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Celebrating 40 years of history and success at the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Ball

Hundreds of friends of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, past and present, gathered last Friday (9 November) to celebrate 40 years of Scotland’s Gaelic College at the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Ball.

The Ball and gala dinner were held in Glasgow’s Grosvenor Hotel where Education Secretary Michael Russell MSP was the Guest of Honour on the night. Guests recalled and marked the remarkable journey the college has taken from its humble origins in a former farm steading to becoming the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture.

BBC ALBA and BBC Scotland’s Kirsteen Macdonald was the compere for the evening’s proceedings and in addition to Mr Russell’s speech, there was music from the Joy Dunlop Band, Scottish Fiddle Champion Maggie Adamson and the John Carmichael Dance Band. 

Speaking afterwards, Education Secretary Michael Russell said: “This was a night to celebrate. In 1973, Sir Iain Noble and his original trustees set down a vision for a Gaelic college in Skye. Many have shared that vision since then and all should be commended. Forty years later we can all see the benefits and successful results of that hope, commitment and hard work.  

“For me, it is an honour to have had close links with the College over many years and now to be asked to be guest speaker at such an important celebration.  Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a remarkable achievement and we all look forward to many more achievements at the College in the years to come.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “It was wonderful that well over 200 people attended the dinner on Saturday evening and demonstrated their regard for, and goodwill towards, the College. Many of those present had close personal or professional ties with Sabhal Mòr over the past 40 years and many represented agencies, companies and institutions that are engaged with the College in projects in the fields of education, the arts and social and economic development.

“It was fitting that Kirsteen MacDonald and Joy Dunlop, two former students of Sabhal Mòr who are such winsome ambassadors for Gaelic, took leading roles in the after-dinner entertainment and it was highly appropriate that Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education  and MSP for Argyll delivered the main address, Argyll being the cradle of Gaelic in Scotland and the home county of  Sir Iain Noble, founder of Sabhal Mòr.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Director of Development, Fundraising and the Arts, Donnie Munro, said: “This was a wonderful evening of entertainment in the company of our friends and supporters many of whom have played a great part in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s development over the years. This was a very fitting expression of the degree to which all sustainable development relies heavily on developing creative and innovative partnerships and a wide network of support. Sabhal Mòr is extremely fortunate to have enjoyed such widespread support and partnership and the evening celebrated that in a very appropriate manner.”

One of the highlights of the evening was a special anniversary prize draw which featured a host of top prizes. They included: Lunch for four with the First Minister Alex Salmond MSP and tickets to the First Minister’s Questions, hospitality and tickets for two for Celtic Park, and hospitality and dining at some of the Highland’s premier hotels and restaurants, including the Three Chimneys, Kinloch Lodge Hotel, Duisdale Hotel, the Macdonald Aviemore Resort,  and the Bosville and Cuillin Hills Hotels in Portree.

The Ball was part of a series of ongoing events which have been staged in 2013 to mark the 40th anniversary of the College, and previous events included a Royal Reception at Holyrood Palace hosted by Prince Charles, The Duke of Rothesay, and a Reception held in the Scottish Parliament.

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