Ceol na Mara And The Isle Of Harris Scotland.
Ceol na Mara & The Isle Of Harris
The Gaelic language is a most poetic ancient language still spoken in areas such as the Outer Hebrides/Western Isles of Scotland. The language includes some of the most beautiful phrases used to describe things that are rather common and generally considered, by modern society, as unimportant. One such phrase is Ceol na Mara which describes the sound of the sea and means "music of the sea". You may see a number of seaside guest houses bearing the name of "Ceol na Mara" as it is a highly popular name in places where the Gaelic is common. The Isle of Harris can be found off the west coast of Scotland separated from the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland by a ruthless stretch of water known as the Minch. Once part of the Norse and Manx kingdoms the Isle of Harris has a strong culture based upon it's Celtic and Nordic past. The islands of the Hebrides have a strong association with the sea and there have been many Gaelic songs written about the sea and sea journeys.
Harris is a truly astounding place to visit and it is very well known for it's beauty. Along the south west coast of the Isle of Harris can be found a number of incredibly beautiful beaches. Long tracts of silvery shell sand backed by sand dunes which lead onto land known as machair. Machair is very fertile ground, unique to Scotland, which has a delicate and finely balanced eco structure on which the most fantastic selection of wild flowers create the most wonderful annual displays of colour.
Ceol na Mara (the music of the sea), and the islands close relationship with the sea, has played an important role in the shaping of the Hebridean culture. Many of the Gaelic songs make reference to the sea and many have lost their lives at sea with several disasters, such as the sinking of the Iolaire, having a profound effect upon many small villages. The harsh realities of the past and the long eventful history have helped create the most incredible character in the folk of the islands who are both strong and yet gentle and friendly. One of the most beautiful aspects of the culture is the way in which the Psalms are sung in the churches. Sung in the Gaelic the tunes are so profound that you will find it difficult not to be moved deeply when you first hear them.
The beaches of South Harris should be top of your list of places to visit on the Isle of Harris. Both the east and west coasts of Harris are incredibly beautiful but they are very different, to the west are the beaches and machair but the east coast is incredibly rocky with pebble beaches and rocky inlets. The medieval church at Rodel, found at the very south of Harris, is one of the most interesting places to visit and well worth picking the key up for from the local hotel. North Harris is very, very hilly.
If you want to experience the culture, beauty and unique sounds (such as Ceol na Mara) of the Outer Hebrides then you simply must visit the Isle of Harris. Getting to Harris is relatively easy. The easiest way is to catch an aeroplane to Stornoway on Lewis and drive down to Harris but most people come by ferry. The main ferry runs from Uig on the Isle of Skye to Tarbert in North Harris. It is also possible to catch a ferry to North Uist and catch a further ferry across to the small village of Leverburgh in South Harris.
One of the best ways to enjoy the sounds of Ceol na Mara is to stay bed and breakfast in a guest house close to the sea. Fortunately there are plenty to choose from and all offer the most luxurious accommodation and the friendliest atmosphere you are ever likely to experience.
You will also be amazed at the quality of the bed and breakfast accommodation available in a Harris hotel. There are only a few Harris hotels and one of the finest is a small hotel found just outside the town of Tarbert known as Ardhasaig House. Sadly you are unlikely to hear Ceol na Mara at Ardhasaig House but you do get some of the best views available from hotel accommodation on the Isle of Harris. Another way to stay on Harris is camping or you could bring a caravan. However there is really only one camping site/caravan park on the island and it is basically a field alongside one of the beaches.
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