Neasa NiChinneide, President of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, (EBLUL), praised the work and achievements of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig while speaking at the College's 22nd graduation ceremony last Friday (06.10.06) where 39 students graduated.
Neasa gave a speech on the “The Sounds of Europe” in which she left the graduands with a feeling of determination to continue in the preservation of their language and culture.
“As here we stand today, in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, in an environment where you are dedicated to the ideal of celebrating and strengthening your own unique culture, I hope that you will achieve the goals you have set for yourselves.”
Before becoming President of EBLUL, Neasa was Head of Irish Language Programmes and Features with RTE for some years and was also the Chair of the Celtic Film and Television Festival. She serves on the Board of Siamsa Tíre, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, and works as a consultant in the linguistic area. She is married to John Hegarty, Provost of Trinity College Dublin.
At the ceremony, she continued, “I hope that you will find your own ways to ensure the sounds of Europe remain linguistically diverse, and that as a community of teachers and scholars and broadcasters you will keep a close and critical eye on the developments currently taking place. We have all been ‘walking since daybreak’; there are miles to go and promises to keep….”
Speaking about the past year John Norman MacLeod, Head of Studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, said: “The ceremony has drawn to a close another successful academic year for the College with a record number of full-time students. Neasa’s speech was very appropriate and encouraging for the students who are now indeed equipped with the skills to go on and strengthen the language and culture they have studied here at SMO."
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Farquhar Mackintosh, also spoke at the ceremony, congratulating all the students on their achievements since becoming SMO students. Farquhar plans to retire from the post in March of next year, following 15 years of invaluable work and support for the College.
In addition to the degrees and other qualifications awarded, four other prizes were awarded. . The award for Student of the Year and the Comunn na Gàidhlig Award for promoting the rights and heritage of Gaelic went to Iseabail MacLean; the Comunn na Gàidhlig (London) Award for progress in Gaelic went to Rachel Alcorn; the Anna NicDhonnchaidh Memorial Award for furthering the aims of the College was shared between Margaret Harrison and Ùna MacLeod Glauning; and, finally the local SQA awards for the highest total marks went to Lorena Fraser and Màiri Nicolson.