The popular Fèis Mhuile – Gaelic for Mull festival and a feature on the island since the 1990s – will make its post-Covid return from February 3-5 in Bunessan to the south of the island.
Part of the larger Fèisean nan Gàidheal body which organises similar events across Scotland, the Mull Fèis offers many of the island’s youngsters their first taste of Scottish music.
Seven accomplished musicians will offer tuition in the fiddle, accordion, pipes, keyboard, Gaelic song, guitar and drums, with all instruments provided to ensure that even complete beginners can take part.
‘The majority of all traditional musicians along the west coast have probably been through the Fèis movement at some time or other and a lot of them have gone on to be full-time musicians,’ said Alan Palmer, member of the Fèis Mhuile organising committee and Financial and Commercial Manager for local business Inverlussa Marine Services, one of three event sponsors.
‘We also know that immersion in cultural activity can help bolster the resilience and well-being of communities and individuals. Participation in the Fèis not only increases skills in young people but also their self-esteem and a sense of identity.
Palmer, himself an accordion player, has been involved in running the music weekend since 2020, having moved to Mull seven years ago from his native Skye, which has its own Fèis tradition.
‘We normally get about 50 kids, mostly from Mull schools but also some from the high school in Oban.
‘We split it so there’s a Fèis beag – or small festival – for nursery age up to Primary Two, focusing on arts and crafts, games and Gaelic song.
‘Then, from Primary Three all the way through secondary, there are two days of classes, with the children offered two choices of instrument.’
As well as Inverlussa, which has a fleet of 20 boats, mostly servicing the salmon farming sector, local salmon companies Scottish Sea Farms and Bakkafrost Scotland are also sponsoring the event.
Scottish Sea Farms Area Manager for Mull, and dad of three, Andrew Macleannan, said: ‘Aquaculture is a key contributor to the local community in terms of supporting charities and other good causes, providing jobs and investing in transferable skills, so supporting the Fèis is a natural fit.
‘It introduces many children to a lifetime love of traditional Scottish music and gives the whole community a boost.’
The funding awarded will go towards the cost of running the Fèis, helping reduce the price of attending the event and make it more affordable for families.
‘It’s an event enjoyed by the whole community, with tutors also performing at various public events over the three days,’ said Bakkafrost Scotland Area Manager Zane Pretorius.
‘From a music session in local pub, the Argyll Arms Hotel, on the Friday, to a ceilidh on Saturday in the Bunessan Village Hall, to a final concert on Sunday when the children get up on stage, there is something for everyone.’
For more information on times, places and prices, visit the Fèis Mhuile Facebook page by clicking here
Photo courtesy of Janna Greenhalgh, Round & About.