John Robin Jenkins OBE known as Robin Jenkins, was a Scottish writer of thirty published novels, the most celebrated being The Cone Gatherers. He published two collections of short stories. Robin Jenkins was born in Flemington near Cambuslang in 1912. However, he won a bursary to attend the former Hamilton Academy a famous fee-paying school; the theme of escaping circumstances through education at such a school was to form the basis of Jenkins's novel Happy for the Child Winning a scholarship, he subsequently studied Literature at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1936. During the Second World War, he registered as a conscientious objector and was sent to work in forestry. Upon the release of his first novel, So Gaily Sings the Lark in 1951, he shortened his writing name to'Robin Jenkins'. In the early years of his writing career, Jenkins worked as an English and History teacher. In the 1950s, he taught at Riverside Senior Secondary in Glasgow's East End and moved with his family to Dunoon where he taught at the prestigious Dunoon Grammar School.
He spent four formative years at the Gaya School in Sabah, living there with his wife May and their children. Before that, he had held British Council teaching posts in both Barcelona, his best-known novel, The Cone Gatherers, is based upon his forestry work as a conscientious objector and is studied in Scottish schools. While The Cone Gatherers has been criticised as being devoid of any real sense of place, other novels such as The Thistle and the Grail, his 1954 football story, paint vivid pictures of more accessible settings, his writing touches on many themes, including morality, the struggle between good and evil, war and social justice. Just Duffy is another of his novels which focuses on such themes, in a style, compared to that of the earlier Scottish writer, James Hogg. Jenkins was awarded the OBE in 1999 and in 2003 received the Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun prize from the Saltire Society for his lifetime achievement, his portrait, by Jennifer McRae, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland.
The Robin Jenkins Literary Award has been established in his name. Robin Jenkins died in 2005, aged 92. So Gaily Sings the Lark Happy for the Child The Thistle and the Grail The Cone Gatherers Guests of War The Missionaries The Changeling Love Is a Fervent Fire Some Kind of Grace Dust on the Paw The Tiger of Gold A Love of Innocence The Sardana Dancers A Very Scotch Affair Holy Tree The Expatriates A Toast to the Lord Far Cry from Bowmore and Other Stories A Figure of Fun A Would-be Saint Fergus Lamont The Awakening of George Darroch Just Duffy Poverty Castle Willie Hogg Leila Lunderston Tales Matthew and Sheila Poor Angus Childish Things Lady Magdalen The Pearl-fishers BBC page on Robin Jenkins Brian Mortons' appreciation of Jenkins' life Iain Crichton Smith's'Scotnote' on'The Cone Gatherers' https://web.archive.org/web/20100712113920/http://asls.org.uk/Scotnotes The Robin Jenkins Award web site
History of Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic, is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish. Most of modern Scotland was once Gaelic-speaking, as evidenced by Gaelic-language placenames, it is accepted by scholars that Gaelic was brought to Scotland in the 4th–5th centuries CE, by settlers from Ireland who founded the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata on Scotland's west coast in present-day Argyll. However, archaeologist Dr Ewan Campbell has argued that there is no archaeological or placename evidence of a migration or takeover; this view of the medieval accounts is shared by other historians. Gaelic in Scotland was confined to Dál Riata until the 8th century, when it began expanding into Pictish areas north of the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde; this was spurred by the intermarriage of Gaelic and Pictish aristocratic families, the political merger of the two kingdoms in the early 9th century, the common threat of attack by Norse invaders.
By 900, Pictish appears to have become extinct replaced by Gaelic. An exception might be made for the Northern Isles, where Pictish was more supplanted by Norse rather than by Gaelic. During the reign of Caustantín mac Áeda, outsiders began to refer to the region as the kingdom of Alba rather than as the kingdom of the Picts, but we do not know whether this was because a new kingdom was established or because "Alba" was a closer approximation of the Pictish name for the Picts. However, though the Pictish language did not disappear a process of Gaelicisation was under way during the reigns of Caustantín and his successors. By a certain point during the 11th century, all the inhabitants of Alba had become Gaelicised Scots, Pictish identity was forgotten. By the 10th century, Gaelic had become the dominant language throughout northern and western Scotland, the Gaelo-Pictic Kingdom of Alba, its spread to southern Scotland was less and less complete. Place name analysis suggests dense usage of Gaelic in Galloway and adjoining areas to the north and west, as well as in West Lothian and parts of western Midlothian.
