Comunn FÉis mhÀBU


About Féis Mhàbu

Comunn Féis Mhàbu is a dynamic organization whose purpose is to facilitate the progressive development of Gaelic Language and Culture in Mabou and the surrounding area. Our mission is to ensure the long sustainability of Gaelic culture by investing in its community base. We offer a wide range of programs to educate residents about the value of Gaelic language and culture and provide opportunities for the transmission of cultural skills in intergenerational social settings. Although we are based in Mabou, our programs draw participants from the surrounding area, and in some instances, from all over Cape Breton and beyond. 

For the past 19 years Féis Mhàbu has been a leader in community based cultural development. We have provided leadership in the field of language instruction through our work to develop and apply the Gàidhlig aig Baile (GAB) methodology. Féis Mhàbu was one of the first groups in the province to train GAB language instructors and to offer immersion classes at the community level. We are currently the only organization in the province adapting the GAB model for youth Gaelic immersion.

Our organization has taken a leading role in nurturing young traditional musicians. Since its founding, Féis Mhàbu has presented an annual weekend of workshops in traditional music, dance and Gaelic. For some, the workshops provide an opportunity to try a new discipline, while others may hone their skills under the tutelage of a professional musician. More recently, we are focusing on nurturing young traditional musicians and Gaelic singers by providing opportunities to be mentored by well respected tradition bearers in the intimate setting of the home.

One of the unique features of Féis Mhàbu is that we are an organization without a building. This allows us the freedom to hold our programs in the venues that best suit them.  By hosting programs in various venues, Féis Mhàbu contributes to the maintenance of public spaces and ensures that financial resources are directed toward programming, instead of overhead.

Program & Events Highlights

Éirich Air!

First offered in 2008 and repeated in 2009, 2010 and 2011, "Éirich Air!" supports an eight week Gaelic song mentorship program. This new program invites Gaelic tradition bearer guests to act as Gaelic song mentors along with a Gaelic host to facilitate a song learning session. In order to create a learning opportunity that is authentic, the sessions are held in a home where Gaelic song and Gaelic language has its roots. At each session, a Gaelic instructor designates a Gaelic area in the home for Gaelic song mentoring, Gaelic Tea, and Gaelic greetings. All other areas of the home are bilingual. These sessions bring Gaelic language learning and Gaelic song learning together in a natural and communal fashion.

Beginner Fiddle Classes

Féis Mhàbu partnered with Inverness County Recreation and Tourism in 2008 and 2009 to offer eight week beginner fiddle courses for youth and adults out of Dalbrae Academy in Mabou. Féis Mhàbu arranged for fiddle rentals for the beginning students and contributed to the rental expense.

Féis Mhàbu's Thanksgiving Weekend Workshops

These workshops are held over the opening weekend of Celtic Colours International Festival. There are many workshops to choose from, with local instructors provided by Féis Mhàbu and international artists provided by Celtic Colours.

Gaelic Song Circle

Féis Mhàbu holds the Gaelic Song Circle event during the opening weekend of Celtic Colours International Festival.  This event features Gaelic singers in an intimate and interactive setting. The singers are unamplified and the audience is encouraged to ask questions and join in choruses. The event is held annually at the Mabou Gaelic and Historical Society's building, An Drochaid, and features local and international talent.

GAB Gaelic Immersion

These classes are taught in homes in the community through GAB instruction, with emphasis on making learning relaxed and fun. Instructors and participants use body gestures, repetition and props to help communicate with one another in the "Gaelic only" environment. Reading and writing are not taught in this program. Participants learn Gaelic as they learned their first language. A GAB program is currently in progress with 15 students enrolled.

The Gàidhlig dhan Oigridh (Gaelic Youth) Program 

This program took place in Mabou July 24-29, 2006.  Féis Mhàbu was pleased to be one of the host organizations that partnered with Culture Division and Highland Council to organize and operate this program. Forty children participated, and each day at least five parents were on hand to help with the classes, while another 5-10 parents participated in Gaelic language classes for parents.

The Gaelic Instructor in Residence Program

In response to the Gaelic Youth Program, parents and community requested a more consistent Gaelic learning opportunity for their children. Consequently Highland Council MOU and Nova Scotia MOU assisted our organization in locating a Gaelic instructor. Joy Dunlop of Connel, Scotland taught Gaelic and Gaelic song in our community from March until August in 2007. As part of the Gaelic Instructor in Residence Program, a 10 week after school program was offered out of Bayview Elementary School in Port Hood, NS. The after school program offered Gaelic language and song, Cape Breton step dance and square dance, physical activities/sports and arts and crafts components. One hundred and eight children were registered in this program.

