Glasgow creates first Chair of Gaelic in Scotland
Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh has been named as the first ever established Chair of Gaelic in Scotland by the University of Glasgow.
The Chair has been created to recognise the University as a centre of excellence for the study of Celtic and Gaelic.
The announcement comes as Glasgow City Council launches its first Gaelic Language Plan under the terms of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.
Scotland’s first dedicated Gaelic-medium primary school was established in Glasgow in 1999. Provision was extended to include secondary level education in 2003 when Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu / Glasgow Gaelic School was established at Woodside campus in the west end of the city.
Professor Ó Maolalaigh, who is also head of Celtic and Gaelic, said: “It is a huge honour to be named as the first ever established Chair of Gaelic in Scotland by the University of Glasgow. This underlines the university’s commitment to supporting the language and enhancing the cultural life of Scotland.
“The creation of the new Chair consolidates Glasgow’s status as the major urban home of Gaelic education, where it is possible to learn and study the language from nursery to post-doctoral level.”
Professor Murray Pittock, Bradley Professor of English Literature and Dean of Arts at the University of Glasgow, added: ‘I am delighted to be able to announce the first ever established Chair of Gaelic at a Scottish university.
“Glasgow has taken a lead in Gaelic education and this appointment emphasises the faculty’s commitment to the outstanding research taking place in Celtic and Gaelic as part of our mission to bring the world to Scotland and Scotland to the world.”
Arthur Cormack, Chairman of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the body set up by the Scottish Government to promote Gaelic, said: “Bòrd na Gàidhlig warmly welcomes this ground-breaking initiative by the University of Glasgow which gives the city’s historical associations with Gaelic a new impetus.
“Glasgow has always been a city of opportunity for Gaelic. The endorsement from such a venerable institution is a clear indication of the value that is increasingly being placed on Gaelic.
“The University has established itself as a world leader in Celtic and Gaelic education and research. It is entirely fitting that Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh be appointed as the first occupant of this Chair as he has done much over the years to further advance the cause of Gaelic both nationally and internationally.”
Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning Keith Brown said: “This is very good news. This decision demonstrates Glasgow’s clear commitment to this important aspect of our heritage and raises the status of the Gaelic language in Scottish higher education. This is also very encouraging for all those involved at all levels in Gaelic promotion in the University, and in Scottish education generally.
“I would also like to commend the University authorities for this step and to offer my congratulations, (meal do naidheachd) to Professor O’ Maolalaigh on his appointment to this new Chair.”
Dublin-born Professor Ó Maolalaigh has been at the University of Glasgow since January 2005. He was previously Assistant Professor at the School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, and a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. He is Director of the British Academy-funded Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic project, which seeks to establish an online archive which will form the basis of future corpus and technological developments of the Gaelic language.
Professor Ó Maolalaigh is also involved in the £5 million SRDG project, Soillse, involving the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the University of the Highlands and Islands, which is developing a research capacity for the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic in Scotland. He was also responsible for the creation of the Gaelic Language Officer post at the University of Glasgow, the first post of its kind in Scotland.
A Chair of Gaelic Studies was established in 1983 at St Francis Xavier University, Antoginish, Canada, and has been occupied by Professor Kenneth E Nilsen since 1984. He has worked closely with the Department of Celtic and Gaelic at Glasgow.
The Chair of Celtic at the University of Glasgow was established in 1956. It is currently occupied by Professor Thomas Clancy.
For more information contact Nicolas White in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
First published: 6 April 2010