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Artyness columnist Barbara Henderson is looking forward to the coming week's Nigg Book Fair and the new St Duthac Book And Arts Festival in and around Tain


By Barbara Henderson

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I love this about the North of Scotland: by most people’s standards we are considered ‘remote’ (all relative, of course!), but people who live here don’t complain about culture not being available to them.

No, they get their hands dirty and make it themselves!

Barbara Henderson.
Barbara Henderson.

Take the plucky organisers of the brand-new St Duthac’s Book and Arts Festival which will be launched on the evening of September 23 and end on Monday, September 27 with the author and newsreader, Sally Magnusson talking about her new book, The Ninth Child.

St Duthac (pictured below) is the patron saint of Tain, and I’ll have you know, is thought to have been born in the town around 1000.

Educated in Ireland, he became an influential figure in the Celtic church – so important, in fact, that his death was reported in The Annals of Ulster.

Statue of St Duthac. Picture: Carsten Flieger
Statue of St Duthac. Picture: Carsten Flieger

One story relates that, as a boy, he was sent to collect hot coals from the local smithy.

The smith simply placed the hot coals in Duthac’s lap, and the boy carried them to his master completely unaffected.

Given all of this, I was particularly taken with the organisers’ idea to stage an exciting Heritage Day planned for Sunday, September 26, focusing on St Duthac.

Dr Tom Turpie from the University of Stirling, a renowned expert on the saint, is to speak at the Collegiate Church while music from Music Fyne is booked to follow his talk.

A local Tain drama group is also expected to make an appearance.

There is more.

Tain-based internationally-acclaimed author Helen Sedgwick is launching her new book.

Meg McLaren, Ceitidh Hutton and myself will visit Tain schools. Jim Miller will speak about his book The Finest Road In The World – The Story Of The A9.

And Cynthia Rogerson, Clio Gray, Moira Forsyth, Shona MacLean, Philip Paris, Liz Treacher and Debbie Ross will be there to talk about their work and /or hold writing workshops around the peninsula.

Jeff Zycinski, the former head of Radio Scotland will also appear alongside Karen Bartke from TV’s Scot Squad who will perform snippets from Jeff’s book.

But what am I most excited about?

I’ll tell you: the Nigg Book Fair at Nigg Hall on Saturday, September 25.

Many authors will attend in person to sell and sign their books (early Christmas presents, anyone?), and I have stocked up especially!

For me, it will be a chance to meet readers and to catch up with booky friends I rarely see in person.

I absolutely cannot wait for the fun at the fair!

Will you be there?

n All details: www.stduthacbookfest.com/

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