Critics of Gaelic-medium education often decry it as serving “the middle class,” but the headteacher of Glasgow Gaelic School/Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu says that’s not true.
In a recent article in Scotland’s The Herald newspaper, Donalda McComb, said 15 percent of the Gaelic-medium school’s pupils come from neighborhoods classed as the poorest in Scotland, though 17 percent come from wealthy neighborhoods.
“Some 19 per cent of our school population are eligible for free school meals and every year that is increasing,” McComb told The Herald. “By now we should be over the perception of Gaelic as for middle class families. … “We encourage all families from the local area and beyond so that parents know what is ahead and it is unfair if people still see us like that.”
The school, which had 33 pupils when it was established in 2006, now has 343 students.
It’s well-known, or should be, that Scottish Gaelic was once spoken well beyond the Hebrides and Highlands, as far south as the Scottish borders during the Middle Ages. That’s been obscured by history and historical myth-making that sought to de-emphasize the role of the Gaels in Scotland (how many times have researchers heard “Gaelic was never spoken here” from people in parts of Scotland pocked with Gaelic place names, and in some cases where Gaelic was alive within living memory or just beyond it? The answer, too many times.)
An ambitious artistic project last year attempted to leap and blur some of the dividing lines of history and revive a song called Òran Bagraidh, possibly a relic — the only one — of the Gaelic once spoken in Galloway in southwestern Scotland. Galloway. The song came to light in the book “From the Farthest Hebrides,” (MacMillan Company of Canada, 1978) a collection of songs edited by Donald A. Ferguson of Cape Breton and Aonghas Iain MacDhomhnaill, or Angus John MacDonald, originally of Knockline, North Uist.
(Although some of the songs in the book were later found to be inventions of MacDhomhnaill, scholars have given Òran Bagraidh “serious consideration.” Read this informative blog by Michael Newton for more background.)
Medieval Galloway was a place where many languages met — a form of Cumbric or Welsh, Irish or Gaelic, English and Norse. It’s fitting that the Òran Bagraidh project involved musicians and poets drawn from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. They met for a week-long collaboration at Barscobe House in Galloway last September, using the song as a “springboard” to explore “commonalities and differences between musical styles and languages, within the context of the historical diversity of Galloway.”
The group has since performed their version of Òran Bagraidh in concert and an album featuring the song and other original works by the artists was released February 2. The album, more information, and a longer video on the project is available on https://www.oranbagraidh.com/
One of the benefits of membership in ACGA is our quarterly bilingual e-zine, An Naidheachd Againne. It is often the only connection that geographically isolated members have with ACGA and Scottish Gaelic. We hope that you enjoy reading it as much as the editorial team enjoys putting it together for you.
If An Naidheachd Againne is something that you consider worthwhile, we wonder if you would consider joining our volunteer editorial team. Gaelic is not a requirement in order for you to volunteer your help.
We are looking for volunteers for the following positions to supplement the current editorial team. Please note that we work cooperatively so that no one person is left with too much of the work.
Must be able to work carefully according to our guidelines to proofread content for spelling, typographical and formatting errors. No particular computer skills required beyond a general ability with Word, Apache Open Office or Pages.
A willingness to join the ACGA forum, where discussion about the current issue takes place.
Availability in the two weeks before publication (not necessarily for every issue). Publication dates are March 15, June 15, September 15 and December 15.
Someone willing to shadow the current content editors for the next few issues to acquaint themselves with our process and be ready to take on the job of content editor for one issue per year. We currently have 3 editors who take turns being content editor. Work on a particular issue begins approximately a month after the publication of the previous issue (March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15)
A willingness to join the ACGA forum, where discussion about the current issue takes place
Content editors are the “shepherds” who co-ordinate an issue by:
Deciding with the other editors on a lead article and contacting potential authors.
Contributing ideas for other articles / content of a particular issue and contacting authors.
Keeping track of article submissions and deadlines.
Co-ordinating the proofreading schedule.
Should have experience with Microsoft Word and Publisher, especially with creating and using styles.
A sense of design is helpful.
Expectation of doing one issue per year and taking over at some point.
Availability at least 2 weeks prior to publication (March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15).
The Fèis will feature Gaelic instruction from Catrìona Parsons, Frances Acar, Archie Campbell, and Rachel McPherson. Kathleen MacInnes will teach Gaelic song, and Rona Lightfoot will teach piping and some Gaelic song. Other instructors and presenters include harpist Ingrid Henderson, fiddler Ewen Henderson, and accordion and shinty player Gary Innes.
We would be overjoyed to forge new bonds of friendship with ACGA!
Sincerely yours agus le meas,
Richard Hill, President Emeritus, Slighe nan Gaidheal
Youth organization and charity Young Scot wants to interest more young people in learning and using Scottish Gaelic. The group launched a national campaign last month that will provide a variety of services, resources and information online in Gaelic on topics from managing money to puberty.
“We know developing language skills is a great way to strengthen career prospects available to Scotland’s young people,” Ruairidh Hamilton, Gaelic Development Officer at Young Scott, said in a statement.
“This project is a really exciting way for Young Scot to give Gaelic speakers the resources that they need and to showcase the benefits of adopting the Gaelic language in everyday life,” he said. “We want young people to have easy access to advice and support that can help them achieve their future ambitions.”
The group, which has 675,000 members aged 11 to 26 in Scotland, has published information in Gaelic on several topics on its website, including a “Simple Guide to Learning Gaelic” and a section on “Cothroman Gàidhlig: Gàidhlig Opportunities.” It also offers discounts on books and travel and rewards for completing activities, such as writing a biography in Gaelic.
There’s growing demand for opportunities to learn and use Gaelic among young Scots, said the organization. Young Scot also wants to encourage members to pursue career opportunities through Gaelic. A 2014 survey estimated the Gaelic language is worth almost £150 million to the Scottish economy and offers career prospects in industries ranging from tourism to education.
The national campaign was launched at the Young Scot head office in Edinburgh, where first-time speakers and young Gaelic enthusiasts took part in an interactive Q&A with a panel that included representatives from the Scottish Parliament. The event highlighted the benefits of young people learning the historic and culturally rich language in the modern world.