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Western Isles musicians to take final bow as council announces the end of Covid ceilidhs

Local musicians Willie Campbell, Calum Martin and Iain "Costello" Maciver will play the final ceilidh on April 30.
Local musicians Willie Campbell, Calum Martin and Iain "Costello" Maciver will play the final ceilidh on April 30.

The final curtain is to coming down on virtual Covid ceilidhs in the Western Isles following a year of spellbinding entertainment.

The Western Isles Council established a virtual ceilidh programme in March last year in an effort to keep local communities connected during the pandemic.

More than 60 live ceilidhs have been held over the last 12 months, featuring Gaelic songs, country and other genres.

Island residents have tuned in each Friday evening as musicians showcase their talents while helping to tackle issues surrounding isolation and loneliness.

Care Home residents across the Western Isles have also been enjoying the festivities with exclusively recorded ceilidhs each week.

As restrictions begin to lift as part of the Government’s route map out of lockdown, council officials have decided to bring an end to the much loved scheme.

Media co-ordinator Colin George Morrison said: “The combination of the easing of restrictions on the horizon, the vaccination programme and the prospect of live gigs for local artists all mean that the time has come to wrap up the live cèilidh element.

“The cèilidh programme which has two strands – the live cèilidhs on Friday evening and the exclusive recorded cèilidhs for all island Care Homes – was established as a mechanism to keep people and communities engaged and connected during lockdown restrictions.

“With thousands of viewers creating a global community, the objective of the cèilidh programme has certainly been achieved and we would like to record our thanks, once again, to everyone who has tuned in each week and to all the artists who have given of their time and significant talent.”

Final curtain comes down

Local musicians Calum Martin, Willie Campbell and Iain “Costello” Maciver will perform the final live cèilidh on Friday April 30 bringing an end to the popular event.

Mr Maciver said it has been a “pleasure” to shed some cheer amidst the hardships endured by many during the course of the pandemic.

He said: “It’s hard to believe that a year has gone past since the Comhairle Cèilidhs started.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to have taken part and hopefully entertaining you all. The cèilidhs have indeed brought a brand new community together, albeit in the virtual sense.

“We as performers know how valuable these weekly cèilidhs have been for keeping spirits high and hopefully it won’t be too long until we can gather in person with the return of live events on the horizon.

Fellow musician Willie Campbell added: “Seeing the way the cèlidhs have pulled us together during extremely difficult days has been unforgettable. It’s brought a lot of comfort to people as well as entertainment.

“I feel sad that they’re ending but also delighted to have been involved in something that will be remembered fondly.”

Vow of thanks

With just four weeks to go until the event comes to an end, Mr Martin thanked the community, participants and the council for their unwavering support.

He said: “It has been a real privilege to be invited into your homes by the Comhairle over the last year to perform live for you from time to time on the Friday night Cèilidhs. My thanks goes to the Comhairle for organising things and keeping us right.

He added: “Finally, a huge thanks to each and every one of you for supporting the many artists who have performed, it just would not have been the same without you and your lovely messages. It has been a great community, and I hope it has helped in a small way to lift all our spirits during these difficult times.”

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