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.
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
My 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).
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