Many people have heard of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet, but what about Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, Màiri Mhòr nan Òran, or Donnchadh Bàn? Those are just three of the thousands of Scottish Gaelic poets whose work isn’t often recognized outside the Gaelic-speaking community. Our remedy for that at An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach (ACGA) is Oidhche nam Bàrd or the Night of the Bàrds, an annual celebration of Scottish Gaelic poetry and poets past and present.

This year Oidhche nam Bàrd will fall on Saturday, Jan. 14 — about a week and half before Burns Night on Jan. 25. ACGA and Gàidhlig Photomac, the Washington, DC-area Gaelic Learning Community, will host a two-hour online program from 2 pm to 4 pm Eastern Time exploring the lives and stories of Gaelic poets and their work. We’ll begin with a brief discussion of Gaelic poetry followed by examples, both in recitation and song. We’ll cover several historical periods, including the present day.

We will begin with a few selections from our hosts and proceed to an open mic format. Bring your own favorite poems or songs (they are often one and the same in Scottish Gaelic tradition) to share with the group. We welcome poets, of course! We only ask that the material be limited to poetry or songs in Scottish Gaelic, whether composed in Scotland or elsewhere. Please register for the event through our events page.

Oidhche nam Bàrd was founded by Gàidhlig Photomac in 2018. The Washington, DC-area learning community held three live events in Alexandria, Virginia, before the COVID-19 pandemic drove such programs online. ACGA has co-sponsored the event since 2021.

This year’s program will be held online but we hope to incorporate both live and online elements into the program in 2024 — perhaps even a poetry workshop. We’re also delighted that other groups have adopted Oidhche nam Bàrd, including Comann Ghàidhlig Thoronto in Toronto, Canada.