My Gaelic class with Rich Hill didn't go as planned. Rich was charming, funny, a great singer, and a great teacher. Everything I learned made me want to get more; go deeper. The composition of the class shifted a few times after I started until just the right combination slipped into place.
Together we organized Gaelic weekends, brought in guest teachers from Vancouver BC and gathered a large crowd of musicians and Scottish enthusiasts. The raw materials were assembled; time to ignite the reactor.
In early 1997, a small group of us decided it was time to make a bigger event happen; one to which we could bring bigger-name presenters and which we could use to reach a broader audience.
Producing that large an event made some of us nervous (OK. Me. It made me nervous) about issues of liability and insurance, so we incorporated Slighe nan Gaidheal and were off.
Féis Shiàtail 1998 brought together presenters from all over the region for music and language workshops over four days. Two years later, Féis Shiàtail 2000 made a quantum leap forward with presenters from Scotland and Cape Breton. 2002 saw the event leap all the way out of Seattle and land in Port Townsend's Fort Worden, where it has taken root and grown into a residential event.
Being a committee member for most of these events gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most influential tradition bearers in the Scottish Gaelic world today. Calling people like Cathy-Ann MacPhee, Mary Macmaster, Wendy MacIsaac, and Arthur Cormack friends is more than payment enough for the years of work.