43. Sabhal Mór Ostaig

Tá drochdhóigh ar an Ghaeilge in Albain, tá sí níos laige ann ná mar atá sí in Éirinn cé go bhfuil staid na Gaeltachta ann mórán mar a gcéanna[i].

Baineann an chaibidil seo le Sléite (san oileán Sgiathanach) áfach, áit a thugann an coláiste Sabhal Mór Ostaig beagán dóchais don teanga.

Sabhal Mór Ostaig (Griangraf ó Wikipedia).

De réir Daonáireamh 2011, bhí Gaeilge ag 39% de mhuintir na leath-inse seo, cuid acu in gcainteoirí ó dhúchas. Is trí Ghaeilge a mhúintear i Bun-sgoil Shlèite (le sruth Béarla).

Fís Noble

Ba é an fear gnó Iain Noble a bhunaigh Sabhal Mór Ostaig i 1973[ii].  Fear de thógáil idirnáisiúnta ab ea é Noble, fear saibhir a bhain leis an aicme rachmais. Cheannaigh sé an eastát talamh ar an bhfuil an coláiste leis an airgead a fuair sé tar éis gur ceannaíodh é amach as banc marsantach a cho-bhunaigh sé féin.

Sir Ian Noble

“Iain Noble was 36 years old when he bought it. A Gaelic learner, his plan for the new form of Highland estate was to resuscitate the economy through the medium of the native language. His model for this was the Faeroe Islands, which he had visited in the late 1960s,”[iii] a scríobh Roger Hutchinson in ‘A Waxing Moon’, an cuntas staire is cuimsithí ar an choláiste.

Ar nós lucht Charn Tóchair, bhí ceangail idir athbheochan teanga agus dul chun cinn eacnamaíochta in aigne Noble:

“When I asked the Faroese, I was amazed when they all replied that things began to happen when they decided to be Faroese and stop being Danish. This sparked the whole thing off. It gave them a sort of self-respect. Danish had been the language of business.

“Faroese was dying out in families and children were growing up who could hardly speak it. I am convinced that through the revival of the language there came a pride in identity and all else followed.

“We mustn’t be frightened of being a small community. Instead we must create our own internal binding factors. People here have never believed that things are possible. But there      is virtually nothing that could not be achieved in the Highlands,” a dúirt Noble i 1972 leis an West Highland Free Press[iv], sliocht é sin a léiríonn a íde-eolaíocht agus a dhearcadh gur    féidir rud ar bith a bhaint amach.

Ba é an fear a chur an splanc ach d’éirigh leis go leor daoine eile a mhealladh chuige féin leis na scileanna chun an smaoineamh a chur i gcrích.

Dar le Hutchinson, d’éirigh go hiontach maith le Noble maidir lena chuid aidhmeanna uaillmhianacha:

“When the parish-by-parish breakdown of the 2001 census became available, however, one Skye parish above all others was seen to have recorded sensational statistics. Thirty years earlier, in the 1971 census, the southernmost peninsula of Sleat recorded a population of 452. Ten years earlier, in 1991, that had risen to 685. The 2001 figures showed that 780 people lived in Sleat, which was more than at any time since the 1930s. The parish had achieved this phenomenal growth of 72 per cent over 30 years with a high level of economic activity and a relatively low average age. What was more, despite the fact that 27 per cent of its population was born outside Scotland (the average in Skye and Lochalsh was 22 per cent), 44.4 per cent of Sleat was in 2001 Gaelic speaking – the highest level of Gaelic articulacy in Skye south of Trotternish. Those unique and apparently magical totems of financial and cultural health were easily attributable to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, to the pro-Gaelic policies of (the now knighted) Sir Iain Noble’s estate, to the local primary school’s successful Gaelic-medium unit and to the Clan Donald Visitor Centre of Ellice McDonald.”[v]

‘misneachd’

Is é leabharlannaí an choláiste é Gréagóir Mac Thomáis, is nua-chainteoir é atá anois ag tógáil clann le Gaeilge sa cheantar.

“Gu pearsanta, cha bhiodh cothrom agam air a’ Ghàidhlig ionnsachadh gu fileanta is ceum a dhèanamh tron Ghàidhlig anns a’ Ghàidhealtachd, cha bhithinn air tachairt ri mo bhean, cha bhitheamaid air taigh a thogail anns an Eilean Sgitheanach, cha bhiodh a’ Ghàidhlig aig mo chuid chloinne, mura b’ e Sabhal Mòr Ostaig,” a dúirt sé.

