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Catherine MacNeil
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 Christmas Island, Cape Breton County  Birth Place
Catherine MacNeil
Catriona ni'n Iomhair Mhìcheil 'an Shaoir
Christmas Island, Cape Breton County

Gaelic was the first language Catherine MacNeil was taught and the language in which she learned to pray. Raised on a farm near the shore in Christmas Island, MacNeil continues to speak the language with friends and neighbours on a regular basis today. Settled by immigrants from Barra, Christmas Island is well-known for its connections to Gaelic Scotland. When famed folklorist John Lorne Campbell visited the community in 1932, the parish priest reported that all his parishioners spoke Gaelic. An energetic woman and mother of six, MacNeil is an active member of her parish and dedicated supporter of concerts and community functions at the local firehall. For many years she worked as a caretaker at the local elementary school and attended evening Gaelic classes there to support those wanting to learn the language. A welcoming hostess, who entertains under the watchful eye of her dog, MacNeil is a proud grandmother of twelve. From her front porch she looks out over the firehall, church and former school in Christmas Island, buildings that have formed such an important part of her life. - Shamus

Interviewed by Jim Watson
Camera operated by Shamus Y. MacDonald
August 30, 2006

Total Play Time: 1:07:00

00:07 Catherine introduces herself; her people came from Barra
02:30 her mother's people, Beaver Cove; Catherine is third generation
05:37 her family, the old house they lived in
09:23-11:24 it was farming that people in the area did; livestock; keeping food in summer and winter View | Listen
11:54-17:40 butchering, making marag View | Listen
19:00 Jim has a story
20:09:10-29:08 letting the cows out; milking; making cream, butter, curds View | Listen
29:10 Gaidhlig word for for spleen; guessing the type of winter
30:30 growing oats and corn
30:53-33:48 buying things from the store; making bonnach
34:11 going to school
36:00 religion
38:00 names for age groups of children
40:25-44:49 dishes; making tea; making supper View | Listen
48:04-52:19 fishing for cod View | Listen
52:20 berries
53:16-59:30 rooster; chicken house; selling eggs; ways to prepare eggs; parts of an egg; chicks View | Listen
1:03:20 gabh ris! making tea

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