Comann Gàidhlig na h-Eaglaise Caitligich/ A Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church

A talk I gave for the Scottish Catholic Cultural Symposium at Pluscarden Abbey on 3/5/19, entitled: Faith in the North – Reviving Cultures: Healing the divide between the Catholic Faith and traditional Scottish culture  

Current Issues in the Gaelic Revival and the Place of the Catholic Church

1) Eòlas Pearsanta/ Personal experience

Bu mhath leam tòiseachadh le beagan dhen eòlas pearsanta agam fhìn. An-dràsta is a-rithist thathar ag ràdhn gur i a’ Ghàidhlig, cànan gàrradh Eden. Tha sin a’ faireachdain ceart, ach saoil, carson?

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The Inaugural meeting of the Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church will be at St John the Baptist Church, Uddingston, 136 Lower Millgate, on Saturday, 13th July 2019. We will start with a Gaelic Mass at 12.30pm, followed by a bring-and-share lunch and the formal meeting at 2pm.

Gaelic has often been described as the language of the Garden of Eden. And the funny thing is it attracts lunatics like myself from around the world who come and learn it. But why?

There are many obvious ways to put it: The people are friendly, the landscape is beautiful, the lovely weather…

 

Dhomhsa tha a’ Ghaidhealtachd a’ faireachdain gu sònraichte beannaichte. Agus tha mi dhen bheachd gu bheil sin air sgàth irisleachd nan daoine.

The closest I have come to explaining the attraction of Scottish Gaelic to myself is that Gaeldom must be especially blessed. In Scotland in general, but in particular in the Gaidhealtachd – as Gaeldom is known in Gaelic – people seem to look out for each other, the arrogance and elbow society of much of the Western world hasn’t reached here, yet. St Augustine famously said: “If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is humility.” Well, I think the Scots, and again in particular the Gaels have got it in their veins. I’m not sure why, but wouldn’t be surprised if the clan society had a part to play here, where everyone looked out for everyone else.

Dar a thàinig mise a dh’Alba bha trom-inntinn a’ cur dragh orm agus tha mi gu math cinnteach gur e Dia agus blasad dhe gàrradh Eden a shlànaich mi.

I am not going to bore you with too much of my personal story, but I when I arrived in Scotland some 15 years ago I was suffering from a serious depression. In the rat race of the city of Berlin I would hardly have got better. There are several elements that finally led to my recovery – God being a very important one of them. Getting a foretaste of the Garden of Eden in the Scottish Highlands certainly also played an important part.

Ach air ais gu gnothaichean saoghalta, bha cultar dùthchasach Albannach gu math tarraingeach dhomh. Tha e cho math ga fhaicinn mar phàirt dhe beatha làitheil na Gàidhealtachd, m.e. aig cèilidhean sna h-eileanan far a bheil sean is òg a’ dannsa còmhla. No smaoinich air a’ Mhòd Nàiseanta.

On a more earthly note, popular Scottish culture attracted me. In the big cities of this world, like my home town Berlin, popular culture has almost ceased to exist. But in Scotland, and especially in the Highlands it is a part of everyday life. I think of village hall ceilidhs in the Hebrides where the whole community from the toddler to the old age pensioner dance together. Or think of the Royal National Mòd, this week-long festival of Gaelic song, music, poetry and language that takes place in a different town every year. In short, popular culture is part of everyday life – it’s part of what people are.

Nise, is docha gu bheil sibh a’ faighneachd: Dè fon ghrèin thug air a’ Ghearmailteach sin bruidhinn an seo air cultar Albannach?

Now, I feel a bit like a fraud, a German coming here to give a talk to the Scots about Scottish culture. But in my defence I’d like to say that I hope you can start to see how it sometimes helps to get an outsider in to let you see what your strengths are. A recent study found that 1/3 of tourists coming to Scotland want to have an experience of the Gaelic language while they’re here. I wonder how many of them get it. What I’m trying to say is, there is untapped potential here.