“Cha mhòr nach biodh a’ Ghàidhlig marbh ann an Slèite mura b’ e a’ Cholaiste.

“Feumaidh sinn aideachadh gur e fìor mheasgachadh de dhualchainntean a tha an seo a-nis ge-tà,” a dúirt sé.

Cé bhfuil Gaeilge ag cuid de pháistí an cheantair féin, mhínigh Mac Thomáis nach mbeadh canúint Ghaeilge Shléite acu.

“Tha Gàidhlig na sgìre, Gàidhlig Shlèite, aig glè bheag de dhaoine a-nis – ‘s dòcha aig triùir no ceathrar anns gach baile fearainn agus a’ mhòr-chuid de na Gàidheil às an àite nas sine na 60 a-nis.

“Ach tha mi a’ smaoineachadh gu bheil e air misneachd a thoirt do chuid de na Gàidheil a bhuineas do Shlèite.”

Dar leis gur thug Iain Noble agus an coláiste beatha nua don leith-inis:

“Ann an Camas Chros, am baile fearainn far a bheil mi fhèin a’ fuireach, ann am meadhan nan 1970an cha robh ach dithis no triùir chloinne ann am baile le còrr is 40 taigh/dachaigh.

“Bhiodh Gàidhlig aig a’ mhòr-chuid anns a’ bhaile ach bha am baile fhèin a’ crìonadh, na daoine a’ fàs sean agus na daoine òg a’ falbh.

“Air sgàth nan iomairtean aig Noble, agus Sabhal Mòr Ostaig nam measg, anns an latha an-diugh, bidh dà mhinibus làn phàistean a’ falbh a-nis don bhun-sgoil a h-uile madainn agus Gàidhlig aig cha mhòr a h-uile duine aca. Bidh cuid mhòr ga bruidhinn eatarra fhèin,” a dúirt sé.

“Tha Sabhal Mòr Ostaig air na h-àireamhan de luchd labhairt na Gàidhlig a chumail àrd… nas àirde na a’ mhòr-chuid den Eilean Sgitheanach.

“Tha misneachd aig teaghlaichean Gàidhlig an seo,” a dúirt sé.

Níl gach duine ar aon fhocal faoin choláiste nó faoin Ghaeilge áfach:

“Bidh cuid a’ càineadh na Colaiste aig a h-uile cothrom. Daoine às an sgìre, daoine bhon taobh a-muigh, Gàidheil agus Gall.

“‘S dòcha gu bheil adhbharan pearsanta ann airson sin, adhbharan eachdraidheil. Tha cuid de na daoine nach eil a’ cur luach ann an Sabhal Mòr Ostaig den ghinealach aig an robh pàrantan le Gàidhlig ach cha tug am pàrantan Gàidhlig do an cuid chloinne,” a dúirt sé.

Tá Sabhal Mór Ostaig ina fhostóir mór san oileán atá tá go leor daoine meallta chun na Sléite aige:

“Tha Sabhal Mòr Ostaig air oileanaich agus luchd-obrach a thàladh don àite agus tha dreuchdan ann de gach seòrsa eadar luchd-teagaisg, luchd-glanaidh, còcairean, leabharlannaichean, manaidsearan, luchd-rannsachaidh, ceannardan is eile.

“Tha seo a’ ciallachadh ma tha a’ Ghàidhlig agad ‘s urrainn dhut do chuid foghlaim fhaighinn an seo bho ìre sgoil-àraich do dh’ìre PhD agus obair aig ìre àrd fhaighinn anns an sgìre agad fhèin.

“Sin agad rud nach robh comasach ann an sgìre dhùthchail mar seo mus robh Sabhal Mòr Ostaig ann.”

Is léachtóir sinsearach é Tim Armstrong sa Choláiste, tá dochtúireacht déanta aige ar ‘Gaeltachtaí nua’ na hÉireann agustá sé sásta cur síos a dhéanamh air féin mar ghníomhaí.

Tha mi gam thuigsinn fhèin mar ghnìomhaiche no iomairtiche Gàidhlig gun teagamh, agus ged a tha sùil agam ri cor na Gàidhlig anns a h-uile àite, tha mi a’ gabhail cùram sònraichte dhen choimhearsnachd bhig, Ghàidhlig agam fhìn, ris a’ Ghàidhealtachd bhig agam fhìn ann an seagh: Sabhal Mòr Ostaig,” a dúirt sé.

