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TITLE
What is your family background? - Margaret Bennett
EXTERNAL ID
AB_SGI_02_MARGARET_BENNETT_Q_01
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2009
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Margaret Bennett
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
41011
KEYWORDS
conferences
emigration
lecturers
audio
audios
familybackground

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As part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a three-day international conference - Scotland's Global Impact - was held at Eden Court theatre, Inverness from 22-24 October. Prominent academics, historians and other experts came together to provoke healthy discussion on the history of migration and the influence of Scots abroad.

Am Baile interviewed several of the speakers during the conference. In this audio extract, Dr Margaret Bennett answers the question:

'What is your family background?'

'Well, my mother's people are from Skye, Uig in Skye, and that's always been home, a sort of, in my mind, and yet, of course, everybody has two parents; we spent every holiday and weekend in Uig, in Glen Conan actually, with my grandparents. I was very fortunate; I had grandparents till I was over thirty. But when I was eleven, we went to the Isle of Lewis for six years and that was a huge influence in my life. And I think that, although they're, what, forty minutes, forty miles apart, with The Minch, yet there are many cultural differences, and language differences, and singing style differences. And I know that although I love to sing, and my songs were initially learnt from my mother, my style is not my mother's. It's as heavily influenced by Lewis tradition as Skye. So, might I say again I'm sort of a mid-Minch reflection.

And my last year of school was spent in the Shetland Islands, in Lerwick; we moved there. We were in the Shetlands for two years and that, I would say, added another dimension to how I saw culture in Scotland, and folklore, and comparisons to - I saw more shared things - things to share, than things to divide. That's always been my thing; what kind of, what do we have in common, rather than what divides us. I suppose it's like one way of looking at the positive rather than the negative and it's a way to connect with people. And maybe it's the thing that's made it easy, if not natural, for me to try to connect with people, because without people I wouldn't be doing what I do.

Now, having told you my family background, I didn't mention my father's family, because we were growing up in Skye, but my father is Glasgow-Irish. My father, my grandfather, my paternal grandfather's people are from County Armagh. That, in fact, is the Bennett name; I still have that name. And my father very much had a Lowlander's view of life, but very much influenced on his part by the Northern Irish experience and that, I think, he brought something to my life in Skye that I probably wouldn't have had, had I been entirely from a Hebridean family. And that was, I think, the attitude to religion, and to equality, interference, but also to speaking up for justice; I think the islanders tend to be quite reticent. I'm not saying they don't speak up for justice, of course they do and they've felt passionately by many issues, but we tend to be over endowed, with a, with a, if you like, a legacy of politeness. And I think, I like to think I still have that, but there's a little bit of me that my mother says, 'Now your father would probably speak out against-' so, if I come across something that - not usually on my own behalf, on the behalf of others - that seems injust or, or perilous, if you like, I would be - I think that quality of loyalty and sense of support possibly comes from that direction as well.

And my father was very, very interested in poetry, and song, and tradition; he was a musician as well, and my mother's family were singers and, again- So I get that from both sides; I get the musical side from both sides of my family, and an interest in the Scots language from my father because he spoke Scots at home, in Skye, so it was natural for me to be at home, say with Burns. He was a great Burns aficionado.'


BIOGRAPHY

Dr Margaret Bennett was brought up in the Isles of Skye, Lewis and Shetland. She emigrated to Canada in 1967 as a post-graduate student in Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 1975 she was Folklorist with The Museum of Civilization's Quebec-Hebridean Project, returning to Scotland in 1976. From 1984 she lectured at the University of Edinburgh, recording oral history and traditions of Scots at home and abroad.

Now part-time at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, her books include 'Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave' (1992) and two prize-winning studies on emigrant traditions, 'The Last Stronghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions in Newfoundland' (1989) and 'Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec' (1999).

She features on several CD recordings, has sung at international festivals and has contributed to several theatre productions. In 1998 she received the Master Music Maker Award in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching, and in 2003, the Celtic Women International award for 'lifelong service to Scottish Culture'. For Homecoming Scotland 2009 she has published a book with double-CD of songs spanning three centuries, 'Dìleab Ailean-A Newfoundland Homecoming Cèilidh' (Grace Note Publications).

