Inner Hebrides - Gaelic Language

Gaelic Language

There have been speakers of Goidelic languages in the Inner Hebrides since the time of Columba or before and the modern variant of Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) remains strong in some parts. However, the Education (Scotland) Act 1872 led to generations of Gaels being forbidden to speak their native language in the classroom, and is now recognised as having dealt a major blow to the language. Children were being beaten for speaking Gaelic in school as late as the 1930s. More recently the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act was enacted by the Scottish Parliament in 2005 in order to provide continuing support for the language.

By the time of the 2001 census Kilmuir parish in Skye had 47% Gaelic Speakers, with Skye overall having an unevenly distributed 31%. At that time Tiree had 48% of the population Gaelic-speaking, Lismore 29%, Islay 24%, Coll 12%, Jura 11%, Mull 13%, and Iona 5%. Students of Scottish Gaelic travel from all over the world to attend Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a Scottish Gaelic college based on Skye.

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