Less dense usage is suggested for north Ayrshire, the Clyde Valley and eastern Dumfriesshire. This latter region is the area of the old Kingdom of Strathclyde, annexed by the Kingdom of Alba in the early 11th century, but its inhabitants may have continued to speak Cumbric as late as the 12th century. In south-eastern Scotland, there is no evidence that Gaelic was widely spoken: the area shifted from Cumbric to Old English during its long incorporation into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. After the Lothians were conquered by Malcolm II at the Battle of Carham in 1018, the elites spoke Gaelic and continued to do so until about 1200; however commoners retained Old English. With the incorporation of Strathclyde and the Lothians, Gaelic reached its social, cultural and geographic zenith in Scotland; the language in Scotland had been developing independently of the language in Ireland at least as early as its crossing the Druim Alban into Pictland. The entire country was for the first time being referred to in Latin as Scotia, Gaelic was recognised as the lingua Scotia.
Many historians mark the reign of King Malcolm Canmore as the beginning of Gaelic's decline in Scotland. In either 1068 or 1070, the king married the exiled Princess Margaret of Wessex; this future Saint Margaret of Scotland was a member of the royal House of Wessex, which had occupied the English throne from its founding until the Norman Conquest. Margaret was Anglo-Saxon, is credited for taking the first significant steps in anglicising the Scottish court, she spoke no Gaelic, gave her children Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic names, brought many English bishops and monastics to Scotland. Her family served as a conduit for the entry of English nobles into Scotland; when both Malcolm and Margaret died just days apart in 1093, the Gaelic aristocracy rejected their anglicised sons and instead backed Malcolm's brother Donald as the next King of Scots. Known as Donald Bàn, the new king had lived 17 years in Ireland as a young man, his power base as an adult was in the Gaelic west of Scotland. Upon Donald's accession to the throne, in the words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, "the Scots drove out all the English, with King Malcolm".
Malcolm's sons fled to the English court, but in 1097 returned with an Anglo-Norman army backing them. Donald was overthrown and imprisoned for the remaining two years of his life; because of the strong English ties of Malcolm's sons Edgar and David – each of whom became king in turn – Donald Bàn is sometimes called the "last Celtic King of Scotland". He was the last Scottish monarch to be buried on Iona, the one-time centre of the Scottish Gaelic Church and the traditional burial place of the Gaelic Kings of Dàl Riada and the Kingdom of Alba. During the reigns of the sons of Malcolm Canmore, Anglo-Norman names and practices spread throughout Scotland south of the Forth–Clyde line and along the north-eastern coastal plain as far north as Moray. Norman French became dominant among the new feudal aristocracy in southern Scotland, displaced Gaelic at court; the establishment of royal burghs throughout the same area under David I, attracted large numbers of foreigners speaking "Inglis", the language of the merchant class.
This was the beginning of Gaelic's statu
Primitive Irish or Archaic Irish is the oldest known form of the Goidelic languages. It is known only from fragments personal names, inscribed on stone in the ogham alphabet in Ireland and western Great Britain from around the 4th to the 7th or 8th centuries. Transcribed ogham inscriptions, which lack a letter for /p/, show Primitive Irish to be similar in morphology and inflections to Gaulish, Classical Greek and Sanskrit. Many of the characteristics of modern Irish, such as initial mutations, distinct "broad" and "slender" consonants and consonant clusters, are not yet apparent. More than 300 ogham inscriptions are known in Ireland, including 121 in County Kerry and 81 in County Cork, more than 75 found outside Ireland in western Britain and the Isle of Man, including more than 40 in Wales, where Irish colonists settled in the 3rd century, about 30 in Scotland, although some of these are in Pictish. Many of the British inscriptions are bilingual in Latin. Only about a dozen of the Irish inscriptions show any such sign.