The Mabou Musical Mentorship Program 

2011 marked the sixth year that Féis Mhàbu offered its' Musical Mentorship Program for young musicians. This unique program uses house sessions and jam sessions to bring together talented young performers of Cape Breton music and dance with well established tradition bearers. The relaxed, informal atmosphere of the sessions is well suited for the passing on of music, dance and stories.  Between 2006 and 2011 the Musical Mentorship Program presented community concerts and events in Mabou Parish Hall, St. Anne’s Gaelic College and the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre that featured youth participants and some of the mentors.

Summer Spórs Program

This is a 6-week program for children and youth where children meet twice a week for Gaelic song and dance instruction. Each week culminates with a youth square dance for workshop participants and visitors including instruction in the Inverness County Square Set.

Celtic Colours International Festival Concert

In 2008, 2009, 2010 and again in 2011 Féis Mhàbu hosted the “Mentors and Musical Minds” Celtic Colours Concert at Strathspey Place in Mabou.  This concert provides an opportunity for young musicians and Gaelic singers to perfrom on stage with the artist that mentored them in various Féis Mhàbu programs.

Youth Gaelic Immersion

In 2009 Féis Mhàbu offered a GAB immersion program for youth. The program ran for twelve weeks, alternating between the school and family homes. The youth had the opportunity to be immersed in the Gaelic language while participating in everyday activities such as outdoor work, food preparation and crafts. A summer youth immersion week was held in 2010.

Gàidhlig le Chéile

Féis Mhàbu is currently running a GAB program entitled Gàidhlig le Chéile. This program provides approximately twelve adults with immersion Gaelic language instruction twice weekly using the GAB methodology. In addition to the regular weekly instruction, we will be offering additional immersion events that are aimed at providing participants with additional opportunities to use and hear the language. We are also developing new ways assist students to achieve fluency such as making recordings of the sessions available online. In addition, Féis Mhàbu is planning to improve networking with other groups and the wider community by producing a newsletter about our program to share information and ideas about the development of GAB.

Family Square Dance Lessons with Live Music

Féis Mhàbu presented a series of family square dance lessons with live music in July and August (2009) that featured experienced Cape Breton step dance and square set instructor Kelly Warner-MacLennan.  All ages were invited to come and learn to dance the Inverness County Square Set.    These dance lessons were held at the West Mabou Hall in Inverness County.

Féis na Nollaig: Family Christmas Ceilidh

Feis Mhabu presented "Féis na Nollaig: Family Christmas Ceilidh". 

This event was held at the West Mabou Hall on December 19th, 2009 and featured youth Gaelic instruction, Gaelic singing, family square sets with live music, refreshments and a visit from Santa.

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Thanksgiving Weekend Events

 Féis Mhàbu Events to Feature Local and International Talent During Celtic Colours Week

Féis Mhàbu presents annual cultural workshops and Gaelic Song Circle each year on Thanksgiving weekend in association with Celtic Colours International Festival and Féis Mhàbu has hosted a Celtic Colours International Festival concert every year since 2008.

This year, Féis Mhàbu's annual Thanksgiving cultural workshops will be held at Dalbrae Academy (Route 19 Mabou) Saturday morning, October 11th from 10:00am to 12:20pm. Workshops will be divided into the Preschool (ages 4-7) and Youth (ages 8-18) categories.  Local tradition bearers Kenneth MacKenzie, Joanne MacIntyre, Melody Cameron, Bernard Cameron and Neil MacQuarrie will instruct workshops focusing on Gaelic language and song, fiddle, step dancing, square dancing, percussion and more! Registration fees are $10/Workshop per participant, $20/per participant for Day Pass or $50 for Family Pass for 3 or more children.


