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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig honours former Chair with special Kilbeg Village road naming ceremony

The Directors, Principal and the Senior Management Team of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, today warmly welcomed the official naming of the first road, Rathad MhicGuaire (MacQuarrie Road), in the new Kilbeg Village Development, on the site adjacent to Ionad Iain Noble, which opened in 2015, and was named in honour of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s founder, Sir Iain Noble.

Today’s official naming ceremony, carried out by Kate Forbes MSP, celebrated and honoured the name of the former Trustee and Chairman, Mr Duncan McQuarrie, in recognition of the key role which he has played in the College’s development over many years but perhaps, and most particularly, in its challenging formative years.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Principal, Prof Boyd Robertson, in paying tribute said today, “This is a richly deserved honour for Duncan which recognises the hugely important contribution he has made to the development of the College over many years and to the vital contribution he has made to the development of the Gaelic language and culture and to the advancement of Gaelic and Gaelic medium education, both as a teacher and as a former HMI.

Duncan’s critical input to Sabhal Mòr’s development in its challenging formative years, was marked by his steady stewardship, as a former Chairman and his pioneering work, alongside that of his fellow Trustees, demonstrated an exemplary vision and commitment without which what is now the National Centre for the Gaelic Language and Culture would not have existed. For that, all who have benefited from this wonderful and inspiring place, over the intervening years, owe him a great debt of gratitude and it is for that reason we celebrate with him here today. It is fitting therefore that his name will forever be associated with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and with the development of Kilbeg Village, a new sustainable Highland community which places Gaelic language and culture very much at its heart.”

In conducting the official naming ceremony, Kate Forbes M.S.P. extended her own personal congratulations to Mr McQuarrie saying, ‘“This recognition of Duncan McQuarrie is well-deserved for his years of commitment to the Gaelic language and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. The opportunities afforded to a new generation of Gaelic speakers are thanks to people like Duncan McQuarrie who had the sheer determination, vision and love for the language to persevere. Today, the education, employment and cultural opportunities enable Gaelic-speakers to live and work in their preferred language in a way that would not have been possible without Mr McQuarrie’s efforts.

“The new Kilbeg village is part of that story because it is absolutely critical that Gaelic language and culture is never confined to an educational institution alone. It is a living, breathing language whose future depends on efforts to foster it as a community language. The importance of the new village cannot be overestimated at a time when housing is in high demand and people find it difficult to get affordable accommodation. I am unashamedly supportive of placing Gaelic right at the heart of this new village. English is usually the dominant language in every sphere of life, so it will be wonderful to walk down the new streets in the years to come and hear Gaelic spoken.

“I have benefited from transgenerational transmission of Gaelic, chatting to elderly Gaelic speakers. Their knowledge of the language is precious and won’t be around forever, so it is right that efforts are made to connect them with younger speakers.”

In addition to conducting the official naming ceremony, the MSP also met with the first two families to take up residence in the new village and, in so doing, she was also very happy to be able to announce the imminent start on the next phase of affordable housing on site, the plans for which will very shortly be submitted for Full Planning Consents.

This next phase will be delivered through a creative partnership involving Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust, The Highland Council and the private sector and will see the creation of up to 31 units of housing on the site, featuring a range of models and types of tenure, including Rent to Buy, Self-Build, Housing for the Elderly and, affordable for rent housing. All tenures come with a Rural Housing Burden attached to title, thereby retaining the housing stock in perpetuity for the benefit of those committed to living and working in the local area.

Additionally an exciting new ‘pilot’ initiative is also being advanced which will encourage the opportunity for elderly Gaelic speakers to relocate to special housing for the elderly being planned for the village, as part of a special initiative which will seek to promote the benefits of transgenerational transmission and communication, whereby students from Sabhal Mòr will have the opportunity to benefit from the rich resource which elderly native speakers would bring to their learning experience and environment and from which the elderly will, in turn, gain great potential benefits from the stimulus, support, engagement and interaction with a new generation of young Gaels.

SMO Principal Prof Boyd Robertson added, “This is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the intergenerational transmission of the language and the wider material culture, in a very positive way to the mutual benefit of each generation and we would ask anyone interested in taking advantage of this innovative new initiative to contact us directly.”

In addition to the announcing the next phase of Housing, Kate Forbes MSP, also very much welcomed the news that plans for the new Kilbeg Sports, Fitness, Recreation, Health and Well-being Centre are also currently underway, following detailed community consultation and the development of a full Feasibility and Business plan. This will bring badly needed sports and recreation facilities to the area, as an integral part of the wider Kilbeg Village development and will benefit Sabhal Mòr students and staff alike along with the whole South Skye Community and the growing number of visitors who come to the area annually.

It is intended that this work will run concurrently with the new Phase 2 Housing developments. Work is now being finalised to take the proposal forward to planning.

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