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A’ mairsinn beò: why I’m learning Scottish Gaelic

Its speakers number in the tens of thousands. There are no monolingual speakers left alive. So why learn Gaelic?

By Cal Flyn   July 2018

Sunrise The Quiraing on Isle of Skye, Scotland. Photo: Shutterstock

The first time I try to learn Gaelic, I go with my mum. We enrol on a week-long immersion course at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on Skye. Beginners I, our course is called, and it assumes no knowledge.

We start from the very beginning: consulting notes at every corner, fearing the spotlight, feeling every syllable strange in our mouths. The teacher stands to write a question on the board and we regard it solemnly. “Dè an t-ainm…

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