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Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture on the early Skye Gaelic schools

Dr Roddy MacLeod will give this year’s Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, where he will speak on ‘The Nineteenth Century Gaelic School Movement in Skye’.

The lecture was established last year by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Urras an Eilein (the Island Trust) – two organisations which Sir Iain helped to establish and with which he enjoyed enduring ties during his lifetime – to honour the work and achievements of Sir Iain, especially with regard to the college, the island and the Gaelic language.

It was through the vision and efforts of Sir Iain that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI was established in 1973. The college is now part of the University of the Highlands and Islands and offers courses in various subjects at under- and post-graduate level all through the medium of Gaelic. Sir Iain was a successful merchant banker and business man, but is, perhaps best remembered in the Highlands for his continued and proactive support of Gaelic.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson said: “The College is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and we are marking that milestone in various ways throughout the year. It is very fitting that we have this special event in memory and recognition of the founder of the College and that the subject of this year’s lecture will be the history of Gaelic education in Skye. We are delighted that Dr MacLeod has agreed to give the lecture and we look forward to what we feel sure will be an erudite, engaging and elegant lecture.”

Sir Iain was also very much involved in the work of Urras an Eilein during his life, a trust he helped to establish in order to promote cultural and educational projects with a particular connection to Gaelic and, or, the Isle of Skye.

Murdo Beaton, project co-ordinator for Urras an Eilein, said: “It is now 40 years since Sir Iain founded Urras an Eilein. He always had a great interest in Gaelic education and Gaelic Medium education, believing passionately that it was a major factor in the development and maintenance of the language. It is therefore no accident that, down through the years, the Urras has supported many projects in this field. We are very much looking forward to Dr MacLeod’s lecture which we are confident will be informative and entertaining.”

Dr MacLeod comes from Lochmaddy in North Uist originally and spent many years as Church of Scotland minister in Berneray, Harris before he moved to Furness in Mid-Argyll. He was a Councillor on Comhairle nan Eilean when the local authority was first established. He has been the editor of the Gaelic pages of the magazine of the Church of Scotland, ‘Life and Work’, for many years and he gave the memorial service for Sir Iain Noble in Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh in April 2010.

Looking ahead to the lecture, Dr MacLeod commented: “I regard it as a great honour to be invited to deliver this lecture in memory of our good friend, Iain Noble. He is still greatly missed, but he will not be forgotten, because around us in Skye there are many signs of the wonderful work he did on behalf of the language, culture and livelihood of the Gaels. The seed planted by Iain forty years ago is bearing amazing fruit year on year, and the harvest is becoming more productive as the years pass.”

The lecture will take place on Monday 2 September at 7.30pm in Talla Dhonaidh Chaimbeil, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. All are welcome and entry is free. The lecture will be given in Gaelic, and simultaneous translation will be provided for those without Gaelic. The evening will include music and refreshments afterwards.

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