It has been wonderful to be able to call in the energy and expertise of some additional members of the Language in Lyrics team recently. Working mostly on shorter-term projects, their input has been invaluable as we progress with song cataloguing, database management and developing plans to take the project further in the coming years… Here is an introduction to some of the team (the first of two posts).
Cailín Laing / Colleen Lynk: Project Assistant
Colleen is a Gaelic speaker living in Halifax, but with strong roots in Glace Bay and Victoria County. She has been participating in a wide range of classes and events around the province since 2017 and has had the opportunity to learn from various teachers. Recently, she has enjoyed teaching Gaelic Song during Mìos nan Gàidheal, acting in a Gaelic short film, and sitting on the board of her local Gaelic organization, Sgoil Ghàidhlig an Àrd-Bhaile.
Colleen’s passion for the Gaelic language and culture was born out of the admiration she holds for her late grandmother, Sadie Lynk of Glace Bay, originally a native speaker of Gaelic. She also fondly remembers growing up listening to her father, Kevin, sing with his guitar and tell stories in a way that was very reminiscent of what she now knows to be Gaelic tradition. She carries a strong desire to uncover the names and stories of the many passionate Gaels that came before her throughout her family’s history, a project that she has been working on since 2015.
Colleen joins the team this summer 2019 through the Young Canada Works programme and we are delighted to have her. She will be assisting us with entering and cleaning in the song database, as well as text digitization and social media content. She will also be writing a fortnightly blog exploring local history and the Nova Scotian song tradition, as well as her own relationship to her Gaelic roots and the learning process of working on the Language in Lyrics project.
Tealsaidh Nic a’ Phearsain / Chelsey MacPherson: Database Assistant
Chelsey MacPherson is a Gaelic speaker and student at St Francis Xavier University where she is working towards an Honours Degree in Celtic Studies.
As a child, she recalls listening to the Rankins from the backseat of her Grandmother’s car and later began learning Gaelic songs from Sìne MacKenna of Maxville, Ontario. After attending Féis an Eilein in Christmas Island, Cape Breton, she was inspired to pursue learning the language.
Her main area of research is the folklore and Gaelic of her home county of Glengarry, Ontario. This summer 2019 she was awarded a student research grant to comb the Gaelic newspaper Mac-Talla for references to Glengarry County. Alongside this research, Chelsey has completed the substantial and extremely useful task of ensuring that the songs from all 12 volumes of Mac-Talla are entered into the Language in Lyrics database. Taing mhòr a Thealsaidh!
Trueman MacMhathain / Trueman Matheson: Database Assistant
Trueman Matheson started learning Gaelic in 1991 and quickly fell in love with the language. He has served on several boards including the Gaelic Cultural Association – Comunn Gaidhlig an Ard-Bhaile (1992-97, President 1993-95), Comhairle na Gaidhlig 1998-2008 and the Gaelic Development Steering Committee 2002-2004.
In 1998 Trueman established Sìol Cultural Enterprises, a company which he would run for the next seventeen years. Initially Sìol distributed Gaelic materials from publishers such as Gairm Publications, Cànan, and Acair, as well as many other companies. Later, he got into publishing Gaelic books starting with a new edition of An t-Òranaiche (with CD) in 2002. By the time the business closed in 2015 Sìol Cultural Enterprises had published 20 books, many original or expanded editions of older works, as well as a CD and several other products.
Trueman has been assisting the Language in Lyrics project by entering songs into our database from several of the collections published under Sìol Cultural Enterprises. These include many songs composed in Nova Scotia, such as those by the ‘Keppoch Bàrd’ Alasdair Ailein Mhór, published in the book ‘O Cheapaich nan Craobh’.
Trueman currently lives in St. Andrews with his wife of 25 years, Laurinda (MacGillivray), whom he met while learning Gaelic, and who is co-editor of many of the books published under Sìol.
Aleen Leigh Stanton: Digital Heritage Specialist
Aleen Leigh Stanton is an historian, heritage conservationist, and Gaelic language learner living on Big Island, Pictou County. After completing her undergraduate studies at Acadia University, she traveled to the UK to earn an MA in Cultural Heritage Management from the University of York, where she specialized in music heritage.
Family stories about her ancestors who emigrated from Mull, Coll, and Perthshire and their ties to the land have deeply influenced her research interests. As a Research Associate with the Nova Scotia Museum, she is leading a cultural landscape and oral history study on Big Island about place attachment, ‘islandness,’ and the Scottish diaspora.
She is the co-author of “In the Round: The Circular Heritage of Country Music,” for the International Journal of Heritage Studies (Vol. 25, 2019) and “The Invisible Island: Immigration, Environment, and a New Europe on Big Island, Nova Scotia,” for Acadiensis (Winter/Spring 2019).
Aleen recently joined the Language in Lyrics team to assist us in sourcing and developing an online database platform. We will use this to collate the numerous spreadsheets we have been filling with song data, and share this with the wider community. Since it has been proving to be a challenging task, we are delighted to be benefiting from Aleen’s experience as we strive to come up with the most accessible and sustainable option.