 

2) Co-theacs Eachdraidheil/ Historical Context

Is cinnteach gu bheil fios aig na Gaidheil gum b’ i a’ Ghàidhlig prìomh chànan na h-Alba sna Meadhan Aoisean.

Gaelic is the traditional language of the Scotti or Gaels, who settled in Dalriada, present day Argyll, in the fourth and fifth centuries AD. By the eleventh century, it had become the language of the majority of Scotland including of the Crown and Government. Gaelic has a rich oral and written tradition, having been the language of the bardic culture of the Highland clans for several centuries and indeed being the oldest written vernacular north of the Alps.

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Abaid Eilean Ì/ Iona Abbey

One of the people who brought Christianity and the Gaelic language to Scotland was of course St Columba. He was an Irish monk who founded a monastery on the Island of Iona. At that point the Gaelic of Scotland and Ireland were identical. There were of course other languages spoken in Scotland: a large part of the Highlands were inhabited by the Picts, who spoke a p-Celtic language, related to Welsh. The Hebrides and Northern Isles were Viking territory. But for several centuries Gaelic would have been the dominant language of Scotland.

Tha eòlaichean air a bhith ag argamaid an robh a leithid a rud ri Eaglais Cheilteach ann gus nach robh is tha co-dhiù aon sagart an Sgìre-Easbaig Earra-Ghàidheal is nan Eilean a’ cur taic ris a’ bheachd gun robh.

Scholars have fought over whether there was such a thing a Celtic Church or not. Brendan Lehane in his book “Early Celtic Christianity’ makes a case for it. Indeed there is a priest in Argyll and the Isles Diocese today who told me he thinks there was once a Celtic Church. But others such as the prominent Gaelic scholar and Baptist, Prof Donald Meek, dispute that the peculiarities of Christianity in Gaeldom amounted to a Celtic Church.

I don’t feel I am well enough equipped to come down on either side, but the special elements of Christianity in the Celtic world included a closeness to nature, possibly originating from paganism. The structure of the Church was not as hierarchical as it is in the Roman Catholic Church today, with abbots rather than bishops being in charge. Indeed monasticism was a very strong feature and the aforementioned St Columba and his monks helped to spread Christianity in Scotland. Celtic monks also evangelised much of mainland Europe. Last not least they had their own way of calculating the date of Easter and only after an argument lasting many years did the Celts give in to the Roman way of setting the date. A symbol of Celtic Christianity to this day is of course the Celtic Cross with its characteristic circle.

Crosses above Dalmally
Crosses above Loch Awe/ Dalmally

Mar a tha fhios agaibh thòisich crìonadh na Gàidhlig le Reachdan Eilean Ì ann an 1609.

The decline of the Gaelic language probably started with the Statutes of Iona shortly after the Union of the Crowns. Passed in 1609, they required that Highland clan chiefs send their heirs to Lowland Scotland to be educated in English-speaking Protestant schools. This was meant to insure that the next generation of the local leaders were English speaking Protestants.

Bards, who were the bearers of tradition, were outlawed, undermining the confidence of Highlanders. People would increasingly look to the new, the English speaking society. Knowledge of the English language was regarded as a tool that would allow you to get a better job and be part of the new society.

Dh’atharraich cuid dhe na clann-cinnidh gu bhith nam Pròstanaich, ach dh’fhuirich cuid eile nan Caitligich.

As a result of the Statutes of Iona, some clans, such as the MacDonalds of Sleat and the MacLeods of Harris, adopted Protestantism. Other Clans notably the MacLeans of Morvern andMull, the MacDonalds of Clanranald, Keppoch, Glengarry, and Glencoe, remained resolutely Roman Catholic.

An uair sin dh’fhulaing a’ Ghàidhlig buille eile às dèidh Blàr Chùl Lodair ann an 1745 is i ga toirmeasg. Ach cha b’ ann gus an tàinig an telebhisean a chrìon i na bu luaithe buileach.

