Tha an duileag seo a samhladh gnosan agus cleachdaidhean abhaisteach anns an linn a h-ochd deug.
‘It is this feeling, assenting, equable marriage between the geographical country and the country of the mind, whether that country of the mind takes its tone unconsciously from a shared oral inherited culture, or from a consciously savoured literary culture, or from both, it is this marriage that constitutes the sense of place in its richest possible manifestation’ (Seamus Heaney).
Historical Documents Available for Download
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Gaelic culture as a whole has always been a tradition based on the spoken word. The values, the history, the music whether port-a-beul or pipe, the sense of identity and rootedness, the very sense of being a Gael, have been articulated and transmitted by living tradition bearers through the Gaelic tongue. The header for this site ‘Tillidh mi Dhachaidh’ (I Will Return Home) is in recognition of the stalwarts of Coroceolraidh Buenos Aires who maintain the Gaelic culture in their home city six thousand miles away. A number of famous people of Hebridean extraction have made their mark in their own individual field of excellence both at home and across the world.
There are a number of different genres within the Gaelic oral tradition (a unique sample, see image to left, is available for purchase from this site) and these different genres tend to express and encapsulate different kinds of experience and ideas: proverbs express the wit and wisdom of Gaelic culture; tales cover history, genealogical themes, promote role models and supply entertainment; and songs provide the outlet for emotional expression of the community.
The Statutes of Iona in 1609-10 and 1616 sought to eradicate Gaelic, the so-called ‘Irish’ language, so that the ‘vulgar English tongue’ might be universally planted. The suppression of the Lordship of the Isles (1411), the Reformation (1560), the final failure of the Jacobite cause (1746) and the end of the clan system were all in turn damaging to Gaelic. The good side to these State reforms upon what had been the previous and customary marauding and unrestrained behaviour of the Islanders included:
I. The clergy were to be properly obeyed and paid, churches were to be rebuilt, sabbaths were to be kept and Reformed Kirk discipline was to be observed.
II. Inns were to be established for the convenience of labourers as well as travellers.
III. To reduce vagabondry, no man was to be suffered to reside in the Isles if he did not have sufficient income or followed some trade.
IV. Households of chiefs were to be reduced and kept up at their own expense, not at that of the tenantry.
V. “Sorning” or living at free quarters on the poor people was to be punished as thieving.
V1. To stop drunkenness, a man might only brew enough liquor for his own family, but chiefs might purchase wine &c., in the south.
VII. Every gentleman with sixty cattle was to send his eldest son, or, failing sons, his daughter, to be educated at school in the lowlands at his own expense, that they might learn to speak, read, and write English.
VIII. The use of fire-arms was forbidden under all circumstances so as to end the Islanders’ “ monstrous deadly feuds” .
IX. Bards and other idlers were to be forbidden.
Further setbacks for the language were loss of life in the Napoleonic Wars, the ensuing Highland Clearances, potato famine in the 1840s, and economic marginalisation and underdevelopment which engendered large-scale migration to the Lowlands and overseas. Some mitigation resulted from legislation following the ‘Crofters’ Wars’ in 1886, and at the end of the nineteenth century Gaelic was still the predominant language throughout the mainland Highlands and Hebrides.In the 1914-18 war, losses of life at sea and in the armed forces took considerable toll of the Gaelic population, and the inter-war period witnessed renewed emigration, especially from the Hebrides. The numbers of Gaelic speakers declined sharply from 254,415 in 1891 to 58,969 in 2001. Internal migration from Highlands and Islands to Lowlands has resulted in 45% of all Gaelic speakers today normally residing in Lowland, urban Scotland.