‘Speak up for Gaelic’ project set to launch in Skye hotel

Fay Thomson will be teaching the informal sessions which start tonight at the Pier Hotel in Portree.

A new project aiming to help people speak Gaelic in everyday settings is set to launch tonight (Friday 28th January) in a hotel on Skye.

‘Speak Up for Gaelic’ is a joint initiative by the Portree and Braes Community Trust and the Portree and Braes Community Council which has received grant funding from Community Land Scotland.

The aim of the project is to organise events and activities where people feel comfortable speaking Gaelic in everyday settings, regardless of their ability in the language.

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The first session begins tonight (Friday 28th January) at the Pier Hotel situated at Portree harbour and runs from 6pm to 7pm.

The events will be open to everyone on Skye and on Raasay, as well as visitors to the area.

The funding received from Community Land Scotland will be used to employ a part-time coordinator to assist with running the project.

Portree resident Fay Thomson, who will be teaching the informal sessions, told the Free Press that the reaction to the venture has been encouraging.

“We’ve had a very positive response to the project so far,” she said.

“There are very many people who welcome the opportunity to speak Gaelic and keep the language alive in the community.

“The project will be delivered through a series of events – meetings and activities – where native speakers and learners of all abilities can converse in Gaelic.

“It’s all about speaking Gaelic in everyday situations.”

She added: “We will be promoting the use of Gaelic language in local businesses, particularly in shops, pubs and restaurants where people gather locally.

“We will be asking businesses to encourage staff to greet customers in Gaelic and to display signage that indicates the business supports and promotes spoken Gaelic.”

Ms Thomson said that she hoped the project could help play a part in reversing the decline of the language by building confidence and normalising everyday use.

“Research shows that while the number of Gaelic learners is increasing the use of the language is decreasing. Many native speakers comment that there are fewer opportunities to speak Gaelic,” she said.

“Learners report a lack of opportunities to practice the language, especially with native speakers. There is mutual benefit in bringing the two groups together and this project aims to do exactly that.”

She added: “We are very grateful to the Pier Hotel, which is one of the first businesses to have shown an interest in the project and sign up for a weekly Gaelic hour. This is a great start for the project.

“We want people to enjoy speaking Gaelic whether they are fluent or just want to learn how to say a few words.

“We really hope this project will go some way towards re-establishing Gaelic as the language of Skye.”

Article by Adam Gordon, image by Willie Urquhart.