Forwarding this msg on behalf of Craig Cockburn. (Original appears to have
been swallowed by a black hole somewhere in its electronic way here.) mg
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From: EDIENG::COCKBURN "Craig Cockburn 26-Jul-1992 1208" 26-JUL-1992
Subj: New Gaelic college in Scotland - An Ceathramh (Sutherland)
"Anyone with a working knowledge of Gaelic has a definite edge in the
"We are unable to cope with the demand for Gaelic at the moment"
"The Gaelic tongue is on the brink of a revolution"
The following (long) English-only article appeared in the Scotland on
Sunday newspaper (published by The Scotsman Publications, Edinburgh) on
19th July. I would appreciate getting a full address and phone number for
the college so that I can add it to my De/ tha dol ann an Alba list. I
wonder if Gaelic-l can connect up the the college for E-mail?
Transatlantic teuchter offers Gaelic for the grown-ups
- A Canadian teaching Gaelic from a croft in Sutherland?
Just a sign of the times, writes Jim Cruickshank
Prophets of doom staring morosely into their uisge beatha may see it as the
beginning of the end, but supporters of the Gaelic language have a new reason
for raising their glasses. Sutherland has acquired a Gaelic college, An
Ceathramh, on a croft surrounded by hills, sheep and tumbledown cottages.
So far so good. The wry smiles appear when the teacher is revealed as a
As far as Dr Alexander Mearns is concerned, his background is just one more
subject for Gaelic conversation classes in the converted cowshed, now
decorated with blackboards and computer equipment, at the back of his croft
Mearns may have been born on the other side of the Atlantic, but in a sense his
arrival in Scotland is a homecoming. A century ago, the croft on which he and
his wife Brenda live and work belonged to his great-grandfather, an ingenious
character who invented different way of making fishing lines.
Mearns studied for his doctorate in Scottish History, travelling between the
University of Toronto and Aberdeen before deciding to move to Muie East, a
small outcrop of crofts between Lairg and Rogart, deep in Sutherland's hills.
He decided to start the course after becoming discontented with the depth,
breadth and imagination of the teaching tools used for adult learners. It's a
problem those on the other side of the learning divide are also aware of. One
of his first pupils as Morag McKay, a retired doctor originally from Caithness,
who travelled up from Salford (England) to attend the course. She had tried
other introductions to the language and been irritated by stereotype-ridden
teaching. Mearns' more imaginative approach came as a pleasant surprise.
An Ceathramh offers week-long intensive courses for adults, the first of
their type, for #100. The timing couldn't be better. Interest in the
language is growing fast, partly in reaction to the new opportunities
promised by the independent television sector's Gaelic broadcasting bonanza.
anyone with a working knowledge of the language has a definite edge in the
jobs market. But many parents simply want their offspring to keep abreast of
what their offspring are learning at school.
"We are unable to cope with the demand for Gaelic at the moment. Next year
there will be five more Gaelic medium units in schools throughout the
Highland region. Parents are going to want the opportunity to learn what
their child will already be talking," says Peadar Morgan, development
officer for Comunn na Ga\idhlig (CNAG).
Morgan believes the Gaelic tongue is on the brink of a revolution in which
it will cease to be seen as a geriatric language and become instead, the
lingo of the young. Already as more speakers come through the system, the
age profile is changing.
Next month, Charlotte Mair, a mathematics teacher from Hermitage academy
in Helensburgh will be making the journey up to Rogart to brush up on her
Gaelic conversation. She found herself being coaxed into teaching the language
by a group of 11 year olds.
"Gaelic is finally being recognised. I'm teaching 20 pupils in my spare time.
Rogart offers practice in speech in small classes. It's a great idea and I'm
excited about going up to Sutherland. This is just what I need," she says.