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Martha Ramey
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 Sydney, Cape Breton County  Birth Place
Martha Ramey
Marta ni'n Pheadair Mhòir Steabhain Mhìcheil
Sydney, Cape Breton County

Like many backland settlements in Nova Scotia, Rear Big Pond was once home to a thriving community composed of small farms and large families. Theresa, Martha and their five siblings were raised there in a family immersed in the traditional life of Gaelic Cape Breton. Their parents, Peter and Catherine MacNeil, came from musical backgrounds and visits to their small farm often included Gaelic songs and traditional music. Their mother played the chanter, their uncle was a well-known piper and their grandfather was a skilled fiddler. While life on the farm was not always easy, Theresa and Martha are quick to point out the sense of community and happy times they enjoyed there. Educated at home, their early years were shaped by the family, community and culture that surrounded them. Neighbours helped each other with chores and evenings were spent visiting, playing cards and singing Gaelic songs together. Early in her teenage years, Theresa moved to Sydney to work as a housekeeper. Not long after that Martha followed her example; she still remembers the busy, cosmopolitan atmosphere Sydney had during the war and the strong impression it made on her. After several years, Theresa and Martha married and had families. Today, strong and self-confident, Theresa plays tarabish, bowls and bakes regularly - and almost always speaks Gaelic to her daughter Marian. An active volunteer at the hospital, Martha enjoys listening to fiddler David Greenberg and is a dyed-in-the-wool Montreal Canadians fan who rarely misses a game. Both are pleased to see a new generation taking an interest in Gaelic. Though most of their lives have been spent in the city, Theresa and Martha continue to speak Gaelic by preference and remain closely connected to the rural community of their youth. - Shamus

Theresa Burke and Martha Ramey
Interviewed by Jim Watson
Camera operated by Shamus Y. MacDonald
September 15, 2006

Total Play Time: 90

00:21-06:29 (+28:04-23:23, 32:03-32:35) Making Cape Breton Pizza Listen
06:32-14:00 Making bonnach beags, bannoch àraid View | Listen
14:08 Christmastime
16:28 milking the cows, making cream; words for types of foods; types of fire; cooking, baking
25:07-28:04 fairies teaching music View | Listen | Transcript
28:35 story about Raghnall Mòr
30:22-32:03 story about the stone that fell from the skirt View | Listen
32:40-35:48 making soap View | Listen
32:03-32:35 Cape Breton pizza ma ta
36:19-38:56 making ‘snathach’ in spring; sweetening tea View | Listen
41:55 feadain, whistles; making reeds
47:10 father and brother of Peadar Mor; the book of tunes he wrote
49:42-51:02 Getting rid of the Gaidhlig; making fun of children speaking Gaidhlig View | Listen
51:11 the first of their people were from Barra
52:00 the first people who came over; Ruaridh Breac, her great grandfather
53:58 Mairi Ceat Mhóir
56:45 Guardian Angel prayer, talking about prayer
58:43 St. Colomba
1:00:30 winter footwear
1:02:58-1:07:39 deer; shearing sheep, weaving View | Listen
1:08:00 making marag; eating haggis
1:11:00 spleen of the pig and telling the winter ahead

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