Edinburgh Local

Fàilte – Gaelic outreach in the city

The University has a strong record in supporting Gaelic, establishing Scotland’s first chair of Celtic in 1882 and hosting superb and unique collections.

Gaelic in the community
Gaelic conversation - Grassmarket Cafe
Gaelic conversation - Grassmarket Cafe

As well as offering an undergraduate degree in Celtic and another in Primary Education with Gaelic, we offer other opportunities for anyone in the city who wants to learn Gaelic on a less formal basis. Our Centre for Open Learning teaches more than 20 languages at multiple levels of proficiency and, among these, are Beginners and Elementary Gaelic. A weekly Gaelic Conversation Circle is run by our Gaelic Officer and is open to the community: it aims to help Gaelic speakers at all levels practise the language in a friendly atmosphere.

The University’s magnificent Collections, most of which are accessible to the public, contain a wide range of valuable and unique Gaelic material and artefacts, including the extraordinary Carmichael Watson collection.


School of Scottish Studies Archives

A particular gem is the recently refurbished School of Scottish Studies Archives (SSSA) in George Square.  Open to the public, the Archives are the product of thousands of hours spent gathering songs, stories and folklore in Gaelic, Scots and English from across Scotland - work which continues to this day.  33,000 hours of audio recordings as well as film, photographs and manuscripts capture personal, social and local histories of life in Scotland over the past two centuries.

Many of the sound recordings have been made available by the University to the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o’ Riches project, an ambitious collaboration set up to preserve, digitise, catalogue and make available online several thousand hours of Gaelic and Scots recordings.

The University plays a key role within the Gaelic community in the city and has co-operated with Iomairt Dhùn Èideann and many other groups in Edinburgh to produce and distribute a Gaelic in Edinburgh leaflet, listing Gaelic activities and services available to the public across the city.

An Comann Ceilteach (The Highland Society), one of the oldest student societies at the University, also plays a key role in working with the wider community. Each year they host the Highland Annual, the longest-running annual cèilidh in Edinburgh.  In recent years, they have also hosted a Junior Highland Annual in order to include schoolchildren and their parents.

Gaelic Celebrations

In 2014, we established Seachdain na Gàidhlig (Gaelic Week) to celebrate the Gaelic community in Edinburgh, past and present.  Since then, we have collaborated with partner organisations and enthusiastic individuals to develop it into a week-long city-wide Edinburgh Gaelic Festival which last year hosted over 30 events.  A wide variety of events appeal to audiences from fluent Gaelic speakers to those who are simply curious about Gaelic language and culture. Seachdain na Gàidhlig was a finalist in the Event category of the Scottish Gaelic Awards 2017 and, if you’d like to contribute to this year’s festival, please contact our Gaelic Officer at gaelic@ed.ac.uk.

A recent innovation has been a joint initiative with Historic Environment Scotland rangers to organise nature-themed public walks in Holyrood Park where participants can learn about the Gaelic view of nature in the park, with a look at flora and fauna in Gaelic culture and folklore as well as a chance to learn the Gaelic names of birds, trees and more. We look forward to continuing to support Gaelic within the University and to working with partner organisations across the city.   

Find out more

To find out more, visit www.ed.ac.uk/gaelic