Mary Ellen Stewart

Mary Ellen Stewart is the administrator of the summer school. She describes the tasks that need to be done leading up to and during the week.

I work in the Ceòlas office helping with the administration of the Ceòlas week, so we’ve been busy planning since I started here in January.

Well, first of all we have to get our brochure ready and make sure that our website’s up to date because that’s how a lot of people get information about Ceòlas, and then dealing with student enquiries is probably the first stage as we get closer to Ceòlas. Also the tutors have to be booked quite in advance, and the school and the buses, and all the logistics of it all. And then just allocating people to their classes and making sure that everything goes smoothly for the Ceòlas week.

Most people stay in self-catering accommodation. We arrange the accommodation for the tutors, but we try and help students along as well if they’re having trouble finding somewhere, but I think this year it’s been fine. People are quite keen to share with other students. Quite often they know each other anyway, so that helps.

During Ceòlas week, well, the week starts on the Saturday. There’s a music session in the Borrodale Hotel. That’s how it started this year, and on Sunday the students arrive, and they have all their registration which is quite a busy time. But again we’ll have prepared their packs and everything beforehand, and so everything went quite smoothly this year. And then the classes actually begin on the Monday, and run through until the Friday. But it’s quite a busy week because there’s lots of evening events, as well, so everybody’s quite tired by the end of the week.

The last day is Friday and the classes are finished at quarter past three, and then they have what they call the crossover class. And they’ve been working together in the afternoons throughout the week, and they do a performance if they want to – some people don’t want to perform – on the Friday afternoon. Then there’s the cèilidh mòr on the Friday evening and then the farewell dance after that. They’re always really popular with locals as well as the students.

Em, normally I come in about half past eight during Ceòlas week. And I’m here until the classes finish then at five, and normally I’ll go along to some of the evening events. This year we had some lectures which I was doing translations for, so I had a few evenings out to attend. So it’s a busy week.

In 2003 some of the Ceòlas board and committee went to the Celtic Colours festival, so that was quite useful for them I think, to see how another event was organised, and they got quite a lot of ideas from that, but unfortunately I wasn’t involved in Ceòlas that early. I didn’t start until 2004. I came as a tutor first in 2004.

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