Cleachd I No Caill I! Ach Ciamar?

Seo sia beachdan bho Alistair air mar a chuireas tu gu feum a’ Ghàilig ghaolach agad.

Cleachd i no caill i! Dè cho tric ’s a chluinneas sinn an abairt seo? Ach ma tha thu, mar a tha mi fhèin, a’ fuireach ann an ceàrn far nach eil mac no nighean ann a rugadh do mhàthair a bhruidhneas cànan an àigh riut ciamar fon ghrèin a nì thu sin? Chan ionnan mòr-chànan is mìn chànan a thaobh chothroman cleachdaidh. Can ma tha mi airson Fraingis ionnsachadh thèid mi dhan Fhraing; follaiseach. Agus cha bhi dòl às; bruidhnidh mi Fraingis ge b’ oil leam. Ach fiù ’s ma thèid mi dha na tha air fhàgail dhen Ghàidhealtachd am bruidhinn muinntir an àite Gàidhlig rium?

.1. Rach an Sàs

Rach air comataidh, thoir a-mach ballrachd, obraich gu saor-thoileach! Tha thu a’ tarraing asam, ciamar a lorgas mi an ùine? Bidh daonnan leisgeul againn gun a bhith a’ cur seachad na tìde. Ach cuimhnich gu bheil sinn an eisimeil air buidheann de dhaoine èasgaidh a dh’obraicheas gu dìcheallach son a’ chanain airson tòrr a thacras ann an saoghal na Gàidhlig; agus bhon a gheibh sinn uile buannachd.

Is ionmhalta an obair an nì buidhnean leithid comataidhean ionadail a’ Mhòid is nam Fèisean a thaobh ciùil, cànain is cultair agus bidh buidhnean iomairt leithid Misneachd trang a’ strì son còir a’ chànain às ar leth. Cha toir e mòran saothair dhut faighinn a-mach cò na commain a th’anns an sgìre agad fhèin. Cuir fìos thuca! S’ e an duais a dh’fheitheas ort a bhith an sàs ann an obair fheumail a bheir toil inntinn dhut, agus; an salann sa bhrot; bidh thu am measg cuid de na daoine as daingne a thaobh a’ chànain.

2. Rach Mun Iar Fhir Òig (a Bhean Òg)

Ged as ann mu dheas a lorgas tu grian is teas tha aon rud cinnteach; cha chluinn thu mòran Gàidhlig ann an Ibiza no Fuerteventura. Coma leat a’ mheanbh-chuileag no dìle is cuir air dòigh co-dhiù aon turas dhan Ghàidhealtachd sa bhliadhna is òl às fuaran a’ chànain. San latha a th’ ann tha e fìor gun tèid agad air a dhol dhan Gàidhealtachd gun smid Gàidhlig a chluinntinn agus mar sin ’s fhiach e ro-innleachd a bhith agad. Mar eisimpleir, faigh leabaidh is bracaist far a bheil Gàidhlig aig an òstair (feuch an ionnsaich thu mar dhiùltas tu pònairearan àmhainn leis a’ Full Scottish’ agad), cuir fios air na buidhnean a tha an sàs ann an Gàidhlig san àite no dè tha dol. No dè mu dheidhinn dol air cursa, leithid an fheadhainn a tha air an cur air dòigh le Ceòlas is Sabhal Mòr Òstaig a tha air an ruith tron Ghàidhlig.

3. Tog Fonn; Seinn Le Còisir

‘S dòcha nach tus’ an ath Phavorotti ach ’s toil leat a bhith a’ seinn san fhrasair agus, nad bheachd, tha guth seinn air choireigin agad. Nach eil làn thìde agad faighinn a-mach às an fhrasair is aghaidh a chur air do luchd-èisteachd! ‘S e smaoin eagalach, tha fhìos agam, ach ma sheinneas tu le còisir cha bhi thu nad aonar. A bharrachd air sin bidh spòrs an lùib a’ gnothaich agus, ged nach eil Gàidhlig fhìorghlan aig a h-uile ball-chòisir chan eil rian nach bi duine no dithis ann a bhruidhneas Gàidhlig riut.

4. Bi Nad Charaid Do Na Gàidheil

Tha sinn fortanach gu bheil daoine fhathast beò aig a bheil Gàidhlig bhreagha, gun smal mar chiad chànan. S’ e stòras luachmhor a th’aca nan cinn ach gu tric gun duine ann a thig às an dèidh dhan toir iad seachad i. Abair call! Nuair a fhuair mi fhèin de mhisneachd a leigeadh leum faighneachd de sheann Sgitheanach a tha a’ fuirich faisg orm am biodh e cho math Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn rium b’ e an fhreagairt a fhuair mi gun robh e air a dhòigh ghlàn gun robh cuideigin ann a bhruinneadh a chànan gaolach màthaireil ris. Tha sinn nar deagh charaidean a-nis agus an dithis againn a’ faighinn buannachd às a’ chàirdeas ged ’s ann le beagan nàire a dh’aidicheas mi gur mise a fhuair a’ chuid às fheàrr. Bidh e an urra ruit fhèin rudeigin a chur air dòigh ach mar a chanadh mo sheann athair rium; ‘The worst that can happen son: you’ll get a no!’

5. Cùm Cluas Ri Claisneachd

‘S urrainn do bheatha sgoilear na Gàidhlig a bhith caran aonranach is fiù ’s dòrainneach aig amannan is ar sròn ann an leabhar no sgrìon fad na h-ùine. Faigh a-mach nas tric, sin mo chòmhairle, is cuir beagan fealla-dhà is spòrs an lùib an rud! Sa chuid as motha de sgìrean gheibh thu tachairtean spòrsail Gàidhlig ma chùmas tu cluas ri claisneachd. Thèid mi fhèin bho àm gu àm gu farpaisean-cheist ann an Glaschu a bhios air an cur air dòigh leis a’ bhuidheann An Gealbhan. Ann an Dùn Èideann cuiridh am buidheann Am Bothan cuirmean is consartan neo-fhoirmeil air dòigh. Ann an Inbhir Nis ’s e buidheann air a bheil Tac an Teine a riutheas seiseanan seinn. Sin dìreach trì eisimplierean am measg iomadh fear eile.

6. Thig Cruinn còmhla

Nar triall Ghàidhlig ’s iomadh duine de ar leithid fhèin ris an tachair sinn aig cùrsaichean, coinneamhan is eile. Ged is tric a bhios sinn a’ gearan mu dhìth chothroman còmhraidh de cho tric ’s a bhios sinn a’ bruidhinn ri chèile? San latha a th’ann, le pailteas dhòighean conaltraidh ann, chan eil leisgeul againn fiù ’s ma tha sinn a’ tighinn beò taobh thall an t-saoghail bho càch a’ chèile. Tog fòn. Cuir teachdaireachd. Cuir romhaibh beagan thìde a chur seachad còmhla ann am pub, no cafaidh, air cuairt no Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, Instagram, ooVoo, Viber, Talky …. Gabh mo leisgeul fhad ’s a tharainngeas mi anail…….. Chan eil e gu dìofar ciamar no càit ach gun deàn thu e; an diugh fhèin!

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The Highest Apple / An Ubhal as Àirde

Ubhal as AirdeTha seo togarrach, agus na iongnadh beagan cuideachd. Fhuair mi post-d bho Wilson McLeod greis bheag air ais, a’ faighneachd am bithinn deònach nan nochdadh earrann bho ACDD ann an leabhar-cruinneachaidh a bha e a’ deasachadh, agus thuirt mi gu dearbh gum bithinn, an dùil ge-tà, leis mar a bhios cùisean a’ gluasad cho slaodach anns an t-saoghal-fhoillseachaidh, gun nochdadh an leabhar an ceann bliadhna no trì, ach seo sanas dheth, ag ràdh gum nochd e anns an t-Sultain. Tha sin sgoinneil! Cha robh mi eòlach air an t-sreath seo, ach is coltach gum bi Francis Boutle a’ foillseachadh chruinneachaidhean mar seo ann an iomadh mion-chànan Eòrpach. Chaidh am fear Gàidhlig a dheasachadh le Wilson agus le Michael Newton. Chan eil cus fiosrachaidh anns an t-sanas mu na pìosan eile a nochdas ann, ach tha mi da-rìribh a’ dèanamh fiughair ris. Is coltach, ma cuirear òrdugh a-steach an-dràsta, gum faighear lasachadh beag anns a’ phrìs.