Níl aon amhras ag an Dr Armstrong ná gur pobal agus comharsanacht teanga é Sabhal Mór Ostaig.

ʼS ann innte a thig mu 150 daoine còmhla a h-uile latha tron bhliadhna acaideamaich a bhruidhinn na Gàidhlig mar an cànan làitheil aca.

“ʼS e coimhearsnachd-chànain a th’ ann le trioblaidean na lùib: cha tèid a’ Ghàidhlig a bhruidhinn cho tric ʼs a bhitheamaid an dòchas, ach sin mar a tha a h-uile coimhearsnachd Ghàidhlig a-nis.

“Chan e tùr ìbhridh a th’ ann an SMO: na trioblaidean aig a’ Ghàidhlig air an taobh a-muigh, bidh iad againn am broinn na Colaiste cuideachd.

“Ach a dh’aindeoin sin, ʼs e coimhearsnachd-chànain air leth torach a th’ ann an Sabhal Mòr Ostaig anns an t-seagh ʼs gum bi sinn, a h-uile bliadhna, a’ ceumnachadh ginealach ùr de labhraichean Gàidhlig comasach, misneachail a thèid a-mach agus a shàbhlaicheas a’ Ghàidhlig anns an àm ri teachd.”

Tá an Dr Armstrong den tuairim gur ceart comharsanachtaí nua Gaeilge a bhunú agus nár cheart a bheith ro-bhuartha faoi cé chomh ‘nadúrtha’ is a bheadh a leithéid de scéim.

“Chan eil dad ‘nàdarra’ mu shuidheachadh mhion-chànanan mar a’ Ghàidhlig anns an latha an-diugh,” a mhínigh sé.

“Bidh a h-uile rud a nì sinn gus a neartachadh a-nis ‘mì-nàdarra’ ann an seagh. Sin dìreach far a bheil sinn.

“Chan e ceist phragtaigeach a th’ ann mar sin, ach ceist ideòlach,” a dúirt sé.

Ba léir go bhfaca sé go bhfuil baint ag barántúlacht teanga leis an díospóireacht ceangailte le pobail úra teanga.

“Tha na cànanan fhèin coma dè tha nàdarra no mì-nàdarra; ʼs e an labhraichean a ghabhas dragh a bheil cleachdadh air choreigin ùghdarrach no neo-ùghdarrach,” a dúirt sé.

“Agus mar sin, air sàillibh ʼs gur e ceist ideòlach a th’ ann, tha fuasgladh poilitigeach a dhìth: feumaidh sinn toirt air daoine a thuigsinn nach eil e gu diofar càit no cò bhios a’ bruidhinn na Gàidhlig, ach gun tèid a bruidhinn le daoine air choreigin ann an àite air choreigin.

“Feumaidh sinn faighinn seachad air an dragh gu bheil cuid a labhairt ‘mì-nàdarra’.”

“ʼS e an rud as cudromaich gun tèid a bruidhinn, agus gum bi a h-uile labhraiche dhith a’ faireachdainn gu bheil iad ùghdarrasach (fìreannach) anns an dòigh aca fhèin, gu bheil iad uile nan làn-bhuill de chlub na Gàidhlig ge b’ e cò às a tha iad, càit às an do thog iad an cuid Gàidhlig, dè datha an craicinn, dè creideamh a th’ aca (ma tha fear aca), agus mar sin air adhart.

“ʼS e iomairt phoilitigeach a bhios ann an sin, agus chan eil dad cho cudromach rithe fhad ʼs a thèid sinn air adhart, gun cruthaich sinn ath-bheothachadh ‘teanta-mòr’ anns am bi fàilte ron a h-uile duine.”

Macasamhail cuid eile dar labhair mise leo i dtaca leis an leabhar seo, níl an Dr Armstrong dóchasach maidir leis na Gaeltachtaí traidisiúnta, ach dar leis chan ionann sin agus bás na teanga.

“Tha linn nan coimhearsnachdan dùmhail, Gàidhlig seachad, ach chan eil sin a’ ciallachadh nach bi àiteachan againn, mar Shlèite anns an Eilean Sgitheanach mar eisimpleir, far a bheil a’ Ghàidhlig fhathast làidir agus ga cleachdadh mar chànan na coimhearsnachd am measg mion-sluaigh co-dhiù.

