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tales of the morar highlands, alasdair roberts, 2011

Location: Road to the Isles and Knoydart
gaelic culture

The legendary Roshven Ceilidh band

Moidart until the 1960s was an area of Gaelic culture but few roads, where the traditional arts of song, story, and music were nurtured. At the centre of it was Farquhar MacRae, his brother and sisters, soon joined by notable left-handed fiddler Aonghas Grant to form the Roshven Ceilidh Band.

"It was the most remarkable dance-band in Britain, a band that has to walk sometimes distances of over ten miles on rough paths over high mountains, play until five or six in the morning, and then retrace its steps carrying fiddles, drums, and accordions until dawn sees them home," told folkorist Calum MacLean. The band contributed to making Moidart a nursery of excellent traditional music with Fergie Macdonald in Mingarry and the Macdonald pipers from Glenuig.

The band lasted for 40 years and in a spirit of friendly rivalry, each member decided to enter the National Mod fiddle competitions and ousted each other from top place so often that they decided not to be too greedy but leave the prizes to a younger generation! Bringing traditional West Highland fiddling to a wider world, individually or together, they found themselves in demand as performers, tutors or judges at musical festivals all over the world. The next generation of Moidart fiddlers, Eilidh Shaw, Allan Henderson and Ian MacFarlane, are all proud to be 'red tassel' pupils of Aonghas Grant, whilst his son Angus, the legendary Shooglenifty frontman with the rock and roll swagger, made fiddle playing cool and lived a life equally devoted to his music, inspiring countless fellow musicians.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.