The majority of ogham inscriptions are memorials, consisting of the name of the deceased in the genitive case, followed by MAQI, MAQQI, "of the son", the name of his father, or AVI, AVVI, "of the grandson", the name of his grandfather: for example DALAGNI MAQI DALI, " of Dalagnos son of Dalos". Sometimes the phrase MAQQI MUCOI, "of the son of the tribe", is used to show tribal affiliation; some inscriptions appear to be border markers. Old Irish, written from the 6th century onward, has most of the distinctive characteristics of Irish, including "broad" and "slender" consonants, initial mutations, some loss of inflectional endings, but not of case marking, consonant clusters created by the loss of unstressed syllables, along with a number of significant vowel and consonant changes, including the presence of the letter p, reimported into the language via loanwords and names; as an example, a 5th-century king of Leinster, whose name is recorded in Old Irish king-lists and annals as Mac Caírthinn Uí Enechglaiss, is memorialised on an ogham stone near where he died.
This gives the late Primitive Irish version of his name, as MAQI CAIRATINI AVI INEQAGLAS. The Corcu Duibne, a people of County Kerry known from Old Irish sources, are memorialised on a number of stones in their territory as DOVINIAS. Old Irish filed, "poet", appears in ogham as VELITAS. In each case the development of Primitive to Old Irish shows the loss of unstressed syllables and certain consonant changes; these changes, traced by historical linguistics, are not unusual in the development of languages but appear to have taken place unusually in Irish. According to one theory given by John T. Koch, these changes coincide with the conversion to Christianity and the introduction of Latin learning. All languages have various registers or levels of formality, the most formal of which that of learning and religion, changes while the most informal registers change much more but in most cases are prevented from developing into mutually unintelligible dialects by the existence of the more formal register.
Koch argues that in pre-Christian Ireland the most formal register of the language would have been that used by the learned and religious class, the druids, for their ceremonies and teaching. After the conversion to Christianity the druids lost their influence, formal Primitive Irish was replaced by the Upper Class Irish of the nobility and Latin, the language of the new learned class, the Christian monks; the vernacular forms of Irish, i.e. the ordinary Irish spoken by the upper classes came to the surface, giving the impression of having changed rapidly. Early Irish literature Goidelic substrate hypothesis Ogham Ogham inscription Old Irish
The birlinn was a wooden vessel propelled by sail and oar, used extensively in the Hebrides and West Highlands of Scotland from the Middle Ages on. Variants of the name in English and Lowland Scots include "berlin" and "birling"; the Gallo-Norse term may derive from the Norse byrðingr. It has been suggested that a local design lineage might be traceable to vessels similar to the Broighter-type boat, equipped with oars and a square sail, without the need to assume a specific Viking design influence, it is uncertain, whether the Broighter model represents a wooden vessel or a skin-covered boat of the currach type. The majority of scholars emphasise the Viking influence on the birlinn; the birlinn could be sailed or rowed. It had a single mast with a square sail. Smaller vessels of this type might have had as few as twelve oars, with the larger West Highland galley having as many as forty. For over four hundred years, down to the seventeenth century, the birlinn was the dominant vessel in the Hebrides.
A 1615 report to the Scottish Privy Council made a distinction between galleys, having between 18 and 20 oars, birlinns, with between 12 and 18 oars. There was no suggestion of structural differences; the report stated. The birlinn appears in Scottish heraldry as the "lymphad" (a corruption of long fhada. In terms of design and function, there was considerable similarity between the local birlinn and the ships used by Norse incomers to the Isles. In an island environment ships were essential for the warfare, endemic in the area, local lords used the birlinn extensively from at least the thirteenth century; the strongest of the regional naval powers were the Macdonalds of Islay. The Lords of the Isles of the Late Middle Ages maintained the largest fleet in the Hebrides, it is possible that vessels of the birlinn type were used in the 1156 sea battle in which Somerled, Lord of Argyll, the ancestor of the lords established himself in the Hebrides by confronting his brother-in-law, Godred Olafsson, King of the Isles.
Though the surviving evidence has to do with the birlinn in a naval context, there is independent evidence of mercantile activity for which such shipping would have been essential. There is some evidence for mercantile centres in Islay, Gigha and Knapdale, in the fourteenth century there was constant trade between the Isles and England under the patronage of local lords. Otherwise the chief uses of the birlinn would have been troop-carrying and cattle transport. In some ways the birlinn paralleled the more robust ocean-going craft of Norse design. Viking ships were double-ended, with a keel scarfed to stems aft. A shell of thin planking was constructed on the basis of the keel, the planks being edge-joined and clenched with iron nails. Symmetrical ribs or frames were lashed to the strakes or secured with trenails. Over most of the ribs was laid a slender crossbeam and a thwart; the mast was stepped amidships or nearly so, oars, including a steering oar, were used. The stem and stern post sometimes had carved notches for plank ends, with knees securing the thwarts to the strakes and beams joining the heads of the frames.
