Learning Gàidhlig (Scots Gaelic) was never going to be easy, and sooner or later I knew that I would have to escape the books and the YouTube videos and return to Scotland in search of somewhere where I might experience it as a spoken language. Instead of heading straight for one of the islands or the Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye I thought that Glasgow would be a good place to dip my toes in the water. Glasgow turned out not to be a disappointment, as it turns out that there is something of a revival of the Gaelic language taking place in the city. My first stop was the Chomhairle nan Leabhraichean (Gaelic Books Council) on Mansfield Street where the staff couldn’t be more helpful. There I found myself a useful little dictionary which has already come in handy. What was apparent was that, in terms of publishing, the language is in peril. From the shelves it could be seen that it is not in anywhere near the same shape that the Irish language is in, but it is very encouraging to see that work is being done right in the heart of Glasgow.


Tucked in between Argyll Street and Sauchiehall Street there is a Gaelic School – a form of education in Scotland that I have been completely unaware of. If anything this tells us that the Gaelic language is far from dead. Not too far from this, on Elderslie Street there is Coffee and Craic, a pretty little coffee shoppe where Gaelic speaking is welcomed and encouraged. Sadly when we arrived it was the weekend and all of the Gaelic speakers were off for the day. It came as something of a shock to discover that my beginners’ command of the language was the best in the place. By no means was this a complete disappointment. It gave me a boost to know that there were other beginners, and to know that such a place does exist. The next time that I am over in Scotland I will drop back in, and hopefully then I will be able to show off my newly acquired advanced fluency in Scots Gaelic. It was also a wee thrill to be able to understand their sign over the toilet door. It was the Gaelic equivalent of the familiar Scots ‘the wee hoose.’ Now that I have wet my feet in the world of spoken Gaelic I hope soon to visit the islands and see how I do. Mar sin leibh!

Jason Michael
Blog Author

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