A new website to strengthen ties between Gaelic-speaking communities in Ireland and Scotland, as well as encouraging cultural tourism by non-Gaels, has been launched in Inverness. From the Scotsman newspaper:
“TurasG will build on the links between the Scottish Gaidhealtachd and Ireland’s Gaeltacht.
World-renowned singer Julie Fowlis, fresh from the Scottish Music Awards, where she became the first Gaelic artist to be recognised alongside stars such as Annie Lennox, Paulo Nutini and Simple Minds, unveiled the new website at the HighlandLife Archive Centre in Inverness.
TurasG is an initiative of the European Union funded CeangalG project which has been working since last year to enhance business components to the cultural links already in existence between the Gaelic speakers of Scotland and their Irish Gaeilge-speaking counterparts.
The aim of TurasG is to inform the visitor to Scotland’s Gaidhealtachd or Ireland’s Gaeltacht of the opportunities available to explore the unrivalled heritage and culture of their destination.
The site is organised into different themes with features on life by the sea, life on the land, history, religion, the natural world, music and the arts and the visitor will be able to get information, view films, listen to music, poetry and commentary and see photographs of the various landmarks and sites of interest.
Inverness Provost Alex Graham welcomed the opportunity for the city to host the launch of TurasG, saying the website was a fine example of new technology promoting historic cultures.
He added: “Our Gaelic culture is important to us in Inverness and the Highlands, as is tourism which forms one of the biggest parts of our local economy.
“TurasG will bring these together in an effective and practical way, allowing visitors to explore and enjoy the culture of Scotland’s Gàidhealtacdh and Ireland’s Gaeltacht to the increased benefit of both.”
Visit Scotland Islands Manager Alan MacKenzie strongly backed the launch of TurasG.
He said: “I am delighted to support the establishment of this cultural tourism website, which should further enhance the Gaelic links between Scotland and Ireland.”
CeangalG is funded under the EU Interreg IVA programme and operates under the remit of the Special European Programmes Body.
Headed by Scottish Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, it includes as main partners Údarás na Gaeltachta from the Republic of ireland and Belfast based Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich.”
The TurasG website is here, and it expands on the work of the inter-governmental Colm Cille project which promotes links between indigenous speakers in Ireland and Scotland. Meanwhile some welcome news from the third and smallest Gaelic nation, via Isle of Man Today:
“A leading linguist has hailed the ‘heroic’ efforts to save the Manx language and described the Isle of Man as a role model for the preservation of languages across the world.
Visiting the island last week while filming a documentary about the revitalisation of Manx Gaelic, Dr David Harrison heaped praise on the community effort that brought the language back from the verge of extinction.
He told the Examiner: ‘I think the people here know it, but they don’t have the distance to realise just how remarkable it is.
‘They’re very modest about what they’ve accomplished here with the language. But on a global scale it’s astonishing.’
An assistant professor at the elite Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Dr Harrison has spent 20 years studying languages in hundreds of different communities around the globe.
He said: ‘I had no inkling of what to expect from the contemporary Manx community and I’ve been amazed at the dynamism, the passion for the language and how it’s put out through all available channels, including social media.
‘It’s great that the Government, and the whole community here, have been so supportive of the language…’
The Manx language was infamously declared extinct by UNESCO in 2009, a decision that was reversed after protests from the Manx speaking community. Dr Harrison is convinced that the decision was in error.
He said: ‘That was a typical case of where a language is prematurely declared extinct, but what often happens is that other speakers have made themselves invisible because they didn’t want to advertise themselves.
‘In fact several speakers have told me that Manx was their first language growing up, and they didn’t learn English until they were seven or eight years old. That means there are native speakers, even if they didn’t choose to label themselves as such.’
His interviews have also uncovered stories of how the language came close to being lost between generations. He said: ‘Someone told me today that his grandmother was a fluent speaker of Manx but he never knew it because, if she had spoken Manx as a child, the other children would throw stones at her.
‘In those circumstances you can imagine that her decision to abandon Manx was not a free choice, and it deprived her of part of her identity, her history and her connection to the place she belonged.
…Language revitalisation has become a global movement now. A lot of communities have decided that they’re not going to be coerced or shamed into discarding their heritage’.”