There are estimated to be around 85,000 people who can speak the Gaelic language. It is mainly spoken in the North of Scotland and on the Western Isles.
Scottish Gaelic has a certain similarity to Irish Gaelic, but is very different to the Welsh Gaelic and its family (Cornish and Breton)
The Celts, who spoke Gaelic languages, dominated Europe for a thousand years. They had an advanced culture which was handed down orally, rather than in writing. Their education covered Astronomy and Geography, as well as Religion and Philosophy. They had within their societies, Druids, who as well as being priests were also scholars and bards.
They were craftsmen and produced ornate jewellery. Their stone masons and metal workers produced fine works of art.
However they did not have a united kingdom, and the might of the Roman army was able to crush them from Gaul in the South to England in the North. The Romans were stopped though by the Celtic Picts in Scotland, and the Romans retreated behind Hadrian's Wall.
Eventually around 450A.D., Irish Gaels,called Scotti by the Romans, landed and established themselves on the tip of Kintyre, at Dunaverty where a ruin can still be seen. The Gaels spread out into the rest of Scotland, and were fiercely opposed by the native Picts
In 843 a great Gaelic leader, Kenneth MacAlpin was able to unite
the Picts and the Gaels for the first time. His territory was called Alba (still
the Gaelic name for Scotland) covered most of Scotland north of the Clyde. The
Gaelic language and culture therefore spread to cover most of the country
There was then a period of Viking raids and invasions, but after some two hundred years Somerled, one of the great Celtic leaders, drove the Vikings out. He became the Lord of the Isles, controlling both the Western Isles and parts on the mainland in northern Scotland
However the Scottish Kings in the Lowlands sought to curb the
independence of the Lords of the Isles, and finally in 1545 broke their power.
Strangely it was to to these clans in northern Scotland that the Stewart kings
of Scotland would turn to for help, when they acceded to the English throne.
They were, of course, the Jacobites
In 1745, with an army of only 5000, Bonnie Prince Charlie took Scotland and marched as far as Derby in England. HE eventually ran out of supplies, did not get any support from the French or English, and had to retreat. In April 1746 the Jacobite cause died at the Battle of Culloden
With this defeat came repression of both the Gaelic language and all things Gaelic. There was a methodical eradication of the Gaelic culture by the British government. Everything from tartan to bagpipes was banned, and the clan culture was removed by new landowners
It took until 1886 for crofters to be given security of tenure on their land, but Gaelic was still discouraged. It has only really been since the 1980's that there has been a revival in Gaelic. There are Gaelic playgroups and the language is taught in some schools. Many organisations like banks and local authorities are using Gaelic names
The future is looking brighter for Gaelic today than it has
for two hundred years
Should you want to learn Scottish Gaelic, then you could try Sabhal Mór Ostaig , a college on the Island of Skye which is the centre for teaching Scottish Gaelic.
Here are a number of suggestions to get you started
|Scotland Calling Scotland Calling Front Page||
|Good hotels in Scotland Good Hotels in Scotland||