“Ach anns a h-uile àite a-nis, eadar Eileanan, Garbh-chrìochan agus Machair na h-Alba, bidh a’ Ghàidhlig beò mar chànan lìonraidh, air a neartachadh le corra làrach far an tèid a bruidhinn mar phrìomh chànan.

“Bidh mòran dhe na làraichean, no coimhearsnachdan ùra, nan làraichean foghlaim, .i. bun-sgoiltean, àrd-sgoiltean, colaistean, ach is dòcha gum bi cuid dhiubh nan coimhearsnachdan-còmhnaidh beaga, ùra cuideachd,” a dúirt sé.

Lonnaíocht

Tá plean ann chun lonnaíocht Gaeilge a bhunú in aice leis an Choláiste, A’ Chill Bheag[vi].

Rinneadh an plean seo a fhógairt siar in 2013, bhí maoiniú faighte ó rialtas na hAlban agus ón Aontas Eorpach.

Bhí sé beartaithe 75 theach a thógáil thar 20 bhliain in éineacht le hionad spóirt agus ionad comhdhála.

Go dtí seo áfach, níor tógadh ach dhá theach.

Cad a léiríonn sé?

Is Gaelphobal úr é ‘Sabhal Mór Ostaig’, cé go bhfuil sé lonnaithe i mbreac-Ghaeltacht thraidisiúnta, ní léir gur éirigh leis an teanga thraidisiúnta a athneartú ann cé go bhfuil athbheochan éigin ar siúl sa dúiche, ach tá meon ar leith ann mar chuid de shaol an choláiste.

Léiríonn Sabhal Mór Ostaig gur féidir le baicle beag daoine, tiomanta agus ábalta, rudaí móra a dhéanamh má tá fís acu.

Léiríonn sé, arís eile, cad is féidir le duine amháin carasmatach mealltach atá ina cheannaire maith agus a bhfuil dearcadh dearfach aige nó aici a bhaint amach, sa chás seo, Iain Noble.

Chomh maith leis sin, taispeánann sé gur féidir le teanga cabhrú le hathneartú ceantar go heacnamaíoch agus go sóisialta.

Thar aon rud eile, léiríonn sé gur féidir le hinstitiúid a sholáthraíonn go leor fostaíochta pobal a chruthú thart air féin.

Fágfaidh mé an focal scoir ag Hutchinson:

“It was reasonably clear within 30 years of the establishment of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig that the Gaelic language would not, after all, die in the early decades of the twenty-first century. It would survive in some shape or form. The second Gaelic renaissance had at least done what the first had failed to do: it had squeezed a lifejacket over the shoulders of its weakened charge.”[vii]

**


[i] Foilsíodh leabhar, ‘The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community: A Comprehensive Sociolinguistic Survey of Scottish Gaelic’ i mí Iúil 2020.

Ba iad Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Gòrdan Camshron, Pàdruig Moireach, Brian Ó Curnáin, Iain Caimbeul, Brian MacDonald agus Tamás Péterváry na scríbhneoirí.

Thuill an leabhar go leor poiblíochta sna meáin Ghaeilge agus Bhéarla, thosaigh sé díospóireacht theasaí phearsanta.

“[J]ust 11,000 people reported an ability to speak the language,” a thuairiscigh an Daily Mail, “researchers are now warning that the ancient language could be dead by 2030 unless the Scottish government takes radical action to save it”.

Déanta na fírinne, dar le Daonáireamh 2011, tá Gaeilge ag 57,375 in Albain – cé go bhfuiltear ag súil go mbí titim de thuairim ar 10,000 in 2021, bhí scileanna áirithe inti ag 87,100 duine.

“A casual visitor to Scotland might assume that the Gaelic language is thriving, with every police car carrying the word poileas and every ambulance ambaileans. Yet in the few places where it is spoken, the language is in a profound, potentially terminal crisis,” an léamh a bhí ag The Guardian.

“Without radical action, Scots Gaelic will be dead within a decade, according to a study. The language is rarely spoken in the home, little used by teenagers, and used routinely only by a diminishing number of elderly Gaels dispersed across a few island communities in the Hebrides,” dar leis.

Ba é príomh-thoradh an leabhar féin ná:

“Anns na coimhearsnachdan dùthchasach Gàidhlig mu dheireadh ann an Alba, tha cleachdadh sòisealta na Gàidhlig agus toirt seachad a’ chànain dhan ath ghinealach an ìmpis briseadh sìos” (http://www.soillse.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Geàrr-iris-Rannsachaidh_Staing-na-Gàidhlig-anns-a-Choimhearsnachd-Dhùthchasaich.pdf)

Spreag an leabhar racán agus easaontas i saol Ghaeilge na hAlbain. Ní hé gur shéan éinne go bhfuil géarchéim teanga ann ach cheistigh siad cur chuige an leabhair.

