Photo of Christine PrimroseThe well-known Gaelic singer Christine Primrose is to visit Australia to help the Scottish Gaelic Society of Victoria celebrate its centenary. Ms Primrose, from Carloway in Lewis, will spend a month down under promoting Gaelic song and culture after she received an invitation from the society and other groups interested in the language and culture.

Ms Primrose, who teaches and studies Gaelic song at the Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, leaves for Australia on Saturday (5/11/05) where she will conduct workshops in Gaelic song for the Victoria society before topping the bill at their centenary ceilidh. The singer said that there had been a growing number of people from Australia attending the short courses offered by the Gaelic College during the summer in recent years, and that the invitation coupled with this increase in short course attendees perhaps indicated a growing interest in the language in Australia.

She said: "More and more people from Australia have been coming to the short courses at Sabhal Mòr - most of them to the singing courses, but some also for the Gaelic language courses only. A couple of years ago Joan Willis and her husband attended one of the courses - Joan is originally from Bragar in Lewis, but has been living over there for more than 40 years - and when I was speaking to them she said it would be great if I could come to Australia. Then I received an e-mail this year saying that they had raised enough money to take me over to sing and teach Gaelic song.

"Their society, the Scottish Gaelic Society of Victoria, is celebrating its centenary this year and so they are bringing me over for the week of the celebrations, where I will be singing and giving workshops on Gaelic song. Then there will be a ceilidh on the 12th of November to finish things off which is taking place near Melbourne."

Ms Primrose said that she was also going to visit Canberra University where she will give a presentation on Gaelic song to the students of Dr Ruth Martin from the university, the Gaelic singer will also sing at a ceilidh in the Australian capital. The next stop is then Sydney where Ms Primrose has been invited by the local St Andrew's Society to give workshops and sing at a concert.

Ms Primrose said: "I think there is a growing interest in Gaelic in Australia. Certainly judging from what we are seeing at Sabhal Mòr, especially over the last three or four years; I have noticed on my own courses that more are coming from Australia."

The director of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Norman Gillies said: "We are very pleased that someone connected with Sabhal Mòr is travelling abroad in order to promote the Gaelic language and culture. The trip also builds on the recent trend of more students from Australia attending the summer short courses."

Members of the Scottish Gaelic Society of Victoria have attended recent Royal National Mods, and society member Ron McCoy has competed in the singing competitions at several Mods.