Success and reach of Gaelic College celebrated

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Fifty students recently graduated from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) at a ceremony which showcased the high academic standards of the College and the commendable achievements of its students, and where the honour Sàr Ghàidheal was bestowed on two further recipients for their services to Gaelic.

The graduation was the 30th such occasion for SMO and saw a high number of students graduating from the College’s various programmes, and where the number of overseas students in attendance once again highlighted the international reach of Sabhal Mòr.

Nearly 900 students have now graduated from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and a record number of students, 232, enrolled on Higher Education courses at the College this session.

The College’s Vice-Principal and Director of Studies, John Norman MacLeod said: “We are particularly delighted that so many students have achieved various degrees and certificates and, this year again, that students have achieved very high academic standards.

“The fact that there were graduates from across Scotland, from England, Germany, Finland, the Czech Republic and Nova Scotia demonstrates that the reach and influence of the College is expanding. It would be appropriate to highlight that Eilidh MacFadyen, a BA (Hons) Gaelic and Traditional Music student, gained three awards, and we are especially delighted that she was awarded the UHI Student of the Year, the first student from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to achieve this distinction.”

Speaking afterwards, Eilidh commented: “I am delighted to have been named Student of the Year for Sabhal Mòr and UHI. It was totally unexpected and I am very honoured that staff at SMO thought that I was deserving of such an award. The last three years have been fantastic, with the chance to learn from some of the best lecturers in Gaelic and Traditional Music, and I’m sure that my final year will be just as enjoyable.”

The evening also saw the work and dedication of a brother and sister, whose names are synonymous with excellence in Gaelic education, recognised as they were awarded the Sàr Ghàidheal honour.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “This is the first time that the ‘Supreme Gael’ title has been bestowed on a brother and sister and both are richly deserving recipients.

Chrissie and Lachie Dick have contributed hugely to the Gaelic world down through the years in various ways and fields. Chrissie is a celebrated writer and broadcaster and has made a highly significant contribution to Gaelic education as a teacher, curriculum developer and as a lecturer and teacher trainer in Jordanhill and St Andrew’s Colleges of Education and in the University of Strathclyde.

Lachie earned much respect as Principal Teacher of Gaelic at Inverness Royal Academy, as Gaelic Adviser in the Western Isles and then as Depute Director of Education for Comhairle nan Eilean. Both of them have given sterling service to the College, Chrissie as a trustee and co-author of A Waxing Moon, the story of Sabhal Mòr, and Lachie as a trustee for two periods and as Academic Development Co-ordinator for many years.”

The Head of BBC ALBA, Margaret Mary Murray gave this year’s graduation lecture. She spoke of the important role Gaelic had played in her life and career and added that BBC ALBA was not only a valuable service for Gaelic speakers but also provided an excellent means to promote Gaelic and its culture and raise awareness of the language so that its worth is recognised by others.

She encouraged students to appreciate the value of the language and the education they had received at SMO, and she asked them to remember three fundamental strands which are vital to all of our lives - language, friends and family, and community.