“Could simplistic, lurid framing like this create a self-fulfilling prophecy – demoralising speakers and undermining political support for the language?” an cheist a chuir an tOllamh Wilson McLeod faoi (https://twitter.com/WilsonMcLeod/status/1279155195008749568?s=20).

Scríobh an ceoltóir Pàdruig Moireasdan as Uidhist: “Ach feumar uile tuigsinn gun deach am brath-naidheachd agus toraidhean an rannsachadh a dheanamh cho dubhach agus cho cianail airson’s gum biodh e buadhmhòr – gun deànadh e ‘stir’ agus gu feireadh sin putadh air a leithid Bòrd na Gàidhlig agus Comhairle nan Eilean Siar gus barrachd a dheànamh a dh’ionnsaigh taic a chumail ri coimhearsnachdan dùthchasach na Gàidhlig.

“Chan eil mi ag ràdh nach eil tòrr dhe fìor, ach tha mi dhen bheachd gun bheil cunnart mòr ann bho droch bhuaidh an naidheachd thùrsach seo.

“Tha cunnart gu feir seo barrachd de dhroch bhuaidh air na coimhearsnachdan Gàidhealach na nì e de dh’fheum dhan na buidhnean sin gu h-àrd (ged a tha moladh an leabhair a thaobh Urras na Gàidhlig na bheachd dhòchasach),” a scríobh sé.

[“But we must understand the shock technique of this news is to cause panic and fear, so that the organisation such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Western Isles Council do more to help support the native Gaelic communities. I’m not saying that there is anything incorrect about the research, only that I’m worried that presenting it in this fashion will cause a negative impact on the Gaelic community that outweighs the change it seeks to provoke in the Gaelic organisations at the top. Two thoughts that have been circling in my mind:

– If you were a parent unsure whether to put your child into Gaelic or English-only education, (unless you were really strong about Gaelic) would all this negative news persuade and enthuse you about your child’s prospects going into Gaelic Medium Education, and the language being dead in 10 years?

– I have spent MY WHOLE LIFE trying to get Gaels (islanders, older folk, native speaker) to speak to me in Gaelic, and still they don’t. People who have known me my whole life, and know full well that I work and live in a world of Gaelic today, still they won’t speak to me in Gaelic because they have been engrained with the ideology that Gaelic is worthless to use and pass on to younger folk. This won’t change if people think the language is worthless and soon to die out.] (https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2020/07/06/bithidh-coma-stop-being-so-polite/?fbclid=IwAR0_YN8uhrifR9S90JPl8a3Pud1Y_BNdXztDr3IH2yDIsLy-6hRuN6rmxUY)

Thug an tOllamh Ó Giollagáin aisfhreagra láidir don lucht cáinte áfach.

“A good example of sociolinguistic commentary obfuscating the Gaelic crisis,” a scríobh sé mar thoradh ar thráchtaireacht ón Dr Tim Armstong (https://twitter.com/ConchurOG/status/1279333410868285442?s=20).

Rud eile a scríobh sé ná “minority language communities having to endure neo-liberal language planners appears to be a First World problem – neo-libs thriving on the postmodernist hubris of thinking that you can discourse your way out of society’s challenges” (https://twitter.com/ConchurOG/status/1265293082322403330?s=20)

“As [Gaelic Crisis] discussions evolve, we may have to consider whether one of the most ‘divisive’ aspects of Gaelic policy debates could be the sense of entitlement by elite opinion makers wishing to foist their Gaelic policy agenda on Gaelic communities in the islands,” a scríobh sé (https://twitter.com/ConchurOG/status/1282718544229261321?s=20).

Bhain an ‘Gaelic Crisis’ le Tiriodh, Stafainn (san oileán Sgiathanach) agus Eileanan an Iar amháin, áfach, ceantair Ghaeilge thraisiúnta.

[ii] Hutchinson (2005).

[iii] Hutchinson (2005).

[iv] Tríd Hutchinson (2005).

[v] Hutchinson (2005).

[vi] http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gd/naidheachdan/aonta-air-leasachadh-baile-ur-na-cille-bige

[vii] Hucthinson (2005).

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