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Marag

During the two week absence of our skeilie webmaster Alastair McIntyre, off meeting folk of Scots descent in the USA, the number of Gaelic speakers recorded in Census 2001 was announced. As expected the number showed a drop from 1991, down 11% to 58,552. The drop of 7,426 was less than the total lost between 1981-91 of 13,329. However it would appear that a total of some 93,000 have some skill in the language. Language revivals, the world over, have started from a lower base. Manx Gaelic lost its last native speaker in the 1970s but now thanks to efforts through eg nursery schools and indeed the Manx education service the number of speakers is on an upward curve.
 
There are hopeful signs in Scotland too. The obituary for the language, considered by Gaels as the language of Heaven, should not be written yet. Donalda McComb, who is Head Teacher of the Glasgow Gaelic Primary School, points out that when the school first opened in 1999, the roll was 105 children. Today the school has 142 pupils from P1 through to P7, with a thriving nursery school. A Gaelic Primary School is due to open in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, and pressure is continuing to expand the Gaelic Primary unit at Tollcross Primary School in Scotland's capital Edinburgh into a separate Gaelic Primary School.
 
From 1926 onwards the Scots Independent has endeavoured to have a regular Gaelic column and in recent years has been well served by Duncan MacLaren, Allan MacLeod, Alasdair MacCaluim, Brude mac Maelon and now Catriona Chamshron. The good news for Gaelic visitors to The Flag is that from March onwards Catriona's monthly 'Colbh Gaidhlig' in the Scots Independent will join our regular Flag Features.
 
This week's recipe has been suggested by former SI Gaelic columnist Allan MacLeod. He emailed The Flag -
 
'Fit aboot a recipe for marag. This is the real Haggis made from oatmeal, suet, onions, sheep's blood with any herbs you care to include, all stuffed into the sheep's intestines and boiled for a couple of hours and then either eaten straight from the pan or left to cool and fried in butter. Either way it is good but better fried. Accompanied by a fried egg or two it makes a great breakfast and provides you in one meal with a lifetimes supply of cholesteral.'
 
We are delighted to take up Allan's suggestion and here is the Iona recipe for Marag. 
 
Marag
 
Ingredients : 1/2 lb medium oatmeal; 3 oz finely chopped suet; onion, finely grated; 1/2 teaspoon salt; pepper to taste; 1/2 teaspoon ground mace; 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg; 1 well-beaten egg; a little stock.
 
Toast the oatmeal in oven. Mix the other ingredients in order given with the egg and stock. Put into skins (from butcher, if possible) or place mixture in a greased bowl and boil for two hours.  

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