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Ar-a-mach an t-Samhraidh: tha àm an eagail ann mu thràth | GàidheilXR

Diluain 15mh Iuchar bidh Gàidheil XR agus daoine bho air feadh na du?thcha a’ togail fianais ann an Glaschu ann an dlùth-chomann le fògarraich na gnàth-shìde. Bidh sinn ag iarraidh air an riaghaltas rudeigin a dhèanamh gus stad a chur air briseadh-sìos na gnàth-shìde a tha ag adhbhrachadh fulangas air feadh an t-saoghail an-dràsta.

Bheir briseadh-sìos na gnàth-shìde agus na h-àrainneachd buaidh oirnn uile, ach tha e a’ toirt buaidh air na coimhearsnachdan as so-leònta san t-saoghal mar thà. Tha tachartasan sìde èiginneach às an àbhaist a’ fàs nas bitheanta agus nas miosa, leis an leithid tioramachd, thuiltean agus dhoineannan ann, a bharrachd air àrdachadh ìre na mara. Tha seo a’ cruthachadh fhògarrach gnàth-shìde, barrachd strì, agus mì-stèidhealachd air feadh an t-saoghail.

Bidh am fianais-dhùbhlan gu sònraichte a’ comharrachadh thachartasan ann an Sudan, a chaidh ainmeachadh mar a’ chiad strì gnàth-shìde san t-saoghal. Anns na bliadhnachan mu dheireadh, tha an sileadh-uisge ann an Sudan air lùghdachadh eadar 15-30%, ag adhbharachadh iom-fhàsachadh (desertification). Ann an cuid de dh’àiteachan, tha am fàsach a’ gluasad mìle gach bliadhna. (https://www.wfpusa.org/stories/the-first-climate-change-conflict/

Tha freagairt an riaghaltais dhan aimhreit chatharra air a bhith brùideil, le luchd-iomairt gan ciu?rradh is gam marbhadh. 

Anns a’ Chuan Shèimh, tha mòran stàitean eileanach ann an cunnart a dhol a-mach a? bith le àrdachadh ìre na mara. Thuirt Christopher Loeak, ceann-suidhe Eileanan Mharshall, “The Pacific is fighting for its survival. Climate change has already arrived”.  Bidh eileanan a’ Chuain Shèimh a’ dèanamh nas lugha na 1% de dh’emiseanan an t-saoghail, ach tha iad an eisimeil gnìomh eadar-nàiseanta gus teasachadh na cruinne a chumail fo 1.5C (Modelling Climate Change Report).Tha Extinction Rebellion Alba ag ràdh nach eil riaghaltas na h-Alba no na Ri?oghachd Aonaichte a’ dèanamh a’ phàirt aca gus stad a chur air an t-seòrsa teasachaidh seo. 

Thuirt Catrìona Mulholland bho Gàidheil XR, “Tha an riaghaltas againn ann an Alba agus an Ri?oghachd Aonaichte a’ leantainn orra a’ toirt taic-airgid agus ceadan ùra dha na companaidhean connaidh fosail fhad ’s a an saoghal a’ losgadh. Aig an aon àm tha Westminster a’ cumail a’ dol poileasaidh na ‘hostile environment’ ag adhbhrachadh barrachd trauma do dhaoine nach eil ach a’ sireadh sàbhailteachd.”

Thuirt Felix Jean bho Gàidheil XR, “Ma chùmas briseadh-sìos na gnàth-shìde a’ dol, bidh aig barrachd dhaoine ri imprig. Tha fios aig na Gàidheil air a’ bhuaidh a th’ aig seo air coimhearsnachd agus air cultar. Tha sinn a’ togail fianais leis gu bheil an saoghal, mas as fiorsaich sinn e, ann an cunnart mòr. Mura dèan sinn atharrachaidhean mòra, bidh tòrr nas lugha iomadachd ann de gach seòrsa air a’ phlanaid seo. Tha beathaichean, lusan, cànanan a’ bàsachadh, agus a dh’aithghearr cha bhith e comasach dha daoine fuireach an seo nas motha. ‘S dòcha gu bheil cuid a dh’Albannaich a’ smaointinn gur e ròlaist mhòr tha seo, ach air feadh an t-saoghail tha daoine a’ faicinn buil atharrachadh na gnàth-shìde mar thà.” Tha an tachartasan air facebook seo: Gàidhlig Beurla

Catrìona Mulholland

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2019 an t-Iuchar: Ainmean-iasg / July: Seaboard fish names

Seaboard fish

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who has given me their Seaboard words and phrases since my appeal last month. The response has been amazing, especially at the Fisherfolk Festival dinner, and while I was on duty in the Fishing Store.  There are far too many names to mention everyone, and lots of words came in anonymously, or I didn’t get everyone’s names, but the longest lists (so far!) came from Hugh Skinner, Anne Barclay, Jean Mackenzie, and (to my delight) the table of young people at the dinner: Tore, Jamie,Peter, Stina, Julie, Keith.  So special thanks to them, and hope that will urge others to come up with more! ?

It will take me quite a while to sort them all out, try to figure out the Gaelic spellings and look them up in my various sources, and record them more systematically. I’ll also combine them with my own memories and copious notes taken from my late mother Hansy and Katie Ross and others over the years.  But I thought I should get a few into this Fisherfolk Festival edition of the Seaboard News, so here’s a selection of fish for you!

Do get back to me if you have other local words and phrases (on any subject), past or present, and of course to comment on this batch, or add to it. davine_sutherland@yahoo.co.uk , or hand in anything to the Hall for me (spelling just as you would say it).

Further selections to follow in the future.

Everyone’s favourite fish name – the mourcan (Gaelic murcan, pron. moorcan), a lumpfish or lumpsucker. The female mourcan (“even uglier”!) seems to have been called a paddle. This word was also used in Fife, according to the Scots Dictionary, so presumably a Scots term, not Gaelic.

The juntack or jintack – all agreed it’s a spiny fish that lurks in the sand in the shallows (Don’t step on any jintacks! my mother used to warn us), but various suggestions for what it is in English, incl angler-fish, monkfish and weever fish. From Gaelic dionntag (pron. juntack), meaning both stinging nettle and lesser weever, but it may be used differently here.

Sellack – tiddler, very small shoreline fish. Probably from sgiolag, sgiollag – pron. skiollak, skullag – small fish, minnow, also sand-eel.

Sooyan – saithe   (saoidhean, 2 – 3 year old saithe)

Pelaig, paillac – porpoise  (peileag, pron. pay-lak – porpoise)

Porstan – small crab   G. portan, partan pron. porstan, parstan – (green) shore crab. From port, pron. porst, with -an, a diminutive ending: “a wee port creature”.

Plashack – “a good fluke with spots”; plaice.   No Gaelic word like that found for any flat fish, though I know the word well myself for a plaice. Plaiseadh (pron plash-ugh) = splashing – maybe it splashed about if disturbed?  OR it’s a Gaelicisation of the word plaice, with a diminutive ending (-ag) – “a plaicie”.

Gealach –  “a bad fluke”. Again, not found in this context. Gealach (gyallach) = anything white or whitish (geal=white), but also the moon.  Were they pale / spotless, moonlike, or did they turn that way when caught? There is a word gealag, (gyallak), found in my 1828 dictionary, meaning a white trout or salmon trout, but that’s not the same thing.

Leopach – flounder (Hilton and Balintore, not Shandwick?) – leòbag , lyoh-pak – any flat fish, esp. flounder or sole

Garvie – sprat, small herring.  G. garbhag pron. garra-vak – small herring (also plaice, spotted flounder, but seemingly not in the Villages)

Sannel – sand-eel (Scots)

Trollachan, troilleachan – squid (Bruce), or catfish, anglerfish (others)  Gaelic stròilleachan, squid – we must have lost the S locally.  My mother said her impression of it as a child was that it was an unspecified sea-creature you didn’t want to meet – the fishermen weren’t keen on it.  Maybe no sales or use for squid back then?

