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Graduation success at the highest level for Sabhal Mor Ostaig

An evening of celebration was held at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Sleat last Friday (5 October) at the annual Graduation Ceremony which took place at the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.

In total 64 students graduated from the undergraduate and postgraduate programme which the College offers, with particular success in the increased number of students graduating with Honours Degrees and indeed the highest number of first-class Honours awards achieved in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s 45 year history.

Chairman of the Board of Directors at SMO, Angus Macleod, addressed those present:  “45 years ago, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was established to reignite Gaelic and create new opportunities.  The underlying philosophy for the Gaelic language and culture was to protect, utilise, encourage and develop it.  That is still our main aim, every day and every year.”

This year’s Graduation welcomed a new Principal and Vice-Principal, with Dr Gillian Rothach and Dr Marsaili MacLeod having recently taken over from Prof Boyd Robertson and John Norman Macleod.

Vice-Principal and Director of Education, Dr Marsaili MacLeod said:  “It gives us great pleasure that over 60 students are graduating today and that the highest number in the College’s history are graduating with a first class Degree.  We are very proud of all those graduating and now joining our Alumni community of over 1000 students whose talents and skills are flourishing the world over.”

The degree programme offered at the College includes a range of subjects with Gaelic, such as teaching, media studies, Gaelic development, traditional music and Gaelic culture.  All of these subjects are taught through Gaelic immersion techniques and are validated by UHI.

Dr Gillian Rothach, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, said:  “We are extremely proud of all of our students who are graduating today here at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye. Where once there was not even primary education available in Gaelic, today we at Sabhal Mòr can offer students a full range of tertiary qualifications, from an apprenticeship, to an HNC, HND, BA, BA Honours, Continuing Professional Development, Masters and PhD.

“Another highlight today for us is that the graduates are of every age and background, showing that our courses are open and inclusive of all who gain a place at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. We also mark the graduation of students taught together with the University of Aberdeen; this partnership has been fruitful in producing new Gaelic medium primary teachers. We look forward to following this with future cohorts of students graduating from our new Gaelic-medium course based at Sabhal Mòr, in Gaelic and Education, which trains students to become Gaelic-medium primary and secondary teachers.   We wish our graduates every success and hope that they will keep in touch!”

In addition to celebrating the academic achievements of students, the annual honour of Sàr Ghàidheal was awarded to two individuals in recognition of their tremendous contribution and dedication to the Gaelic language and culture – Margaret MacLeod from Peterhead and Lewis, and Iain MacFarlane from Mull.

Dr Rothach continued:  “It was an honour indeed to mark the extraordinary contributions to the Gaelic language and culture of two Gaels – who promote the language and culture with generosity and vigour – Margaret Macleod from Peterhead and Brigadier Iain MacFarlane, from Mull.

An award was also given in memory of Niamh Henderson, from Mallaig, who was a student at the College and who passed away suddenly last year.  Niamh was a first year student studying Gàidhlig is Conaltradh.

This year’s Graduation lecture was delivered by Flora Guidi, Headteacher of Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Phort Rìgh, and she had some inspiring words for all present:  “Our school motto is ‘Ni clachan beaga tric càrn mòr uaireigin’ (Tall oaks from little acorns grow).  I congratulate all those graduating here today, you are to be praised for your hard work as you prepare to build your own life.  Consider what is important to you and what your future aims will be.

“Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a special place to me.  The College community have been so supportive to me throughout the years and I would like to thank all staff, past and present, and the tremendous work that has been done, without which the reignition of the language would not have happened.”

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