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
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.