Eskan, aiskeen – conger eel  G. easgann, pron. eskan or ayskan – eel

Gimmach –lobster  G. giomach – pron. gimmach

“Coo-ee-chack” – whiting G. cuiteag

Cat-a-chreig – catfish  (literally “rock cat”)

Kerapan – basking shark.  G. cearban (kyer-a-pan) or carban (kar-a-pan)

Strangely enough, no words for salmon, herring or haddock came up (though I didn’t ask specifically, as so many words were coming in). The most common Gaelic for those is bradan, sgadan and adag.  Any of these familiar? Or alternatives? I recall sgadan from my childhood. Haddock, as far as I recall, was just haddie. Salmon was just “a fish” – never named.  “Have you got a bittie fish for me?” Superstition? Diplomacy?

The salmon fishing was canerack: “When you starting the canerack?” G. càinearachd, pron. kaan-er-ochk, from càinear, a salmon-fisher – seems to be a Ross-shire word (also W. Ross). Cainreach pron. kaneroch, is a small trout, but the words for trout and salmon are often interchanged regionally.

I’ll leave you with one of my main sources, Dwelly’s dictionary (1911), on the sooyan:

saoidhean 


-ein, -an, sm The coalfish, saithe (pollachius virens). Named according to its age as follows:—1st year, Sìol or sìolagan.2nd year, Cudaig, cudainn or saoidhean.3rd year, Smalag, cuideanach or saoidhean.4th year, Saoidhean or piocach.5th year, Saoidhean-dubh or saoidhean-mór.6th year, Ucsa or ugsa. [1st year, Cudaig; 2nd year, Smalag; 3rd year, Saoidhean; 4th year, Saoidhean-mór; after 4th year, Ucas — Lewis, (DMy)]. Bu mhath a’ chudaig far nach faighte an saoidhean, the cuddy is good when no saithe can be got. The young saithe is called cuddy in some parts of Scotland and podly in others. It is sillock in Shetland. Raasay people are nicknamed “na saoitheanan.”

https://www.faclair.com/ViewDictionaryEntry.aspx?ID=CBAFE1E75E7B40AF66F0A2F36397724C

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"I demand improvements to BBC Alba" says the Gaelic language

Mar a chuala Gilleasbuig, tha a' Ghàidhlig a' cumail a-mach gu bheil i air a cuingealachadh le seirbhis TBh a tha feumach air leasachadh. Tha e coltach gun do bhruidhinn an cànan an-àrd às dèidh don artagail seo a' nochdadh ann an duilleagan na Hootsmon bho chionn ghoirid. Thuirt an cànan gu bheil i ag èirigh is a' gearain mu BhBC Alba. Mar a bhiodh dùil, 's e na tha de shusbaint Beurla
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Why I decided to become a Gael

I don’t mean why I decided to learn Gaelic. When I started learning Gaelic, I had no real idea what a Gael was. It was about eighteen years ago. I was living in Edinburgh, going to punk shows, and making a little money busking on the Royal Mile, and one of my friends, Deek, the singer in the Scottish punk band Oi Polloi, was a fluent Gaelic speaker and language activist, and he would come around to our flat and teach us Gaelic. We would cook him a vegan lunch, and he would spend about an hour with us at the kitchen table, teaching us a little Gaelic in exchange. As an American living in Scotland on and off, I knew next to nothing about the Highlands and Western Islands or traditional Gaelic culture. For me, and for punks like Deek, learning and using Gaelic was about supporting one of the indigenous languages of Scotland, and part of a broader politics of resistance against global capitalism and Anglo-American cultural hegemony. Personally, I liked playing traditional music, and I had lived in Ireland and Scotland for short periods at various points in my life, but I was altogether ignorant of the complexities of language and identity in the Highlands and Islands. But I would soon learn.

In 2002, frustrated that I seemed to be stuck at an early intermediate stage with my Gaelic, I decided to spend a year at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, and make a bid for fluency. I enrolled on the first year of the degree courses at the College, in the program aimed at intermediate learners, an Cùrsa Comais (the Proficiency Course), and dove into the language head first. I came to the college as a mature student, as a not-so-young punk, with a pink mohawk and a head full of preconceptions. My time with the Edinburgh punks did not prepare me for the difficulty of actually using Gaelic as a daily means of communication. The politics around the Gaelic language in the Highlands are complicated to say the least, even at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and I made many missteps as I learned the language and started to use it as my normal, default language with classmates and other friends. 

But in spite of all the difficulties associated with acquiring and using a threatened language like Gaelic, I really enjoyed my time at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. It is an exciting place: to be involved day-to-day in a language revival movement is both challenging and fascinating. I ended up completing a BA and then a PhD in the language, and I am now working as a lecturer at the college. On the courses I teach here, we do a lot of reading and discussion on the question of Gaelic identity in the 21st century. The connection between language and identity is never straightforward anywhere in the world, but the question of identity for a Scottish Gaelic speaker is more complex than most. In comparison to the identities associated with other minority languages in the UK, Scottish Gaelic identity is particularly fraught. 

One of the things I learned early on is that politically correct learners or new speakers of Gaelic don’t call themselves Gaels, or at least, they believe that they should be low-key about their own identity in relation to the Gaelic language. Even though many new Gaelic speakers, deep down, do consider themselves Gaels, we all quickly learn not to say too much about it. That wasn’t a problem for me at first; I came to Gaelic with no aspiration to be a Gael, but as I learned more about the troubled connection between identity and Gaelic in Scotland, I came to see that this uncertainty about who is a ‘real’ Gael not only poses a serious threat to the success of the Scottish Gaelic revival, but also threatens to lead that revival in an unintended, but dangerous direction.

To illustrate some of the problems with Gaelic and identity to my students, I sometimes conduct a small thought experiment in class. I have a photo of two school children — I think I found it on the BBC website — and in this photo, the children are in school uniforms at a table in a classroom reading together a Gaelic children’s storybook. The iconic information available in the photo makes it clear that these two children are supposed to represent students in Gaelic-medium education (GME). So far the image may sound very conventional and even unremarkable. After 40 years of GME in Scotland, a picture of two students reading a Gaelic book in school wouldn’t trouble most Scots; however, there is a twist: while one of these children is of European ancestry, with white skin and a curly head of red hair, the other child is of East Asian ancestry. I imagine that this photo was specifically chosen to illustrate a story about Gaelic-medium education in a multiracial and inclusive way, and this is actually a realistic and reasonably representative picture of Gaelic-medium education in Scotland in the 21st century; Gaelic-medium education is diverse, welcoming children of all backgrounds, and most Gaelic speakers would undoubtedly consider the openness and diversity of Gaelic-medium education as an unqualified good thing. 

The problem comes when the question isn’t about language ability but identity. To demonstrate this problem to my students, I would start my lecture by projecting a slide of this picture and then ask my class, “How many Gaels do you see here?” The lecture room usually goes very quiet and you can see the cognitive dissonance sweep across my students’ faces. I am sure that none of my students would consider themselves racists, but faced with this picture and my question, they find themselves, in spite of themselves, judging a small school-child by the colour of her skin. They immediately see the difficulty. While historically connected to the Gaelic language, currently, the identity of a ‘Gael’ in Scotland is still predominantly defined by ancestry, and therefore, by race. No one I know would deny an Asian child the right to Gaelic-medium education if available, and if the identity of the ‘Gael’ was predominantly defined linguistically, then Gaelic-speaking Asian children would be considered as much members of the core Gaelic in-group as anyone else, but the fact is, currently, the ‘Gael’ identity is typically based on a complex conflation of ancestry and language, shutting many modern Gaelic speakers out on racial grounds. To my students, and to most readers I am sure, this would be a clear problem.

