Graduates of the St FX Celtic Studies Department

"Cha bhi toradh gun saothair"

We are rightly proud of the students who have enriched their education by taking our courses and widening their knowledge of European, Scottish, Celtic, and North American history and culture. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have a wide variety of interests. Many of them have become leading lights in the revival and development of Gaelic in both Scotland and Canada: they are teachers, singers, performers, community activists, scholars, writers, and entrepreneurs, amongst other things.

Only recently has the contribution of Gaelic been recognized officially as an asset to the culture and economy of Nova Scotia. Oifis Iomairtean na Gàidhlig (the Office of Gaelic Affairs) was established in 2006 to promote and assist in the development of Gaelic throughout the province. Qualified Gaelic speakers are needed to drive the development of Gaelic in Nova Scotia, and beyond. See the official website of the Office of Gaelic Affairs >>

Below are a few short biographies of a few students who have graduated from our department, or whose careers have been enhanced by taking our courses.

Tiber Falzett

Tha rannsachadh Tiber Falzett a-mach air seanchas agus grinneas-mheasadh ionadail nan Gàidheal, gu h-àraid air dualchas neo-bheantainn (m.e. beul-aithris agus ceòl), an Gàidhealtachd na h-Alba agus na h-Alba Nuaidh. Rugadh ’s thogadh e ann an Taobh an Ear-Thuath Pennsylvania far an deach muinntir às gach ceàrnaidh dhen Roinn Eòrpa a shuidheachadh. ’S e dùthchas àraich, agus seanchas a sheanar air a chuideachd a thuinich am Manitoba ’s Saskatchewan, a shinn-seanmhar nam measg, tè aig an robh Gàidhlig Ulaidh agus naidheachdan air an dà shealladh, a thug air Tiber suim mhòr a ghabhail ann an eòlas-dùthchasach agus beul-aithris. A bharrachd air sin, thog Tiber a’ phìob mhòr nuair a bha e na bhalach agus chaidh e fhèin a theagasg na pìobadh aig Colaiste na Pìobaireachd ann an Eilean a’ Phrionnsa nuair a bha e ’s a’ bhliadhna mu dheireadh dhen àrd-sgoil agus dh’fhuirich e an Oirthir-Ear Chanada na oileanach fo-cheumnach.

Thug e a-mach ceum BA le urram às an Roinn Cheilteach ann an 2007 far an do sgrìobh e tràchdas air pìobaireachd ’s an t-seann nòs airson dannsa ’s ceòl cluaiseadh ann an Uibhist a Deas agus Ceap Breatuinn. ’S ann nuair a bha e na oileanach aig O.N.F.X. a thòisich Tiber air seanchas nan Gàidheal a chlàradh air feadh Eilein Cheap Breatuinn agus Innse Gall, fios a chumas e aig cridhe a chuid rannsachaidh. Rinn e MScR ann Eitneòlas na h-Alba aig Sgoil Eòlas na h-Alba, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann, far a bheil e fhathast na oileanach-rannsachaidh PhD ann an Eitneòlas le taic bhon SSHRC mar Doctoral Fellow agus bho Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann fhèin.

Tiber Falzett’s research focuses on seanchas and local aesthetics pertaining to intangible cultural heritage (i.e. verbal arts and music) in both the Nova Scotian and Scottish Gàidhealtachd. Tiber was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania, an area of rich cultural heritage. It was from his upbringing and listening to his grandfather’s memories about his ancestors who settled in the Canadian Prairies, including Tiber’s great-grandmother, a speaker of Ulster Irish who claimed to have second-sight, that Tiber became interested in traditional-culture and folklore. Tiber also began playing the Scottish bagpipes at an early age and went on to teach at the College of Piping in Prince Edward Island in his final year of high school and decided to stay in the Maritimes for his undergraduate studies.

Tiber graduated with a first-class honours BA in Celtic Studies in 2007, writing his thesis on vernacular piping traditions in South Uist and Cape Breton. It was while at St F.X. that Tiber began conducting fieldwork around Cape Breton and the Outer Hebrides, recording interviews with Gaelic-speaking tradition-bearers on their communities’ traditions. Tiber considers such fieldwork among living Gaelic speakers as central to his research. He has since completed a MScR in Scottish Ethnology at the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, where he is currently pursuing his PhD, with the support of a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) Doctoral Fellowship and ORSAS (Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme) Award from the University of Edinburgh.

Sìne Màiri Halfpenny

I started at St FX in 2004 as a business student but after a year I realised that my heart wasn't in it at all. I switched into Celtic Studies and focused on Scottish Gaelic, history and folklore. The atmosphere of the Celtic Studies department was amazing to work in. The professors are very supportive and always answered any question I had. I became completely submersed in Gaelic culture and was fortunate to get bursaries to travel to Scotland in the summer of 2007 and win the scholarship to Scotland for the summer of 2008 to study at Sabhal Mór Ostaig. I'm eternally grateful to the Celtic Studies Dept. for all the opportunities they opened up for me.

As an honours student I focused my research on Gaelic Education and the developments in Nova Scotia. Now I'm proud to say I'm a Gaelic teacher at St. Andrew's Consolidated, an elementary school in Antigonish County. I love my job and I am proud that I get to pay back all the opportunities that were given to me.

Andreas Hirt / Aindrias Hiort

It was while growing up in central New York, surrounded by the Irish immigrants of Tipperary Hill in Syracuse and influenced by his own ancestry (MacLean, McCrea, Tracey, Foley, Cameron) and family, that he found his love of Gaelic music. Trained in both the old Italian school of singing, which is no longer taught today, and liturgical chant, he found a striking connection in performance of the narrative songs about the exploits of Fionn mac Cumhaill. Wanting to know more about Gaelic song, he came to Antigonish in 2002 to learn how to pronounce and sing in it.