Another strong blow came after the lost Battle of Culloden in 1745, not far from here, when the Gaelic language, wearing of Highland dress and playing of the bagpipe were outlawed. But it is probably fair to say that it wasn’t until the arrival of television in the 20th century that the decline accelerated.

A’ gluasad air adhart dhan an là an-diugh: Sheall an cunntas-sluagh mu dheireadh gu bheil an àireamh luchd-labhairt òga na Gàidhlig ag àrdachadh airson a’ chiad uair ged a tha an àireamh luchd-labhairt air fad fhathast a’ crìonadh. Le sin tha e cho cudromach gu bheil an òigridh a’ faotainn cothroman gus a’ Ghàidhlig uisneachadh is mar sin gun toir iadsan i dhan ath-ghinealach.

Moving swiftly forward, the 2011 Census shows that almost 58000 people in Scotland are Gaelic speakers and a further 30000 have some Gaelic language skills (in total around 1.7% of the population). Now that’s not a big number, but for the first time in modern history there was an increase in the number of speakers aged under 25, even though the overall figure decreased slightly. Ensuring that the growing population of young Gaelic speakers is supported to continue to use the language and to pass it on to the next generation is critical to maintaining Gaelic as a living language.

 

3) Co-theacs Cruinn-Eòlach/ Geographical Context

Tha ainmean-àiteachan a’ sealltainn dhuinn gun robh a’ Ghàidhlig uaireigin mar phrìomh chànan sa chuid as motha de dh’Alba air sgàth is gu bheil ainmean-àiteachan Gàidhlig pailte cha mhòr air feadh na dùthcha ach a-mhàin ann an Arcaibh is Sealltainn.

You might wonder what Gaelic has to do with your parish. I remember reading a letter in a newspaper regarding Gaelic roadsigns that said: “I support Gaelic roadsigns in areas where the language has a history.” The interesting thing to look at here, from a historical point of view, are place-names. If a place has a Gaelic name it is likely to have received it from people who lived there and spoke Gaelic. Iain Taylor has done extensive research on the subject. He looked at three elements that are most common in Gaelic place-names: achadh, meaning field, baile meaning village and cill, meaning church. He found that these were widely spread across Scotland accept for parts of the Borders and Caithness regions as well as Orkney and Shetland. In his conclusion he shows that Gaelic must have been the dominant language in most of Scotland in the past. In those parts of the Borders that don’t show a widespread usage of the three aforementioned elements, there are still some Gaelic place-names which suggest it may have been a minority language here. We can assume that Gaelic was never spoken in Orkney and Shetland.

 

4) Creideamh sna h-Eileanan Siar/ Faith in the Western Isles

’S ann sna h-Eileanan a Deas a-mhàin a chìthear ìomhaighean poblach dhe Muire Màthair agus an sin chan eil e a’ faireachdain idir gu bheil sgarradh ann eadar Creideamh Caitligeach agus cultar Albannach. Gu dearbha tha creideamh Caitligeach mar phàirt dhe beatha nan daoine. Is tha sin ri fhaicinn cuideachd ann an leabhar bàrdachd ùr a thàinig a-mach bho chionn ghoirid le Marion NicIlleMhoire far a bheil dàin spioradail agus bàrdachd saoghalta a-measg a’ chèile.

As you may be aware there are a number of islands in the Hebrides where the reformation never reached. The local clan chiefs refused to convert and the Catholic faith has remained very strong there. The two bigger islands to be mentioned here are South Uist and Barra. Nowhere else in Scotland have I seen shrines of the Virgin Mary by the side of the road. But there are some areas on the mainland as well that remained predominantly Catholic, e.g. in the Rough Bounds, West of Fort William.urnaighmaidne

In South Uist and Barra it certainly doesn’t feel like there is a divide between the Catholic Faith and Scottish culture at all. Every year e.g. the parish priest blesses the fishing boats. Faith is still a part of everyday life there.

