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TITLE
Essie Stewart returns to her travelling roots
EXTERNAL ID
AB_ESSIE_STEWART_06
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Essie Stewart
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1180
KEYWORDS
travelling folk
travellers
lifestyles
gypsies
audios

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Essie Stewart is a traditional storyteller from Sutherland and one of the last people to have taken part in the traditional 'Summer Walking' of the travelling families. She is the grand-daughter of Ailidh Dall Stewart (1882-1968), one of the greatest Gaelic storytellers. Essie tells her stories in both English and Gaelic.

In this audio extract, recorded at the Ullapool Book Festival in 2008, Essie talks about her recent return to her travelling roots.

'Interviewer: You've been kind of returning to the roads in the last couple of years?

I have.

Interviewer: For television, for radio?

Yes.

Interviewer: for books?

Yes. Yes. As I said at the beginning, you know, doing it as I'm doing - doing this trips as I am now - is totally different to when I used to travel the roads of Sutherland and Ross-shire, and Caithness as well. You know, doing it with a horse and cart in atrocious, atrocious weather sometimes. But fifty years, you know, since, since I've been on the road. And last year I was very privileged to be able to do the trip with the horse and cart and follow the routes that we used to travel. Time dictated that we couldn't do all of it, but we did Sutherland, or part of Sutherland, as much as we could in the month that we had. And that was absolutely wonderful for me to be able to do; it was very emotional. Emotional, in as much as, although I had a team of wonderful people with me, I was doing it on my own, because there was no one of my own left to do it with me.

Oh, my own family and some of - those that could - came to our lodge at Altnaharra and that, but basically I did that journey on my own. But to me it was something that was absolutely fantastic; to be able to do that after fifty years. I wanted to do it for me, but I also wanted to do it to show the younger generation a way of life that's gone; people that are gone, and skills that are gone. And we had, we had the services of a tinsmith and we had the services of, of a farrier. And you know, they did demonstrations for us on each campsite that we went to. And we also involved the schools and, you know, when I say I wanted to do it for the young, and I'm not talking schoolchildren, I'm talking the thirty-somethings, the forty-somethings that weren't even born the last time that I was on the road.

But Sutherland being what it is, it was kept alive and young people - and by young people I mean the forty-somethings - that I didn't even know, and they would say, 'Oh Essie, I, I, my granny remembers you!' you know. And obviously, you know, it's something that has been kept alive and it was, it was absolutely just, it was something that was - It brought back so many good memories, although, you know, sometimes it could be very hard, you know, really difficult conditions. But it was also good because we were so well known; we were, we were the extended family, you know? Everywhere we went we had gatherings of people, we had music, we had story telling.'

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Essie Stewart returns to her travelling roots

2000s

travelling folk; travellers; lifestyles; gypsies; audios

Am Baile

Am Baile: Essie Stewart

Essie Stewart is a traditional storyteller from Sutherland and one of the last people to have taken part in the traditional 'Summer Walking' of the travelling families. She is the grand-daughter of Ailidh Dall Stewart (1882-1968), one of the greatest Gaelic storytellers. Essie tells her stories in both English and Gaelic.<br /> <br /> In this audio extract, recorded at the Ullapool Book Festival in 2008, Essie talks about her recent return to her travelling roots.<br /> <br /> 'Interviewer: You've been kind of returning to the roads in the last couple of years?<br /> <br /> I have. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: For television, for radio?<br /> <br /> Yes.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: for books?<br /> <br /> Yes. Yes. As I said at the beginning, you know, doing it as I'm doing - doing this trips as I am now - is totally different to when I used to travel the roads of Sutherland and Ross-shire, and Caithness as well. You know, doing it with a horse and cart in atrocious, atrocious weather sometimes. But fifty years, you know, since, since I've been on the road. And last year I was very privileged to be able to do the trip with the horse and cart and follow the routes that we used to travel. Time dictated that we couldn't do all of it, but we did Sutherland, or part of Sutherland, as much as we could in the month that we had. And that was absolutely wonderful for me to be able to do; it was very emotional. Emotional, in as much as, although I had a team of wonderful people with me, I was doing it on my own, because there was no one of my own left to do it with me. <br /> <br /> Oh, my own family and some of - those that could - came to our lodge at Altnaharra and that, but basically I did that journey on my own. But to me it was something that was absolutely fantastic; to be able to do that after fifty years. I wanted to do it for me, but I also wanted to do it to show the younger generation a way of life that's gone; people that are gone, and skills that are gone. And we had, we had the services of a tinsmith and we had the services of, of a farrier. And you know, they did demonstrations for us on each campsite that we went to. And we also involved the schools and, you know, when I say I wanted to do it for the young, and I'm not talking schoolchildren, I'm talking the thirty-somethings, the forty-somethings that weren't even born the last time that I was on the road. <br /> <br /> But Sutherland being what it is, it was kept alive and young people - and by young people I mean the forty-somethings - that I didn't even know, and they would say, 'Oh Essie, I, I, my granny remembers you!' you know. And obviously, you know, it's something that has been kept alive and it was, it was absolutely just, it was something that was - It brought back so many good memories, although, you know, sometimes it could be very hard, you know, really difficult conditions. But it was also good because we were so well known; we were, we were the extended family, you know? Everywhere we went we had gatherings of people, we had music, we had story telling.'