One possible answer to this problem is to distance Gaelic from the old core identity, to create a new idea of a ‘Gaelic speaker’ that is independent of the low status and shame associated with being a Gael, and that is also based on Gaelic ability alone, rather than the potentially racist foundation of ancestry. I would argue, however, that this solution is itself problematic on several levels. Firstly, the identity of the Gael, while contested and mistrusted among young Gaelic speakers particularly, is nonetheless powerfully affective and even institutionalized to a degree in the Gaelic world. The two students in the photo I mentioned above, if involved in Gaelic-Medium education, may attend the tutorial musical festivals, Fèisean nan Gàidheal (Festivals of the Gaels); they may also may compete in local or national Mòd events staged by An Comunn Gàidhealach (literally, The Gaelish League); and would listen to the judging and commentary of these events on Radio nan Gàidheal (Radio of the Gaels). The Gael identity is contested and misunderstood, but it is not empty or irrelevant. After more than a millennia of association with the Gaelic language, the idea of the Gael is still very much alive and will not fade away of its own accord anytime soon.

Which brings us to the second main problem with abandoning the Gael identity, perhaps the biggest problem. Language revival is about this sort of continuity of linguistic identity and cultural narrative. Some social scientists would contend that this continuity is essentialist and constructed, but as the New Zealand sociolinguist Steven May has argued, although identity may be constructed anew in each generation, that doesn’t make it any less ‘real’; these links to place and past can still be very powerful however they are formed. Indeed, for the sake of language revival, these identity links need to be affective and powerful enough to motivate the sort of grassroots activism that makes a language revival movement work. The one identity that has connected the Gaelic language to Scotland all the way back to the early middle ages is the Gael. If the Gaelic revival is to reinvigorate itself as a grassroots social movement, to rally around a uniquely Gaelic identity with a clear connection to Scotland’s people, Scotland’s geography and Scotland’s past, that identity is the Gael.

Some would argue that there is another, more powerful identity connection available to Gaelic-speakers. They would argue that the real original Gaelic identity, expressed in English, is the Scot, and it is undeniable that this assertion is at least historically correct. The first Scots were Gaelic speakers, but the ‘Scot’ is  now a multilingual identity. Scots speakers (and Polish speakers, English speakers, Urdu speakers, etc.) would very rightly resist if Gaelic speakers attempted to make exclusive or primary claims on the Scot identity. Being a Gaelic speaker is one way to be a Scot, but in the 21st century, so is being a Polish speaker. As the unifying civic identity of the Scottish nation, the Scot simply cannot and should not be repurposed as a linguistic identity for tha sake of the Gaelic revival. It just can’t happen now.

So if we accept that a strong linguistic identity is a prerequisite for a successful grassroots revival of Gaelic, and if we accept that the identity of the Scot is not an option in this respect, then the original associated emic identity, the Gael, is the clear choice. Rather than disassociate the Gaelic language from the idea of the Gael, we need to more tightly bind the language to that identity, to reestablish the Gael as a purely cultural and linguistic identity completely unrelated to ancestry or race. A Gael needs to be reestablished as a ‘big-tent’ identity that includes anyone who speaks Gaelic and who engages with the Gaelic world, regardless of their ancestry, religion, nationality, race, sexuality, or anything else at all. At the same time, the Gael identity needs to be reclaimed by traditional Gaelic speakers and by new Gaelic speakers alike, not as a shameful identity associated with poverty and social exclusion, but as an identity of pride: Gaels as the group that first united all the different ethnicities in the north of Britain as Scots, with a cultural legacy in Scotland stretching back more than 1500 years, and Gaels as fully modern participants in the Scottish civic project, however that is defined.

This may seem like a huge ideological task, and it is, but it is not impossible, and we know this because there is a good precedent for this kind of identity reimagining in the course of a language revival: the question of Basque identity and the revival of the Basque language. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Basque identity was still largely defined by race, leading to sometimes sinister and regressive eugenic tendencies amongst early Basque revivalists. But as a number of historians and sociolinguists working on the Basque revival have documented, more progressive Basque speakers waged a successful ideological battle through the 20th century to shift the Basque identity from race to language. Radical Basque revivalists rejected the racial definition of Basque identity and mounted a sustained ideological campaign to open up the language and the identity to anyone living in the Basque region, regardless of background. And while Basque identity is still undoubtedly contested by some, the progressive revivalists have largely succeeded. The Basque identity is now firmly connected to learning and using the Basque language, and the Basque revival has been hugely successful as a result.

We can make the same transformation of Gaelic identity in Scotland, but it will be a difficult and sustained ideological project, and the struggle will have to involve the totality of the Gaelic revival movement in Scotland and around the world. Much of the work will involve the schools. With the decline of traditional Gaelic speech communities in Scotland, in the future most Gaelic speakers may acquire the language primarily through the school system rather than in the home, but recent research by Stuart Dunmore at Edinburgh University has shown that Gaelic-medium education in Scotland is failing to produce active young Gaelic speakers with strong identity links to the language. Gaelic-medium education in Scotland is strangely non-ideological. Indeed, it is often sold as to parents and councils as simply mainstream education, but in Gaelic. This philosophy may make GME appear more palatable to wary counselors and uncertain parents, but it is a failure as a program for creating active bilinguals and language revival. 

As the sociolinguist James Oliver pointed out more than a decade ago, without a strong identity connection to the language, there is little hope that students in GME will use their Gaelic outside the school gates. To succeed, GME simply cannot be non-ideological. GME needs to not only educate students to be fully fluent in Gaelic but must also inspire students to take ownership of the language, to see themselves as proud young Gaels who speak Gaelic because it is central to their identity. Both young students in the picture I mentioned above would need to understand that they were core members of the Gaelic speech community and that they both had important parts to play in the redefinition of the Gael identity in modern 21st-century Scotland. No one with Gaelic should be left out or marginalized, and given how central GME is to the Gaelic revival, that inclusion needs to start in the schools.

But that inclusion needs to be reinforced outwith the schools as well, and some of the most difficult ideological work will take place in Gaelic speaking communities and Gaelic speaking networks throughout Scotland and abroad. Nancy Dorian is a world-renowned American linguist who conducted most of her research on severely threatened Gaelic communities on the east coast of Scotland. These little pockets of Gaelic speakers were surrounded by English and Scots speakers, and as they declined, these communities typically included members with a range of Gaelic abilities: from fully fluent speakers; to members she called ‘semi-speakers’ who had some Gaelic, but who were less than fluent; to members who could understand Gaelic but not speak it. As Dorian observed, in such a situation of extreme decline, if too much emphasis is put on specific Gaelic ability for community membership, you risk excluding folk on the fringes, and particularly, young people in the community who might be key to reviving the language in the future. 

With Gaelic’s continuing decline throughout Scotland, this is now a universal problem for the Gaelic revival. Such is the mixed character of our declining Gaelic communities that most Gaelic speakers have neighbors and close friends, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, even brothers and sisters who speak little or no Gaelic. I have argued that redefining the Gael as a strongly linguistic identity is key for building an inclusive and successful Gaelic revival, but what about those ‘Gaels’ in our midst who don’t speak Gaelic or who speak very little of it? How do we welcome everyone into a big-tent revival of the language without excluding folk who have family or community ties to the language but are not (yet) fully proficient Gaelic speakers themselves? It will be a difficult balance to strike and there is no simple, glib answer to this question; it is a question that can only be answered in practice, and I would argue, by finding a way to facilitate and to encourage those people who missed acquiring Gaelic fully in the home as children to learn it again as adults. This group is a key target for adult Gaelic learning initiatives and needs to be specifically catered for with well-funded Gaelic courses tailored to their particular needs.

