an tinne

Date 21.02.2022
Time 7:30pm (AEDT), 8:30am (GMT)
Location Online
Date: 21.02.2022 Time: 7:30pm (AEDT)
Date: 21.02.2022 Time: 8:30am (GMT)


An Tinne is a unique project linking a collection of songs from,North Skye, a  slabharaidh and culture across time and distance.

Reimaging the songs written down by Catriona Douglas in the 1930’s by both recreating the manuscript with additional insight into the place and the people who sang them, and an exploratory reworking by a collaboration of female musicians a source and inspiration for new music, linking to the present.

The Slabhraidh is a real cooking pot chain, taken by Donald and Anne Macpherson in 1852 from the township of Graeulin in Kilmuir to Geelong Australia, and still in keeping by their descendants. Using this incredible piece of material culture as inspiration, linking continents and history, work will be commissioned from Scottish Gaelic, Modern Australian and First Nation artists.

There are three distinct but linked chapters to an tinne

stòras catriona – a new manuscript

slabhraidh – new work linking the Gaeltachd, and Australia

fuasgladh – The reimagining, recording and performance of 5 of the songs

stòras catriona

The past: There is a collection of songs which were taken down from the people of Trotternish, Isle of Skye by Catriona Douglas during the 1930’s and 40’s. In her role as “Inspector of the Poor” she took the time to listen to songs and stories which she transcribed in jotters, noting down the tune, the singer and some extra information with regards to content.  Some of these songs have similarity to songs from other areas or collections, some are in common use and others are unique to the collection.  Their strength is that they were all sung in the Trotternish peninsula and combined give an insight to a time and culture.

“I have spent years dipping in and out of the collection bringing them alive in my repertoire and have deliberated on ways to ensure they have a future.  I find that collections of songs in book form tend to appeal more to singers and academics of the genre and while recordings bring an audio to a wider audience they don’t tell the whole story and I would like to give more depth to the material using a mix of media”

The future: The Gaelic song tradition is varied and rich but while the tune tradition continues to grow we have been slower to develop song.  The book should be a catalyst to kindle and inspire, explore ways to write new material.

The link: “As a great percentage of the material in the collection was taken down from women, the collector was Catriona and when growing up I was surrounded by women who sang, it seems only correct that any project embracing this material continues through a majority of female conversation and collaboration”

Reproducing the archive in a contemporary publication – using the original material with additional notes on the contributors, their setting and their story.  One original book will itself become a unique piece of art which can be appropriately archived.  Simpler facsimile copies will be made available both digitally and physically.


Exploring the story and layers behind 5 songs  reacting to and reimagining  it

Each song in the collection tells a story – maybe within the words of the song, perhaps through the voice of the singer or from the location of its rendition.  Having been born and brought up in Trotternish I have developed tools to discover and interpret these stories and wish to share them with a wider audience.

1.      Introducing a group of musicians to the location of a song…. Taking a physical journey to Skye facilitating a sense of place while researching the song and its historical context.

2.      Inviting a poet to join the team and react, with the musicians to the journey.

3.      Document the experience through audio and still photography producing a podcast and material for use on social media as well as potential for expanding live performance with visuals and other auditory experience.

4.      Produce a quality recording of a contemporary arrangement of the original material.

5.      Produce a new piece of music and poetry inspired by the journey.


The past: The slabhraidh is a real cooking pot chain taken from Graulin to Australia in the 19th century. The chain is evocative in that it is a real physical link to the past, of a culture and time, symbolic of the provision of food, but also of captivity. The chain links the cultures of the Gaeltachd, White Australia and the Indigenous First Nation, in both positive and negative ways.

The Future: Using the slabhraidh and the conversations it will provoke, artists from the three cultures will be commissioned to create new work, new music, marking their connections, and hopefully continuing a journey of recognition and reconciliation.

The link: Live performances and recordings of the new works.

Depending on the global and local pandemic situation this could be small scale and outdoor or a more traditional scaled concert setting. Within budgetary restrictions this could be streamed or live encompassing both continents.

