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Sunday, February 21, 2016
Manx Band Mec Lir Relive Their Visit to the Celtic Colours Festival in Canada
trad band Mec Lir made history recently, when they became the first Manx group
to represent the Isle of Man at what has become known as one of Canada's
premiere musical events.
David Kilgallon, Tomas Callister, Adam Rhodes and Greg Barry have brought a
new, contemporary feel to Manx traditional music, providing a ground-breaking
mix of dance tunes with an upbeat tempo which has attracted a legion of new
fans and generated much interest off-Island.
Celtic Colours International Festival is recognised as a cultural highlight of
Nova Scotia's annual calendar, and has been successful in extending Cape Breton
Island's tourism season.
home to a unique combination of music and culture, following the settlement of
immigrants from France, Scotland and Ireland, but additionally influenced by
the Aboriginal Mi'kmaq people, its geography and social isolation.
of Mec Lir quickly recognised an affinity with the Isle of Man as the community
came together to provide a rich experience of a living culture for
and fiddle player David Kilgallon remarked, "The concerts were always sold
out, and not surprising really, since there's such strong support for what
heritage is there, and of course the interest of seeing the first band from the
Isle of Man. The festival is very community based, with little over 150,000
people living on Cape Breton Island. We were cooked dinner each day by
volunteers, but also hit Thanksgiving whilst we were there, so had lots of
dozens of concerts held across the Island, workshops, an extensive line-up of
community events and a nightly Festival Club at the Gaelic College in St Ann's,
the fabulous Celtic Colours Festival has grown rapidly since its inception in
Lir played a number of gigs at the festival (often closing the night off) with
Tomas Callister providing nuggets of information about the Isle of Man. One
highlight was a session on stage with a duo from Newfoundland on the
commented, "The Festival Club was the heart of the fest and usually sold
out too. In the Festival Club we mixed with some world class musicians who were
also playing at the festival, which led to many impromptu sessions which went
on till at least six in the morning!"
highlight of the festival for the Manx band was playing for the local school in
Baddeck, where children were invited to learn how to sing Hunt the Wren. In
appreciation of their visit, members of Mec Lir were each presented with a
Baddeck Academy scarf.
award-winning festival provides an ambitious schedule, allowing both visitors
and residents to pursue a hands-on experience through a wide selection of
presentations, demonstrations and lectures. This extends to visual art
presentations, outdoor walks and bicycle tours to take advantage of Cape Breton
Island's spectacular scenery.