About | Billy Kay | Odyssey Productions


GATEHOUSE OF FLEET                          April 21

INDEPENDENCE WALK    Fife/Dundee April 22

PAISLEY PATTERNS                              May 2, 9.

BALGONIE CASTLE                                  June, 1.

SERVICES  TO SCOTS                          Video Link

PERSPECTIVE                                        Video Link                           



BIG LIT  FESTIVAL   Gatehouse of Fleet                                    April 21


The Scottish World/Knee Deep in Claret              http://www.biglit.org/


Billy Kay, charismatic and eloquent writer, performer and broadcaster, is one of the great chroniclers of Scottish language and culture and author of  books such as  The Scottish World, Scots The Mither Tongue and Knee Deep in Claret  In this special talk he will tell stories from his travels and detail the incredible influence the Scottish diaspora has had in far flung countries of the world. He will also talk about Scottish convivial history and the role we have played in some of the great wines of the world from Napa Valley to Bordeaux and the Douro.


FAE FIFE TAE DUNDEE    April 22nd  organisers Yes North East Fife


Billy will be one of the speakers  at a rally for Scottish Independence in City Square,  Dundee.  People will gather at the car park on the South Side of the Tay Bridge and walk to Dundee, leaving at 11 am. The rally in city square will take place lunch time/afternoon.  



PAISLEY PATTERNS  BBC Radio Scotland May 2 & 9 at 13.32


As Paisley bids to be UK City of Culture 2021, Billy Kay talks to proud Paisley Buddies like  singer/songwriter Carol Laula and Broadcaster Ken Macdonald who celebrate the vibrant history and culture of  their home town which took the iconic Paisley Pattern round the world.  The weaving of fine cloth in the late 18th century led to Paisley having a European renown for fashionable silks and muslins.  Manufacturers from Spittalfields in London moved to Paisley to avail themselves of the high end weaving skills available. A vibrant culture developed among the weavers too with clubs, societies and radical politics playing a crucial part in local identity. Paisley weavers were known too for their love of poetry and they left us vivid word pictures of life in the town back then. This is from Alexander Tait:


In Incle Street they knittings twine

In Cotton Street work muslins fine,

Into Silk Street the silk-gauze shine

In mirk mid nicht

In Back Raw street they drink at wine

In fair day licht.


And this is from Duncan McFarlane McNeil:


The click o the shuttle an whirr o the wheel

The tramp o the treadles an swish o the deil

The shout tae draw't up or the notes o a sang

Were heard a' roun as ye steppit alang ----

When I was a drawboy.


     Alexander Wilson who became the pioneer of American ornithology was typical of the intellectual, radical energy of the culture.  His statue stands outside the ancient Abbey, along with Paisley's other famous poet and song writer Robert Tannhaill. We will hear one of Tannhahill's beautiful Scots songs The Braes of Gleniffer and recall that many thousands of Buddies used to gather there to sing their bards songs.


     In the Abbey Billy talks to Reverend Alan Birss about the founding of the Abbey by the  French Cluniac Order back in 1163 and hears how important it was in the early years of he Scottish nation  through connections to Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the House of Stewart.  The French connection is also continued in the great organ of Paisley Abbey which  we will hear played by George McPhee.  It dates from 1872  and was made by the famous French builder, Aristide Cavaillé –Coll who also built the organ in Notre Dame. We also realise what an ancient  cradle of Christianity  Paisley is when we realise that the Irish monk St Mirin preached here back in the 7th century – his legacy echoing in the chapel dedicated to him within the Abbey and in the name of the Buddies' fitba team, St Mirren.  


     The other great industry that defined Paisley was the thread industry with  the Coates and Clark families becoming global entrepreneurs and opening factories from Brazil to Russia,  and creating monopolies for their products in many countries. Billy talks to Sam McKinstry of  the University of the West of Scotland and Catriona MacDonald of Glasgow university about the paternalistic culture that developed in the town because of the all pervading nature of the threadmill legacy. Catriona is the author of the book The Radical Thread, and she suggests that de-industrialisation hit Paisley particularly hard because of the close relationship between workers and owners which developed there. Catriona also provides a new introduction to the second programme of Paisley Patterns, a repeat of Billy's archive programme from 2001 The Mill Lassies. There,  women who worked in the threadmills describe the work and the way of life which developed, with the women often earning better wages than their menfolk.


     Because of the loss of the threadmills and the desire to renew and re-invigorate the historic town, the bid to be  UK City of Culture takes on huge importance.  Billy talks to Bid Director Jean Cameron who describes the momentum behind the bid as  vocational for her as a Paisley buddie, and much more than just a campaign for the town – it is part of a movement for regeneration which is transforming how Paisley feels about itself. The programme will highlight the creativity of Paisley in this cultural regeneration through the wonderful work undertaken by Pace Theatre whose alumni include James McAvoy  and Paolo Nutini.  Paolo's song eulogy to his home town These Streets will also feature along with fellow Buddy, Gerry Rafferty's hit song "Stuck in the Middle"


      Also taking part:  Mhairi Gilbert, David Wallace, Dan Coughlan, Ken Mathieson, Dr Gilbert Shaw Dunn, Billy Kinnear, Maggie McCulloch, Piero Pieracinni, kids from Pace Youth Theatre and  Lorna Williams.


     Paisley Patterns will be broadcast on Radio Scotland on May 2nd at 13.32, repeated on Sunday 6th May at 0703. The Mill Lassies goes out the following week at the same times. Both will be available for 30 days online via the iPlayer.



BALGONIE CASTLE  Fife     The Scottish World         Evening of  June 1st

 Billy has been invited to address Markinch Heritage Group in the historic setting of Balgonie Castle. The subject will be the effects of the Scottish diaspora in aw the airts. For more details please contact Markinch Heritage Group.



Meikle thenks for aw the kind words anent ma speech at #NaTrads.  Ablow is a link tae ma bittie

My section of the brilliant MG Alba programme for those who want to see the wee film and hear my speech. Thank s to all those who have commented on it and who have supported me in the guid cause.

 Many thanks to bees knees media for supplying a link to the clip:


Password is:  hive01



 Delighted to contribute to Phantom Power's excellent preview programme of what we all hope will become a series on contemporary Scotland. Classy television!