Using the chain as inspiration;

1.      Facilitating conversations and connections between artists and the slabhraidh

2.      Commission a Gaelic poet/writer to write a piece or pieces

3.      Commission White Australian musicians to write a piece or pieces

4.      Commission an Australian First Nation poet/writer/musician to write a piece or pieces

5.      Producing a combined performance either virtually or physically


February 21st – 8.30am UK and 7.30pm Australia.

Recorded Talks with Q & A.  Eachdraidh na Cùise – “Setting the scene” a Zoom collaboration with stories from

–       Anne Martin – Artistic Director and Fscilitator –

–       Professor Hugh Cheape

–       Stewart MacPherson – Descendant of Donald and Anne MacPherson

–       Catherine MacPhee – Archivist Highland Archive Centre.

All creatives, funders and other interested parties will be invited to attend and this will form part of the “An Tinne” archive, recorded and made available on Youtube and other social media.

February 28th – Site visit to 33 Macphersons Lane, Springdallah, Victoria, 3351. This will be recorded appropriately to form potential footage/backdrop to Final production.

End March 2022 – Australian commissions complete and delivered in format appropriate to their art but suitable as contribution to final production.

May 5th -10th – Taigh nan Òrain Song house.  An intensive research and development process with performers in Kilmuir working on new commissions and old material from archive.

June – September.  Bi- weekly walks to Cleared Villages led by local musicians.

August 2 – 6th.  2 Day rehearsal followed by Skye Gathering hall, Sabhal Mor Ostaig and Raasay gigs.

September – Series of workshops in primary schools.

More information:

An ambitious new song project linking a cleared village in Skye to a town in Australia is one of 21 nationwide events to form part of next year’s Scotland’s Year of Stories.

Supported by EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022 and Creative Scotland, An Tinne (The Link) is a project led by SEALL, and Skye Gaelic singer Anne Martin linking a collection of songs, stories and objects across the centuries between Scotland and Australia. The connection is a cooking pot chain (an slabhraidh) which moved to Australia with a Skye family forced from their homes during the 19th century Highland Clearances.

A chance meeting in Australia between Anne and a farmer from Victoria began the remarkable circular journey from the cleared village of Greaulainn in Kilmuir and a farm in Geelong, Victoria, and forged an unbreakable link between people, land and language on two continents.

In 1852 Donald and Anne MacPherson boarded a ship to Geelong to fight for a new life in the New World. They took with them the clothes on their backs, the family bible and their cooking pot hook.

Anne said: “I met Stuart MacPherson by complete chance when I was singing at the Port Fairy Folk Festival in Victoria in 2007. He just happened to tell me that his people were from Skye and it just so happened that his people were not just from Skye but from the abandoned village behind my property!

“Stuart told me about the family heirloom, the slabhraidh, which was taken from Greaulainn by his ancestors all the way to Australia and passed down through the generations to end up with him on his farm, along with the bible. To the family, the hook is a poignant reminder of their journey to the other side of the world.”

For some time, Anne has been in possession of a collection of Trotternish songs (mainly written by women), gathered by Inspector of the Poor, Catriona Douglas of Kilmuir, in the 1930s. The An Tinne project will take the manuscript and reimagine these songs to give insight into the place and the people who sang them.

From a song house residency in Kilmuir in May, the manuscript will be reworked by a collaboration of female musicians and will provide a source of inspiration for new music from Gaelic speakers, modern Australian and First Nation Artists from Scotland and Australia.

The project will also include a series of walks, talks and workshops focusing on the cleared villages of Skye and Raasay and the Highland Clearances in general.

An Tinne will culminate in a high-profile weekend of concerts and celebration on Skye and Raasay between 4 and 6 August which will launch the Catriona Douglas collection. It is hoped to synchronise similar events in Australia, via livestream.

SEALL interim director, Sara Bain, said: “An Tinne is a project comprising so many profound layers. Underpinning the theme is the incredible strength of the Gaelic culture – its land, people and language – which has endured across time and distance.

