Sabhal Mòr Ostaig this month celebrates 10 years since its website first went live. Launched in January 1994 with the support of the then University of the Highlands and Islands project, the website has developed into one of the world's foremost resources for information on Scottish Gaelic.
Created and maintained by Kevin Donnelly, the College's Lecturer in Information Technology, the website initially provided basic information on the College and on the Gaelic language. The last ten years have seen the website expand to include a directory of links to Gaelic and Irish on the web, information on Gaelic classes world-wide, online Gaelic lessons, Gaelic news on the web and links to over 100 other minority languages. The College also created the first online Gaelic dictionary, An Stòr-dàta Briathrachais, in 1997 which is today joined by links to Faclair na Pàrlamaid, the Scottish Parliament's online Gaelic dictionary, and to many other online dictionaries and grammar sources.
It is this wealth of information and resources that attracts so many users to the site. Frank Wilson in Canada uses the website on a regular basis, "I have used this resource for a long time and it is the only way for me to successfully study Gaelic particularly when using my computer programs to work in Gaelic. This is where the Stòr-dàta excels over conventional dictionaries. It is ten times faster than having a dictionary on your desk where you have to thumb through the book to find the word versus typing direct. I also use Naidheachdan an t-Sabhail to find the newspapers I want to read. The resources you can access through this website are amazing."
Kevin Donnelly is pleased that the website has proved so popular, "We'd hoped to create a site which would be used by learners of Gaelic, the Gaelic diaspora and by Gaels themselves, wherever they were in the world. It was also a great opportunity to promote the work of the College and the Gaelic language."
The College recognises the importance of the website in attracting new students
and new people to Gaelic and the ongoing development of the site is now the
responsibility of Eilidh Johnson from North Uist. A graduate of Gaelic Studies
from the University of Aberdeen, Eilidh joined the College as Web Editor through
the Skye and Lochalsh Enterprise Graduate Placement Scheme. "I am really
pleased to have the opportunity to develop my IT skills and to work through
the medium of Gaelic", said Eilidh, "As a Gaelic student I used
the site regularly and I realise how important this site and similar developments
have become in widening access to Gaelic and to the work of the College."