Finally, there is a general need to more seriously promote adult Gaelic learning in Scotland. Up until now, the principal tactic of the Gaelic revival has been to campaign for more GME provision, and while children are central to a healthy language community, international experience has shown that when it comes to new speakers, successful adult learners, not children, are the real drivers of strong minority language revival movements. For decades, Gaelic adult learning has been a very low priority for language development officials and Gaelic activists in Scotland. Underfunded and disorganized, the Gaelic adult learning sector is a mess, but much like GME, Gaelic adult learning is also ideologically unfocused. Gaelic in Scotland is still largely taught as if it were a foreign language; in other words, Gaelic is taught like an abstract grammatical system with no social context. In contrast with adult learners of other minority languages, Gaelic learners are not encouraged to see themselves as fully-fledged new members of the core speech community, and this is a grave tactical and ethical error. If I learn French, I don’t expect on that basis alone to become a Frenchman because ‘French’ is a civic national identity, not solely a linguistic identity. I might learn French as a language to use on visits to France or Montreal or other French-speaking areas around the globe, but with no intention of living in France or adopting a French identity. But it is reasonable to assume that many, or even most, who learn a threatened minority language learn that language specifically for reasons of identity, even if that identity connection is inchoate at first and even if learners may also be shy to admit their identity aspirations openly to others. There is no practical, instrumental imperative to learn Gaelic. Everyone who speaks Gaelic also speaks English perfectly well. When adults learn Gaelic, it is not because they have to learn it for communicative reasons; it is because they want to learn it, and that desire to learn Gaelic will often come down to some sort of identity connection to the language.

Openness is particularly important because the Gaelic linguistic community in Scotland is so complex when it comes to identity. Indeed, the simple distinction between learners on the one hand and native speakers on the other, insiders and outsiders in neat boxes, fails to adequately capture the shadings and diversity that exist in the Gaelic community. Very few learners of Gaelic in Scotland are 100% naive newcomers to the language like me. Most would have had some connection to the language in their lives somewhere before they started learning. As explained above, many would be “semi-speakers” of the language, folk who heard and perhaps even spoke some Gaelic in the home as children, but who never reached full fluency, and who are learning Gaelic to fill in their knowledge as adults. Others may have other living Gaelic-speaking relatives, grandparents or great grandparents, and therefore, a close family connection to the language. Others may live in Gaelic-speaking communities and are learning Gaelic to integrate with their neighbors. Still others may be learning to support their Gaelic-speaking children in GME. And most learners in Scotland would have Gaelic-speaking ancestors somewhere on their family tree, however distant, and of course, anyone in Scotland could make an identity connection to the language simply by virtue of living in the country where it was traditionally spoken. In the midst of all this diversity, who gets to decide who is in and who is out?

Even amongst native Gaelic speakers identity is complex. Emigration and the decline of core Gaelic-speaking communities means that very, very few Gaelic speakers today live in linguistically homogeneous and culturally “Gàidhealach” areas. My colleague Iain Mac an Tàilleir has analyzed the most recent census data and shown that less than one percent of Gaelic speakers fit the strictest definition of a “real Gael”, i.e. a native Gaelic speaker living in a community where Gaelic is still spoken as a default community language. That strictest definition excludes almost all Gaelic speakers in Scotland. There are good ethical reasons for favoring a broad, linguistic definition of a Gael, but also, on purely practical grounds, the Gaelic speech community in Scotland is so small and fragile, for the sake of the future of the language, we can’t afford to exclude anyone.

So, am I a Gael then? Well, not in the same way that someone in Uist is a Gael, or Glasgow, or even Cape Breton. I am who I am. I am my own thing: a Seattle Gael perhaps. We need an understanding of Gaelic identity that is broad enough to include all different sorts of Gaelic speakers, even me. But the truth is, as an American who learned Gaelic to full fluency as an adult, I am a very rare outlier in the Gaelic world. For all practical purposes, it doesn’t really matter what I call myself. What is far more important is how my students can come to understand themselves as young Gaels, can take personal ownership of the identity, and remake it to fit their own lives as Gaelic speakers in the 21st century. It is the ideological work we do together in the classroom, discussing Gaelic and identity, that really matters.

And while I am certain that an ideological campaign to reimagine the Gael as an exclusively cultural and linguistic identity will be difficult, I would argue that recent research shows that it is not an intractable problem, that some core Gaelic community members already understand the Gael in this way. In 2014, Frank Bechhofer and David McCrone published research showing that 28% of self-identifying Gaels living in strong Gaelic-speaking areas would accept a foreigner with Gaelic like myself as a fellow Gael. That 28% is a minority, less than a third, but critically, it is not zero, and it offers a foundation to build on.

Historically, the Gaelic language and culture has flourished when Gaels have accepted large numbers of new speakers into their midst. When the first Scots united the many tribes of North Briton into the kingdom of Alba, they absorbed Picts and Britons into their Gaelic speech community. We have no idea how this happened sociolinguistically, how the Picts in particular were absorbed so rapidly and thoroughly, but we are certain that it did happen. And then again, the genesis of the first Gaelic renaissance in the Lordship of the Isles was the absorption of Norse speakers in Innse Gall into the Gaelic speech community there. In 2019, Gaelic is hanging on by its fingernails in Scotland and desperately needs a second renaissance if it is going to survive. If Gaels can find a way to welcome large numbers of new speakers of Gaelic into their midst again, as they have before, there is no reason that Gaelic can’t thrive for another thousand years as a spoken language in Scotland.

Ma tha a’ Ghàidhlig agad, ’s e Gàidheal a th’ annad!

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On Gaelic Language Development Policy in Scotland

An open letter to the Scottish Government on Gaelic language development policy in Scotland by Màrtainn Mac a’ Bhàillidh: As a young architect I was drawn to working in the Isle of Skye by my commitment to Scotland’s Gaelic language. Having been an active member of the SNP for over 15 years, joining shortly after […]
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Sgeul on Chraoibh Ruaidh | Mac Deichtine

Seann sgeul air a h-innse iomadh uair, bidh an sgeulachd a’ gabhail car le gach innse ach a’ fuireach cho fìor ’s a bha i riamh aig a’ bhrìgh. Seo sgeulachd Mac Deichtine air ath-innse le Eòghan againne.

Innsidh mi dhut sgeul. Sgeul mòr nach eil crìochnaichte fhathast. Sgeul mu ghaisgich is mu bhana-ghaisgich. Sgeul mu shaoghal eile, àm eile ged nach eil e fada bhuaithe.  Tha na manaich ag innse dhuinn mun fhìrinn aca anns na ceallan chloiche ud thall le sgeulachdan o fhàsach teth fad air falbh. An cinn air an lomadh, air an glùinean air leacan fuara, a’ sgrìobhadh le inc is iteag air craiceann-laoigh.

Chan eil an sgeul seo sgrìobhte. Tha an sgeul seo beò air an teanga. Agus ma dh’èisteas tu rithe atharraichidh i leis an innse, mar ghaoth tro na geugan, mar uisgeachan na h-aibhne. Bidh iad a’ gabhail iomadh slìghe ach ruigidh iad an aon cheann-ùidhe an-còmhnaidh.

Tha mi a’ faicinn gu bheil thu òg. Tha e dorch san taigh bheag seo agus chan eil mo fhradharc mar a bha e. Na chuala mi de sgeulachdan, chunnaic mo shùilean an dearbh uiread. Na fuamhairean a’ strì sna stuaghan, fir a chaidh nam fèidh agus nam fithich, boireannaich a chaidh fon talamh airson ceud bliadhna agus a dh’èirich gun charadh na h-aoise a’ tighinn orra. An e balach no nighean a th’ annad? Chan eil e gu diofar. Innsidh mi dhut sgeulachdan mu phàiste mun aon aois agad a dh’ fhàs an-àird gu bhith na shàr-fhear ar cinnidh.

Dè an t-ainm a bha air? Uill, a laochain, ma ’s e sàr-ghaisgeach a th’ annad, canar an liuthad de dh’ainmean riut. Bidh an t-ainm a thug do mhàthair ort mar chèilearadh na h-uiseige sa mhadainn, nuair a thig crìoch air do shaoghal bidh na h-ainmean a bhios iad ag èigheachd nad chuimhne mar roc roc roc nan rocaisean os cionn a’ bhlàir. Chan ann leatsa a tha d’ ainm ach ’s ann leis an t-sluagh a tha i.

