New Gaelic Cultural Centres : Culturlann Inbhirnis agus An Taigh Cèilidh Steòrnabhagh

The Gaelic language is a crucial and integral part of the cultural heritage of everyone in Scotland – everywhere in Scotland. It is literally written into the Scottish landscape in all parts of our country. Sadly however, the Gaelic language is facing a serious threat to its continuing existence as a vibrant, living, community language. While governmental and institutional support is extremely important, if we want the language to remain vital, it is up to ordinary people in Scotland to learn it, promote it, and use it.

A couple of extremely important community projects have recently been launched which aim to create a space for Gaelic in two of the most important towns in the Highlands, the city of Inverness / Inbhirnis, the traditional capital of the Highlands, and Stornoway / Steòrnabhagh, the capital and largest town of the Western Isles, the stronghold of the Gaelic language in modern Scotland.

The Culturlann Inbhirnis project seeks to open a Gaelic cultural centre in the city which will provide a gathering place for everyone with a passion for or an interest in the Gaelic language and culture and enable them to come together for entertainment, chat, learning and friendship to celebrate and strengthen Gaelic, its culture and traditions in a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere.

A feasibility study commissioned by Alba Heritage Trust and conducted by the Impact Hub in 2018, concluded that there was overwhelming support for such a Centre. Here, locals, Gaelic speakers, learners, visitors and all those with an interest in the language and culture, could meet socially, use the language in a wide variety of activities, enjoy authentic Highland cultural events, attend language classes, strengthen connections and build a collective Gaelic community.

The project is currently fundraising for the centre,

You can contribute here

You can learn more about the project here

Meanwhile in Stornoway/ Steòrnabhagh, An Taigh Cèilidh is a project to open a Gaelic culture centre in the largest town in the Western Isles /Na h-Eileanan Siar. The vision is to create a cultural space which operates entirely through the medium of the Gaelic Language.

An Taigh Cèilidh will be a Gaelic-only social space and business. A window onto a world where Gaelic is not an endangered minority language. Imagine going into an Italian bookshop and café, where everything is in Italian. You’re greeted in Italian. Staff use Italian in their meetings and training.

Well, An Taigh Cèilidh will be a Gaelic bookshop/gift shop and café in the Gàidhealtachd. That’s not to say that people who don’t speak Gaelic won’t be welcomed – just as you wouldn’t be kicked out of an Italian café for not being Italian! But we will have incentives to get people using Gaelic, such as a 10% discount on drinks if you order in Gaelic. We will have daily clubs that normalise Gaelic, such as a knitting club, a parent and child club, and a book club! We’re also working with Scrabble® to develop an official version of the world-famous boardgame. We’ll also have internships to help people develop their business skills in Gaelic, and we’ll have events that showcase Gaelic culture, such as traditional music, storytelling, poetry, reminiscence events, and even a Gaelic-speaking Santa at Christmas! We’ll therefore be an inclusive bridgeway connecting communities – people of all levels of Gaelic (or no Gaelic!), people of all ages, and anyone who’s on the Isle of Lewis, either permanently or temporarily!

You can contribute to their crowdfunder here :

You can learn more about the project here :

There is also a short questionnaire which the project hopes will strengthen its case with government and institutional funding.

See here :

Suas togamaid Gàidhealtachd nuadh
Le eanchainn, braon-gruaidh agus dòirn,
Gàidhealtachd às ‘n dèanar uaill,
Àit’ àrd, uasal aig cànan is ceòl
S biadh beathail aig spiorad is brù
Ri fhaotainn a ghnàth air do bhòrd.

Let us build up a new Highlands
With brain, sweat of cheek and by hand
Highlands of which we can be proud
An exalted noble place for language and music
With life-giving food for spirit and body
Always available on your table

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

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13 comments on “New Gaelic Cultural Centres : Culturlann Inbhirnis agus An Taigh Cèilidh Steòrnabhagh

  1. Gwynneth Rixon says:

    Just like the Welsh language bookshops and centres in Wales…about time!!
    Looking forward to visiting friends on Lewis so that I can use my Gaelic. online learning is all very well but real use is needed!

  2. Finlay Macleoid says:

    So pleased to see both developments taking place but they are not sufficient on their own. What is required are the development of facilities which can develop Gaelic communities that are sustainable in the long run. The first step along the way to sustainability are Networked Gaelic communities. Networked Gaelic communities are not developed through computers by face to face interaction.

  3. For those in Glasgow, there’s an existing Gaelic social centre in Partick: An Lòchran, close to Comhairle nan Leabhraichean (the Gaelic bookshop). An Lòchran has regular weekly events and meetings for fluent Gaelic speakers as well as for learners. More information here:

  4. Brian Hill says:

    Wishing all the best for the community Gaelic projects. However, I would take issue with the opening paragraph of your post, and suggest that Gaelic has no part to play in the cultural heritage or landscape of the Shetland Isles where I live. That heritage in Shetland is largely revered locally as being a Norse one, before Shetland, along with Orkney, became part of Scotland.

    • Alasdair says:

      Great for those who will make use of it but sadly I fear it’s a naive, if valiant attempt to save a language that has already passed tipping point. Had we had the infrastructure we have today, GME schools etc back in the 1960s we might have been able to hold on to something. The baby boomers are probably the last generation exposed to traditional native Gaelic as a community language.

      The schools and unis etc are great for bringing the language to those that would otherwise not had the chance to learn, but it’s not the same as the Gaelic that was passed down through the generations and communities etc.

      Gaelic will survive, but a very bland and Anglicised version of it.

      • Gwynneth Rixon says:

        Welsh has managed to double it’s percentage and is still growing. It will take much work but it is not impossible for Gaelic

        • Finlay Macleoid says:

          It is not just about doubling the numbers game it is also about intergenerational transmission and building up sustainable communities. They can be two very different things altogether.

  5. Statgeek says:

    Posting this here as it’s the most recent post. Scottish Election Study 2021 *Not Local Election 2022* before people get excited.

    Click to access Scottish-Election-Study-The-2021-Scottish-Parliament-Election.pdf

    Interesting point in Figure 5, Page 11

    “As we have outlined elsewhere, the two constitutional issues have created four tribes in Scotland, clustering together Yes Remainers, No Remainers, No Leavers and Yes Leavers. The size of these tribes has changed over time, particularly for those whose partisan and constitutional preferences were out of alignment. While the largest group after the 2016 referendum were No Remainers, the modal voter in Scotland is now a Yes Remainer.”

    Requoting the last sentence: “While the largest group after the 2016 referendum were No Remainers, the modal voter in Scotland is now a Yes Remainer.”

    A very interesting document, although many of the polling and election geeks will not be surprised by much of it. One thing I noticed in Figure 3, Page 8, was that Salmond was very unpopular with SNP voters (slightly less unpopular than Johnson), but Sturgeon was relatively popular with Alba voters, while Johnson’s popularity among Alba supporters was worse than those in the SNP. Interesting.

  6. Welsh_Siôn says:

    Don’t think that Cymraeg is safe, yet …

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