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The Isle of Harris & Ceol na Mara

Mar 29, 2008
The Outer Hebrides (also known as the Western Isles) of Scotland are the very centre of Gaeldom. The Gaelic language is spoken in places around the globe but it is most widely spoken in the Hebrides where it is the native language. Incredibly poetic the language contains the most amazing phrases for things such as the sound of the sea which is "Ceol na Mara" (the closest English translation of Ceol na Mara is "the music of the sea").

The Outer Hebrides consist of a number of inhabited islands which are found off the west coast of Scotland. The main town is Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The isle of Lewis is joined to the Isle of Harris and are together known as the long island. Throughout the Isle of Harris most people have Gaelic as their first language and English as their second. The accent is incredibly soft but also very clear and the English spoken is beautiful and sometimes contains phrases akin to the Gaelic phrases (and Gaelic also contains many English words but usually for most modern things such as television).

If you ever have the opportunity to visit this part of the world you will immediately notice how clean and pure everything is. The Outer Hebrides must be one of the least polluted places in the United Kingdom with the air so clean and fresh that you immediately feel relaxed. The waters of the many lochs and the sea are so clear that you can see far down and diving is a wonderful experience. However it is the beaches that most people find most beautiful. On South Harris are some of the most beautiful shell sand beaches in Europe.

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.

One of the best places to enjoy Ceol na Mara is on the Isle of Harris and, luckily, the island is far more accessible than it was in the past. Today it is possible to fly to Stornoway airport which is over on the Isle of Lewis but, fortunately, Lewis and Harris are joined together so you are able to drive down to Harris. The most popular mode of transport used to get to the Isle of Harris is the ferry which comes into the main town of Tarbert from the Isle of Skye. Another ferry travels between the small village of Leverbrugh and the Uists.

One or two of the guest houses on the Isle of Harris are known as Ceol na Mara as many are very close to the shore and most have wonderful views out to sea. Besides the incredible views from the guest houses of Harris the hospitality is truly incredible and of the highest standard. Harris is so wonderfully peaceful that you can often hear the music of the sea as you drift off to sleep.

The hospitality is also noteworthy in all of the Harris hotel accommodation. Ardhasaig House is a small Harris hotel just outside Tarbert in North Harris. This hotel has some of the best views out of all the hotels and is extremely convenient for both South Harris and all of the Isle of Lewis. Although it is slightly too far from the sea to hear Ceol na Mara you do get wonderful views of the sea and out across the Harris Hills.
About the Author
If you want to hear the sounds of Ceol na Mara and visit harris then you should visit Harris bed and breakfast
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