A recently published book by Marion Morrison is another good example. Marion is a friend of mine whose late brother, Allan, very generously gave me private Gaelic lessons once a week for six months when I attended St Luke’s High School in Barrhead as an exchange student over 25 years ago. As Myles Campbell says in his foreword: “The book: Adhbhar Ar Solais – Cause of Our Joy unites religious and secular poetry. There is no divide between them.”

People in the Outer Hebrides are predominantly Gaelic speaking and want to have Gaelic speaking priests. Some Masses are being said in Gaelic.

 

5) A’ Ghàidhlig agus an Eaglais Chaitligeach/Gaelic and the Catholic Church

Mar a tha mise ga thuigsinn chan eil ann an-dràsta ach ceithir shagartan a tha fileanta ann an Gàidhlig agus a dh’fhaodadh an Aifhreann ag ràdhn sa chànan. Bidh Mgr Seumas MacNeil a’ dèanadh an dearbh rud an seo madainn a-màireach is tha mi air leth duilich nach bi mi ann.

As far as I’m aware there are currently four priests who are fluent in Gaelic and say Mass in the language. One of them, Mgr James MacNeil from Oban will be saying Mass in Gaelic here tomorrow morning and I am very sad indeed to miss it as I have to leave here at 6am.

On a little side note: I am heading to Edinburgh to sing with Soisgeul, the first ever Gaelic Gospel choir. If you’re interested in hearing a little snippet of us and other performers of spiritual music in Gaelic at Usher’s Hall, please tune into An Là, the news on BBC ALBA, on Sunday at 6.15pm.

Ach tha sagartan eile ann aig a bheil beagan Gàidhlig agus le beagan taic dh’fhaodte gum b’ urrainn dhaibh an Aifhreann ag ràdhn sa chànan. Agus tha dòighean eile ann gus a’ Ghàidhlig a bhrosnachadh cuideachd.

But back to the subject: There are other priests who have some knowledge of Gaelic and probably only need a bit of confidence building in order to be able to say Mass in the language.

In my view it’s not only about increasing the number of Gaelic Masses though. I attended a trilingual Rosary on the Isle of Eriskay. Parts of it were said in English, parts of it were said in Gaelic and parts of it were prayed in Latin. People seemed very used to it and it worked seamlessly. The parish priest there, Fr Ross Crichton, is a fine Gaelic scholar, but this concept could even work with a member of the congregation leading the Gaelic elements.

Tha Mgr Ross an-dràsta ag obair air leabhar ùrnaigh ùr coltach ri Iul a’ Chrìosdaidh gus ùrnaighean Gàidhlig a bhrosnachadh san dachaigh. Bidh e cuideachd a’ foillseachadh laoidheadair ùr.

Fr Ross tells me he plans to publish a new book of Gaelic devotions along the lines of “Iul a’ Chrìosdaidh” as a way of encouraging prayer in the home in the language. He also hopes to publish a new collection of Gaelic hymns as there currently is none available that contains all the relevant ones.

Bha an Canan Iain Aonghas Dòmhnallach nach maireann an sàs gus an Tiomnadh Nuadh eadar-theangachadh gu Gàidhlig an là an-diugh. Tha mi fhìn moiteil gun robh pàirt gu beag agamsa ann cuideachd.

Furthermore the late Canon John Angus MacDonald was involved in an ecumenical project to translate the New Testament into contemporary Gaelic. It was published only a few weeks ago and is available from the Scottish Bible Society. I had the pleasure and honour of doing a small amount of proof-reading for it.

 

6) Èirinn/ Ireland

Thall an Èirinn cluinnear tric beagan Gaeilge aig an Aifhreann, ach tha sin furasta dhaibh a dhèanadh leis gum bi a h-uile duine ga h-ionnsachadh san sgoil.

