Monday 20th February 2012 may well prove to be an important date in history books of both Canna and Ùlpan as, through the financial support of The National Trust for Scotland, The Year of Scotland’s Islands programme and Fèis Chanaidh, serious stepts were taken to reintroduce Gaelic as a community language on the Island of Canna.
This action, of course, has a huge historical significance given the many works carried out by previous Island owner John Lorne Campbell and his wife Margaret Fay Shaw to preserve and Hebridean culture . The five day course , the first of many hopefully, took place in Canna house, home to Mr Campbell and Mrs Shaw for many years, and what a welcoming and fitting venue it proved to be.
This was a fairly intense course which covered the first 12 units of Ùlpan. The students were all extremely diligent and used the language that they picked up at every opportunity. The course was delivered by Kevin Rodgers from Caol. Kevin has been teaching Gaelic using the Ùlpan method since 2008 and last year became a Tutor Recruitment officer for Deiseal, the company who run Ùlpan.
This was Kevin’s second visit to the Island and this time he wasn’t alone as he was joined by wife Kirsty, daughter Katherine and son Billy. The family were made to feel extremely welcome by all the Island residents and were treated to a lovely surprise when the students threw an impromptu party for Katherine on her 4th birthday! As well as the regular course content they can now sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in Gaelic perfectly.
Kevin was thrilled at the success of the course saying
“I can honestly that the last week has been one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced as an Ùlpan tutor. From the very first unit it was obvious that the students had a real desire to learn and use the language. It is planned to continue the work we’ve started here and I see no reason whatsoever why, if they continue to show the same commitment, we couldn’t be talking about fluent Gaelic learners in a few short years”
Kevin also added “ The fact that the course was held in Canna House only added to the experience and, without being over the top, there was certainly a feeling of Gaelic being very welcome there. “
Island Manager, Stewart Connor has been instrumental in the setting up of this course and, along with the Island’s community council, has continuation plans which will ensure that this re-growth of Gaelic on the island continues. As part of this plan, local resident and Island stalwart Winnie MacKinnon will undertake training to become an Ùlpan tutor in the near future. Winnie is one of the few remaining people with Canna Gaelic and is certainly the last to be resident on the Island and so it’s fantastic that she I going to help in ensuring Gaelic will begin to once again thrive on Canna.
“Everything seems to falling in to place here and, although it’s going to be a long road, I can sense something extremely important, not only for Canna but also for Gaelic Culture, could take place here in the years to come.” – Kevin Rodgers, Ùlpan tutor.
We’ll watch this space!