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Glasgow City Council

Gaelic

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What is it?

Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language closely related to Irish and Manx Gaelic and has existed in Scotland since at least the 6th Century AD.

The language was once spoken across practically all of Scotland and was the language of the royal court for hundreds of years.

In a recent history of the Gaelic community in Glasgow, it is suggested that, in the later eleventh and twelfth century, Glasgow and its surrounding areas were predominantly Gaelic speaking.

Over the past two centuries, official discouragement and neglect has hastened Gaelic's decline across Scotland.

In recent decades, however, there has been a fresh interest in the language. With over 10% of Scotland's Gaelic speakers, the largest number out with the Western Isles, Glasgow can be seen as the centre for Gaelic culture in mainland Scotland.

How is the language being promoted?

Glasgow has been home to Gaelic speakers for centuries and more people than ever before are motivated to learn and reach fluency in the language. The city has a thriving learning and cultural environment with an increasing number of our citizens accessing Gaelic learning, music, art, and literature. With a sense of history and unique cultural identity, Gaelic continues to attract people from across all social and economic backgrounds.

Glasgow has led the way in various aspects of Gaelic development but in particular in Gaelic Medium Education (GME), with the the first Gaelic Medium unit opening in the city in 1985.

Today, Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (Glasgow Gaelic School - nursery, primary and secondary), Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghleann Dail (Glendale Gaelic Primary School), Rowena nursery and Lyoncross nursery teach over 1000 children through the medium of Gaelic. For them, bilingualism in Gaelic and English is the norm. As several research studies have shown, bilingualism provides advantages in communication, culture, cognitive development, character, the curriculum and employment.

Children in English Medium Education (EME) are also beginning to leave their classrooms with new found Gaelic language skills and songs, and most importantly an understanding of the importance of Gaelic to the cultural heritage of Glasgow and of Scotland as a whole.

Gaelic is more than just an academic subject in schools. It is, for an increasing number of people, the way they choose to communicate with others and the way they choose to live their lives.

The City's Gaelic schools' web page links

What are you doing to safeguard the language?

By actively supporting the language and raising its profile we will contribute to efforts to safeguard Gaelic's future as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language.

 It is through the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 that this aim was set, and through which the newly established public body of Bòrd na Gàidhlig was given responsibility for the promotion and growth of the language, as well as securing its status and long-term future.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig has the authority to request public bodies to prepare and implement Gaelic Language Plans, and it is through this that we produced our first Gaelic Language Plan in 2009.

Where can I find out more?

The following are partners through our Gaelic Language Plan:

Gaelic in Glasgow Survey

Glasgow City Council in partnership with the University of Glasgow have launched their 'Gaelic in Glasgow' survey with a view to gaining an up-to-date and deeper understanding of the Gaelic community in and around Glasgow.

Building upon the city's exceptional progress in the development of Gaelic to date, the data gathered in this community survey will play a pivotal role in supporting a sustainable future for Gaelic language and culture in Glasgow and will help shape effective development initiatives that reflect the increasingly diverse nature of the community.

The survey is aimed at individuals residing in Glasgow and surrounding local authority areas who regularly access Gaelic activity in the city as well as, organisations which are either based in Glasgow or which engage with Gaelic audiences in Glasgow and the surrounding areas.

In addition to supporting development initiatives across the city, the survey results will also inform ongoing research considering support for minority language communities in urban settings. 

The survey covers a broad range of sub-themes from demographics and language proficiency to Gaelic education and broader cultural interests. While respondents are encouraged to complete the survey in line with their pre-COVID habits, there is also a section to capture the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the Gaelic community.  

The creation of this survey has been made possible with the support of the GLAIF fund at Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Building upon the findings of the survey, respondents will be invited to participate in focus groups where emerging themes will be discussed in more detail. Further information on these events will follow this initial consultation phase.

The Gaelic in Glasgow consultation will be open for 3 weeks until the 10th of May. The survey can be accessed  here.

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