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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI reaches historic milestone with over 1,000 graduates

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, marked another significant milestone in its history last week when the total number of graduates from the college, since graduations began in 1985, topped one thousand.

At the annual graduation ceremony on Friday (6 October) 67 students graduated from the various University of the Highlands and Islands’ undergraduate and postgraduate programmes which the College offers. The overall number of students to have graduated from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI now stands at 1052. The  degree programme offered at the college combine a range of subjects with Gaelic, such as media studies, Gaelic development, traditional music and Gaelic culture. Sabhal Mòr also offers a postgraduate course: MSc Material Culture and Gàidhealtachd History; and many of the  courses can be undertaken through distance learning.

The College’s Vice-Principal and Director of Studies, John Norman MacLeod said: “We are particularly delighted that over a thousand students have now gained degrees and other advanced awards through Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, with many of those graduates engaged in careers and initiatives with Gaelic language maintenance and revival at their heart. We are also absolutely delighted that Hannah McDiarmid, a BA (Hons) Gaelic Language and Culture student, has won the award of University of the Highlands and Islands’ Student of the Year. This is the second time a student from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI has achieved this distinction.”  

Hannah McDiarmid from Torvaig, Isle of Skye, was named as Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI Student of the Year and University of the Highlands and Islands’ Student of the Year, for her unstinting dedication and determination in her studies. Hannah graduated with a BA (Hons) Gaelic Language and Culture while managing cystic fibrosis, a chronic, life-limiting condition which affects the lungs and the digestive systems.

In addition to celebrating the academic achievements of students, Rev Dr Roderick MacLeod, originally from North Uist, and John MacLeod, from Lewis, were awarded the Sàr Ghàidheal honour in recognition of their tremendous contribution and dedication in support of the Gaelic language and culture across a wide range of fields.

Professor Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI said: “The recipients of this year’s Sàr Ghàidheal (Supreme Gael) awards are well-known in the Gaelic world and very deserving of the honour. They have the good of Gaelic at heart and their deeds and achievements in support of the language have been remarkable. Rev Dr Roderick MacLeod has made an outstanding contribution across a number of sectors: in the church and in the community, in research, scholarship, writing and publishing and as an elected member of council.  John MacLeod has been equally assiduous campaigning for language rights and status, for Gaelic-medium education and as a member of various development agencies and bodies and as President of An Comunn Gàidhealach. Mary MacLeod, the celebrated bardess of the Clan MacLeod, would be justifiably proud of these two kinsmen!”

This year’s Graduation Lecture was delivered by Sìne Ghilleasbuig, a member of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI’s Board of Directors and a former student, who has been involved in promoting and supporting Gaelic development and arts in the community for many years.

In her lecture she said: “I offer my congratulations to each and every student who graduated from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig this year. Many are the milestones we have shared during the years since we first opened our doors in 1973. As a student here myself on more than one course, I spent some of the happiest years of my life at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Whether in the classroom, the library or the ceilidh house, I consistently found warmth, encouragement and kindness. Who would not blossom in such a learning environment?

“I am proud that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has stayed true to its educational vision and that we have a strong and independent spirit here. Ours is a creative centre too where artists may grow and develop their expression while investing valuable time in understanding and drawing from our immense heritage. As the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, we have an outstanding treasure-trove in our people first and foremost. Throughout the years, SMO has drawn students, lecturers, artists and staff of integrity and talent. I am fortunate that many are my lifelong friends.”

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