More than 100 events to be staged as Gaelic language goes global with new festival

More than 100 events are being held around the world, including in Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States, as part of the first ever global celebration of the Gaelic language.

Monday, 21st March 2022, 12:59 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:23 pm

A week-long worldwide festival will involve live music and storytelling sessions, film screenings, gin tastings and distillery tours, virtual cook-alongs, a shinty tournament and a scavenger hunt game.

Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week), which is running until Sunday, encompasses a mix of in-person and virtual events, as well as a campaign rolling out across social media channels.

People around the world are being urged to post videos speaking in the language using the #SeachdainNaGaidhlig hashtag.

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World Gaelic Week was launched as tourism agency revealed there had been a 74 per cent increase in the number of people visiting the Gaelic-related content on its website over the past four years.

Events and talks will look at the huge popularity of the language-learning website Duolingo, which attracted more than 560,000 people within the first year of Gaelic being included, the economic benefits of businesses and the tourism industry embracing the language, and Gaelic culture, and plans to stage the Royal National Mòd in Perth for the first time in 18 years.

Initiatives being launched throughout World Gaelic Week include a series of events for people living with dementia and memory loss, a new “e-Cèilidh” book drawn from the cultural heritage of the Western Isles and featuring performances from school pupils, and a new education pack to help teachers introduce Gaelic into the classroom for the first time.

World Gaelic Week highlights include a daily online discussion show hosted by the festival’s director, broadcaster and singer Joy Dunlop, virtual cooker workshops hosted by Lewis-based Coinneach MacLeod, who has risen to prominence thanks to his social media alter ego, The Hebridean Baker and the screening of the first cinema documentary made entirely in Gaelic.

Singer and broacaster Joy Dunlop is director of the first World Gaelic Week festival.

Among those taking part in events will be singer and Outlander star Gillebride MacMillan, Mull Gaelic Choir, filmmaker Alasdair Satchel, musician Ron Jappy, and Tiree Distilleryl.

The festival has been instigated by traditional arts group Hands Up For Trad and backed by national arts agency Creative Scotland.

Hands Up For Trad director Simon Thoumire said: “By shining a spotlight on champions and uniting fluent speakers, learners and those new to Gaelic, from across everyday life, we’ll drive enthusiasm and uptake to highlight the use and benefits of our culture and language.”

Dunlop, a former gold medal winner at the Royal National Mòd, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled by the response to Seachdain na Gàidhlig at such a busy time.

The 'Hebridean Baker' Coinneach MacLeod was born and raised on the Isle of Lewis.

“People have been busy creating their own ideas and events to feature within the extensive programme, supported by free online resources, learning materials and advice on our official website, where visitors can also find links to tickets for all the events.”

Shona NicIllinnein, chief executive of Gaelic language agency Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which is also funding the festival, said: “This initiative which is bringing people together from business, education and communities across the world to use Gaelic.

"Seachdain na Gàidhlig will increase connections throughout the Gaelic community in Scotland and abroad, raising the language’s profile and increasing wellbeing, while it contributes to the National Gaelic Language Plan’s aim that more people use Gaelic more often and, in more situations.”

Tiree Distillery, the makers of Tyree Gin, will be taking part in the first World Gaelic Week.