When I first moved to Lismore I wanted to learn Gaelic as Sophie was learning it at school and I wanted to be able to speak it too and know what she was saying and singing. Also listening to Liosachs speaking it to each other it sounded a beautiful soft language. Over the years Lismore has seen many gaelic classes and individual tutoring. I had heard about this new method of teaching gaelic called Ùlpan (www.ulpan.co.uk) and I wanted to look into it. A friends’ mum had done a course at Sabhal Mor Ostaig (www.smo.uhi.ac.uk) on the Isle of Skye (Scotland’s only gaelic college of further education) and she spoke very highly of this method. So when I took up my new post last year I thought it would be good to find out if there were many people on the island who wished to learn as I felt that this fell right into my remit as my post is all about learning about the heritage of Lismore and finding ways to make it interesting and sustainable for future generations. A number of people came forward to say they were interested in learning gaelic so that was my mandate to try to see if we could organise a class on the island.
After a bit of digging around we made contact with Àdhamh Ó Broin from Ùlpan and he was delighted and excited to help us in our quest to get a gaelic class off the ground. Then up popped Ann MacLean who had recently moved to Lismore – Ann is a gaelic speaker, she has close Lismore connections, is a beautiful gaelic singer and a gaelic teacher! It all seemed too good to be true!
Anyway it all came together on Saturday 18th Feb – we had organised an Ùlpan Gaelic Taster day for all those interested. I picked Adhamh up off the 12 ferry and took him to the Heritage Centre. I was hoping for a good turnout. Our class was due to start at 2.30pm and as the time went on the cafe got busier and busier and busier. By 2.30pm we had to swiftly find a bigger space than the one we had planned for our class – 24 people came to sit in on the Taster class to hear Adhamh talk all about the ulpan method. Then Ann and Àdhamh took everyone through the first unit of Ulpan. It was fun and exciting and interesting and challenging and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. We had people there from all over the world wanting to learn gaelic – from Lismore to Glasgow to London to New Zealand! They aged in range from teenagers to in their 80’s! We also had 5 local gaelic speakers who were keen to see how this new method worked. At the end of the session 14 people said they wanted to learn gaelic with us! We have several other people keen to learn too who couldn’t attend on sat. So now it looks like we’re going to have to put on 2 gaelic classes a week! We start in April – two units/classes a week as this is the recommendation from Ùlpan to help people achieve fluency. It’s really exciting and I for one can’t wait to get learning and talking and help Sophie with her homework! It should help me too with the gaelic songs we’ll be singing with the new Lismore Community choir we have starting up soon. Even though we’re not all highlanders it’s a good feeling to think we’ll be helping to keep gaelic and especially Lismore gaelic alive. As someone said to me on saturday – Gaelic is cool!
This was first posted on my blog (http://lorraineatlismoremuseum.wordpress.com) in Feb 2012 – my blog about working as Assitant Curator at Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre.