Why Gaelic

Key Dates


The first Gaelic speakers of Scotland

The kingdom of Dál Riada covered the areas known today as Argyll, Bute and Lochaber in Scotland, as well as County Antrim in Ireland. Dál Riada had the first significant concentration of Gaelic speakers in Scotland.


The Book of Deer

The earliest example of a manuscript in continuous Scottish Gaelic is in the Book of Deer. The main text of this book is in Latin and dates from the 9th century, but it contains Gaelic notes that are thought to date from the 12th century.


The first Gaelic publication

'Foirm na nUrrnuidheadh', the first Gaelic book, was published in Edinburgh in 1567. It was a translation by Seon Carsuail, Easbaig nan Eilean (Bishop of the Isles), of 'The Book of Common Order' or 'Knox's Liturgy'.


The Battle of Culloden

The ancient clan system, which nurtured the language and its associated culture, broke down after the failure of the Jacobite Rising of 1745-46. The Battle of Culloden (Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite Rising of 1745-46.


The Gaelic College is born

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was founded in 1973 and has become internationally recognised as a National Centre for the Gaelic language and culture. The college is an academic partner within the University of the Highlands and Islands, and provides high quality education and research opportunities through the medium of Scottish Gaelic.


The Fèis movement

Fèis (plural Fèisean) is the Gaelic word for a festival or feast. However, over the past few years the word has become synonymous with the Fèis movement, a group of Gaelic arts tuition festivals, mainly for young people, which now take place throughout Scotland. Fèis Bharraigh, the first Fèis, took place in Barra in 1981. There are now over 35 Fèisean, each one community-led and tailored to local needs.


The start of Gaelic medium education

Gaelic medium education started in 1985 at primary level with two Gaelic medium units, one in Inverness and one in Glasgow, and a total of 25 pupils. In 2009/10 there were 2,256 children in Gaelic medium education at primary level within 60 different Gaelic medium units across the country.


Gaelic song hits the charts

Scottish folk band Capercaillie hit the UK charts in May of '92 with 'Coisich a Rùin', the first Gaelic 'Top 40' single. It reached no.39.


Achd na Gàidhlig / Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act

The Act was the first piece of legislation to give formal recognition to Gaelic, aiming to secure Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, commanding equal respect with English. The Act agreed the setting up of Bòrd na Gàidhlig as part of the framework of government in Scotland and the development of a strategic national language plan. This plan requires public agencies to each produce their own language plan.


Gaelic gets its own TV channel

BBC Alba is Scotland's Gaelic language digital television channel, which is broadcast by the BBC throughout the United Kingdom. The channel was launched on Friday 19 September 2008. It's the first multi-genre channel to come entirely from Scotland, with almost all of its programmes made in Scotland. It became available on Freeview in 2011.