Transforming Glasgow’s relationship with the Gaelic language

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Glasgow’s Gaelic nickname, Baile Mòr nan Gàidheal (‘City of the Gaels’), aptly conveys the city’s importance in the history of Gaelic Scotland. However, there was a long-standing belief in Glasgow that the Gaelic language ‘was never spoken here’. This has been debunked by UofG research into the city’s long ‘hidden’ Gaelic history, including the Gaelic speakers who studied in Glasgow for almost 500 years, and the Gaelic origin of many of the city’s placenames, establishing Glasgow’s deep, centuries-old connection with Gaelic. With language acquisition policies insufficient to halt the decline of minoritized languages, Glasgow researchers worked with Glasgow City Council to provide an increased range of opportunities for using Gaelic, as well as improving learning materials and stimulating cultural and artistic outputs. Key outputs included the foundation of the bilingual portal; co-curation/inspiration of public exhibitions Slighe Gu Gàidhlig (Exploring Gaelic Identities) and Glasgow Gaels (Glasgow City Archives); festivals including Glaschu Gàidhlig, Merchant City Arts Festival and Aye Write! as well as the Royal National Mòd; and sold-out multimedia ‘song trails’ run over two years and featuring Gaelic singers and actors located along Glasgow’s historic Gaelic core. Through such research-based contributions, the sustainability and vitality of Gaelic in Glasgow has been significantly enhanced.