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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Founders’ Day celebrates 40 years of Scotland’s Gaelic College

Students,supporters and staff of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, gathered at the college on Tuesday (10 

September) last week to celebrate Founders’ Day, as the college marks its 40th anniversary this year.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was established in 1973 as a charitable foundation with the aim of establishing an educational institute with a special emphasis on Gaelic educational functions. It has gone on to become a higher education college and part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. It is also the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture with 81 fulltime students and 16 part-time students on campus, 280 students engaged in distance learning and a further 800 students come to the college each year to take a short course.

The celebrations included musical performances from the students, a procession led by ten college pipers, Gaelic songs from renowned Gaelic singer Christine Primrose, readings and recollections from the College’s first full-time Director, Farquhar MacLennan, and Gaelic scholar, Professor Norman Macdonald, gave a talk on the foundation and early years of SMO.

Speaking of events, John Norman MacLeod, SMO’s Vice-principal and Director of Studies said: “The day was indeed special with speeches, music, poetry and other events which were very fitting of the occasion and were also enjoyable and uplifting for everyone involved. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has made remarkable advances in the past 40 years and it was good to look back on some of the major achievements  and to mark the vision of the founders in the company of staff and students from previous years right up to the present. As an example of this, Farquhar MacLennan, who took up his post in 1975, caught people’s attention by reading poetry by Sorley MacLean, who was Filidh at the time.”

Professor Macdonald said: “I was honoured to have been invited to give the first Founders’ Day Speech at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. I was able to display the very first letter which I ever received from Iain Noble. It was written in April 1974, I was still a student at Aberdeen University at the time and in accepting his invitation I made my first visit to Ostaig the following month. I hope to be here again on 10th September 2023 when Sabhal Mòr Ostaig will be marking its first half-century. An annual Latha Stèidheachaidh will remind us all how SMO came into being and will help to keep the longer-term objectives in view.”

The Founders’ Day celebrations will now become an annual event, giving SMO a chance to celebrate the work and success of the college, its staff and students.

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