Image: Duncan MacNab

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What is your family background? - Margaret Bennett

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

2000s

conferences; emigration; lecturers; audio; audios; familybackground;

Am Baile

Scotland's Global Impact

As part of Homecoming Scotland 2009, a three-day international conference - Scotland's Global Impact - was held at Eden Court theatre, Inverness from 22-24 October. Prominent academics, historians and other experts came together to provoke healthy discussion on the history of migration and the influence of Scots abroad. <br /> <br /> Am Baile interviewed several of the speakers during the conference. In this audio extract, Dr Margaret Bennett answers the question:<br /> <br /> 'What is your family background?' <br /> <br /> 'Well, my mother's people are from Skye, Uig in Skye, and that's always been home, a sort of, in my mind, and yet, of course, everybody has two parents; we spent every holiday and weekend in Uig, in Glen Conan actually, with my grandparents. I was very fortunate; I had grandparents till I was over thirty. But when I was eleven, we went to the Isle of Lewis for six years and that was a huge influence in my life. And I think that, although they're, what, forty minutes, forty miles apart, with The Minch, yet there are many cultural differences, and language differences, and singing style differences. And I know that although I love to sing, and my songs were initially learnt from my mother, my style is not my mother's. It's as heavily influenced by Lewis tradition as Skye. So, might I say again I'm sort of a mid-Minch reflection. <br /> <br /> And my last year of school was spent in the Shetland Islands, in Lerwick; we moved there. We were in the Shetlands for two years and that, I would say, added another dimension to how I saw culture in Scotland, and folklore, and comparisons to - I saw more shared things - things to share, than things to divide. That's always been my thing; what kind of, what do we have in common, rather than what divides us. I suppose it's like one way of looking at the positive rather than the negative and it's a way to connect with people. And maybe it's the thing that's made it easy, if not natural, for me to try to connect with people, because without people I wouldn't be doing what I do.<br /> <br /> Now, having told you my family background, I didn't mention my father's family, because we were growing up in Skye, but my father is Glasgow-Irish. My father, my grandfather, my paternal grandfather's people are from County Armagh. That, in fact, is the Bennett name; I still have that name. And my father very much had a Lowlander's view of life, but very much influenced on his part by the Northern Irish experience and that, I think, he brought something to my life in Skye that I probably wouldn't have had, had I been entirely from a Hebridean family. And that was, I think, the attitude to religion, and to equality, interference, but also to speaking up for justice; I think the islanders tend to be quite reticent. I'm not saying they don't speak up for justice, of course they do and they've felt passionately by many issues, but we tend to be over endowed, with a, with a, if you like, a legacy of politeness. And I think, I like to think I still have that, but there's a little bit of me that my mother says, 'Now your father would probably speak out against-' so, if I come across something that - not usually on my own behalf, on the behalf of others - that seems injust or, or perilous, if you like, I would be - I think that quality of loyalty and sense of support possibly comes from that direction as well. <br /> <br /> And my father was very, very interested in poetry, and song, and tradition; he was a musician as well, and my mother's family were singers and, again- So I get that from both sides; I get the musical side from both sides of my family, and an interest in the Scots language from my father because he spoke Scots at home, in Skye, so it was natural for me to be at home, say with Burns. He was a great Burns aficionado.'<br /> <br /> <br /> BIOGRAPHY<br /> <br /> Dr Margaret Bennett was brought up in the Isles of Skye, Lewis and Shetland. She emigrated to Canada in 1967 as a post-graduate student in Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 1975 she was Folklorist with The Museum of Civilization's Quebec-Hebridean Project, returning to Scotland in 1976. From 1984 she lectured at the University of Edinburgh, recording oral history and traditions of Scots at home and abroad. <br /> <br /> Now part-time at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, her books include 'Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave' (1992) and two prize-winning studies on emigrant traditions, 'The Last Stronghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions in Newfoundland' (1989) and 'Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec' (1999). <br /> <br /> She features on several CD recordings, has sung at international festivals and has contributed to several theatre productions. In 1998 she received the Master Music Maker Award in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching, and in 2003, the Celtic Women International award for 'lifelong service to Scottish Culture'. For Homecoming Scotland 2009 she has published a book with double-CD of songs spanning three centuries, 'Dìleab Ailean-A Newfoundland Homecoming Cèilidh' (Grace Note Publications).<br /> <br /> Image: Duncan MacNab