Let’s look across to our Celtic neighbour for a moment and find out what we can learn from them in terms of culture and faith. They do have one advantage of course. Everyone learns Irish in school. Not everyone is interested in it and therefore not everyone becomes an active speaker of it, but having studied Irish for all of the school-life most people have a fair understanding of it. This of course helps.

But it did strike me that Masses, even in places which aren’t an official Gaeltacht or Irish speaking area, very often contain elements of Irish. At least the Our Father, sometimes the Creed or other prayers are said in Irish.

If you were to introduce something like this in Scotland it would of course have to be done carefully, taking the congregation with you, so they don’t feel the “Gaelic mafia” are forcing this upon them.

 

7) Comann Gàidhlig na h-Eaglaise Easbuigich/ Gaelic Society of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Dh’fhaodte gum faca sibh na soidhnichean Gàidhlig taobh a-muigh nan eaglaisean Easbaigeach air Ghàidhealtachd. A h-uilleadh air na soidhnichean sin tha iad cuideachd air trèanadh a chur air dòigh do shagartan le taic-airgid bho Bhòrd na Gàidhlig.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is another example to look to. You may have seen the bilingual signs saying Scottish Episcopal Church outside many,if not all of their Highland churches.

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“The Scottish Episcopal Church welcomes you”

The Episcopal Church has a Gaelic society. Their former chairman, Brigadier John MacFarlane from Taynuilt, who is a friend of mine, tells me they have no internet presence. Their main task has been to provide training for priests who have some knowledge of Gaelic and to get them to be able to have simple conversations as well as being able to say Mass. They provided residential seminars at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, which I also frequented and which is now part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. John tells me their liturgy is very similar to the Catholic one. He also says they received money from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the Scottish government body that oversees the development of the language, to provide this training. They have a monthly Gaelic Mass in Inverness.

 

8) Gàidhlig ann an Eaglais na h-Alba/ Gaelic in the Church of Scotland

Tha buidheann Ghàidhlig ann an Eaglais na h-Alba cuideachd agus iad air plana Gàidhlig ullachadh. Tha iad airson taic a thoirt do mhinistearan a tha airson searmonachadh sa chànan. Theirinnsa gu bheil e gu math nas doirbhe searmonachadh ann an Gàidhlig na teacs stèidhichte, leithid an Aifhreann a leughadh.

The Church of Scotland also has a Gaelic language group. It has existed for 15 years, but recently became more active. They sent out a questionnaire to all ministers asking about their interest in Gaelic. The group’s acting chair, Prof Boyd Robertson, tells me that this survey wasn’t too successful as he personally knows of people whose answers didn’t appear in it.

Nontheless they now prepared a Gaelic Plan. This really seems to be the way forward, as Bòrd na Gàidhlig makes all public bodies prepare such a plan. The Church of Scotland’s Gaelic language plan is to go before their assembly this year. In it there is provision to support ministers to learn the vocabulary needed for Gaelic services. Prof Robertson tells me of their minister in Sleat on the Isle of Skye who learned Gaelic in three years and now holds Gaelic services.

Personally I would think that learning Gaelic to a level of fluency where one can take a Church of Scotland service is more challenging than saying Mass in Gaelic. The reason is that it is much more “free-style.” Mass always follows the same liturgy for which the pronunciation can be learned of by heart. A priest who doesn’t feel confident enough in his language skills could say Mass in Gaelic and preach in English just as they might at one time have said Mass in Latin and preached in English. This bilingualism maybe isn’t that easy to apply in the Church of Scotland.

Tha iad cuideachd an dòchas na ceithir Soisgeulan a chaidh fhoillseachadh ann an Gàidhlig an là an-diugh bho chionn ghoirid a chlàradh agus gan cur suas air làrach-lìon. Tha beachd aca seirbheisean a chraoladh air an eadar-lìon cuideachd.

They also hope to record the four Gospels from the recently published contemporary Gaelic New Testament and make them available as audio files on the internet. This will make it easy for anyone to learn the pronunciation of any reading.