On the evening of Saturday, October 11th, Féis Mhàbu will present its' annual Gaelic Song Circle in the intimate setting of An Drochaid, Mabou's Gaelic & Historical Society Building (Route 19 Mabou) from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.  This Gaelic Song Circle features award-winning musician, singer, producer and broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy from Lochaber, Scotland.  She has won several major awards, including the Concours Internationale de l'Harpe Celtique and both National Mod Gold Medals. Her band, Cliar, won the all-time Best Album accolade at the inaugural Scots Trad Music Awards, and earned her a Saltire Award.  Joining Mary Ann will be Cape Breton Gaelic Singer Joanne MacIntyre.  Joanne comes from Mabou Coal Mines, Inverness County where she was raised in a culture rich environment of Scotch music, dance and Gaelic language. Joanne will perform songs from the Cape Breton and Inverness County Gaelic tradition. Féis Mhàbu's Gaelic Youth Singers will also share their songs and Mabou-based musicians Melody and Derrick Cameron will perform some lively tunes on fiddle and guitar for good measure.  This is a lovely evening of songs and stories with a few tunes for good measure. Come and sing along! Tea will be served after the song circle.  Admission is $12 at the door. 

On the afternoon of Saturday October 18th, Féis Mhàbu will be hosting the Celtic Colours International concert, "In Good Hands" at St. Mary's Parish Hall at 2:00pm.  This concert will bring together young players from Australia, Scotland and Cape Breton.  In 2013/2014 Celtic Colours partnered with Scottish traditional music organisation, Fèis Rois and composer John Sommerville to create a suite of music inspired by the Hector’s crossing. Featured are five musicians from Scotland playing alongside musicians from Nova Scotia. The Scottish musicians include John Somerville on accordion, Chief Executive of Fèis Rois Fiona Dalgetty on fiddle, and The Mischa Macpherson Trio. The members of this trio are Gaelic singer Mischa MacPherson, Innes White on guitar and Conal McDonagh on pipes. The Mischa Macpherson Trio hail from the highlands and islands of Scotland and are the winners of the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.  The Nova Scotia musicians are Maxim Cormier, Rachel Davis, Anita MacDonald, Mckayla MacNeil, and Kristen Shaw. This is a very unique and historic performance, likely to only ever happen once. Also on hand will be Féis Mhàbu's Gaelic Youth Singers.  This group of young people have regularly participated in Féis Mhàbu's "Éirich Air!" Gaelic song mentoring program. To top off the afternoon, this concert will feature Gaelic supergroup, Dàimh.  Dàimh are a 5­‐piece band based in Lochaber in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; an area as much renowned for its scenic beauty as for its rich musical and cultural heritage. A long-­established favourite at folk festivals in Scotland, Ireland and across Europe, twice nominated for Folk Band of the Year at the Scots Traditional Music Awards, Dàimh are also regulars on BBC television.  Dàimh band member Angus MacKenzie is a Mabou native.  Angus' mother was a founder of Féis Mhàbu back in the 1990's.

Tickets for the "In Good Hands" concert can be purchased at Mabou Communications Ltd. on Route 19 Mabou (open 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday) or through the Celtic Colours box office.  Tickets are $25.00.  The concert is general admission.

Féis Mhàbu Cultural Workshops for Youth Schedule - 2014

Saturday October 11th , 10:00 AM to 12:20 PM

Dalbrae Academy – 11156 Route 19, SW Mabou, Mabou

Hosted by: Comunn Féis Mhàbu

Price: $10 / workshop; $20 day pass; $50 family pass for 3 or more children

Féis Mhàbu is offering a wide range of cultural workshops for you to choose from. Workshops will be divided into the Preschool (ages 4-7) and Youth (ages 8-14) categories. Prominent local tradition bearers instruct workshops focusing on Gaelic language and Gaelic song, fiddle, step dancing, square dancing, percussion and more!

Preschool Workshops (Ages 4-7): 

$10/ Workshop per participant, $20 / per participant for Day Pass or $50 for Family Pass for 3 or more children

10:00-10:30 -- Kid's Percussion Group - Neil MacQuarrie

10:30-11:15 -- Kid's Step Dancing - Melody Cameron

11:15-12:00 -- Kid's Gaelic and Song - Bernard Cameron 

12:00-12:20 -- Square Set - Melody Cameron will lead set, Kenneth MacKenzie will play fiddle

Youth Workshops (Ages 8-14): 

$10/ Workshop per participant, $20 / per participant for Day Pass or $50 for Family Pass for 3 or more children

10:00-10:30 -- Percussion Group -  Neil MacQuarrie

10:30-11:15 -- Gaelic Song - Joanne MacIntyre 

11:15-12:00 -- Youth Fiddle - Kenneth MacKenzie

11:15-12:00 -- Youth Dancing - Melody Cameron

11:15-12:00 -- Gaelic Music Percussion - Neil MacQuarrie

12:00-12:20 -- Square Set - Melody Cameron will lead set, Kenneth MacKenzie will play fiddle