THE HISTORY OF SABHAL MÒR OSTAIG IN PRINT
Two books will be launched this Friday (30/09/05) at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig - Scotland's Gaelic College - which tell the story of the college since it was established over 30 years ago, and the story of Gaelic itself and how it has survived and has been revived in recent times.
Hope is the clear message of both books: hope which has sprung from the mini renaissance which has taken place in the Gaelic world in the last quarter of the 20th Century and the early years of the 21st Century; and the hope which comes from the work and achievements of Sabhal Mòr, a place which has been at the heart of many of the initiatives which have driven the renaissance.
'A Waxing Moon - A Modern Gaelic Moon' by Roger Hutchinson tells the story of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye and how it has contributed to the revival of Gaelic. Above all, however, the book closely examines how hope for the future was generated when many thought all was lost. 'Gealach an Fhàis - Ùr Bheothachadh na Gàidhlig' is a Gaelic version of Roger's book by Chrissie Dick (written in collaboration with Roger) which will also be launched on Friday.
Donnie Munro, development director at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, said: "A Waxing Moon tells the history of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the story of the development of the Gaelic language, culture and the community over the last 30 years. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has been 'centre stage' in much of what has happened to revitalise the language and the culture and many of the key players in that process have at some point been involved with this important national institution. 'A Waxing Moon' examines how one of Scotland's greatest resources, a national 'living language', was given hope for the future at a point when all seemed lost."
According to Mainstream, the publisher of the two books, this new hope took many forms: "Gaelic-speaking jobs were available; Gaelic-medium education was established in many areas; and politicians and business people saw benefits in acting as friends of the culture. While the number of Gaelic speakers continued to fall as older people passed away, the decline was slowed and for the first time in 100 years the percentage of young people using the language began to rise proportionately.
"What had happened was a kind of renaissance: a Gaelic revival that manifested itself in popular music, literature, art, poetry, publishing, drama, radio and television. It was a phenomenon as striking as it was unexpected. And at the heart of that movement lay education."
'A Waxing Moon' recounts the scores of personalities, from Sorley Mclean and Runrig to Michael Forsyth and Gordon Brown, who have become involved in the revival of Gaelic.
Analytical, anecdotal and character-driven, 'A Waxing Moon' is a narrative of heritage being rescued from indifference and despair. It features profiles of characters as well as institutions and tells a story that has implications for the future of all of Scotland and the UK, and wherever lesser-used languages face the modern world.
Author Roger Hutchison said: "Nobody can afford to be complacent yet about the future of Gaelic as a living language in the 21st Century. But equally nobody can deny the considerable efforts that have been made by recent generations of native Gaels to put a lifeline around their language and save it from slipping into obscurity which so many in the seats of power would have preferred.
"If 'A Waxing Moon' does anything, I hope that it pays some form of tribute to the efforts of those people and that it may play some small part in alerting those not already aware to the importance of keeping this important and beautiful living language alive."
Speaking on the effect that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has had on Gaelic Chrissie Dick said: "I see Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as in some ways being similar to Iona Abbey in the sixth century, which was like a beacon of light across much of Europe in terms of Christianity and scholarship. The monks were renowned for their artwork (the Book of Kells being one example) and for medicine. There was cooperation between Iona Abbey and the other centres of Christianity throughout Scotland, and the advice of the Abbots was sought by various rulers.
"Today Sabhal Mòr has the similar aims appropriate to the 21st Century, though divinity is not on their curriculum. Sabhal Mòr's guiding philosophy is wide-ranging and perceptive and the college also contributes a great deal to the economy of Skye. Sabhal Mòr also cooperates with many centres of Higher Education and other relevant bodies throughout Scotland for the benefit of Gàidhlig and Scotland's culture."
Bill Campbell, managing director of Mainstream, said: "Publishing 'A Waxing Moon', in both English and Gaelic editions, fits into Mainstream's tradition of bringing important aspects of Scottish culture and social fabric to the fore. We see these volumes as an important contribution to the revival of a language and a culture that has come so close to extinction in the recent past."
Roger Hutchinson is an award-winning journalist and author. The books he has written include: 'Empire Games: The British Invention of Twentieth-Century Sport', Polly: The True Story Behind Whisky Galore' and 'The Soap Man: Lewis, Harris and Lord Leverhulme'. Chrissie Dick is an award-winning Gaelic writer, journalist and educationalist, and a trustee of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
The book launch
will take place at Àrainn Chaluim Chille at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
at 5.30pm on Friday 30th September and precedes the college's graduation ceremony.
Roger Hutchinson will be on hand to sign copies of his book.