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Artyness columnist and musician Liza Mulholland reveals that May puts a spring in her step and talks about and exciting future plan

By Liza Mulholland

The merry month of May! I love the month! Birds trill lustily from every tree and shrub, the beautiful froth of cherry blossom is everywhere, and at last it feels safe to put away the winter coat!

Liza Mulholland
Liza Mulholland

But more than that, my favourite month seems to usher in a joie de vivre, the hope of summer and good things to come, that literally puts a spring in our step.

Writing this on May 1, I’m reminded of some of the old traditions of May Day, or Là Buidhe Bealltainn – yellow day of Beltane – as it was sometimes known.

I’m not sure if the yellow refers to primrose and gorse that are so glorious just now or the flames of bonfires traditionally lit for their reputed protective powers, but either way seems appropriate.

Beltane marked the beginning of summer, when cattle were driven out to pasture, rituals conducted to bring a season of good crops, Holy wells were visited and of course faces washed in May dew to enhance beauty. A highly significant time in the calendar for folk close to the land and one that still carries resonance for us today.

Talking of traditions and new beginnings, I’d like to highlight a great cause today, namely a campaign to establish a Gaelic cultural centre in Inverness – a place for folk to meet, play and enjoy music, sing, dance, ceilidh, celebrate and share Gaelic language and culture.

A crowdfunder to get the ball rolling has been started by a group of local people who have visited cultural centres, Cultarlann, in Ireland and who would love to see a similar centre established in the Highland capital.

Cultarlann Inbhir Nis would be a gathering place, ideally with café, rooms where workshops and lessons could be held, a hall big enough for entertainment, for a ceilidh or dance, a facility that would lend itself to being a vibrant multi-purpose centre, with Gaelic language and culture at its heart.

Culturlann, plans for the future.
Culturlann, plans for the future.

What a fantastic addition to Highland cultural life such a centre would be and, when you think about it, long overdue. Ambitious projects like this take time however, and a great deal of money, so if you enjoy traditional music and are passionate about Gaelic and the arts, please consider contributing if you can.

I’m fortunate to shortly be taking a wee two-city break to a part of the world whose music and culture I also love – Italy. A holiday with friends that has been cancelled several times over the last 18 months is going ahead and we’re so excited about it.

So, when you read this, I will either be in Milan or Verona, soaking up the history, enjoying the food and sunshine, and ticking off a bucket list wish of Italian opera in Milan’s La Scala. I cannot wait!

Meanwhile, let’s keep our own culture healthy and thriving too; you can donate at crowdfunder.co.uk by looking for Cultarlann Inbhir Nis or Gaelic Centre for Inverness.

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