Washington – A Gaelic singer,a boat-builder and a petroleum engineer shared their tales of the sea and their Scottish heritage this week as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s annual Folklife Festival,which this year features Scotland,Mali and the Appalachian region of the United States.
“Gaelic poetry is composed by little visual images. There's nothing metaphysical about it,” said Ishbel MacAskill,an interpreter of Gaelic songs who is originally from the island of Lewis.
MacAskill,who is very interested in Gaelic culture and its legacy,sang three nostalgic Gaelic songs,and she said that she has been inspired all her life by the Gaelic culture.
“It has such an effect in our lives,” she said.
One of the song's name translates to “I Cannot Sleep.” It tells the story of an unhappy woman whose lover drowned in the sea.
“For this woman,her lover was the best sailor,best hunter and best-looking man,” said MacAskill,as she explained the lyrics before she sang the song’s nostalgic rhythm in a soft voice,acapella,to an audience of about 20 people in one of the festival’s tented stages.
In a nearby tent,Ian Best,a boat-builder craftsman from the small Scottish island of Fair Isle talked about his work as he hammered on a hull. “It's a good job,” he said.
Best,39,who started to make boats when he was 17 and who spent three years as an apprentice in Norway,said that he was going to be at the festival for 10 days and expects to finish the ness yoal boat that he was building. Such boats usually take a month to finish. The boat resembles a small Viking boat.
“That's the plan,” he said.
Best,who lives in one of the least-inhabited places in Great Britain — 70 people in about nine square miles — said that he used to sail himself,but now he is totally devoted to his work. He has made about 80 of these boats,which are used for tourism and rough sea situations.
“It depends upon the market,” he said.
Dennis Krahn, answered questions about his more-modern Scottish profession in the oil industry for people attending the festival.
Krahn,an American petroleum engineer who has lived in Aberdeen,Scotland,since 1975 and who works for the International Association of Drilling Contractors,said the economy in Scotland has developed a great deal since a giant oil field was discovered under the North Sea in the late 1960s.
“The petroleum industry is around 6 percent of U.K. G.D.P” or gross domestic product,he said.
Besides the great contribution to United Kingdom's economy,the off-shore oil rigs provide 23,000 jobs to workers who are from all over the world,and they pump oil 24 hours a day,he said.
“Three million barrels a day,” said Krahn.
Krahn said that the workers receive a good salary,and they spend 14 days off-shore on an oil-drilling platform and 14 days on the mainland.
The Folklilfe Festival opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday and again July 2 to 6 on the National Mall.