Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dùn Eideann recognising it's Gaelic past and present

This week saw Edinburgh's much maligned cooncil publish it's Gaelic Language Plan. This has been a rude awakening to those in Dùn Eideann who claim that the city has absolutely no Gaelic history or present. These people include perennial bigots like the Tory Hibee and all round jakie John Gibson who has been peddling his drivel in the much declining local Evening News for longer than i can remember. Add to this Michael Blackley's biased piece of 'news' on this issue and city Tory fuehrer Iain Whyte (note the Gaelic name) who claims that Gaelic is as foreign as French or German!

I wonder if Iain Shyte could point to many French/German placenames in Edinburgh? Or detail French/German church services going back centuries? Or famous poets of these tongues buried here? Of local school kids or rock bands using these languages? No, of course he can't and that's why Iain Whyte is just another ignoramus and bigot.

Perhaps he should read his own council's Language Plan which states:

Many place names derive from Gaelic, such as Balerno (Baile Àirneach, sloe settlement), Craigentinny (Creag an t-Sionnaich, fox rock), and Dalry (Dail Fhraoich, heather slope). Edinburgh, through much of its history the nation’s capital and leading centre of commerce, learning and the arts, has continually drawn people of all languages and cultures, including Scotland’s Gaels. Among the best known of those who spent significant parts of their lives in the capital over the centuries are poets, writers and musicians: from Donnchadh Bàn Mac-an-t-Saoir (Duncan Ban Macintyre, 1724-1812), who lived and wrote here in the later 18th century and whose grave lies in Greyfriar’s churchyard; Niall MacLeòid (Neil MacLeod, 1843-1924), perhaps the most popular Gaelic poet of the 19th century, Alasdair MacIlleMhìcheil (Alexander Carmichael, 1832-1912), editor of the folklore collection Carmina Gadelica, the 20th century poets Somhairle MacGill-Eain (Sorley MacLean, 1911-96) and Deòrsa mac Iain Deòrsa (George Campbell Hay, 1915-84), to Donnie Munro of Runrig.

The full plan is available to read by clicking here.

The plan could be stronger - for example, there is no stand alone Gaelic primary school yet in the pipeline. Glasgow is already looking to open its 2nd such school and Inverness is now planning to extend it's own bunsgoil due to demand. However, it will be a pleasure to see 'Fàilte do Dhùn Eideann' signs on our city boundaries and local signs in Tollcross.

Gaelic of course plays a major part in Edinburgh's history - we can see this in the local placenames left by past Gaelic-speaking communities as well as in the stories of past kings such as Malcolm Canmore. However, Gaelic is still a living part of Edinburgh. It may be a small part but do we really want to go down the road of denying 'minorities' rights and services?

One example of this is the forthcoming Roc na Gàidhlig 2009 which will showcase some contemporary Gaelic music and culture and not just auld folk songs. Funnily enough it features two Edinburgh bands who sing in Gaelic. Maybe the likes of John Gibson, Iain White (or Johann Blanc to give him his preferred Franco-Germanic moniker) and Michael Blackely could make it along, if not to throw horns at the Gaelic thrash of Atomgevitter, then to engage in some robust discussion with young Gaels. See you at the Forest folks.