Dolina ready to mark 80th birthday at Blas Festival

A Gaelic writer, actress and singer is set to celebrate her 80th birthday in style with musical friends.

Broadcaster and political campaigner, Dolina Maclennan will celebrate her 80th birthday at a concert during Blas Festival  on 15 September.

Brought up in Marvig, Lewis, Dolina was introduced to drama and the great Gaelic bards at Nicolson Institute and the rest, they say, is history!
Dolina’s career and musical life has so far spanned an incredible array of accomplishments; herself and Robin Gray were the first folk singers in the Waverley Bar which is still going strong today as the hub of folk music in Edinburgh.

Dolina sang for Scottish Ballet in the Gaelic production, An Clo Mòr, which opened in the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow before touring mainland theatres as well as venues throughout the Highlands and Islands in 1970. She was also the first Gaelic speaker to present 12 Noon, a Scottish network lunchtime programme.

Her first TV work was Beagan Gàidhlig, the first ever Gaelic teaching series and her first major writing role was for the radio soap, Na Moireasdanaich – The Morrisons. She appeared in STV soap, Machair, which ran from 1992 – 1998 and has had many more film, stage and TV appearances over the years, including the hit comedy series, Still Game.

However, what Dolina is known for most is her role in the ground-breaking 7:84 Scotland production, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil which changed the face of Scottish theatre and politics and toured Scotland and beyond in 1973-1974.

Dolina, who is currently celebrating her 60th year performing at the Edinburgh Festival, said: ‘As my birthday falls on January 1st, it is always hard to distinguish it from the usual Hogmanay celebrations; this year was no different.

‘I always have a dinner party with my best friends at 9 o’clock on Hogmanay, never more than 8 very close friends. Then we wait, with everything clean and in its place and a bit of silence before the New Year and the welcoming of first footers.”

‘This year, being special, my daughter Jane and my friend Christine Grant Ross produced a cake with an 80 thingy on it. That’s as far as it went for celebrations apart from family cards and gifts; I didn’t feel like a big party because of the death, a few months before, of a beloved nephew. I feel like the Queen, having two birthdays.

‘So, this is the very first time in all of my 80 years that I have been rewarded with what I always wished – that my birthday was on a normal day like 15th September! I am hugely honoured by the generosity of the Blas Festival and look forward hearing my favorite singers and musicians and meeting old and new friends.’

Helping Dolina celebrate her milestone birthday will be Pàdruig Morrison, Christine Primrose, Allan MacDonald, Seasaidh Lexy and a few others to be announced.

Blas, which means ‘taste’ or ‘sample’, is organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council and will take place from 7-15 September. It aims to celebrate Gaelic culture and the thriving Scottish traditional music scene over nine days of concerts, cèilidhs and larger events in venues across the Highlands and Islands.

Other headline acts at this year’s Blas, which takes place at venues from Bernera to Applecross and Portree to Portmahomack, include Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, two previous winners of BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, Mischa Macpherson and Brìghde Chaimbeul, Celtic rock group Wolfstone, who will perform at Blas for the first time, award-winning folk band Breabach, young electronic Celtic fusion group, Niteworks and the highly-acclaimed RURA.

Dolina @ 80 takes places at 7.30pm on Saturday 15 September at the Woodlands Centre in Stornoway.

Another Gaelic singing star, Alasdair Gillies, will be performing on his 80th birthday on 8 September.

The full programme of events can be found at along with details of how to purchase tickets, including special prices for Young Scot cardholders.