Bid to boost Gaelic in Dumfries and Galloway

A new plan to boost Gaelic speaking in Dumfries and Galloway has been backed by the area's council.

Staff for the local authority will be encouraged to learn the Celtic language.

Councillor Elaine Murray Council, its leader, has been surprised by feelings on the issue.

She said:"I think one of the interesting things about the consultation on the refresher of the plan was that although we have very few people who are Gaelic speakers there was quiet a lot of interest from those that responded to the consultation in finding out more about both the language and the culture, I find that quite encouraging. About 40% of the people who responded wanted to know more."

For teachers in the region, keeping the language alive has been a challenging but rewarding process.

Mary Kiely, a Gaelic teacher, said: "It is important to pass on the language and it is good that people are interested in it. I have been teaching it for 10 years and I have been delighted with my pupils and some of my pupils are now teaching themselves."

Students have been using the app Duolingo and meeting in small groups outdoors during the Covid-19 pandemic to keep practising.

 Andew Wilson, a Gaelic student, said: "There is a great chunk of Scottish history and culture that you don't have access to unless you have learned Gaelic and that is particularly true of Galloway, people to this day will happily tell you it was never spoken here but it was, Galloway is Gall-Ghàidhealaibh, land of the foreign gael."

Dumfries and Galloway hasslightly fewer than 1,000 speakers of the language and more than a dozen teachers. The Gaelic community are hoping they will be returning to classes of more than 20 people in Dalry, Castle Douglas and Dumfries in February of this year.

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