Taproot 2023/2024

Taproot,  the winter festival which runs on  Sunday afternoons at the Heritage Centre from October to March, finished this year in June  with a performance of an original play by Jennifer Baker from the Lismore Primary School children. The 2023/4 festival was very wide ranging and well attended.  It alternated performances and talks every 2 weeks.

Ron Livingstone from Point House kicked it off on October 22 by introducing  some of his huge collection of vintage recordings. He covered the history of   labels playing a variety of genres of old 78rpm shellac records on original wind-up gramophones, with entertaining anecdotes about the very first disc records from 1890 to 1960. He brought along all the equipment making this a memorable and delightful evening.

  • Ron Livingstone's Taproot talk 22.10.23

On November 19, film maker Martine Robertson’s showed  Lighthouse Lives, her film about the men and women who worked for the Northern Lighthouse Board as it transitioned from manned to automated lighthouses.  It was commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust. and of great interest particularly  as an ex- master of the Lighthouse tender, the MV Pole Star,  Captain Stuart Ross, is an islander whose paternal family had been lighthouse keepers since the beginning.

Lighthouse Lives film by Martine Robertson 19.11.23

In January Douglas Breingan’s talk Mud Glorious Mud  was all about  Marl.  Not a subject known to many. On Lismore, he said, soil was improved and maintained  by a now forgotten locally available natural resource  viz “Marl”. It partly accounted for the island’s legendary fertility.

The final talk was from Liosach Ailsa Clark – A GUDE CAUSE MAKS A STRONG ARM – tales of Scotland’s suffragettes and suffragists. In her fluent and entertaining way, Ailsa told of the great contribution of Scottish women to enfranchisement., telling us they went on  a 100 mile walk , hilariously disrupted a Churchill speech, and attempting to blow up a national monument. We have reason to be grateful to them.

Ailsa's Taproot talk Suffrage Feb 2024

Gauri Raja, a storyteller, was the first of the performers and was followed by 3 interesting and highly competent musicians:  Richard Ingham, a jazz saxophonist and pianist, Robert Andre Eustace a blues virtuoso, and our own Mairi Campbell. This was the first time live jazz had been heard on the island

Gauri Raje is a migrant, storyteller and anthropologist based in Scotland and India. She told of myths and their power to hold community memories and how such storied  allow migrants to create a relationship with the land where they settle..Very true of those who left Lismore in the  19th century.

For nearly two decades, Andrew Robert Eustace has been teaching guitar, bass and drums to a variety of students throughout Kirkintilloch, Lenzie, Bearsden, Cumbernauld and the Greater Glasgow area. He has also written and released two albums of blues music and performs at numerous festivals in the U.K.

In February we heard  Richard Ingham a jazz pianist and saxophonist of the highest calibre and his performance was very well received. He has given recitals all over the globe, made many albums, and written the Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone, a standard reference book. His compositions receive frequent and his jazz courses in St Andrews have been running for 20 years. it was great to have him performing for us.

Richard Ingham Taproot

Mairi Campbell’s was the final performance in the Museum room where she played a selection of traditional and contemporary songs on viola, voice and piano. Mairi’s pal, the Lismore millstone hung between three hazel branches and turned on its own axis throughout the event. She is a totally original musician, and she was supported by her own band  – the Lismore Dance Band – who gave us  a selection of well-known and locally influenced tunes. Some of Mairi’s stone- influenced paintings were also projected during the evening..

  • Mairi Campbell's Stone Taproot 3.03.24

    Mairi Campbell's Stone 

  • Mairi Campbell

  • The Lismore Band - Taproot 3.04.24

    The Lismore Band - 

And the grand finale was on June 6 when Lismore Primary School children wrapped up the festival with an outdoor play – Sooty Scones – a  re-enactment of an old Lismore tale written, directed  and produced by Jennifer Baker and  involving a broken chimney and ruined baking! She used Taigh Iseabal Dhaibh, the reconstructed cotters’ cottage, as the set  and was assisted by teacher Jane Oxnard and a large crowd appeared despite the unseasonal June weather. Fortunately, the rain and even hail showers stayed off. The children also performed music and songs.having had fiddle  tuition from Mairi Campbell.

Children's Taproot 6.05.24

Thanks are due to  Memory McDonald, Jennifer Baker,  Davy Maddock,  Mairi Campbell,  Sarah and Dan at the Lismore cafe, and the performers especially those who waived their fee.

Report: Pauline Dowling

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