They hope to broadcast six Gaelic services “live” on the internet. There already is a very good religious programme on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal every Sunday which is also an excellent example of ecumenism as all denominations are represented over time. But not surprisingly the programme follows a set format. Presumably the Kirk’s own broadcasts would be following the typical Church of Scotland service style more closely.

Then they are planning a conference on Gaelic in the Church and intend to be very ecumenical in their approach. Prof Robertson tells me that participation by any group from another denomination would be very welcome.

There are other examples of Gaelic ecumenism in action. In parts of the country, like e.g. in Edinburgh, Gaelic services are kept alive with the help of Catholics and I hear this may also soon be the case in Oban.

Ach an rud as cudromaiche dh’fhaodte: fhuair iad airgead bho Bhòrd na Gàidhlig airson oifigear leasachaidh agus a-measg rudan eile tha iad airson suaicheantas dà-chànanach a chruthachadh.

Last and not at all least Bòrd na Gàidhlig awarded funding to the Church of Scotland for a development officer for one year. One of the officers duties will be to find funding from other sources to continue to fund their job. They will also develop a fully bilingual logo and consideration will be given to bilingual signage on buildings whenever an update is required.

 

9) A’ coimhead air adhart/ Outlook

 Dh’fhaodte gu bheil beachd agaibh mar-thà càite a bheil seo a’ dol. Tha mi a’ moladh comann Gàidhlig a stèidheachadh ma tha taic gu leòr ann airson a leithid. Dh’fhaodadh an Comann taic a thoirt do shagartan a tha airson beagan Ghàidhlig a thoirt a-steach dha na seirbheisean aca agus dh’fhaodamaid coimhead ri soidhnichean dà-chànanach far a bheil daoine gan iarraidh.

You can probably guess where this is going. I suggest setting up a Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church along the lines of the aforementioned two groups. In the first place one would of course need the support of the Scottish Bishops. Furthermore I have to say that I would only take this forward with a sizeable team, preferably involving at least one of the Gaelic speaking priests.

The Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church or whatever its name would be could hopefully attract funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig as well as other organisations for particular projects or possibly even for a development officer.

This society could look at whether Gaelic training courses for priests can be run in conjunction with other churches or if this isn’t practical we could run our own.

In my view the society should have an internet and social media presence.

The Society could provide training resources such as sound files of Mass and popular prayers in Gaelic for those priests who might want to include elements of the language into their services. These could be made available to everyone on a website. Occasional Gaelic Masses could be broadcast there, too.

Furthermore, when I was received into the Church some eleven years ago I was surprised to hear that there was no Gaelic translation of the liturgy of First Communion available. This could be looked at.

We could look at whether more bilingual signage is possible or whether there might even be a desire to have universal branding of Catholic Churches in Scotland and they could all get bilingual signs. This would certainly show support of Scottish culture by the Catholic Church. Comunn na Gàidhlig, the language development agency, has long argued that big companies which use Gaelic in their signage consequently achieve more of a local feel. Thus the Co-op and several banks have adopted such a policy.

Tha mi an dòchas gum biodh cuid de mhuinntir Uibhist is Bharraigh a’ gabhail pàirt sa chomann seo agus dh’fhaodte gum bu chòir dha a bhith suidhichte aig cathair-eaglais na sgìre sin, anns an Òban.

I would very much hope to get a strong contingent of participants from Uist and Barra. As we have seen, there doesn’t seem to be a divide between the Catholic Faith and Scottish culture there. Maybe the society’s headquarters could be based in Oban to facilitate travel from the islands as well as from around Scotland. The cathedral of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles with most of today’s Gaelic speaking Catholics seems to be an appropriate base although there certainly is a sizeable number in Glasgow as well.

Chan eil mi air m’ inntinn a dhèanadh suas buileach fhathast, ach dè mu dhèidhinn comann eacumanagach a dhèanadh dheth leis gu bheil co-dhiù dà eaglais eile a’ tarraing air an aon ràmh. Dh’fhaodadh ge-tà nach bi sin pragtagach.