An gille beag seo, bha e àraid fada mus d’ rugadh e. Fada mus robh a mhàthair an dùil ri leanabh. Cò i? Deichtine. Deichtine Nic Neasa. Piuthar Rìgh Uladh. Cò esan? Conchobar Mac Neasa. Och sguir leis na ceistean! Innsidh mi dhut ma-thà! Èist gu dlùth!

Bha a màthair Neasa na nighean aig seann Rìgh Uladh, Eochaid Sàilbhuidhe. Bha draoidh aig Eochaid, Cathbad, agus bhiodh e ri faidheadaireachd. Bha Neasa a’ coiseachd tro Emain Macha, dùn mòr nan Ultach, nuair a thachair i ri Cathbad. Bha i airson faighinn a-mach dè bha an dàn dhi agus chuir i ceist air Cathbad a’ faighneach dè cho fàbharach ’s a bha an latha. Fhreagair Cathbad gun robh an latha fàbharach airson rìgh a ghintinn air ban-righ. Leis nach robh ach Cathbad faisg air làimh, ghabh Nessa e gu leabaidh agus… o nach ist thu! Chan eil càil ann nach eil nàdarrach agus a chìtheadh tu sa bhathaich!

Uill, rugadh balach beag rithe ri taobh Abhainn Conchobar agus thug Cathbad an t-ainm sin air a mhac, ged nach robh fios aig duine ann an Emain Macha gur b’ esan an t-athair. Dh’fhàs Conchobar an-àird ann an Emain Macha le Neasa is Cathbad ga ullachadh airson a bhith na rìgh aon latha. Cha do dh’inns Nessa riamh mun chàirdeas eadar i fhèin is an draoidh, ged a bhiodh dithis eile aice còmhla ris, Fionnchaomh agus màthair Setanta Deichtine. Bha Nessa cumhachdail sa chùirt agus cha do dh’fhuiling a chlann nàire ged nach robh an athair aithnichte.

Aon latha dh’fhalbh a h-athair, Eochaid, gus sàbaid aig Blàr an Leitir Ruaidh as leth an àrd-rìgh agus cha do thill e. Thagh na h-Ultaich Fearghus Mac Roich mar rìgh. Cluinnidh tu gu leòr mu Fhearghus Mac Roich a laochain. Fear cho mòr is cho làn spionnaidh, cha robh riamh ann an Èirinn no Albainn. Fear le deagh chridhe ach le aon laigse, bha sùil aige sna boireannaich. Obh obh! Iomadh car a ghabh ar n-eachdraidh air sgàth a’ chridhe mar sin!

O chionn ’s gun do thuit Fearghus ann an gaol trom le Neasa. Gaol cho domhainn is cho dall nach robh smuain sam bith na cheann. An do dh’ fhairich thusa gaol riamh a chuilein bhig? ’S dòcha nach tuig thu mar a nì gaol dall thu. Tuigidh thu aon latha. Bha Neasa seòlta. Thuirt i ri Fearghus gum pòsadh i e nan aontaicheadh e ri aon rud – gun toireadh e an crùn do Chonchobar, nach robh ach seachd bliadhna a dh’aois airson bliadhna a-mhàin.

Cha robh Fearghus cho dall nach robh teagamh air mu dheidhinn seo ach fhuair e comhfhurtachd o na daoine-uasail ann an Uladh nach biodh Conochabar na rìgh ach ann an ainm a-mhàin.  Ach bha ha an isean cho carach ris a’ chearc. Thug Conchobar an uimhir de dhuaisean agus de dh’fhearainn dha na daoine-uasail nuair a bha e na rìgh, agus gun deach Ulaidh o neart gu neart ann an cliù agus inbhe cho mòr gun do thagh na h-Ultaich Conchobar mar rìgh rè ùine. Cha robh Fearghus cho brònach, bha e toilichte nach robh uallach air agus gun robh e saor a bhith ag ithe, ag òl ’s a’ suirighe (cha do mhair an gaol a bha aige airson Neasa ach mios no dhà) agus chum e dìleas do Chonchobar. Gu dearbh, mar a dh’fhàs Conchobar an-àird a bhith na rìgh mòr cumhachdach bha Fearghus riamh ri thaobh, os cionn feachdan nan Ultach, agus bha na saighdearan a’ coimhead ri Fearghus mar shàr-cheann-feachda. Thigeadh latha nuair nach robh Conchobar cho dìleas do dh’Fhearghus ach ’s e sgeul eile a tha sin!

Feumaidh mi balgam uisge. Tha am pathadh orm. Càite an robh mi? Ah, seadh. Deichtine. Dh’fhàs ise an-àird ann an Emain Macha, piuthar an rìgh còmhla ri a phiuthar Fionnchaomh. Bha Fionnchaomh air pòsadh ris a’ bhàrd Amergin Mac Eccit, agus bha mac aca, Conall ach cha robh Deichtine a’ miannachadh an rud sin, ach cha robh fear ann an Èirinn a thogadh a sùil, agus cha b’ urrainn do Chonchobar toirt oirre aontachadh ri fear sam bith a thaghadh e. B’ fheàrr leatha na bu mhotha a bhith a’ dràibheadh a’ charbaid mhòir, ag iomain tarsainn na machrach.

Aon latha, thàinig eunlaith mhòr às an adhar taobh a-muigh Emain Macha agus thòisich na h-eoin ag ithe a h-uile duilleag fheòir a bha san àite. Cha robh geasagan o Chathbad ag obair agus cha robh càil a dhèanadh na h-Ultaich airson an teich a chur orra gu feum mus do leum Deichtine dhan charbad aice agus chaidh i às an dèidh. Dh’èirich an eunlaith ann an sgaoth cho mòr gun do dhubh iad às a’ Ghrèin agus dh’fhalbh iad dhan cheann a deas, chaidh Deichtine  às an dèidh agus a dh’aithghearr chaidh a carbad a-mach à sealladh. Agus cha do thill i an latha sin. No an latha an dèidh sin, no an latha eile. Chaidh na h-Ultaich air feadh na h-Èireann ga sireadh ach mu dheireadh thall thill iad uile gu Emain Macha ag innse nach robh sgeul air Deichtine ann an ceàrn sam bith. Bha bròn air feadh an dùin, bha Conchobar a’ caoidh a pheathar, agus bhàsaich Neasa leis a’ bhròn. Chùm Cathbad a chuid fhaireachdainn dha fhèin.

A-nise, an ceann bliadhna dh’èirich sunnd air Conchobar a-rithist agus thuirt e ri Fearghus gun robh airson a dhol a shealg taobh Dhùn Dhealgain. Nach robh Fearghus air a dhòigh le seo, mu dheireadh thall bha an Rìgh ann an deagh thrum! Ghabh iad ris a’ mhonadh ach dh’èirich ceò tiugh timcheall orra agus smaoinich air mar a bhiodh seo, Rìgh Uladh agus a ghaisgich a b’ fheàrr uile air iomrall mar amadain. Chaidh iad ann an cearcaill, mus robh Fearghus cinnteach gun robh iad air an aon chraobh fhaicinn deich tursan. Chaill iad uile an dòchas agus bha an latha a’ teannadh gu crìch agus chluinnte na madaidhean-allaidhean, mic na tìre, a’ comhartaich air na h-àirdean.

Mach às an dubhar, chunnaic Sualtam, fear Uladh, solas tron cheò agus lean iad uile e gus an do lorg iad taigh mòr ann an lagan. Talla mòr fada ach gun gheàrdan ri faire. Tha làn fhios agad a laochain nach e taigh on t-saoghal seo a bh’ ann, tha thu air gu leòr sgeulachdan den leithid a chluinntinn! Chaidh Rìgh Conchobair dhan doras ach mus do bhuail e a dhòrn air an fhiodh dhorch, dh’fhosgladh e gun duine agus le iomagain choisich na h-Ultaich, aon air a h-aon a-steach dhan talla.

Air am beulaibh, bha bòrd mòr le feòil de gach seòrsa, mil o seilleanan fiadhaich, fìon o dhùthchannan cèin, uisge-beatha na h-Albainn, measan à Tìr nan Òg. Cha robh Fearghus riamh leisg a’ dol an sàs ann an ithe, ach bha fiù ’s e fhèin caran teagmhach mun chùirm mhòr a bha seo.

