ABOUT TD  |  MU AR DEIDHINN

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TODAY AT TAIGH DHONNCHAIDH

In 1999 Taigh Dhonnchaidh was renovated and converted into a Gaelic arts and music centre, with a strong focus on traditional elements of our culture. The new arts centre was officially opened on 24 July 2000.

 

Each Easter the venue hosts a ‘fèis’ - a Gaelic music and cultural festival - offering tuition in instrumental music, as well as Gaelic singing, drama and art. Instrumental classes also run throughout the school session.

 

In addition, various ceilidhs, storytelling evenings and other community events are held throughout the year and the premises is also the base for the Ness Melodeon Band.

 
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TAIGH DHONNCHAIDH'S STORY

Taigh Dhonnchaidh at 44 Habost was gifted to Comunn Eachdraidh Nis in 1997 by Duncan ‘Major’ Morison who was well known to generations  of islanders as an itinerant music teacher in Lewis schools. Taigh Dhonnchaidh was one of the first ‘white houses’ in Ness, dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Duncan, who was a Freeman of the Western Isles, died in Stornoway at the age of 92 on 21 April 1998.

 

In 1999 Taigh Dhonnchaidh was renovated and converted into a Gaelic arts and music centre, with a strong focus on traditional elements of our culture. The new arts centre was officially opened on 24 July 2000. Each Easter the venue hosts a ‘fèis’ - a Gaelic music and cultural festival - offering tuition in instrumental music, as well as Gaelic singing, drama and art. Instrumental classes also run throughout the school session. In addition, various ceilidhs, storytelling evenings and other community events are held throughout the year and the premises is also the base for the Ness Melodeon Band.

ABOUT DUNCAN MORISON HIMSELF

 

Duncan’s father belonged to Breasclete and his mother was from 44 Habost. His father worked at the Lews Castle and the young Morison was named after Major Duncan Matheson, owner of Lewis between 1901 and 1918, who lived at the castle.

Duncan first took tuition in the piano in Edinburgh, and in 1933 he was awarded a music scholarship sponsored by An Comunn Gaidhealach which took him to London. There he became a protege of the Marchioness of Londonderry and he struck up a strong friendship with the Queen Mother during that time. He dedicated a collection of his Hebridean music, ‘Ceol Mara’, to the Queen Mother when she was still the Duchess of York.

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Before the war, Duncan began to appear regularly in the country's most prestigious venues as the regular accompanist to the famous tenor, Father Sydney MacEwan. The pair toured Australia, New Zealand and India, and he also did concert tours with the tenors, Robert King and Michael O' Duffy. He and Robert King joined ENSA and they were in great demand during the Second World War for entertaining the troops. 

After the war, he returned to Lewis and became the island’s first itinerant music teacher. He helped to train many budding singers and musicians in Lewis, including Mod Gold medallist Calum Kennedy. Major Morison was awarded the Queen’s Royal Jubilee Medal in 1977 and he retired from teaching in 1978. He was awarded the MBE in 1984.

 

EXTENTION PLANS

EXTENTION AND PLANS FOR DEVELOPMENT

CURRENT RESTICTIONS

In the 20+ years since Taigh Dhonnchaidh was gifted to the community, we've had many wonderful nights-in and seen hundreds of children passing through our classes! We've come to the stage now that we're outgrowing our space, so have a read at the plans for a sensitive re-working of the building.

We are currently very restricted with what we can offer due to the size of our rooms and have to take our concerts out to a larger venue. We have to limit our Fèis numbers every year because the building will not accommodate large numbers. In recent years the numbers attending classes have increased considerably especially the Ness Highland Dancing School, where ceiling height is also becoming an issue.

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PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

We are proposing to build an extension at the back of the house and develop the existing space. The extension would allow us to have our own staging and performance area, which will enable us to hold all our events in-house, whilst also creating more space for classes. Retractable, tiered seating would provide a much-improved experience at cinema screenings, and performances. New kitchen and toilets, and extended parking are all important aspects of these new plans too.

 

This extension will be sensitive, preserve the uniqueness and identity of Taigh Dhonnchaidh while creating a new more practical space for the community to enjoy for many years to come.

 

Donations are welcome to help us achieve our goal, follow the pay pal link to the left. Thank you in advance!

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