South Uist and Eriskay has been named today as the ‘Gaelic Community of the Year 2011’
The competition is run by Comunn na Gàidhlig, with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Apart from the prestige of the title itself, the award comes with a £3,000 prize for the community to use as they see fit.
The competition entries were assessed by a panel of judges including representatives from Comunn na Gàidhlig; Highlands and Islands Enterprise; and Bòrd na Gàidhlig. They were looking for information on the use of Gaelic at each local level, the profile of the language within the communities, and how frequently Gaelic could be heard being spoken by local people – with special priority given to use among young people.
The judges were unanimous that South Uist and Eriskay be awarded first place on the basis of the evidence provided that Gaelic was an integral and important part of daily life within the community.
CnaG chief executive Donald MacNeill said: “We know that many people, within the Highlands and Islands, and Scotland as a whole, are working hard for Gaelic, and we are delighted to be able to reward some of these efforts through this competition. South Uist and Eriskay demonstrated to the judges how Gaelic is used amongst young and old, and at every level of daily life, from the workplace to the school and clubs for younger people.”
South Uist and Eriskay is one of the areas benefitting from the operation of an ‘Iomairt Ghàidhlig’ (Gaelic Initiative) and according to Lena MacLellan, who’s been involved in the steering group from the outset, they’re very proud to have won first place: “Many will know that Gaelic is strong is this area, but that wasn’t the basis of this application. We focussed on all the things being done at the moment to strengthen Gaelic and particularly to create new opportunities for Gaelic speakers to come together and use the language.
“We’ll certainly welcome the prize, and we already plan to use it to encourage others to more Gaelic efforts – as small grants to other groups to help them use the language.
“Perhaps this will also give a small boost to people in the area, to see Gaelic as something precious which is still strong in their midst.”
Apart from the first place, there are two other awards made to areas the judges placed in second and third place. This year it’s the Galson Estate Trust and Breasclete communities, both on the west coast of Lewis, who were awarded second and third place, with prizes of £1,500 and £500 respectively.”
Donald MacNeill said: “We’d like to give a prize and recognition to every area that entered this competition for what they’re doing on behalf of Gaelic, but Galson and Breasclete did demonstrate that they were worthy of second and third places for all that takes place on a daily basis, and especially for the younger generation.”
A competion is also run to reward the ‘Gaelic Business of the Year’, and the results of that for 2011 are expected to be awarded shortly.