Aberdeen and the Gaels

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Aberdeen is well known for oil, fishing and granite but what about Gaelic?

It is the third largest city in Scotland but why is it not as ‘Gaelic’ as Glasgow and Edinburgh?

This insightful documentary marks the 25th anniversary of Gaelic medium education provision in Aberdeen, and asks whether the city’s community of Gaels are thriving or just surviving in an area not known for its Gaelic speakers.

The current impact of Gaelic in the city will be explored through the eyes of those who live and work there, including Dr Marsaili Macleod of the University of Aberdeen, young teachers Mairi Morrison and Iain Murdo Macmillan, student Joanna McDougall, and Iain Campbell from Islay who feels that the Gaelic language was stolen from him and his peer group when all schools in Scotland were forced to teach only in English.

But there are many in the region that are strongly opposed to Gaelic. Why is there more hostility towards the language here than in other parts of Scotland?

Popular columnist Scott Begbie wrote an article in the Evening Express headlined: “We don’t want Gaelic here”; in this programme he maintains that Doric is the native and contemporary language of the north east, which is widely spoken by people at home.

The co-leader of Aberdeenshire Council explains why the council is supporting the promotion of Doric in schools.

Not many people are aware that the oldest known example of Scottish Gaelic literature was written in the north east, providing concrete evidence that the language was spoken in the area on a day to day basis as far back as the 11th century.

The north east’s Gaelic heritage is further reinforced by many of the place names – Aquhorthies, Tyrebagger, Bennachie, Kittybrewster and Balnagask, to name but a few.

As well as looking at Gaelic and the Gaels in Aberdeen today, this documentary explores the rich history of Gaelic in the area and asks what the future is for the language in the region.

Produced by Midas Media for BBC ALBA, Aberdeen, Gaelic & the Gaels (Gàidhlig Obar Dheathain) is on BBC ALBA at Thursday 11 May, 9.00 – 10.00pm.