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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Annual Lecture 2019 born out of new collaboration with National Museums Scotland


This year’s Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Annual Lecture took place at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on Thursday Nov 7th and was entitled ‘Put a notch in the rafter’: Setting Gaelic to work

This Annual Lecture is the 23rd in the prestigious and long running series, which has featured some of the most prominent figures from public, political and cultural life, including; author, historian and academic, Dr James Hunter, who gave the inaugural lecture in 1990, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, the late Rt. Hon. Donald Dewar MSP and former Irish President, Mary Robinson. 

The Lecture was based on an exciting new collaboration between National Museums Scotland and academic staff at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. It linked thematically with the national exhibition, Wild and Majestic – Romantic visions of Scotland, which ran at the National Museum of Scotland until recently and on which all three experts worked – Dr. Stuart Allan, National Museums Scotland, and Prof. Hugh Cheape and Dr. Donald William Stewart, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. 

SMO Principal, Dr. Gillian Rothach, commented on the annual event: “It was a pleasure and an honour for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to work in close partnership with National Museums Scotland, on the topic of Gaelic perspectives on the Romantic period. The collaboration, in the form of the national exhibition Wild and Majestic, was extremely successful. In the exhibition, which has just finished, the voices and opinions of Gaels were to be heard – voices which were often different from the voices we have heard previously in national and international accounts of the Romantic era and the Gaels. Written Gaelic and oral recordings of Gaelic were present throughout the exhibition, on panels and in texts. In the SMO Annual Lecture, Prof. Cheape, Dr. Stewart and Dr. Allan reflected on their collaboration and concluded that they will work together again, for the benefit of our national understanding of the Gaels’ perspectives on history.” 

Prof. Hugh Cheape commented on the lecture and the exhibition: “The Annual Lecture is a wonderful opportunity to comment on the state of the language today and to look at possible opportunities for working through the medium of Gaelic in the future. This year gave us an excellent chance, in collaboration with National Museums Scotland, to deliver the lecture on the back of the national exhibition, Wild and Majestic, with regard to the Romantic era and how it was established in Britain and throughout the world and was manifest in Highland language and culture. We at SMO did not translate the material for a ‘bi-lingual presentation’, rather we produced a new version which looked at the history of the Gaels and the changes of that era from their own perspective.”

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