A Stornoway author and a Ness champion of Gaelic education have been awarded honorary fellowships by the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Malcolm Macdonald and Annie Macsween were presented with the awards at the Lews Castle College UHI graduation ceremony at Martin’s Memorial Church, Stornoway, on Friday 23 August. 

Mr Macdonald, who grew up in Stornoway, co-authored The Darkest Dawn with the late Donald John MacLeod. Published in 2018, the book details the tragedy of the Iolaire, a ship which sank near Stornoway harbour in January 1919 causing the loss of many Royal Navy reservists returning home at the end of the First World War.

The book was a culmination of 20 years of research and royalties are being given to Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway on an annual basis. Over £8,800 was donated in June. Mr Macdonald, who has chaired the Stornoway Historical Society for over a decade, lost his grandfather in the disaster.

Annie Macsween, who was born and brought up in Ness, has focused her career on enhancing the status of Gaelic and the lives of those who live in the Western Isles. She began her professional life as a Gaelic teacher at The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway in 1973 and held posts with organisations including the Van Leer Community Education Project and the Western Isles Council before joining Lews Castle College UHI in 1994. She was part of the team which introduced the university’s first BA degree in Gaelic and she has represented Lews Castle College UHI and the university at many national Gaelic forums.

Mrs Macsween was appointed as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles in 2011, a role which sees her assist the Lord-Lieutenant in his role as The Queen's representative.

Malcolm and Annie were presented with their honorary fellowships alongside 61 graduating students and award winners. Professor Crichton Lang, who took up the role of University of the Highlands and Islands Principal and Vice-Chancellor (Interim) on 1 August, presented the university degree and SQA awards in subjects ranging from oral health science to energy engineering.

He said: “I would like to congratulate all of today’s graduates and award winners. It was an honour to be there to recognise the fruits of their hard work and determination. We were also delighted to celebrate the contributions and achievements of Annie Macsween and Malcolm Macdonald. Annie has been instrumental in establishing Gaelic at the heart of our university and Malcolm’s painstaking research has helped local and global audiences to learn more about one of our worst maritime disasters.”

Annie said: “On an occasion such as this you remember all those who have helped you over the years. Your family, those who inspired you in your youth, colleagues and the wider community. But today I remember with gratitude the team I was involved with in the creation of the Gaelic degrees both here at Lews Castle College and at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and also at Inverness College. What was particularly rewarding was seeing school leavers being given the opportunity to study without leaving the islands and especially adult returners, both male and female, who brought so much personal experience to the classes. Many of those students are now gainfully employed in education and the media here in the islands and further afield. It was also a great blessing to see the co-operation of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and other public bodies in our aspirations.”

Malcolm said: “As I was a textiles student at Lews Castle College over 50 years ago, I am deeply touched to have been awarded the honorary fellowship.”

Honorary Fellowships are given to people who have made a significant contribution to the university or who have gained recognition for their activities in education, industry, public service or cultural and creative work.

 


Ùghdar agus gaisgeach na Gàidhlig aithnichte le duaisean oilthighe

Tha co-ùghdar leabhair air mòr-thubaist HMY Iolaire agus gaisgeach foghlaim Gàidhlig air comhaltachdan urramach fhaighinn bho Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean.

Chaidh duaisean a thoirt dha Calum MacDhòmhnaill agus Anna Nic Suain aig cuirm ceumnachaidh Colaisde a’ Chaisteil UHI ann an Eaglais Cuimhneachaidh Mhàrtainn, Steòrnabhagh, air Dihaoine 23 Lùnastal.

Tha sinn a’ toirt Comhaltachdan Urramach do dhaoine a chuir gu mòr ris an oilthigh no a tha air aithne fhaighinn airson na rinn iad ann am foghlam, gnìomhachas, seirbheis phoblach no obair chultarach is chruthachail.

Bha Mgr Dòmhnallach, a dh’fhàs suas ann an Steòrnabhagh, na cho-ùghdar air The Darkest Dawn còmhla ri Domhnall Iain MacLeòid, nach maireann. Air fhoillseachadh ann an 2018, tha an leabhar a’ toirt cunntas air cùis-mhulaid an Iolaire, bàta a chaidh fodha faisg air cala Steòrnabhaigh san Fhaoilleach 1919, ag adhbharachadh gun do chaill mòran dè luchd-dìon a’ Chabhlaich Rìoghail am beatha a’ tilleadh dhachaigh aig deireadh a’ Chiad Chogaidh.