The hull bore a general resemblance to the Norse pattern, but stem and stern may have been more steeply pitched. Surviving images show a rudder. Nineteenth-century boat-building practices in the Highlands are to have applied to the birlinn: examples are the use of dried moss, steeped in tar, for caulking, the use of stocks in construction. Oak was the wood favoured both in Western Scotland and in Scandinavia, being tough and resistant to decay. Other types of timber were less used, it is that the Outer Isles of Western Scotland had always been short of timber, but birch and pine abounded in the Inner Isles and on the mainland. The abundance of timber at Lochaber was proverbial: "B'e sin fiodh a chur do Loch Abar" was said of any superfluous undertaking; the tools used are to have included adzes, axes and spoon bits, planes, draw knives and moulding irons, together with other tools typical of the Northern European carpenter's kit. As in traditional shipbuilding measurements were by eye; the traditional practice of sheltering boats in bank-cuttings – small artificial harbours – was also employed with the birlinn.
There is evidence in fortified sites of constructed boat-landings and sea-gates. The influence of Norse shipbuilding techniques, though plausible, is conjectural, since to date no substantial remnants of a birlinn have been found. Traditional boat-building techniques and terms, may furnish a guide as to the vessel's construction. Carved images of the birlinn from the sixteenth century and earlier show the typical rigging: braces and backstay, halyard and a parrel. There is a rudder with pintles on the leading edge, inserted into gudgeons, it is possible that use was reaching spar. This was used to push the luff of the sail out into the wind. Traditional Highland practice was to make sails of tough, thick-threaded wool, with ropes being made of moss-fir or heather. Medieval sails, in the Highlands as elsewhere, are shown as being sewn out of many small squares, there is possible evidence of reef points. A reproduction of a 16 oar Highland galley, the Aileach, was built in 1991 at Moville in Donegal.
It was based on representations of such vessels in West High
Ogham is an Early Medieval alphabet used to write the early Irish language, the Old Irish language. There are 400 surviving orthodox inscriptions on stone monuments throughout Ireland and western Britain; the largest number outside Ireland are in Wales. The vast majority of the inscriptions consist of personal names. According to the High Medieval Bríatharogam, names of various trees can be ascribed to individual letters; the etymology of the word ogam or ogham remains unclear. One possible origin is from the Irish og-úaim'point-seam', referring to the seam made by the point of a sharp weapon, it has been argued that the earliest inscriptions in ogham date to about the 4th century AD, but James Carney believed its origin is rather within the 1st century BC. Although the use of "classical" ogham in stone inscriptions seems to have flowered in the 5th and 6th centuries around the Irish Sea, from the phonological evidence it is clear that the alphabet predates the 5th century. A period of writing on wood or other perishable material prior to the preserved monumental inscriptions needs to be assumed, sufficient for the loss of the phonemes represented by úath and straif, gétal, all of which are part of the system, but unattested in inscriptions.
It appears that the ogham alphabet arose from another script, some consider it a mere cipher of its template script. The largest number of scholars favours the Latin alphabet as this template, although the Elder Futhark and the Greek alphabet have their supporters. Runic origin would elegantly explain the presence of "H" and "Z" letters unused in Irish, as well as the presence of vocalic and consonantal variants "U" vs. "W", unknown to Latin writing and lost in Greek. The Latin alphabet is the primary contender because its influence at the required period is most established, being used in neighbouring Roman Britannia, while the runes in the 4th century were not widespread in continental Europe. In Ireland and in Wales, the language of the monumental stone inscriptions is termed Primitive Irish; the transition to Old Irish, the language of the earliest sources in the Latin alphabet, takes place in about the 6th century. Since ogham inscriptions consist exclusively of personal names and marks indicating land ownership, linguistic information that may be glimpsed from the Primitive Irish period is restricted to phonological developments.
