Over the past few years, Highland Village animation staff have been transitioning interpretation from 3rd person to 1st person (or role playing). Through this process, staff have developed their own personas, each with their own stories and experiences. In this blog, we travel to Scotland to meet Catrìona bean Sheòrais`ic Alasdair, who will soon immigrate to Nova Scotia.
Catrìona lives on the Isle of Barra in Scotland with her family.
Her days are spent planting and weeding the crops. The staples in her diet are the potatoes, barley, and oats they grow in their field. They have sheep and cattle they care for as well.
Catrìona’s home consists of stonewalls with grassy thatched roofs known as Taigh Dubh (Black House). In the winter the family and animals will live together under the one roof for warmth. During the summer months the animals will be out grazing in the pasture.
Catrìona’s family are tenants on the land. The wealthy landowners lease plots to families who put everything they have into farming the land to pay their rent. Landowners are raising the rents and evicting those who cannot pay. With the tenants evicted, they can replace them with large sheep farms, which will make greater profits.
She is waiting for a ship to arrive that will take them to the “New World”.
Some of her neighbours have already chosen to leave, while others have been forced out of their homes. Many are struggling to find a way to afford passage on the ship.
In Catrìona’s case her husband has sold their cattle to be able to afford the cost of passage.
Catrìona and her family won’t be able to bring much with them on the ship; some fishing line, tuadh (axe), feàrsaid (drop spindle) for making wool. They will have to leave their animals behind. Many have left with little but the clothes on their backs.
They, like many others from the Highlands and Islands Catrìona, will leave Scotland to immigrate to Alba Nuadh |Nova Scotia.
Not only is Catrìona leaving her house and lifestyle but she will leave her family. She will bring with her to the new world her strong Gaelic language and her culture she holds near and dear to heart. When Catrìona arrives she will speak little Beurla (English) and will have no means of communicating with her family back home. However, she will seek out kin who have already arrived in Nova Scotia and settled on land in Cape Breton.
– Catrìona bean Sheòrais ’ ic Alasdair is portrayed by Catherine Gillis, from North Sydney, Cape Breton. She has been with the Highland Village Museum for the past 9 seasons.