I’d like to throw another thought in. Last week I read in the Scottish Catholic Observer about Scottish Churches Housing Action, an ecumenical organisation, working to reduce homelessness. In the article it said the Catholic Church was a member. Ecumenism has long been important to me. As John Watts, who recently wrote a book on the history of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, once told me in an interview: “As long as Christianity is divided, who would want to be a Christian?” Our division as Christians makes us a lot less appealing to people of other faiths and none and it makes us a lot weaker. I understand that there is an argument, that we mustn’t water down our faith so much that it then becomes irrelevant. But if the Catholic approach is to make “them become us,” it is unlikely to unite Christians.

Bearing this in mind I wonder if there is an opportunity here to make this an ecumenical society given that there is already willingness to cooperate from two other churches. When I was a student at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a fellow student, Kevin McLaughlin, and I started a truly ecumenical Christian society which we called Solas, Gaelic for light. There may be operational reasons not to do this here if it turns out to be impractical. On the other hand the potential is for it to have a wider positive effect for the development of the language, traditional Scottish culture and faith across a number of churches in Scotland. The Church of Scotland’s Gaelic language plan specifically states in several places that they hope to work together with other denominations.

Mar sin, bu chòir dha a bhith na amas dha comann dhe leithid gus a’ Ghàidhlig a dhèanadh nas follaisiche, gus am bithear ga cluinntinn barrachd agus gum bi cothroman ann ga uisneachadh nas trice san Eaglais. Ach gu dearbha feumar a h-uile duine a thoirt leinn. Ma tha ùidh agaibh ann an iomairt mar seo bhithinn airson cluinntinn bhuaibh.

In brief it should be the aim of such a society to make Gaelic more visible, more audible and offer more opportunities to use it in our Church while making sure we take everyone with us. If this is something that you would like to be involved in, then please do get in touch with me. As it stands I have already recruited two people and I haven’t really tried very hard, yet.

Tha mi deonach gu leòr feuchainn ri cèistean sam bith a fhreagairt.

I will try my best to answer any questions there might be.

Mòran taing.

Latest update from my column in the Scottish Catholic Observer (English below):

Fhuair Comann Gàidhlig na h-Eaglaise Caitligich cead bho Easbaig sgìre Earra-Ghàidheal is nan Eilean gluasad air adhart. Tha co-dhiù deichnear air ùidh a nochdadh gus pàirt a ghabhail ann cuideachd gu ruige seo. Nam measg tha sagart às a’ Pholainn aig a bheil Gàidhlig agus fear eile a tha na oileanach airson na sagartachd an Alba Nuadh. Tha a’ chuid as motha dhe na nochd ùidh a’ fuireach ann an Glaschu agus ’s ann faisg air an sin a bhios Mgr Jarosław Kwiecień tric stèidhichte as t-samhradh.

Le sin tha an Comann an dòchas tighinn còmhla aig Eaglais Bhaile Udain (136 Lower Millgate) air Distharna, 13 An t-Iuchair airson Aifhreann Ghàidhlig aig 12.30f. Às dèidh sin bidh biadh againn agus bu chòir dhan a h-uile duine rudeigin a thoirt leotha a bhios sinn a’ roinn eadarainn. An uair sin aig 2f bidh sinn a’ cumail a’ chiad choinneamh againn far am bi sinn a’ bruidhinn an toiseach mun a’ chruth laghail a bhios aig a’ Chomann agus dè na ciad ceumanan a tha sinn airson a ghabhail. Bu chòir dhan a’ choinneamh a bhith seachad aig 4f, ach bidh sin a-rèir na bhios a’ tachairt air an là.