There are two main schools of thought among scholars as to the motivation for the creation of ogham. Scholars such as Carney and MacNeill have suggested that ogham was first created as a cryptic alphabet, designed by the Irish so as not to be understood by those with a knowledge of the Latin alphabet. In this school of thought, it is asserted that "the alphabet was created by Irish scholars or druids for political, military or religious reasons to provide a secret means of communication in opposition to the authorities of Roman Britain." The Roman Empire, which ruled over neighbouring southern Britain, represented a real threat of invasion to Ireland, which may have acted as a spur to the creation of the alphabet. Alternatively, in centuries when the threat of invasion had receded and the Irish were themselves invading the western parts of Britain, the desire to keep communications secret from Romans or Romanised Britons would still have provided an incentive. With bilingual ogham and Latin inscriptions in Wales, one would suppose that the ogham could be decoded by anyone in the Post-Roman world.
The second main school of thought, put forward by scholars such as McManus, is that ogham was invented by the first Christian communities in early Ireland, out of a desire to have a unique alphabet for writing short messages and inscriptions in the Irish language. The argument is that the sounds of Primitive Irish were regarded as difficult to transcribe into the Latin alphabet, so the invention of a separate alphabet was deemed appropriate. A possible such origin, as suggested by McManus, is the early Christian community known to have existed in Ireland from around AD 400 at the latest, the existence of, attested by the mission of Palladius by Pope Celestine I in AD 431. A variation is that the alphabet was first invented, for whatever reason, in 4th-century Irish settlements in west Wales after contact and intermarriage with Romanised Britons with a knowledge of the Latin alphabet. In fact, several ogham stones in Wales are bilingual, containing both Irish and British Latin, testifying to the international contacts that led to the existence of some of these stones.
A third theory put forward by the noted ogham scholar R. A. S. Macalister was influential at one time, but finds little favour with scholars today. Macalister believed that ogham was first invented in Cisalpine Gaul around 600 BC by Gaulish druids as a secret system of hand signals, was inspired by a form of the Greek alphabet current in Northern Italy at the time. According to this theory, the alphabet was transmitted in oral form or on wood only, until it was put into a written form on stone inscriptions in early Christian Ireland. Scholars are united in rejecting this theory, however because a detailed study of the letters shows that they were created for the Primitive Irish of the early centuries AD
Scotland is a country, part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides; the Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain; the union created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland enacted a political union to create a United Kingdom.
The majority of Ireland subsequently seceded from the UK in 1922. Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland; the legal system within Scotland has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The continued existence of legal, educational and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England; the Scottish Parliament, a unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, was established in 1999 and has authority over those areas of domestic policy which have been devolved by the United Kingdom Parliament. The head of the Scottish Government, the executive of the devolved legislature, is the First Minister of Scotland. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs and in the European Parliament by 6 MEPs.
Scotland is a member of the British–Irish Council, sends five members of the Scottish Parliament to the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Scotland is divided into councils. Glasgow City is the largest subdivision in Scotland in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. "Scotland" comes from the Latin name for the Gaels. From the ninth century, the meaning of Scotia shifted to designate Gaelic Scotland and by the eleventh century the name was being used to refer to the core territory of the Kingdom of Alba in what is now east-central Scotland; the use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass most of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded and came to encompass various peoples of diverse origins. Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land mass of modern Scotland, destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period, it is believed the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation.
At the time, Scotland was covered in forests, had more bog-land, the main form of transport was by water. These settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, the first villages around 6,000 years ago; the well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation and ritual sites are common and well preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone. Evidence of sophisticated pre-Christian belief systems is demonstrated by sites such as the Callanish Stones on Lewis and the Maes Howe on Orkney, which were built in the third millennium BCE; the first written reference to Scotland was in 320 BC by Greek sailor Pytheas, who called the northern tip of Britain "Orcas", the source of the name of the Orkney islands. During the first millennium BCE, the society changed to a chiefdom model, as consolidation of settlement led to the concentration of wealth and underground stores of surplus food.
