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VisitScotland has launched a blueprint for Gaelic culture tourism during Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week).

The new strategy aims to deliver authentic and memorable visitor experiences by celebrating Gaelic culture, heritage and language.

The Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland 2024 - 2029 was launched at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, with VisitScotland declaring the Gaelic language represents a “compelling opportunity” and a unique selling point for the Scottish tourism industry as well as being an authentic part of the experience of visiting Scotland.  

The strategy highlights an increasing interest domestically and internationally in the Gaelic language and culture, which creates opportunities for tourism and events businesses across Scotland.

From 2018 to 2021, there was a 72% increase in visitscotland.com users visiting Gaelic-related content.

VisitScotland’s strategy has been developed in conjunction with the Scottish tourism industry, the Scottish government, Creative Scotland, and Historic Environment Scotland.

It sets out five strategic priorities: 

* Increasing industry awareness of Gaelic tourism opportunities
* Supporting the creation of Gaelic experiences through skills and training for the tourism industry
* Increasing visitor awareness of Gaelic and maximise opportunities to promote the language, culture and heritage
* Establishing connections between tourism and other sectors, identifying opportunities for collaboration
* Developing research and insights.

The launch of the strategy by VisitScotland Director of Industry & Destination Development, Rob Dickson and Joy Dunlop, Director of Seachdain na Gàidhlig, was used to highlight some of the ways Gaelic is being used in the tourism, culture and heritage sectors.

Among these is the Cairngorms National Park Authority, which has created an interactive storytelling local Shinty Trail (Slighe na Camanachd). It allows visitors to explore the sport’s history and its importance to the Gaelic language.

Glasgow, home to the largest Gaelic community outside the Western Isles, has developed Glaschu.net, a website showcasing the Gaelic heritage of the different neighbourhoods in Glasgow and encouraging people to enjoy new Gaelic experiences in Glasgow.

Amina Shah, National Library of Scotland’s chief executive, welcomed the strategy. The library is currently hosting the Sgeul exhibition, the venue’s first dual-language exhibition, bringing to life the central role of the storytelling tradition in Gaelic culture.

The National Library of Scotland also houses the largest collection of Scottish Gaelic manuscripts worldwide and is committed to playing a key role in celebrating Gaelic language, culture and heritage.

Published to coincide with Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week), ten new recordings of Gaelic songs have been added to the Fuaran project, established by Fèisean nan Gàidheal to encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers and singers to actively engage in the research and collection of Gaelic songs in their local area.

Six young people aged between 16 and 25 took part in the fourth series of Fuaran in 2023 and the new recordings have been added to the Fuaran archive which now consists of more than 100 songs, a valuable resource for local Fèisean and anyone interested in Gaelic song.  The participants were Shannon MacLean (Mull), Mirren Ward (Glasgow), Iris MacLeod (Edinburgh), Caitlin Yule (Cumbernauld), Aileas MacLeod (Isle of Skye), and Eilidh MacPhee (Inverness).

The participants carried out research in their own communities to find out more about the stories of the songs.  Over six months they had the opportunity to learn about the necessary skills for researching Gaelic song from experts such as Màiri MacFadyen, Ceitlin Lilidh and Gillebrìde MacMillan.

 

They had help throughout the project with the songs they had identified from Jo MacDonald and also Deirdre Graham, who assisted in preparations for recording.  The songs were recorded by Barry Reid at the Old Brewery run by Cromarty Arts Trust.  Over a weekend the singers attended workshops with Julie Fowlis, Eamon Doorley and Ewen Henderson and had the chance to share their research with each other and have a sing together as well.

The videos for each song were recorded by John McDiarmid at the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow and were then edited by Zoe Patterson MacInnes.

Eilidh MacPhee said of the experience: “I enjoyed taking part in Fuaran this year because it gave me the opportunity to research and find new songs which I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s Development Officer, Abi Reid, who managed the project said: “It was a pleasure to work on the Fuaran project with such a lovely group.  I was enjoyable to see their research come together over the months and we had a great, creative weekend in Cromarty last August.   I’m really happy the videos are now online and hope the singers are feeling extremely proud of their achievements!”

“Fèisean nan Gàidheal is very grateful to each singer who took part in Fuaran in 2023 and the songs that they found and the information that they researched will contribute greatly to the Fuaran archive.  We would also like to thank Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Creative Scotland for funding to support the project.”

Ealasaid MacDonald, Ceannard (CEO), Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “Projects like Fuaran are very important to Gaelic culture.  It's vital that young people are encouraged to engage with and learn about Gaelic songs and music, especially songs written in and about their own communities and the places around them.  The fact they are then recorded and published for the rest of us to enjoy is a wonderful bonus.”

The recordings can be found at www.feisean.org/fuaran.

Fèisean nan Gàidheal will soon be accepting applications for Fuaran 2024 so keep an eye on our website and social media pages for more information.


Top Image credit: Ruth Chamberlain