Gaelic at the University of Edinburgh

History of Gaelic at the University

From the establishment of the first Chair of Celtic in Scotland in 1882 to the development of Gaelic AI in 2023, the University of Edinburgh has a long and proud history of Gaelic.

We believe Gaelic has and continues to make a unique contribution to our University community. Find out about the story of Gaelic at the University below.

Leugh sa Ghàidhlig

First meeting of the University of Edinburgh Ossianic Society, which became the Highland Society in 1851, the longest running society at the University.

The Highland Society (An Comann Ceilteach) is still active today, holding events and creating a community for Gaelic-speaking students and learners. 

The Highland Society 

Chair of Celtic established, the first of its kind in Scotland. Prof Donald MacKinnon of Colonsay is the first holder.

The Chair of Celtic is now held by Professor Rob Dunbar. 

Portrait of Alasdair Carmichael

Carmichael-Watson archival collection of traditional songs, stories and folklore bequeathed to the University.

The Carmichael-Watson Collection is centered on the work of Alasdair Carmichael (1832-1912), who is known for his collection of songs, poetry, blessings and stories which he published in "Carmina Gadelica".

Carmichael-Watson Collection

Sorley Maclean at his graduation.

Sorley MacLean (1911-1996), Gaelic poet and writer, appointed as the University’s official Creative Writer in Residence.

Sorley MacLean was born and raised on Raasay, and he first came to the University of Edinburgh as a student of English.

MacLean gained a reputation for his poetry, in which he explores themes of history, politics, love, landscape and war. 

Sorley MacLean 

Tobar an Dualchais logo.

Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches project commences with the aim to digitize and make publically available 12,000 hours of material collected across Scotland by the School of Scottish Studies since 1951.

Tobar an Dualchais is an online resource, bringing together recordings from three collections: the School of Scottish Studies, the Canna Collection, and the BBC Radio nan Gàidheal archives. You can find recordings on the Tobar an Dualchais website. 

Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches 

University appoints award-winning poet, author and storyteller Martin MacIntyre as its first Gaelic Writer in Residence.

Martin MacIntyre will be hosting events and writing workshops throughout the year for students, staff and community members. Keep an eye on our social pages for information about events to come. 

Martin MacIntyre at the University 

Gàidhlig @ ODÈ

Using material from the School of Scottish Studies Archives, University of Edinburgh researchers embark on Gaelic AI speech recognition tool project with BBC Alba and the University of Glasgow.

AI initiative gives Gaelic a foothold in the digital age