Why I am learning Scots Gaelic in Glasgow
Seachtain na Gaeilge: Speaking Irish in... Scotland
Despite having a decent level of Irish from a gaelscoil primary school, I never really thought too much about the language’s future until I first moved to Scotland in my mid-20s. Queen’s Street train station in Glasgow has a bilingual sign in English and Scots Gaelic, which reads “Fàilte gu Sràid na Banrighinn”, and I thought “Woah, the spelling is a bit different, and the fadas go the wrong way, but I can totally read that sign”. It was one of the first times I ever felt knowing Irish could be useful outside school.
This sparked an interest in Scottish Gaelic. Given my Irish background, I hoped I could pick it up fairly easily.
Then I saw just how badly Scots Gaelic was faring over here. Less than 1 per cent of the population of Scotland speak it. It’s much maligned in the media. The general population is apathetic to it at best and outright hostile to it at worst. Most of them don’t see the language as “theirs” in the way we do. There are some valid historic reasons for this, but regardless, many a proud tartan-wearing, bagpipe-liking Scot, even those with a Gaelic surname, think of it as a pointless dead language.
To my mind, if we took Irish out of the school system back home we’d be in a similar situation in a generation or two, which scares me. They’ve lost such a large part of their historic identity, they’re cut off from so much of their past. I’d hate to see that happen to us. Seeing the dire situation Scots Gaelic finds itself in motivated me to do something to help my own language. I pledged to speak exclusively to my future children as Gaeilge.