Andy has a B.S. degree in Physics/Mathematics from Hobart College, a B.A. (First Class Honours) in Celtic Studies from St. Francis Xavier University, an M.M. in Vocal Performance in Opera from Binghamton University, and an M.A. in Celtic Studies from St. Francis Xavier University. Additionally, he is a retired Lieutenant Commander of the United States navy.

Andy is now a research Ph.D. (music) student at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His research involves an analytical analysis of the sung recorded lays of Fionn mac Cumhaill which originate from Ireland and Scotland in the Middle Ages. These songs, almost always sung, reflect a narrative manner of singing all but extirpated by modern music's incessant rhythmical drone heard on the radio today.

Carmen MacArthur

Carmen MacArthur is from Pictou, Nova Scotia. After graduating from high school she spent a year as a volunteer living with people with disabilities at L’Arche Cape Breton in Whycocomagh. This is where she heard Gaelic for the first time and became enthralled with Cape Breton fiddle music and step dancing. After graduating from St FX with a Bachelor of Arts in Celtic Studies in 2007 she moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland to pursue a Master’s degree in Folklore. She is currently studying the vernacular aesthetics of Cape Breton step dancing and teaches Scottish Gaelic for the Atlantic Gaelic Academy.

Eimilidh NicFhionghuin

S ann á Gleann nam Màgan, Ceap Breatann a tha Eimilidh NicFhionghuin. Bha ùidh aice anns a' Ghàidhlig on a bha i òg. Dh'ionnsaich i a' Ghàidhlig aig àrd sgoil Dhàil Bhràighe, aig Oilthigh Naoimh Fransaidh Xavier agus aig a seanmhair, Rhodena (NicNiall) Nic 'Ill Fhaolain.

Bhuilich Roinn Cheilteach Oilthigh Naoimh Fransaidh Xavier ceum oirre anns a' bhliadhna 2007. As déidh sin, chaidh i air ais do'n oilthigh airson ceum foghlaim (aig ìre buin-sgoile). Aig Sgoil an Fhoghlaim, fhuair i oideas aig Oighrig NicFhraing gus a' Ghàidhlig a theagasg ann an sgoiltean. Bha cothrom sònraichte aice a dhol a dh'Albainn gus crìoch a chur air a' roinn mu dheireadh dhe'n chleachdadh-teagaisg aice 's an Eilean Sgitheanach. Bha i a' teagasg ann am Bun-Sgoil Phort Rìgh tro mheadhon na Gàidhlig fad ceithir sheachdainean. Thug i a-mach ceum à O.N.F.X. as t-earrach 2009 agus tha dùil aice a bhith 'na tidsear Gàidhlig ann an Albainn Nuaidh.

Lodaidh MacFhionghain / Lewis MacKinnon

Tha Lodaidh MacFhionghain ’na Cheannard aig Oifis Iomairtean na Gàidhlig aig Riaghaltas na h-Albann Nuaidh. Rugadh e ann am Bail’ Inbhir Nis is chaidh a thogail air an dùthaich ann an Siorramachd Antaiginis, tìr mór na h-Albann Nuaidh. Chual’ e a’ Ghàidhlig aig bràthair a sheanmhar, Dùghall Dùghallach an toiseach ’s e ’na dheugaire. As deoghaidh bàs ’ic Dhùghaill, thòisich e fhéin is ’athair, Eòs MacFhionghain a’ chànain a chleachdadh agus chum ’ad orra sìos chun a’ là an diugh.

Rinn e ceumnachadh ann an eòlais Phoileataigeach is Eòlas Cheilteach aig Oilthaigh Naoimh Fhransaidh ann an 1992 is tha e ’n dràsda fhéin ag obair air tràchdas gus crìoch a chur air a mhaighstreachd. Chuir Oilthaigh Cheap Breatuinn leabhar a bhardachd an clò ann an 2008 air a bheil an tiotal Famhair: Agus Dàin Ghàidhig Eile. ’S e seinneadair agus fear-ciùil a th’ ann a’ Lodaidh cuideachd.

Lewis MacKinnon is the CEO of the Office of Gaelic Affairs with the Provincial Government of Nova Scotia. He was born in Inverness town and raised in Antigonish County, mainland Nova Scotia. He first heard the Gaelic language as a teenager from his granduncle, Dougald MacDougall. After MacDougall's death, he and his father, Joe MacKinnon began to use the language and they kept on down to the present day.

He graduated from St FX with a degree in Political Science and Celtic Studies in 1992 and is presently working on his Master's thesis through the Celtic Studies Department at Saint Francis Xavier University. Cape Breton University Press published a book of his poems in the fall of 2008 which is titled Giant: And Other Gaelic Poems. Lewis is also a singer and musician.

Lindsay Milligan

Lindsay Milligan currently researches contemporary Gaelic, and issues of language planning. She was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario and moved to Antigonish for her undergraduate degree in 2001. It is at this time that she heard Gaelic for the first time, and soon also became fascinated by Celtic Studies. She graduated from St FX in 2005 and moved to Scotland to complete an MLitt with the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen.

In 2006 she began her PhD studies with the Celtic department at the same university, researching education as a component of reversing language shift. She has also worked in coordination with the Glasgow Caledonian University as a researcher on the EU's Dylan Project, studying language policies in businesses using Gaelic or Welsh.