Fàilte gu Carolina a Tuath – [Welcome to North Carolina]

An Comunn Gaidhealach – America (ACGA) presents the Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week, from July 2 – July 7, 2023.

The Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week will be located at Lees-McRae College, in Banner Elk, NC, in what is known as the “high country.” It is roughly half an hour’s drive from Grandfather Mountain where the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are held every year the second weekend in July (immediately after the Gaelic Song and Language Week). The nearest airports are Tri-Cities, TN and Charlotte, NC.

Come to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, a state where Gaelic was still spoken at the end of the nineteenth century. Enjoy language classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced Gaelic speakers and singing classes covering a range of traditional Gaelic song forms, including waulking or milling songs and mouth music. Scottish Gaelic Language classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced speakers will be offered.

The week will consist of language and song classes at graduated levels. Other activities will include a cèilidh, a silent auction, viewing Gaelic videos (if any are brought), and hikes in the beautiful surrounding mountains (if you choose). The workshop ends just as the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are getting underway at MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain. As usual there will be a Gaelic Tent at the games, and the North Carolina Gaelic Mòd will take place there on the Saturday.


For the registration form click here.

For more information, contact Shannon Duncan at shannon.duncan01@gmail.com or Jamie MacDonald at gaelteach@gmail.com.


Cò bhitheas a’ teagasg? [Who’s teaching?]

Stacey MacLean hails from the central Cape Breton community of MacKinnon’s Harbour. Inspired by Nova Scotian tradition bearers, Gaelic teachers and members of her own family, she began learning Gaelic from a young age, immersing herself as much as possible in the language and culture. Stacey or Steiseag as she is known in the Gaelic community, has worked with the language in various capacities including teaching and research at both community and institutional realms. She has taught all ages and believes strongly in the benefits of intergenerational learning. She currently works at the Gaelic medium school, in Mabou, Cape Breton, teaches adult classes, and is a mentor for Na Gaisgaich Oga, a program aimed at immersing youth in Gaelic language and culture.

Fiona J. Mackenzie, is a graduate of Aberdeen University and postgraduate of the University of the West of Scotland where she undertook her Masters in Gaelic Songwriting & Performance. She now lives on the Isle of Canna in the Inner Hebrides, where she is the Archivist in Canna House, the world renowned home of the Campbell Collections of Folklore, Photography and Song. She won the An Comunn Gaidhealach Gold Medal in 2005 and now records on the Greentrax label, with whom she has recently released her album based on the Canna Archives, “Tac an Teine”. She published the first collection of Shaw’s island photography in 2018 and also recently produced an Art documentary film on Shaw’s life, entitled ‘Solas’- Gaelic for ‘Light’. She is also a keen film maker and recently won the FilmG prize of best mobile film, 2021.

Fiona cites one of the highlights of her performing career as being the song leader and tutor for the team of ‘waulking women’ in the first series of “Outlander”!

Wilma Kennedy is an award winning singer and actress who hails originally from Glasgow but whose family roots are in Skye and Tiree. She is a native Gaelic speaker who has sung for as long as she can remember and most recently sang with her family as part of ‘The Campbells of Greepe’. With them she recorded two albums and contributed to the family book ‘Fonn : Music and a sense of place in a Gaelic Family Song Tradition’.

She is one of only a few singers who has won both Gold and Traditional Gold Medals at the Royal National Mod. Her passion for sharing and teaching songs is evident in her career both as a former Gaelic Song Tutor at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music and as conductor the Dundee Gaelic Choir for 12 years.

Wilma retrained to teach Primary School children through the medium of Gaelic and even taught her own daughter for 2 years. Both mother and daughter lived to tell the tale! She currently teaches pupils from age 5-11 in a multi-composite class.

She loves teaching her pupils songs as a way of telling social history and also for pure enjoyment. Wilma is particularly interested in Waulking songs and sang for many years with the Glasgow Waulking group Bannal.

Her family are recognised as experts in Puirt a beul and she will definitely be sharing a few puirt. Most recently she has become interested in the songs collected by Frances Tolmie in the 19th century as her mother, Kenna Campbell, has been re-editing Tolmie’s book “One hundred and five songs of occupation”.

Wilma is very much looking forward to coming to Grandfather Mountain’s Gaelic Language and Song Week.


Cìsean – [Fees]

Details of tuition, room, and board for the workshop are dependent on which services you select at registration. A link to the registration will appear HERE when registration opens.


Cuid Oidhche – [Room and Meals]

Cafeteria meals are quite good and provide a good selection to cater to most diets. Meals provided are from Sunday evening dinner through Friday lunch. Accommodations and food for the workshop begin with dinner on Sunday, July 2nd and end with breakfast on Friday, July 7th.


Games Accommodation and Cancellation/Refund Policy

Additional dorm room nights are available for a reasonable charge at the time of Registration for the Gaelic Week for those staying for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. The additional nights are not available after Registration closes and all payments in advance for accommodation during the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and the Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language Week are non-refundable after Registration closes. There are NO exceptions to this rule.


Thoir – [Bring]

Dorm Room Items:

  • Bed linens and pillow
  • Blanket for your bed
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Fan for your dorm room
  • Desk lamp

Personal Items:

  • Casual clothing for both cool weather and warm (see the weather section)
  • Walking or hiking shoes
  • Raincoat
  • Camera
  • Flash light (needed for both the Opening Ceremonies of the Games and at top of mountain for fireworks display)

Classroom items:

  • Gaelic reference books
  • Laptop, tablet, or phone for viewing digital class files and note-taking

Other items:

  • Props for cèilidh
  • Musical instruments
  • Items to donate for Silent Auction
  • Cash or checkbook for Silent auction—great bargains!
  • Gaelic books to share with the group at night


Clàr-Ùine – [Schedule]

Check in will take place from 12:00 to 5:00 on Sunday afternoon. Dinner will be available for those who arrive before 6 pm. Welcome and Introduction Meeting will be at 6:30 pm (and be relatively short). Classes will begin Monday and run through noon on Friday. Because the American Independence Day holiday falls on Tuesday of the workshop, classes will be held in a different building on that day than the rest of the week. More details on this will be provided closer to time. Class schedule will be posted here at a time closer to the event date.


Siubhal – [Travel]

If you will be flying, the nearest airports are Tri-Cities TN and Charlotte NC.


Roimh-innse na Sìde – [Weather Forecast]

Temperatures usually range in the low 60’s to mid 80’s during July. The weather is normally beautiful and cool. However, it can be hot, and it can be cold. It is advisable to bring both a fan for your room and a blanket for your bed. Shorts and lightweight long pants are both appropriate as are short sleeved t-shirts and light weight sweaters. However, if you’re planning on joining the group going to the top of Grandfather Mountain (a mile high) to view the Opening Ceremonies for the Highland Games on Thursday evening of the Week, you’ll need a heavier sweater or jacket and a blanket to sit on. A raincoat or umbrella is also advised just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.