On-line videos give virtual taste of the islands' Gaelic culture

A new collection of short videos that encourages visitors to experience and explore the Gaelic culture of the Outer Hebrides is now available online.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 4:23 pm
Updated Monday, 20th September 2021, 4:26 pm
A traditional music ceilidh in the Borrodale Hotel, South Uist
A traditional music ceilidh in the Borrodale Hotel, South Uist

The six videos – produced for Outer Hebrides Tourism with the support of VisitScotland, CaMac and Bord na Gàidhlig – were developed in collaboration with local communities and community groups, and take viewers on a virtual journey through the islands, from the land raiders of Vatersay to the crofters of Ness.

The Gazette’s sister paper, The Scotsman, will be running features on Gaelic culture that link to the themes in the videos in their online edition this month.In each video, one or more islanders are interviewed in Gaelic, about a different aspect of island culture and their own personal connection with the language. Those with little or no Gaelic can follow the English subtitles.

The host is Calum Maclean, recognisable for his BBC Alba show Dhan Uisge and one of the main presenters of the new SpeakGaelic initiative, was keen to be involved."For me it is the culture and language of the islands and the islanders that make The Outer Hebrides unique and so very special," he said. "Understanding a word or two of Gaelic can open up a whole new world for visitors.

"I tried weaving, played chess with Uig Chessmen and even had a go at the bagpipes (more practice needed), but mainly I got to meet and talk with islanders in their own language all the way from Barra to Ness. I have strong connections to Lewis, visit the islands regularly and always feel at home. I hope all visitors can experience that warm Hebridean welcome of Eileanan na Gàidhlig - Scotland's Gaelic Islands"An online e-book provides more detail on each of the topics and highlights where in the islands visitors can experience music, crofting, food & drink, weaving and history from Comunn Eachdraidh Nis to Vatersay Hall.Viewers will also have the chance to win a week at the Ceòlas Summer School in South Uist, where visitors spend a week learning about Gaelic language, music and stories within the community. The lucky winners will have the chance to be among the first to attend the new Cnoc Soilleir facility in Daliburgh which will provide one of the leading facilities in Scotland to experience Gaelic culture and language.

Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Ceòlas said: “We have seen a growing interest in both language and culture among our visitors and are delighted that the new Cnoc Soillier facility will be able to showcase our rich heritage from 2022”Shona MacLennan, CEO, Bord na Gàidhlig added: “We are delighted to provide support for this initiative and see it come to fruition. The Gaelic language is a core element of the Outer Hebrides and these videos will enable many more people to learn about the communities, language and culture of the Hebrides, and encourage them to find out more when they visit”Victoria Harvey, VisitScotland Development Manager for Outer Hebrides, said:“Through the Gaelic Tourism Strategy, VisitScotland is encouraging visitors and the wider tourism industry to embrace and promote the language. The new activity highlights how Gaelic is yet another part of the incredible experiences found throughout the Outer Hebrides.”