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World Gaelic Week


Today is the start of World Gaelic Week. It shows how out of step I am. I wasn’t even aware it existed until a few weeks ago when I was asked to go along to a Cròileagan (Gaelic pre-school group).

Why didn’t I know of this week? Surely if it is to advertise Gaelic then people both with the language and those without should have known about it. I like the concept though so I’m already thinking of putting it in the diary for next year.

There are so many events and things to celebrate over the year it is becoming difficult for the mass of subjects to be heard. World Gaelic Day makes a kind of sense. After all many Gaels were forced out of their homes after Culloden and during the clearances and their descendants are now spread all over the world.

Pockets of Gaelic culture can be found in Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and Gaelic organisations are found throughout America and beyond.

Scots whether it was through poverty or choice have travelled the world over and left their mark. Thankfully nowadays there is no wish to stamp out indigenous cultures. Today most people celebrate the differences and value what each culture can offer us as humans.

I was contemplating this at Balintore or perhaps Baile an Todhair would be more appropriate this week, as I watched the ebb and flow of the tide. One of the great things about nature is that it appears consistent. Spring follows winter as low tide follows high. Although as a species we are unfortunately mucking around with that too.

I can’t imagine living in a place where water is not all around. We are surrounded by sea and when it combines with the blue sky there is no place else I would rather be. The Highlands of Scotland has an abundance of water in its coastline and lochs.

Water mirrors our moods. The grey water reflects the grey sky, the storm clouds darken the water. We can become so sorrowful in winter. When the sun comes out the polar opposite is true. Blue sky and even bluer water moves and shines all around us, we smile and laugh more.

Spring and its palette is beginning to burst through. These colours echo those of the flags, ribbons, and other signs many are displaying today. The yellow of the broom is bursting through as are the daffodils. Combined with the blue sky we have the colours that are on most people’s minds at this moment.

There are so many cultures in the world today. I honestly thought humans were mature enough to enjoy and appreciate these differences. To value our neighbours, to sympathise with their way of life, to enrich our lives with what they can offer. To respect their boundaries and their countries.

We cannot just look at another county and like an unruly toddler decide to simply take it and if we can’t get it then destroy it. We need to learn from an early age to respect life and others.

To do that we need to accept our mistakes and attitudes as a nation. Behind all the support I heard after all these Gaelic books were trashed was a backlash of voices that mocked Gaelic.

I was appalled these voices were allowed to be heard and seen online. Where was the monitoring of content by papers and others regarding degrading comments and bigoted points of view? I found myself wondering if these comments had been directed at another culture or another language would they have been allowed to sit there on their sites.

If we Scots can feel so little respect for our own amazing rich culture how we can expect others to treat it any differently? It is not just the Gaelic language I am thinking of here but Scots can also be added to this list. Though to be honest I have never witnessed the same maligning of people who speak Scots as I have for people who speak Gaelic.

I don’t understand why so many people in Scotland are so anti-Gaelic. Why would you be, I mean really why? I don’t understand it and it is such a waste of energy. We haven’t killed your children or stolen your food, and we don’t leave a toxic mess that will pollute the earth for hundreds of years.

Much of Scotland’s tourism and exports are driven by our culture. Our languages actually make money for Scotland. Our music is loved our dancing enjoyed. I would go as far as to say many other cultures and peoples value our Gaelic heritage more than we do ourselves.

So in this World Gaelic Week, I would implore you not to accept the so-called ‘jokes’ we are expected to, or the nasty remarks and the downright ignorance of others. Call them out, don’t just shrug it off. We deserve to be respected and valued in the same way as other cultures.


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