It was my interest in Irish music that lead me to Scottish Gaelic language
and music. After developing a liking for Irish music, I discovered that there
were groups such as Capercaillie and
Runrig who sang in Scottish Gaelic.
I really liked the sound of the language and wanted to learn it, mainly to
understand the songs and so that I could learn to sing them.
In 1996 I finally got round to learning some Scottish Gaelic. I used Teach
Yourself Gaelic but didn't get very far, mainly due to lack of motivation and
dedication. I also spent a couple of weeks exploring the Hebridies hoping to use
what little Gaelic I knew. Unfortunately I didn't meet many Gaelic speakers there.
My visits to Glencolmcille in Ireland, where I've studied
Irish for a week to two every year since 2005, inspired me to have another go at learning Scottish Gaelic.
Since then I've worked my way through Colloquial Scottish Gaelic and
Teach Yourself Gaelic, and have also used the Gaelic lessons on the
I'm making much more progress this time and feel much more motivated. When I listen
to Radio nan Gàidheal I
can get the gist of what they're talking about, though don't understand everything.
I've also started learning songs in Scottish Gaelic. These are songs I've
listened many times so I already know the tunes. Learning them is 'simply'
a matter a memorising the words, which is both fun and challenging.
In August 2008 I did a course in Gaelic Song with Christine Primrose at
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic
College on the Isle of Skye. As well as learning more than 30 Gaelic songs, I
also tried to speak Gaelic as much as possible. I found that I could converse
in the language to some extent, with quite a bit of fumbling around for words,
and could understand a lot of what I heard in Gaelic.
In August 2012 I returned to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for a course in
waulking songs (òrain luaidh) mouth music (puirt-à-beul)
with Christine Primrose. My spoken Gaelic was also better by then and I
was able to have more detailed conversations. While I sometimes mix Scottish
Gaelic and Irish, I can usually make myself understood and can understand
and read a lot of Scottish Gaelic.