“An Tinne is an intrinsically Gaelic story and highlights not only the uniqueness of the cultural heritage of one of the Highland’s Gaelic bastions but also the language’s ability to survive through adversity and time. At a time when the Gaelic language is said to be on the “verge of non-viability” despite various Scottish Government’s Gaelic Language plans, the project will seek to reinforce the importance of one of the World’s indigenous languages by showcasing its survival through the course of history and its relevance to contemporary society.

“SEALL is more than just delighted to lead this project with Anne and we are very grateful to our funders, and particularly EventScotland for allowing this incredible tale to be part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 which spotlights, celebrates and promotes the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.  We hope An Tinne will inspire people to come forward with more of the real stories from Skye and Raasay that still remain untold.

“As well as having a beautiful voice, Anne is a highly respected and hard-working ambassador for the Gaelic culture and indigenous voices and it is performers like Anne who keep the rich heritage of traditional music alive and relevant for future generations. We can’t wait to see what comes out of the song house in May.”

As well as involving highlight events, An Tinne aims to support schoolchildren, communities and visitors to learn about Skye’s cultural heritage and inspire them to realise the importance of an indigenous language to their history, its involvement in forming the basis of contemporary island life and instilling a strong sense of identity and belonging. The project also aims to inspire visitors with roots in the north west Highlands to travel (if permissible under the Scottish Government Strategic Framework for Covid-19) to the area, visit the lands of their ancestors and experience the real stories behind the lore.

Schoolchildren will be given opportunities to learn, sing and play the forgotten songs from their area and learn of their local history and young musicians will be given performance opportunities.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting An Tinne as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. From icons of literature to local tales, Scotland’s Year of Stories encourages locals and visitors to experience a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present.

“An Tinne will be at the heart of an engaging, celebratory nationwide events programme, and this unique project will bring people together to celebrate and explore shared histories through music and song.”



  • Anne Martin – Artistic Director and Facilitator

    The roots of her singing lie deep. She caught the tail end of a passing culture, and makes it valid for the modern day with a pathos and understanding that is accessible to all wherever they are from.

    Variously described as; “.. awesomely beautiful” and “percussively powerful”, she brings the sound and tradition of her native Isle of Skye to the stage. Her repertoire gives a true sense of place in an international context.

    Born and brought up in Trotternish on the Isle of Skye, she learnt a wealth of her tradition from older neighbours and relatives and has been singing and researching Gaelic song since a child.

    Having sung in America, Australia, Canada, Europe and India, she is equally at home performing at large festivals, concert halls, or small and intimate village halls and is sought after as a tutor of Gaelic song, having run workshops in a wide variety of places from down town Philadelphia colleges to small Scottish island schools. She also delivers leadership courses and programmes in social enterprise being an associate tutor with the ILM.



  • Professor Hugh Cheape

    Professor Hugh Cheape has devised and teaches a postgraduate programme, MSc Cultar Dùthchasach agus Eachdraidh na Gàidhealtachd, at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture. The MSc has grown out of his curatorial and ethnological work during a career in the National Museums of Scotland where latterly he was Principal Curator in the Department of Scotland and Europe.

  • Stewart MacPherson – Descendant of Donald and Anne MacPherson

    Catherine MacPhee – Archivist Highland Archive Centre.

  • Richard Franklin

    Richard is a highly regarded academic, author, singer songwriter and activist. He has a knowledge of Skye, having visited and investigated the history of the clearances and particularly the history that led one Angus MacMillan to massacre Gunai Kurnai people in a series of mass murders.

  • The Maes

    The Maes, Maggie and Elsie, have known Anne Martin and John White since meeting in 2006 at the Dalesford Folk Festival in Victoria.  They have visited Skye on a number of occasions and are well place to offer an interpretation of the chain’s links between Greaulainn and Geelong.

  • Dr. Peter MacKay  as a highly regarded poet in both Gaelic and English Peter is no stranger to Greaulainn as his grandparents lived in Linicro.  He has recently ventured to the art of song writing and offers a contemporary voice to Gaelic song.

  • Gerda Stevenson  Gerda has visited Skye many times and has a sensitive approach to Highland culture.  Her work in English and Scots is highly regarded and she worked with Anne and the other performers in 2019.