The first Roman incursion into Scotland occurred in 79 AD. After the Roman victory, Roman forts were set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line, but by three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands; the Romans erected Hadrian's Wall in northern England and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the Roman Empire. The Roman influence on the southern part of the country was considerable, they introduced Christianity to Scotland. Beginning in the sixth century, the area, now Scotland was divided into three areas: Pictland, a patchwork of small lordships in central Scotland; these societies were based on the family unit and had sharp divisions in wealth, although the vast majority were poor and worked full-time in subsistence agriculture. The Picts kept slaves through the ninth century. Gaelic influence over Pictland and Northumbria was facilitated by the large number of Gaelic-speaking clerics working as missionaries. Operating in the sixth ce
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a public higher education college situated in the Sleat peninsula in the south of the Isle of Skye, with an associate campus at Bowmore on the island of Islay, Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle. Sabhal Mòr is an independent Academic Partner in the federal University of the Highlands and Islands. Uniquely, its sole medium of instruction is Scottish Gaelic. Since its foundation in 1973 Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has played a crucial role in the linguistic and cultural renaissance of Gaelic in Scotland; the college enjoys an international reputation for the study of the history and literature of the Gàidhealtachd and present. Sabhal Mòr’s research base has been further strengthened to take in sociolinguistics, through the Soillse initiative. Research capacity is underpinned by the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Library with its internationally important collections of material related to Gaelic and to the Highlands, further complemented by the proximity of two major Highland archives: those of MacDonald of Sleat in the Museum of the Isles by Armadale Castle, the MacLeod papers in Dunvegan Castle.
Through academic collaboration and student exchanges, the college maintains close links with partner institutions in Scotland, Ireland and Nova Scotia. With established residencies for writers, artists and dramatists. In early 1972 Iain Noble, merchant banker, Gaelic activist, bought the northern portion of the Sleat estate, in the south of the Isle of Skye, from the owner, Godfrey Macdonald, 8th Baron Macdonald of Sleat. Noble’s vision for his new Eilean Iarmain estate was inspired by a visit he had made to the Faroe Islands in the late 1960s. There he had been impressed by how the local linguistic and cultural renaissance had helped to create what was at the time a correspondingly dynamic economic and creative revival: When I asked the Faroese, I was amazed when they all replied that things began to happen when they decided to be Faroese and stop being Danish; this sparked the whole thing off. It gave them a sort of self-respect… I am convinced that through the revival of the language there came a pride in identity and all else followed.
We mustn’t be frightened of being a small community. Instead we must create our own internal binding factors. People here have never believed, but there is nothing that could not be achieved in the Highlands. Noble set about putting his ideals into practice. Gaelic speakers were employed in running new fishing and textile enterprises. Noble was inspired by the idea of renovating a semi-derelict farmhouse steading at Ostaig as a Gaelic cultural centre. Plans at first focused around the establishment of a Gaelic library growing through donations to become the largest public collection of Gaelic-related material in the Hebrides. In Noble's words, however: a library by itself is like mustard without beef, it should become a centre for students. Teachers and an academic ambience were the logical extensions of the new theme. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was established as a charitable trust in 1973, "as an educational institute, with a special emphasis on Gaelic educational functions", with a longer-term vision of establishing a Gaelic-medium college and research centre offering vocational further education, as well as opportunities for Gaelic learners to develop their fluency.
Four urrasairean or trustees were appointed: Iain Noble, poet Sorley Maclean, Donald Ruaraidh Macdonald of Portree High School, Gordon Barr a lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Dundee. Barr was to take a year’s sabbatical, from June 1973 to September 1974, as the college’s first fear-stiùiridh or director. A two-week summer course for Gaelic learners, attended by 22 students from Scotland and further afield, was held in September 1973 in association with An Comunn Gàidhealach. Other activities included a lecture series, a Gaelic playgroup, night classes for Gaelic learners, events for Gaelic-speaking schoolchildren; the Scottish Arts Council sponsored a Gaelic writer-in-residence, Catrìona Montgomery from Roag near Dunvegan. In November 1974 the charitable Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation offered Sabhal Mòr a three-year grant towards the cost of a full-time director. Farquhar MacLennan, a teacher from Raasay accepted the post the following spring. During the early years of the college’s existence the trustees’ energy was directed towards fundraising, improving the dilapidated Ostaig steading, expanding summer courses in Gaelic and music, developing links with equivalent institutions in Ireland and Canada, hosting an annual conference.
In July 1978 the trustees of the college established a committee to examine the possibi