Bha an leabhar a’ cur deireadh air 20 bliadhna de rannsachadh agus tha dligheachdan gan toirt do dh’Ospais Bethesda ann an Steòrnabhagh gach bliadhna. Chaidh còrr air £8,800 a thoirt seachad san Ògmhios. Chaill Mgr Dòmhnallach, a tha na chathraiche air Comann Eachdraidh Steòrnabhaigh airson còrr is deich bliadhna, a sheanair san tubaist.

Tha cùrsa-beatha Anna Nic Suain, a rugadh agus a thogadh ann an Nis air Eilean Leòdhais, air a bhith ag amas air inbhe na Gàidhlig agus beatha nan daoine a tha a’ fuireach anns na h-Eileanan Siar àrdachadh.

Thòisich i a beatha phroifeasanta na tidsear Gàidhlig ann an Àrd-sgoil MhicNeacail ann an Steòrnabhagh ann an 1973, agus bha dreuchdan aice le buidhnean a’ gabhail a-steach Pròiseact Foghlaim Coimhearsnachd Van Leer agus Comhairle nan Eilean mus do thòisich i ann an Colaisde a’ Chaisteil UHI ann an 1994. Bha i na pàirt den sgioba a thug a-steach a’ chiad cheum BA ann an Gàidhlig agus tha i air a bhith a’ riochdachadh Colaisde a’ Chaisteil UHI agus an t-oilthigh aig mòran fhòraman nàiseanta Gàidhlig.

Chaidh A’ Bh-ph NicSuain ainmeachadh mar Leas-Mhorair-ionaid a’ Chrùin do na h-Eileanan Siar ann an 2011, dreuchd a chì i a’ toirt taic don Mhorair-ionaid anns an dreuchd aige mar riochdaire na Banrigh.

Chaidh na comhaltachdan urramach a thoirt dha Calum agus Anna còmhla ri oileanaich ceumnachaidh 61 agus buannaichean dhuaisean. Bhuilich an t-Àrd-ollamh Crichton Lang, a ghabh dreuchd Prionnsapal agus Iar-Sheansalair Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean air 1 Lùnastal, an ceum oilthighe agus duaisean SQA ann an cuspairean bho saidheans slàinte beòil gu innleadaireachd lùtha.

Thuirt e: “Bu mhath leam meal a naidheachd a chur air a h-uile ceumnaiche agus buannaiche duais an-diugh. Bha e na urram a bhith ann a thoirt aithne do thoradh an cuid obrach chruaidh agus an diongmhaltas. Bha sinn cuideachd air leth toilichte a bhith a’ comharrachadh thabhartasan agus euchdan Anna NicSuain agus Chaluim MhicDhòmhnaill. Tha Anna air a bhith gu mòr an sàs ann an stèidheachadh Gàidhlig aig cridhe an oilthighe againn agus tha rannsachadh mionaideach Chaluim air luchd-èisteachd ionadail agus cruinneil a chuideachadh gus barrachd ionnsachadh mu aon de na cùisean-mhulaid mara as miosa a bha againn. ”

Thuirt Anna: “Aig àm mar seo tha cuimhne agad air a h-uile duine a chuidich thu thar nam bliadhnaichean. Do theaghlach, iadsan a bhrosnaich thu nad òige, co-obraichean agus a’ choimhearsnachd san fharsaingeachd. Ach an-diugh tha cuimhne agam le taingealachd an sgioba san robh mi an sàs ann an cruthachadh nan ceumannan Gàidhlig an seo aig Colaiste Caisteal Leòdhais agus aig Sabhal Mòr Ostaig agus cuideachd aig Colaiste Inbhir Nis. B’ e an rud a bha air leth buannachdail a bhith a’ faicinn luchd-fàgail na sgoile a’ faighinn cothrom a bhith ag ionnsachadh gun a bhith a’ fàgail nan eilean agus gu sònraichte inbhich a’ tilleadh, fireann agus boireann, a thug uimhir de dh’eòlas pearsanta dha na clasaichean. Tha mòran de na h-oileanaich sin a-nis air am fastadh gu soirbheachail ann am foghlam agus na meadhanan an seo anns na h-eileanan agus nas fhaide air falbh. Bha e cuideachd na bheannachd mhòr a bhith a’ faicinn co-obrachadh Chomhairle nan Eilean Siar agus buidhnean poblach eile nar miannan.”

Thuirt Calum: “Leis gu robh mi nam oileanach aodach ann an Colaiste Caisteal Leòdhais o chionn 50 bliadhna, tha e na thoileachas mòr dhomh gun d’ fhuair mi an comhaltachd urramach seo.”