Mairead ni´n Thomais Iain

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 meet Mairead ni’n Thomais Iain she has made a new home in Alba Nuadh / Nova Scotia. 

IMG_0715

Mairead ni’n Tomais Iain left Buaile Dubh, Iochdar, Uibhist a Deas (South Uist) with her parents, four brothers and her father’s brother’s family when she was just a young girl. They arrived in Nova Scotia in 1841 and settled in Upper Grand Mira. Years later, she has married fear do chloinn ‘ic ‘ille Leathain, Uilleam (a MacLean man, William) and they have three children Màili, Mórag, and Iain.

 They make their home in Baghasdal, Ceap Breatainn (Boisdale, Cape Breton). This evening they are preparing for a luadhadh (milling frolic) to take place. Mairead’s homespun wool has been woven and the cloth taken off the beart (loom). It is ready now for the final stage of processing. She has also made a mulachag do chaise (a cake of cheese), a bonnach and Iain churned the cream into butter for the occasion. A person may also have a chance to sample Uilleam’s pòit-dhubh (moonshine) before the night is out.

IMG_0713

 After shearing the sheep, Màili and Mórag use the feàrsaid (drop spindle) to spin the carded rolagan (rolls of wool ready to be spun) into yarn. Mairead then dresses the beart (loom) and does all the weaving in the home. The rich brown coloured cloth they will mill this evening, dyed with crotal (lichen), will be used to make trousers for Iain and Uilleam.

 After soaking the cloth in maistir (stale urine), it will be pounded and passed deiseil (sunwise) around a makeshift table while singing milling songs. Uilleam‘s mother, Seònaid, over sees the work ensuring it is shrunk evenly and appropriately for the garments which will be made.

IMG_0703

 Mairead’s neighbours will gather and bring their own homespun wool to taigh Mairead (Margaret’s house) for the luadhadh (milling) to share in the work, sing together and enjoy fearas-chuideachd (good times/ company together). The children are looking forward to the festivities of the evening which will surely include dancing, family histories, music, stories, and even match making.

Mairead learned her songs from Peigi Bheag (Little Peggy), her mother’s mother, whom she was named after.  Peigi Bheag lived in Mairead’s home as she was growing up.  She was wonderful to sing.  She’d be singing while spinning, weaving, churning, milking, at taighean céilidh (in the céilidh houses) and of course at milling frolics. Mairead is very happy to be passing these songs on today to her own children.

IMG_0700 

 – Mairead nin Tomais Iain is portrayed by Séidheag Aonghais Iain Pheadair (Shay MacMullin) originally from, Upper Grand Mira, currently residing at A Rids (Mabou Ridge).   She has been with the Highland Village Museum for the past 2 seasons and has attended Stòras a Bhaile for the past 5 years.

Advertisements

Isbeal ni’n Dòmhnaill Eachainn Iain Dòmhnaill

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 meet Isbeal n’in Dòmhnaill Eachainn Iain Dòmhnaill she has made a new home in Alba Nuadh |Nova Scotia. 

H2013.30.32

Isbeal and her family live in Alba Nuadh (Nova Scotia). They came here from the Isle of Skye when she was just a young girl. She has married a widower and helped raise his children here. She is known for being able to make beautiful colours of yarns from her own sheep’s wool. Isbeal’s farm has a flock of sheep that will supply her family with wool. Isbeal and her family will shear the sheep for their wool, wash and card it with wooden brushes to remove dirt and debris. The brushed wool will be spun on a cuibhle-shnìomh (spinning wheel) to make the yarn. She is able to colour the yarn with a natural dye she can make herself.

P2008.26.014

For Isbeal, the process of using natural dyes has been passed down from one generation to the next. After gathering different plants and flowers that she has found around her farm, she will boil them in a pòit thrì chasach (iron pot). As the plants simmer Isbeal will place yarn in the water until the colours are absorbed.

P2011.26.124

She is able to make the dyes from roots, flowers, lichens, and barks. Fearna (Alder), will create the colours brown to black, càirt a’ spruis (spruce bark) will create brown, luibh an òir (golden rod) plants for making yellow to olive green and tì bhàn (pearly everlasting) can be used to make yellow.

Isbeal takes the yarn she has dyed and uses it for making her family’s sweaters, socks, hats and other clothes.

 

Isbeal ni’n Dòmhnaill Eachainn Iain Dòmhnaill is portrayed by Colleen Beaton from Little Narrows, Cape Breton. She has been with the Highland Village Museum for the past 18 seasons.