Air a’ mhionaid sin, dh’fhosgail doras aig ceann eile an talla agus choisich fear a-staigh, bha falt bàn air, agus sùilean soillleir, biorach. Choisich e gu siubhalach agus bhruidhinn e gu binn. “Fàilte oirbh a Fhearaibh Uladh, suibhidh is ithibh, tha mo thaigh fosgailte dhaibh agus tha mo bhòrd fialaidh!”

Le sin, thuit Fir Uladh air a’ bhòrd mar gun robh iad a’ sabaid an aghaidh fheachdan nan Lochlannach. Thog iad fonn agus rinneadh hò-rò-gheallaidh! Bha sgeulachdan gan innse, gan innse mile tursan na b’ fheàrr na an sgeul seo, ghleusadh pìob agus lìonadh brù.

Cho fad ’s gun robh iad ag ithe, cha do dh’fhaighnich iad ri fear an taighe dè an t-ainm a bha air. Ged a bha e grinn na choltas agus fialaidh le aoigheachd, chuir e eagal air gach gaisgeach treun aig na h-Ultaich. Dh’èist e gu dlùth ris na sgeulachdan aca le modh, a’ gnogadh a chinn nuair a dh’innseadh iad mu na h-euchdan aca ann am blàr, na comasan aca ann an sealg, na buadhan aca ann an ealain agus taileasg. Ach bha rudeigin na shùilean, mar gun robh sgeul aige a bheireadh làmh an uachdair orra ach e ro uasal na h-aoighean aige a nàrachadh.

Mu dheireadh thall, dh’fhàs Conchobar dàna gu leòr ceist a chur air fear an taighe ach cha do dh’iarr e ainm. “A mhaighstir chòir, ’s mòr ur coibhneas agus ’s rìoghail ur n-aoigheachd ach saoil an inns sibh dhomh càite a bheil ur bean chòir? Is cìnnteach nach biodh fear ur seòrsa gun chompanach a bhiodh a’ frithealadh a bhùird le stòras mar seo?”

“Conchobar a rìgh” ar esan “tha bean mo thaighe an dùil ri leanabh agus mar sin ’s truagh nach fhaic sibh a-nochd i. Ach sa mhadainn a rìgh, nì mi gealladh, chì sibh i le ur cuid shùilean agus bidh ise ceart cho fialaidh ribh.”

Smaoinich Conchobar airson mionaid air na faclan on duine-uasail seo a bha seachad air fhèin ann an giùlan agus modh ach thog e glainne eile gus a dheoch-shlàinte a ghabhail agus chaidh e air chall ann an ceò airson an darna turas an latha àraid sin.

Tha mi ag iarraidh rudeigin nas làidire na uisge a-nis! Càite a bheil mac na braiche? Och, tha an tart orm. ’S mathaid gum bu chòir dhomh an t-uisge sin a bhios na manaich a’ tabhann òl! Ach ma tha tart orm an-diugh, nuair a dhùisg na h-Ultaich an ath latha, bha tart is pathadh orra a bha cho tiugh ri clò. Dh’fhosgail iad uile an sùilean agus bha iad nan sìneadh air a’ bhlàr a-muigh gun sgeul air an talla mhòr. Dh’aithnich Sualtam gun robh iad aig Brù na Boinne agus leis gun robh a’ Ghrian air èirigh agus an ceò air falbh, bha e follaiseach nach robh an talla ann tuilleadh.

Mus robh ùine aca smaoineachadh air an t-suidheachadh àraid seo, chuala iad uile leanabh a’ rànaich. Air cùl creig, lorg iad an leanabh agus bha e ann an gàirdeanan a mhàthar. Thog i a ceann agus chunnaic Conchobar sa bhad gur e a phiuthar chaillte a bh’ innte – Deichtine. B’ ise bean an taighe. Rinn e gairdeachas ach an uairsin, thòisich e a’ ceasnachadh an t-suidheachaidh àraid seo. Ciamar? Carson?

Cò bh’ ann am fear an taighe? Uill, b’ esan Gaisgeach nan iomadh sgeul o linn eile, Lugh Làmhfhada, sàr ghaisgeach Tuatha Dè Danann, seann mhuinntir na h-Èireann. Fear nan Iomadh Buadh. Bha e air Deichtine a ghabhail mar bhean airson bliadhna ach dìreach air sgàth ’s gun robh e air gealltainn dhi gun toireadh e mac dhi a bhiodh a’ fàs an-àird na ghaisgeach a b’ fheàrr a bha riamh ann an Èirinn no Albainn.

Bha carbad Deichtine air fhàgail cuideachd agus thill màthair agus pàiste leis a dh’Emain Macha le Fir Uladh as an dèidh, agus Conchobar còmhla riutha sa charbad. Ach cha robh Conchobar airson gum biodh a piuthar a’ fulang dimeas nach robh athair a leanaibh aithnichte (ged nach do rinn siud cron air a mhàthair fhèin) agus thug e air Sualtam Deichtine a phòsadh agus Fearghus a bhith na ghoistidh dhan bhalach bheag. A bharrachd air sin, chaidh am balach a chur gu piuthar a mhàthar, Fionnchaomh agus a dhuine Amergin airson a bhith ga togail! Nach robh iad glic sna làithean sin, ’s cìnnteach gum biodh do phàrantan toilichte do chur bhuapa mar sin!

Agus dè thug iad air a’ bhalach? Mar a dh’inns Lug dhi a dhèanamh, thug Deichtine Sétanta air, Sétanta Mac Sualtaim, ach cha b’ e seo ach a’ chiad ainm a fhuair e na bheatha. Bha ainm eile a’ fèitheamh air, ainm a bhios a’ togail cridhe gach gaisgeach nan gleann fhathast, ach tha oidhcheannan eile ann agus tha mi feumach air fois. Thalla air ais dhachaigh a laochain, gach beannachd ort.

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Am fear nach cluinn air chòir…

Tha mi air ais anns na Stàitean greis, agus mar sin, nas mothachail air an iomadh rud mu na daoine agam fhìn nach tuig mi. Tuigear, aig ìre inntleachdail, gu bheil gràin-chinnidh fighte gu domhainn ann an eachdraidh agus sructar a’ chomainn againn anns na Stàitean, agus tuigear cuideachd mòran dhe na factaran sòisealta, eaconamach is poilitigeach a lean chun an t-suidheachaidh far a bheilrepublicans geal-cheannsalaiche againn mar phrìomhaire, ach fhathast, thig forc-eanchainn orm nuair a chì mi dàta mar seo (deas), a sheallas gum bi faisg air an dàrna leth de na Poblachdaich gheala anns na Stàitean air an sàrachadh nuair chluinneas iad cànan eile seach a’ Bheurla mun cuairt orra. Smaoinich: dìreach nuair a chluinneas iad cànanan eile; cha b’ ann nuair a bhruidhneas cuideigin cànan eile riutha, ach a-mhàin, nuair a chluinneas iad cànan sam bith seach a’ Bheurla mun cuairt orra. Do-chreidsinneach. Ciamar a tha na daoine seo beò? Tha na Stàitean Aonaichte am measg nan dùthchannan às iom-chànanaich ann an saoghal na Beurla, le faisg air 20% de na teaghlaichean a’ bruidhinn cànan eile seach a’ Bheurla aig an taigh. Cha tèid thu àite sam bith an seo gun cànanan eile a chluinntinn. Tha iad dìreach san àile mun cuairt ort fad na h-ùine, agus ’s e sin am measg nan rudan as fheàrr leam mu thighinn air ais gu dùthaich m’ àraich òig, an t-ioma-chànanas a chluinneas mi anns a h-uile àite. Ach na daoine ann an uaine gu h-àrd — dè tha ceàrr orra?

Tùs: Americans See Advantages and Challenges in Country’s Growing Racial and Ethnic Diversity, Pew Research Center.

