Mother and daughter receive Queen’s Honours

� 2015 D N Anderson Photography
� 2015 D N Anderson Photography

A 94 year old Eriskay lady has received the British Empire Medal for her services to Gaelic - days after her daughter also received an Honour.

Mrs Catriona MacKinnon, now living in Edinburgh, received the medal at a ceremony in the City Chambers presented by Lord Provost Donald Wilson.

Her daughter Mairi O’Keefe, who spent many of her childhood holidays in the Hebrides, was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to those with disabilities and was presented with her honour at Buckingham Palace the day before.

The announcement of a mother and daughter to both receive honours is thought to have been the first time in the history of the Queen’s Honours that this has occurred.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “Mrs MacKinnon has been honoured for services to the Gaelic language and culture.

“She has tirelessly promoted and taught Gaelic in Edinburgh at a time when support, interest and popularity of the language and culture in the central belt has been low.

“It is due in no small measure to her longstanding and committed teaching over the last 40 years that Edinburgh now has an active, vibrant and thriving Gaelic community.”

Mrs MacKinnon was the oldest employee of the City of Edinburgh Council, until her ‘retirement’ at the age of 92 following which she has remained a committed volunteer.

In 1985 she was approached as a possible Gaelic tutor for a new Gaelic choir in Edinburgh, the Lothian Gaelic Choir. She accepted the challenge. She was also teaching Gaelic to evening classes at various levels, as well as tutoring on the regular intensive weekend courses.

It was thanks to her determined effort in teaching Gaelic to choir members that Lothian Gaelic Choir won the prestigious Lovat and Tullibardine Trophy at the Royal National Mod in 1999.

She accompanied the Choir to the Vancouver Mod in 2005 as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations and in 2009, she joined a group of choristers on stage for the first time as a member of the ‘Waulking’ Group.

Mairi - who is chief executive of respite facility Leuchie House - led a successful campaign to save the facility when it was threatened with closure in 2011.

Of the double family honour she said: “My mother and me have been through a lot together over the years and the fact that we can share this great honour together makes it all the more special.”