Gaelic in modern Scotland
Gaelic in modern Scotland

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

6.4.3 Songs and tales

Among the great treasures of Gaelic literature are the songs which have come down in the oral tradition, some of them very old. A popular example is ‘Griogal Cridhe’, a song of great sensitivity and beauty, which can be dated as it refers to an historical event, the persecution of the Clan Macgregor in the late 16th century. It features on the BBC’s Bliadhna nan Òran website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] : though the text is in Gaelic, various versions of the song can be enjoyed by clicking on the icons on the right of the page.

Recently, individuals and groups such as Runrig have composed Gaelic songs with a more modern flavour. Many of Runrig’s songs have been covered by other singers or groups. ‘Cearcall a’ Chuain’, for example, was recorded by a Gaelic choir and can be heard on the BBC website.

Gaelic also has a rich heritage of traditional Gaelic folk tales, of which John F Campbell’s 19th century Popular Tales of the West Highlands is a well known collection. Attempts have been made in recent years to revive the storytelling tradition: although this has not been uniformly successful, the tales themselves survive alongside the songs as a treasure trove of Gaelic lore, complementing the growing corpus of contemporary poetry and fiction in the language.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371