By Laura Jean Grant & Laurel Munroe – Cape Breton Post
The skirl of bagpipes, the stars of tomorrow and the tromp of hundreds of square-dancing feet were among the sights and sounds as the curtain fell on the sixth annual Celtic Colours International Festival.
Several world-renowned pipers took to the stage at the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s for a Saturday afternoon Pipers’ Ceilidh, while The Next Generation, a matinee at Strathspey Place in Mabou, showcased up-and-coming young talent like Dalbrae Academy’s Celtic Crew, Rachael Ryan, from Port Hawkesbury, The Rankin Children, of Mabou, and P.E.I.’s Cynthia MacLeod.
And Saturday night, more than 1,000 people donned their dancing shoes and headed to the World’s Biggest Square Dance at the Victoria Highland Civic Centre in Baddeck, where they square-danced the night away to the music of Cape Breton’s best traditional players and several visiting artists.
There wasn’t a seat to spare in the Great Hall of the Clans at the Gaelic College for the Pipers’ Ceilidh, which featured Galician piper Carlos Nunez, Slàinte Mhath’s John MacPhee, Cape Breton piper John MacLean, Patrick Molard, from France, and several musicians accompanying the bagpipers. Among those musicians was fiddler Jacky Molard, who played with his brother.
During the intermission break, Jacky explained that he and Patrick were attending Celtic Colours for the first time – and loving every minute of it.
“We’re very happy to be part of the festival,” he said. “It’s been amazing.”
It was an incredibly busy few days for the Molard brothers, who arrived Thursday. The pair played at a concert in Inverness Friday, during the late-night Festival Club, at the Pipers’ Ceilidh, and again at Saturday night’s square dance. Following that jam-packed schedule, Jacky and Patrick flew out early Sunday morning.
Jacky noted they had great crowds for their performances and met countless festival-goers and fellow musicians at the different venues.
“At every step we meet new people,” he said.
Still suffering jet lag from their flight Thursday, Jacky said he and Patrick weren’t looking forward to getting back on a plane Sunday morning.
“It’s been a very short trip and it’s hard for us because we’d like to visit more of the country,” he said, adding, “Next time I hope we come back for one week or two.”
The Molard brothers come from Brittany – a small northwest region of France – and have been playing together for more than 25 years.
This year’s Celtic Colours International Festival featured 44 shows in 33 Cape Breton communities over nine days. The final attendance figures have yet to be tabulated, but ticket sales are projected to top last year’s record-setting figure of 15,389.
The festival is expected to generate $6 million for the local economy.
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