New Farr Community Hall
By Alasdair D.L.Forbes, Farr, Strathnairn
In January 1999, a new community hall was opened in Farr. Its cost was in the region of £350,000 and it is one of the most attractive buildings of this nature built in recent years within the Inverness-shire area. The opening night, attended by approx. one person for every £1000 building cost, was the culmination of decades of hard work by generations of Strathnairners. The first attempt was made just after the Second World War but the hard-earned funds were arbitrarily spent on a war memorial by a rather officious estate factor. The second attempt was started in the late 1950s but, in 1974 when the local community of Daviot wished to rebuild their hall, the money raised was diverted to assist them.
In 1993, a small group of residents who were very familiar with the benefits of a vibrant and active community and who could not accept the absence of a focal point for the Strath, held a meeting in Farr School to restart the whole project. Many fundraising schemes later, including sponsored walks and litter collections, dances, gala days, raffles, etc., etc., the new committee had enough money to go to the National Lottery and ask for financial support. Thanks to the lottery’s willingness and the gift of a site from a local farmer, the new hall was built.
Today it, regularly, accommodates such routine community events as Indoor Football, Badminton, Keep Fit, Scottish Country Dancing, Mother and Toddler Clubs, Seniors Club, Feis Sessions(ie teaching traditional musical instruments and dance with a strong Gaelic bias) and, probably most exciting of all, has become a very popular venue for the top Scottish traditional musicians. The medium sized auditorium was just what was required in the Inverness area and, given the attention which was paid to getting the acoustics just right, Farr Community Hall is regularly filled to capacity for these performances. Since its opening it has staged the biggest names in traditional music such as CLIAR, DICK GAUGHAN, SLAINTE MHATH(from Cape Breton), BLAZIN’ FIDDLES, ANDY IRVINE, MAGGIE MACINNES, IVAN DREVER & DUNCAN CHISHOLM, HOOGIE, BURACH, SHINE, etc., etc. They come because they get a big crowd, a good atmosphere and a warm Strathnairn welcome.
Strathnairn is one of the very few areas, anywhere in Scotland, which takes St. Andrews Day seriously. For thirteen years now it has celebrated the occasion with a big bonfire, firework display, music and refreshments and, having spent the first 11 years of its life located in a farmer’s field, it has now been relocated to the Farr Hall grounds. This year(2001), there was a crowd of, about 150, to join in the festivities and, having done that, walked the few yards into the hall itself for a tremendous performance of the very best in Gaelic song with Maggie MacInnes ably supported by Charlie MacKerron on fiddle(Capercaillie) and Brian McAlpine on keyboards(Iron Horse).
Only a few years ago this range of events would have been unthinkable in Strathnairn as, to some extent, the heart had gone out of the community with the loss of so many of its native people. However, the community spirit is being revived. People know who their neighbours are. Why? They met them at the new Farr Community Hall that has, underneath its name inscribed on a big boulder at the entrance, Failte gu Talla Bhaile Againn. ie ‘Welcome to Our Village Hall’.