Storytelling has always been an integral part of Gaelic culture — and of being human, for that matter — but why are sgeulachdan, the stories once told in the cèilidh house, so important? To celebrate Seachdain na Gàidhlig

Cathleen Ransom MacKay telling a story at the ACGA US National Mòd in 2016.

or World Gaelic Week, ACGA joined with Hidden Glen Folk School of Scottish Highland Heritage and Sgoil Gàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhòir to explore that question in a podcast: Around the Virtual Hearth: A Modern Look at Traditional Gaelic Storytelling.

In the podcast, ACGA president Liam Ó Caiside joined Dr. Michael Newton of the Hidden Glen Folk School and Rick Gwynallen, an ACGA board member and co-founder and administrator of Sgoil Gàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhòir in Baltimore, to dig deep into the Gaelic storytelling tradition, discussing the role stories play not just as entertainment but in traditional education and dissemination of values. They discuss the role of the storyteller, both traditionally and in contemporary time.

They also look at some individual tales from Scottish Gaelic tradition, including their “favorites,” and explain why these traditional stories are so important to learners and should be more widely used in Gaelic learning. (ACGA holds a storytelling competition as part of its US National Mòd each year.)

The podcast, in English with some Gaelic, is available for free on the Seachdain na Gàidhlig website here, along with many other programs. Gather round the virtual hearth and give it a listen!