.
c) Mimic the style by mimicking the singers. Sing along to recordings.
d) Make sure to memorize your songs, at least one slow song and one fast.
e) Try to internalize the songs. Remember that most Irish have a "party piece" ready to go at the drop of a hat. Try to get so familiar with your songs that you can sing them at the drop of a hat.
f) Don't feel bad if you don't get the call-back on the first time; this kind of singing can take years to master, and even native Irish speakers take years to get good enough to get the call-back.
Now that you have experienced the competition in Ireland, would you like to try again?
I likely will.
Does Ireland provide any financial support to compete?
Yes, as mentioned before, they provide the plane fare to go over to Ireland to compete.

Thank you Ellen.
You're very welcome.

Ellen also provides this link to the television apprearance on a popular show. The day’s main news stories from a regional, national and international perspective live from Oireachtas na Samhna in Letterkenny (it is a big file so it takes a little while to upload).

The video clip is composed of three parts (separated by commercials). Fast forward the first two parts, if you wish. Part 1 is 18 minutes, part 2 is 14 minutes. Part 3: Description or Oireachas Canada is at 07:36, Gaelic Choir at 7:53, Aralt talking about Oireachtas Gaeilge Cheanada at 8:40, and Ellen's singing at 10:24.
Interviewer: Patricia Avendano

Friday 2 November 2012

Branch member Ellen MacIsaac competes in 2012 Oireachtas na Samhna

Today is the day that our Ellen MacIsaac of Ottawa is competing at the Oireachtas na Samhna in Ireland! The event goes from 30 Oct to 4 Nov., and is held in Letterkenny, Donegal. We think Ellen has already won, just by simply qualifying to go! What a thrill it must be. We're all so proud of Ellen.

We have just caught a Tweet heard from folks attending the event: 
Our Ellen sang today at O na G "Thig liom a rá gan drogall gur “nailed it” an abairt is fearr chun cur síos air." says Aralt MacGiolla Chainnigh.
Written just before leaving for Ireland, with permission, we turn the story over to Ellen's own words:
I guess this is as good a time as any to tell my story, and what going to this Oirachtas means to me. 15 years ago, when I was young and stupid, I went to Ireland to do my higher degrees in Ethnomusicology (ed. a PhD). My chosen subject was sean-nos singing, and the Irish tradition in general. I spent a year and a half doing as much research as I could, attending Oireachtas, talking to people, doing interviews. But my Irish was far from fluent, and I realized that my Irish was never going to be good enough in the time I had available to me to be able to interview people in their native language. So out of respect for the people who speak this language every day, I abandoned the project and chose another topic. It has remained the great Unfinished Thing in my life, the one thing I failed at. Until now. Two years ago, Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh, Sheila Scott, Allyson Reid, Michelle Reid and all the others came along, and asked me to be involved in the Oireachtas Gaeilge Cheanada. I immediately said yes, and brought both myself as a solo singer, and my choir, to the Oireachtas down in Kingston. While I competed in the sean-nos category, I figured I'd seen and heard the real deal, I couldn't possibly measure up. And yet, this year, the judges picked me as the winner of the sean-nos category. And so I find myself going back to Ireland, back to an tOireachtas Mor, to see and hear and be immersed again in this style again. Except this time, I'm not a stupid 22 year old with big eyes and ears. This time, I'm going in as a singer. It's a huge deal for me, terrifying, daunting, and yet exciting, moving, and such a great honour. I hope I can do everybody proud, and can call this a Finished Thing.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Caint agus Comhrá / Talk and Chat

English follows

Caint agus Comhrá:

Is grúpa dátheangach é "Caint agus Comhrá" a oibríonn go dian chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn mar teanga labhartha anseo in Ottawa. Cuireann muid fáilte is fiche roimh gach duine gur mian leo an teanga a fhoghlaim agus déanfaidh muid ár seacht ndícheall imeachtaí agus áiseanna a chur ar fáil dóibh a chabhróidh leo máistreacht a fháil ar an teanga. Eagraíonn muid imeachtaí éagsúla le linn na bliana chun an pobal Gaeilge a chothú agus a laidriú. Ina measc sin, tá ócáid shóisialta á búnú againn faoi láthair darb ainm "Caint agus Comhrá." Beidh muid ag teacht le chéile sa Heart and Crown (Croí agus Coróin) gach tráthnóna Dé hAoine (5:30 pm), agus beidh muid in ann an teanga a labhairt, a laidriú agus a scaipeadh ar fud Ottawa. Má tá suim agat nó ag do chairde, ná bíodh drogall ar bith oraibh dul i dteagmháil linn! Beidh muid sásta cabhrú!

Má tá spéis agat ranganna Gaeilge a dhéanamh linn, is féidir teagmháil a dhéanamh le hEoin Ó Catháin, atá ag múineadh na Gaeilge in Ollscoil Ottawa faoi láthair, agus atá ag feidhmiú mar Oifigeach na Gaeilge le Comhaltas anseo in Ottawa.

Caint agus Comhrá (Talk and Chat):

Is a bilingual group that is working hard to promote Irish as a spoken language here in Ottawa. We welcome anyone who wishes to learn the language, and we endeavour to provide resources and events to help learners master the language. We organise various events throughout the year to help and strengthen the Irish language community. Among these events is the weekly get-together called "Caint agus Comhrá" which is currently being developed by the group. We will be meeting at the Heart and Crown (Croí agus Coróin) every Friday evening after work (5:30 pm), and we hope to strengthen and spread the language all over Ottawa! If you or any of your friends would be interested in attending, please do not hesitate in contacting us!! We will be happy to help.

If you would like to attend Irish classes, you can contact Eoin Ó Catháin, an Irish teacher in the University of Ottawa at the moment, and is acting as the Irish Language Officer with the Comhaltas branch in Ottawa.

Slán agus Beannacht,

Caint agus Comhrá.

Until next time / Go dtí an chéad uair eile!