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Gaelic in modern Scotland
Gaelic in modern Scotland

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The course was funded by generous donations from The Open University’s alumni. Thank you.

Section 1 Gaelic as a national language of Scotland was written by Roddy Maclean

Section 2 Celtic roots and international reach was written by Roddy Maclean

Section 3 Gaelic in the modern era was written by Dr Donald John MacLeod

Section 4 Gaelic – the rationale was written by Dr Donald John MacLeod

Section 5 How the Gaelic language works was written by Dr Donald John MacLeod

Section 6.1 The art of the Gàidhealtachd was written by Professor Murdo MacDonald

Section 6.2 Gaelic music and song was written by Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan

Section 6.3 Dance was written by Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan

Section 6.4 Gaelic literature was written by Dr Donald John MacLeod

Section 6.5 Sports and pastimes was written by Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan

Section 7 FAQs was written by Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan

This course was edited in English by Jo MacDonald and Lucy MacLeod, and in Gaelic by Jo MacDonald.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following people for their support and permission to reproduce material in this course:


Bòrd na Gàidhlig

National Galleries Scotland

Dr Will Lamb

Dr Alasdair MacCaluim

Fiona Dunn

Dr Donald W Stewart

Kathryn Farrell

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Course image: Andrea Nardi in Flickr made available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence.

Various audiovisual clips used courtesy of BBC ALBA.

Audio clip of a waulking song: ‘Cò Siud Thall air Sràid na h-Eala?’ Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches

Box 6: The Act - an overview

Unit image: iStock

Figure 1: Footprint of Dunadd: from Rìoghachd nan Eilean, Programme 1 by Ishbel MacLean Productions for BBC

Figure 4: Queen Margaret: This image is made available by Wikipedia on Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Figure 6: James Stuart Memorial: courtesy of © Roddy Maclean

Figure 7: Language tree: courtesy of Jack Lynch

Figure 8: courtesy of Rosemania/Flickr

Figure 9: La Tene Art:

Figure 11: 2.2 Map: courtesy of Tormod Kinnes http://oaks/ celin (c) 2000-2010

Figure 15: Flag: courtesy of Office of Gaelic Affairs, a Division of the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Province of Nova Scotia, Canada

Figure 16: Book covers from: Damien Hirst's Skull available in German (Der Schadel von Damien Hirst translated by Michael Klevenhaus) and Gaelic (An Claigeann aig Damien Hirst): Ur-sgeul

Profile pictures courtesy of ©Dr Donald John Macleod,

Figure 19: Big Gaelic Day: courtesy The Highland Council

Figure 20: Gaelic Medium Primary School Education pupil numbers:

Figure 21:

Figure 22: Wikimedia

Figure 24: GME residential learning event in Skye in 2006:

Figure 25: Ellen Bialystok: news.yorku.can

Figure 26: Dr Donald John Macleod

Figure 27: A map of An t-Sròn, ‘the nose’:

Figures 28 and 29: Iain and Sìne courtesy of Iain and Sìne

Figure 30: Aonghas MacNeacail:, courtesy of Aonghas MacNeacail

Section 5 images:

Montage of children’s book covers adapted from: Mar a Chuala mise e, told by Màiri Kidd, illustrated by Nicola O' Byrne, Stòrlann, 2011; Aodach, by Catherine Anholt , Acair Ltd (2007); Bha cailleach ann turas a shluig cuileag mhòr ,by Pam Adams, Swindon, Child's Play (International), 1996; An Tractar agus an Liobht by Catriona Black, Acair Ltd ( 2010); An Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson , Acair Ltd ( 2007); Air do bhonnagan a ghaoil edited by Norman Campbell , Acair Ltd (2005); Am Prionnsa Beag  by Antoine De Saint-Exupery , Nadine Sauer Edition Tintenfa (2008). Courtesy of Comhairle nan Leabhraichean

Figure 31: Scottish Parliament : © unknown

Figure 32: Illustrations: BBC ALBA


Figure 34: Map, Old Deer image made available from Wikimedia

Figure 38: William McTaggart, The Sailing of the Emigrant Ship, National Gallery of Scotland

Figure 39: An example of Will Maclean’s Memorial Cairns (Aignis), courtesy of Prof. Murdo MacDonald

Figure 40: City Art Centre, Edinburgh: courtesy of Prof. Murdo MacDonald

Figure 41: Crannghal, courtesy of Prof. Murdo MacDonald

Figure 43: A scene from the opera Hiort: St Kilda: Courtesy of Pròiseact nan Ealan, the Gaelic National Arts Agency

Figure 44: Cover from Aneka’s ‘Japanese Boy’ (1981) , Hansa International

Figure 47: Highland dancing made available on Wikipedia on a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA)

Figure 48: Sorley MacLean – courtesy of Dr Julian Toms

Figure 54: The Littlejohn Album: photo courtesy of Dr H D MacLennan.

Figure 55: Shinty in 21st century: photo Willie Thornton of Largs

Figure 56: Runrig ‘Everything You See’ (2007) album cover

Montage of adult books adapted from: Fo Sgàil a Swastika: Under the Shadow of the Swastika by Donald J MacDonald , Acair Ltd ( 2000); Essential Gaelic Dictionary – by Boyd Robertson Essential-Gaelic-Dictionary-Teach-Yourself/ dp/ 1444103997/ ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312368163&sr=1-1 and Ian MacDonald, Teach Yourself ( 2010); Suthainn Sìor by Norma NicLeòid, Ùr-Sgeul 2011; Òrain Lizzie a’ Ghlinne by Ealasaid Shutharlan, [Stornoway] Comhairle nan Leabhraichean 2010;  Sùlaisgeir: Authors: Catriona MacGeoch, John Love, Finlay Macleod, Acair Ltd ( 2010); Cleasan A' Bhaile Mhòr by Catriona Lexy Campbell, Sandstone Press Ltd; SMP ed edition (2009); Ìmpireachd by Iain F. MacLeòid, 2010, Ùr-Sgeul 2010;  Cocoa and Crabs/Coco is Crùbagan: A Hebridean Childhood by Flora MacDonald , The Islands Book Trust ( 2009); Verbots: Learn 101 Scottish Gaelic Verbs by Rory Ryder , Tsunami Systems (2009); An Cuilithionn 1939: The Cuillin 1939 and Unpublished Poems by Sorley Maclean, Christopher Whyte (Editor); Association for Scottish Literary Studies (2011); The Gaelic-English Dictionary: A Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic by Colin Mark, Routledge; 1 edition (2003); An Druim Bho Thuath by Tormod Caimbeul, Ùr-Sgeul 2011; Cleas Sgàthain by Màiri Anna NicDhòmhnaill, Publisher: Ùr-Sgeul 2008; Dualchas an Aghaidh nan Creag (The Gaelic Revival 1890–2020) by Dòmhnall Iain MacLeòid, Clò Beag 2011; Òrain nan Gàidheal: Gaelic Sea-Songs and Lullabies v. 3: Songs of the Gael edited by Bruce Campbell, Gairm Publications (1994); Meas Air Chrannaibh (Fruit on Branches) by Angus Peter Campbell, Acair Ltd (2007)

Graph: © K MacKinnon, Sgrùd,

Graph: Compiled by the research agency Sgrùd

Poem: Marilyn Monroe by Aonghas MacNeacail ©aonghasmacneacail Courtesy of Aonghas MacNeacail

Poem: Alba v Argentina 2.6.79 Scotland v. Argentina 2.6.79 © Derick Thomson

Western Isles; Lordship of the Isles; Eorpa; Why Learn Gaelic: courtesy of BBC

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