Cuiridh sinn fàilte air neach sam bith aig a’ choinneamh seo agus chan fheum Gàidhlig a bhith aca, ged a bhiodh sin na bhuannachd. Tha sinn gu sònraichte airson cluinntinn bho dhaoine aig a bheil sgilean ionmhais agus laghail. Bidh sin feumail dar a thig e gu cèist cruth a’ Chomainn agus gus maoineachadh a thrusadh. Tha sinn cuideachd gu mòr airson cluinntinn bho dhaoine às na h-Eileanan Siar, sean agus òg. Agus bidh iomadach sgil eile a dhìth leithid cuideigin a chuireas làrach wordpress agus cunntas facebook is twitter air dòigh dhuinn.

Às dèidh dhomh bruidhinn ri Easbaig Brian McGee tha coltas ann nach bi e iomchaidh comann eacumanagach a stèidheachadh. Bha mi fhìn caran teagmhach mu dhèidhinn sin. Ged a bhiodh e glè mhath agus adhartach seo a dhèanadh, chan eil e freagarrach leis gu bheil na feumalachdan cho eadar-dhealaichte. Chan eil teagamh ge-tà nach eil mi an dùil obrachadh còmhla gu dlùth le buidheann Gàidhlig Eaglais na h-Alba agus Comann Gàidhlig na h-Eaglaise Easbuigiche Albannaiche no gu dearbha eaglais sam bith eile a chuireas a leithid a dh’iomairt air adhart san àm ri teachd.

A thuilleadh air cruth laghail a’ Chomainn bu chòir dhuinn priomhachasan a stèidheachadh aig a’ chiad choinneamh. Tha Easbaig Brian ag aontachadh gu bheil goireasan do shagartan a tha airson barrachd Ghàidhlig fhaicinn agus cluinntinn sna paraistean aca nam priomhachas. Nochd beachd gum bu chòir ag amas air na sgoiltean agus air taic do theaglaichean le ùrnaighean aig an taigh. Ach chan eil an liosta seo deiseil agus ma sibh airson cuideachadh leis an obair seo nach cuir sibh fios orm aig: earra-ghaidheal@gmx.net.

Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church

The project to establish a Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church has now received approval by Bishop Brian McGee of Argyll and the Isles diocese. Around ten people have so far shown an interest to participate. Among them is a Gaelic speaking priest from Poland. Most of those who expressed an interest live in and around Glasgow and Fr Jarosław Kwiecień will be based there in the summer.

 The Society will therefore have its inaugural meeting at St John the Baptist Church, Uddingston, 136 Lower Millgate, on Saturday, 13th July. We will start with a Gaelic Mass at 12.30pm. Afterwards there will be a bring-and-share lunch and at around 2pm the formal meeting will discuss what form the Society should take and what its priorities will be. It should conclude at 4pm, but this may depend on those present. Everybody is welcome and while knowledge of Gaelic is an asset it is not a requirement. We would like to hear especially from people who have legal or accounting skills, but a range of other expertise will also be helpful, e.g. when it comes to setting up a wordpress page and social media accounts. We also very much want to hear from people from the Western Isles, young and old.

 After speaking to Bishop Brian it seems that an ecumenical set-up will simply be impractical. However, I envisage us working very closely with the Gaelic Group of the Church of Scotland and the Gaelic Society of the Scottish Episcopal Church or indeed any other denomination that would set-up a similar venture in the future. At the first meeting priorities will have to be established. Bishop Brian agrees that facilities for priests to increase the use of Gaelic in their parishes is one of them. Others have said we should be aiming at schools and devotions for the home. This list isn’t exhaustive and if you would like to participate, please do get in touch at: earra-ghaidheal@gmx.net.

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2 thoughts on “Comann Gàidhlig na h-Eaglaise Caitligich/ A Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church”

  1. I am interested in your plan to set up a Catholic Gaelic Society. At the moment I am an advanced learner of the language so I think some parts of the Mass could be in Gaelic. Oban would be a fairly convenient place to meet as I live in Perthshire and am in the Diocese of Dunkeld. I look forward to hearing from you.

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