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“An stoirm a’ ruith tron dùthaich” | Pàrlamaid na h-Alba @ 20

Tha e doirbh a chur ann an aon artagail a’ bhuaidh a tha air a bhith aig Pàrlamaid na h-Alba air an dùthaich ach nuair a dh’fhosgail i as ùire, bha an dùthaich làn de chothroman. Bha Eòghan againne ann mar sgoilear aig an Fhosgladh Oifigeil agus tha e a’ toirt sùil air ais air a’ chiad latha den Iuchar 1999.

Bidh e a’ toirt toileachas mòr dhomh an-còmhnaidh a bhith a’ faicinn seann sgoilearan a’ ceumnachadh agus a’ dèanamh an slìghean tron t-saoghal mhòr. Ach gu dearbh ’s e an liuthad de ghaisgich is bana-ghaisgich ùra na Gàidhlig a bheir orm an toileachas as mòtha.

Mar sin, bha e na thlachd mhòr a bhith a’ faicinn gun do cheumnaich Ciorstaidh NicDhùbhghaill a bha agam mar sgoilear ann am Port Rìgh le ceum sa chiad rang ann an Gàidhlig agus Poileataigs à Oilthigh Obar Dheathain. ’S e nighean air leth gasta is comasach a th’ ann an Ciorstaidh à teaghlach a tha air cur gu mòr ris a’ Ghàidhlig san Eilean agus le cinnt nuair a leanas i air adhart a Dhùn Èideann airson PhD, cuiridh i fhèin gu mòr ris an strì cuideachd.

’S e Poileataigs agus Gàidhlig (uill, Ceiltis mar a bha air an uairsin) a ghabh mi fhèin mar cheum aig Oilthigh Ghlaschu. Bidh e fichead bliadhna on a rinn mi mo shlighe fhèin dhan oilithigh.  Bha riamh ùidh agam ann am poileataigs a’ dol tron sgoil, agus bha mi fortanach gun robh tidsear nuadh-eòlais ionmholta agam, Mgr Hines aig Acadamaidh Bhaile Thearlaich. B’ esan a chuir m’ ainm air adhart airson cothrom a bhith a’ riochdachadh na sgoile aig Fosgladh Oifigeil Pàrlamaid ùr na h-Alba.

Chaidh sgoilear on a’ chiad bhliadhna agus on t-siathamh bhliadhna a thaghadh o gach sgoil ann an Alba, agus thug iad uile Dùn Èideann orra mar cheann-ùidhe airson a’ chiad latha den Iuchar Naoi Ceud Deug Naochad ’s a Naoi. Bha e èibhinn oir bha mise agus a h-uile duine on t-siathamh bhliadhna air an sgoil fhàgail ach co-dhiù, co-dheth, fhuair mi an cothrom a dhol ann, fhuair mi geansaidh oifigeil (fruit of the loom XL mar bu dual airson 1999,) agus cagoule gorm.  Chunnaic sinn Salsa Celtic air mullach Cnoc Challtainn an oidhche roimhe, is rinn sinn caisemachd lebrataichean seachad air a’ Cholaiste ùr far an robh Ealasaid, Sean Connery agus Dòmhnall Mac an Deòir, agus thàinig Concorde thairis cho ìseal ’s a b’ urrainn dha fèar os ar cionn. Thill sinn dhachaigh an oidhche sin gu tuath tro Alba ùr. Chan fhaca mi càil de Sheena Wellington is eile mus d’ fhuair mi dhachaigh agus choimhead mi air na highlights a chlàraich m’ athair air VHS.)

’S e latha eachdraidheil a bh’ ann ach ’s ann ann an eachdraidh a tha e. Mhair an strì airson tiomnadh chumhdachdan fichead bliadhna on reifreann chàraichte ann an 1979, agus bha an dùthaich airidh air sùgradh agus gàirdeachas ann an 1999. Càite a bheil sinn mar dhùthaich latha an-diugh? Dè thachair leis an spionnadh agus an dòchas a lìon sràidean Dhùn Èideann an latha sin?

Tha Pàrlamaid na h-Alba air an dùthaich atharrachadh gu mòr agus rinn e tòrr feum dhuinn uile. Chan eil a h-uile neach mar Eòghan Òg, tha iad nan ìre mhath coma mu phoileataigs ach air na cùisean mòra (agus fiù ’s aige sin…!) ach ghabh na riaghaltasan againn (Laborach/LibDeamach agus Nàiseantach) an cothrom rudan ùra fheuchainn.

Tha gu leòr a ràdh nach eil am Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta air a bhith dàna gu lèor no nach deach gu leòr a dhèanamh leis a’ chumhachd a tha aig a’ Phàrlamaid mu thràth, agus tha gu lèor fìonn anns na beachdan sin, ach tha Alba na dùthaich eile a-nis.

Ged a tha sinn air adhartas a dhèanamh ann an iomadh seagh, tha ar còmhraidhean phoilitigeach air a chrionadh ann an iomadh dòigh, tha na Laboraich fhathast suarach gun do chaill iad greim (cò a th’ ann an Kezia Dugdale ach tè a thagh am pàrtaidh ceàrr airson na h-amasan fèineil adhartais aice fhèin), agus tha na Libearalaich Dheamocraiticeach air an ceusadh le claon-bheachdan Willie Rennie gum feum e a bhith a’ slaireagadh gach rud a nì an Riaghaltas, math no dona. Chan eil co-aontachd aig cridhe ar deamocrasaidh mar bu chòir. Tha na h-Uaineaich air an gnothach a dhèanamh air na Soisealaich a-measg nam Pàrtaidhean beaga, ach tha e uaireannan doirbh fhaicinn a bheil iad gu fireannach air buaidh a thoirt air an àrainneachd no air poileataigs na fèin-aithne.

Chan eil dùbhlan air sgàth dùbhlain a’ cuideachadh duine sam bith, agus le cinnt thug an reifreann buaidh air sin cuideachd. Ach ma bha sinn air a bhith dàna gu leòr ann an 2014, cha bhiodh ar saoghal foirfe, ach mar a’ Phàrlamaid againne, bhiodh sealbh againn air oir tha an namhaid a’ fèitheamh ’s a’ fèitheamh gus ar còraichean a spioladh bhuainn. 

Tha an cunnart as motha, mar a bha e riamh a’ tighinn o na Tòraidhean. Nuair a chì sinn an aonta tiomnaichte air a thruailleadh an lùib Bhrexit, a’ chòir-thagraidh air a sheachnadh, inbhe oifigeir san arm ga bhuileachadh air ceannard a’ phàritaidh dhùbhlanaich as motha, agus fear de na luchd-ghairm as àirde an dreuchd sa phàrtaidh sin cuideachd a’ gairm airson Taigh an Ròid a bhith air a dhùnadh, chan eil na Breatannaich a’ cur am falach an dìmeis a tha aca air cumhachd a bhith ann an làmhan muinntir na h-Alba. B’ fheàrr leotha na beathannan is beachdan fèineil, falamh, faoin aca fo bhratach an Aonaidh na bhith a’ toirt cuibhreann de chothrom dhan àite a bha na dachaigh dhaibh a bhith air a h-ùrachadh.

Ach a dh’aindeoin innleachd nan daoi, tha earbsa agam anns na daoine againn gun ruig sinn, mar an t-each mall is am muileann, ar ceann-ùidhe mu dheireadh thall.

Chan eil ach còig bliadhna air a dhol seachad on reifreann ann an 2014, agus tha an saoghal ag atharrachadh cho luath agus tha ginealaich ùr a’ fàs an àird aig nach eil meas ri glòir fhaoin Bhreatainn Bhriste. Tha latha nas fheàrr a’ tighinn agus bidh ar n-òigridh gar toirt air àdhart gu Tìr a’ Gheallaidh, tha mi cinnteach à sin.

Ach dè fios a th’ agam mu phoileataigs? Cha d’ fhuair mise ach 2.1. ’S cinnteach gu bheil beachdan nas fheàrr aig Ciorstaidh Rocais is càch. ’S ann leothasan a bhios an t-àm ri teachd.

Agus an geansaidh XL a fhuair mi? Tha e rud beag nas teinne na bha e o chionn fichead bliadhna.

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