Down All The Years

80 years ago

December 9, 1932

New Gaelic Dictionary

Students of Gaelic have never had any reason to complain of the scarcity of text books and other aids to enable them to acquire a full knowledge of their language.

There have been close on a dozen grammars published from time to time, and the number of dictionaries which, within recent years, have been placed in the hands of the Gaelic students can hold a very favourable comparison even with similar works of reference supplied in the English tongue.

Since MacBain’s Etymological Dictionary was published in 1896, another four have appeared – MacDonald’s (Edward Dwelly’s), the most copious of them all, MacFarlane’s, MacLennan’s, and the last to come on the scene, Dieckhoff’s Pronouncing Dictionary, just issued.

It is rather singular that some of the most notable works on our language have been given to us, not by our own native scholars, but by non-Gaels, and this holds good in regard to two of the dictionaries mentioned.

Edward Dwelly is admittedly a Celt but he is a Cymric Celt, not a Gael; now a monumental work, Dieckhoff’s Pronouncing Dictionary has been given us by a Russian scholar.

60 Years Ago

December 12, 1952

Milk For Lewis Schools

Only nine out of the forty schools in Lewis are supplied with milk, ex-Provost Roderick Smith pointed out at a meeting of Ross and Cromarty Education Committee.

Complaints had been made about a few schools on the mainland not getting milk, nothing had been heard on the position in Lewis where only nine out of 40 schools were supplied and inquiries should be made to try and improve the supply.

Dr J Landers Horne, County Medical Officer of Health, said the important point was not the number of schools being supplied, but the number of children receiving milk.

In Lewis they had a large roll at the Nicolson Institute, with the result that the figures did not give a true reflection of the picture.

And if there was no supply of milk available, there was little that could be done. In some areas, milk from the nearest depot had taken so long to arrive at schools that it was unsuitable for consumption.

In cases like this, the committee would require to install refrigerators to preserve the milk.

All children are entitled to a third of a pint per day, and the cost for this was borne by the Ministry of Food.

In schools where fresh milk could not be supplied, teachers could get dried milk, but this was not very popular with the children.

It was felt that if the regulations were not so stringent a larger number of children could be provided with milk in Lewis. Doctors would drink non-attested milk with relish, but children could not.

40 Years Ago

December 9, 1972

Eriskay Machine Knitters

Half a dozen new knitting machines have just arrived on the island of Eriskay. The Eriskay Knitters, who already produce hand-knitted fishermen’s sweaters and ladies’ shawls, plan to develop new designs for marketing as genuine island knitwear.

The Highlands and Islands Development Board, who are supporting the development, said that the machine-made garments will be complementary to the hand-knitted products, which are in great demand, and should represent a considerable increase in annual output.

Local effort, under the secretaryship of Mrs Margaret Macinnes, has helped to continue interest in knitting by the islanders.

Although the traditional Eriskay pattern cannot be reproduced exactly by the knitting machine, an adaptation of the pattern is possible.

20 Years Ago

December 12, 1992

£10,000 offer for tenants

Council tenants could be paid up to £10,000 to move out of their homes, in a bid to free housing stock for some of the 1,000 families on Comhairle nan Eilean’s housing list. The money, which the Council would have to find from its own budgets, would go towards helping tenants in the most desirable Council houses across the islands to buy private sector homes.

Six local authorities in Scotland had run pioneer Cash Incentive Schemes since 1991 with varying degrees of success, said Housing manager Angus Lamont, but added that in his opinion the case had not been made for tenant incentives.

10 Years Ago

December 12, 2002

Gaelic Medium Education

If children in the Western Isles are not educated in Gaelic, it will be the end of the language.

This was the view expressed by Councillor Norman L Macdonald of Goathill.

He called on the Council to ‘come to terms’ with Gaelic Medium Education.

Although he was not a Gaelic speaker, his child was being taught the language.

He pointed out that some of the materials were ‘English books with Gaelic stuck over them’. Councillor Macdonald felt there should be a seminar or conference organised so that the Comhairle could hear what the parents were seeking for their children.