This book emerges from the work of Soillse’s Islands Gaelic Research Project (IGRP), conducted between 2015 and 2017. This publication is in essence the report of this project. Soillse is a multi-institutional and interdisciplinary research collaboration between the University of the Highlands and Islands, including its constituent college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture; the University of Aberdeen; the University of Edinburgh; and the University of Glasgow. Soillse was established in 2009 to provide research opportunities and post-graduate training in various academic disciplines relevant to the maintenance and revitalisation of Gaelic language and culture.
The authors are grateful to the Soillse board members who approved the IGRP budget from Soillse’s project fund, for the ongoing support of the board for our work from the representatives of the participating universities and the representatives of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, as well as the Scottish Funding Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise on the Soillse board. Since the inception of Soillse, the IGRP is the most significant project expenditure by Soillse on an integrated research project and, in this sense, it represents the partnership’s primary research undertaking.
The authors wish to thank Uilleam MacDhòmhnaill, Head of Education, and Becky MacLean, Early Years Service Manager, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, for their assistance in implementing the Preschool Survey, as well as the staff of the preschool units who assisted across the IGRP Research Area. We acknowledge, too, the support of the parents associated with the Preschool Survey.
In relation to the Teenager Survey, we thank all participants. We gratefully acknowledge the patience and assistance afforded the project by Dr Frances Murray, and her staff, at Sgoil MhicNeacail, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis; Mrs Aileen MacSween, and her staff, at Sgoil Sir E Scott, in Tarbert, Isle of Harris; Mrs Annag MacLean, former head teacher, and the staff, at Sgoil Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil, Isle of Barra; Mrs Alice Parkin, Mr Millar Macdonald, former head teacher, and Mr Gordon Young, head teacher at Sgoil Lìonacleit, Isle of Benbecula.
The authors are especially indebted to the local advisors in the islands of Scalpay, Grimsay and Eriskay who freely offered their advice and guidance. We wish to thank all community members in these three islands who helped to publicise our survey work and subsequent public meetings. This aspect of the project received valuable fieldwork assistance from Dr Cassie Smith-Christmas, Dr Catrìona NicNèill, Peigi Townsend, Gordon Wells and Eairdsidh Caimbeul. The Islands Gaelic Research Project could not have been completed without the support of the people of Scalpay, Grimsay and Eriskay. For their patience and co-operation, the authors remain most appreciative. We are also grateful to the participants and those who helped organise the 13 public meetings in various island districts which we arranged in conjunction with this research project.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable contributions of Gordon Wells and Dr Daniel Bourgeois, who facilitated discussions and provided important comment on earlier drafts of the manuscript. We are indebted to Dr Peadar Morgan, the Research and Corpus Planning Manager at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, who prepared the IGRP maps.
We are grateful to two external readers who read an advanced draft of this study and who suggested clarifications of key points. Any errors that may remain are the sole responsibility of the authors.
The project team would like to thank Professor Boyd Robertson and Dr. Gillian Munro, as well as all the staff at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig; and Professor Neil Simco, Vice-Principal for Research and Impact at the University of the Highlands and Islands for their encouragement and support of our work. We also wish to acknowledge the support offered to Soillse and the IGRP team by the late Professor Ian Bryden.
We would like to express our gratitude to John Storey in the Gaelic Books Council for his valuable advice and assistance with the publishing process. The authors are very grateful to Latte and Melanie Goldstein, at River Design, for their thoughtful, patient and skilled approach to the design of the book. Similarly, we thank the staff of Gomer Press for their dedication and professionalism in producing and printing the book.The authors would like to express their gratitude to Professor Cairns Craig, the Director of Aberdeen University Press, for agreeing to publish this book. We also thank Dr. Sandra Hynes of Aberdeen University Press for her considerate and effective assistance with the publication.
Above all, however, we would like to express our appreciation to the people in the Western Isles, Staffin on the Isle of Skye and Tiree who took part in the various aspects of the research. We are indebted to them all for generously sharing their time and their perspectives with us.
Airson nan daoine anns na h-eileanan a thug cuideachadh leis an obair rannsachaidh seo agus airson nan daoine a chuireas am fiosrachadh gu feum.