Publishing is a hard enough business. It’s even harder when the potential audience is quite small. The problem with Gaelic is that the number of native speakers is dwindling and, while there are schools in the Central Belt offering primary education in the language, there aren’t enough new speakers to provide an economic market. It’s an issue that will be discussed at an event in Benbecula next week, the last is a series of talks on Gaelic which have taken place this year.
Along with Rosemary Ward from the Gaelic Books Council (Comhairle nan Leabhraichean), the novelist and poet, Catriona Lexy Campbell from Lewis, will explore the challenges and opportunities of writing and publishing in Gaelic. They’ll look at the problems of starting a book, approaching publishers, the publication process and digital developments. Ms Campbell is currently the writer in residence at the Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). This year’s talks have tied in with courses offered by the university, which include degrees in Gaelic language and culture.
Based on the theme of Gaelic in modern life, the lectures have recognised Gaelic as an integral part of Scotland’s heritage and national identity. They included a talk by the Head of BBC ALBA, Margaret Mary Murray, who spoke about Gaelic media at an event in Glasgow at the start of the year.
Ms Campbell says that, through her work with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, “I have had many opportunities to meet people who are interested in writing in Gaelic and I’m very happy to be taking part in this project and building on that experience. I’m sure it’ll be a great day.”
Rosemary Ward added that the lectures “highlight the contribution the media, education and literature and publishing have made to the revitalisation of Gaelic. I am particularly pleased to be invited to deliver the lecture in Benbecula in front of a ‘home’ audience having, myself, been brought up and educated in South Uist. Comhairle nan Leabhraichean is committed to increasing the number, range and quality of Gaelic publications and our development strategy focuses on supporting Gaelic authors, editors and publishers to produce accessible, new and exciting Gaelic books. The upsurge in digital developments presents challenges and opportunities for us in our efforts to address the demands of readers to have Gaelic literature available in a variety of formats.”
Organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands, the lecture series marked the 60th anniversary of Lews Castle College UHI. This last in the series will take place from 7pm to 9pm on Wednesday 19 June at Sgoil Lionacleit, Benbecula. It will be delivered in Gaelic with simultaneous interpretation into English available through headphones.