Monday, 5 October 2009

Over the Sea to Skye

On Tuesday 29th September 2009 I went 'over the sea to Skye', which is one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, and on Wednesday morning I visited Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.  It is the only all- Gaelic institution in Scotland offering courses to degree level.  We were welcomed by John MacLeod, head of studies, and a number of other staff, including Donnie Munro, the former lead singer of Runrig.

The folk in the college were warm and welcoming and we have much to learn from them, in relation to the development of both Ulster-Scots and Irish, especially as we move forwards into a 'shared and better future'.

From Skye I travelled down to Edinburgh to meet my counterparts in the Scottish Parliament, Shona Robison MSP (sports minister) and Michael Russell MSP (culture minister).  

While I was in Edinburgh I also visited the offices of Scottish Language Dictionaries, met the chair and chief executive of the Scottish Arts Council and attended the annual Scottish awards evening for Arts and Business, which was held in the Usher Hall.

The final day of the visit was spent in Glasgow where I visited the headquarters of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.  I also visited Glasgow University to meet Professor John Corbett, who is professor of applied language studies, and his colleague Dr Jennifer Smith.  This was a valuable meeting in the context of developing a strategy for the Irish language and Ulster-Scots language and culture.  Scotland is similar to Northern Ireland in that both have two indigenous minority languages.  Scotland has Gaelic and Scots while Northern Ireland has Irish and Ulster-Scots.

This visit is the first stage in my plans to develop and strengthen cultural links with our nearest neighbour in the United Kingdom.


  1. Hubristic hyporisy or welcome sea change? Nelson has always been an implacable enemy of anything appertaining to the gaelic tradition here , particularly the Irish language.

  2. Cruachlainn - I am not opposed to the Irish language but simply to the abuse and misuse of the language by some republicans.