Margaret Nicolson presenting Eilidh Rankin with her award

 

The fifth Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture was delivered by Ian MacDonald at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, where he gave a wide-ranging talk, entitled “Sorley MacLean: Life and Poetry”, on the life and work of the famous Raasay bard.

The annual lecture was established five years ago by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Urras an Eilein (Skye Gaelic Trust) - two organisations which Sir Iain helped to establish and with which he enjoyed enduring ties during his lifetime - to honour the work and achievements of Sir Iain, especially with regard to the College, the island and the Gaelic language.

As part of the evening’s proceedings, the inaugural “Skye’s Young Gaelic Person of the Year” award was presented to Eilidh Rankin from Kilmaluag in North Skye for her contribution to the use and promotion of Gaelic.

Eilidh attended the local primary school in Kilmuir and then Portree High School. She was involved in many Gaelic events in her youth -  including drama groups and productions such as “Na Mo Chuid Aodaich” as well as local and national Mods where she competed in various competitions for poetry, storytelling, conversation and reading.

Since leaving school, Eilidh has continued with her commitment to the Gaelic language. At first she worked at the Gaelic Childcare Facility, Fàs Mòr, in Sleat, and in more recent years she has worked as the Project Officer for FilmG, MG ALBA’s Gaelic short film competition, which is delivered by Cànan, the multi-media company based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Urras an Eilein Trust Administrator Murdo Beaton said: “We congratulate Eilidh, who was a very worthy winner of this new award. Urras an Eilein intends for this award to be presented at future Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lectures and we are hopeful that next year many other young people from Skye communities will be nominated for the award.”

After receiving her reward on the night, Eilidh Rankin said: “It’s fantastic that Urras an Eilein wants to support young people who have made a commitment to the language. I am delighted, and very surprised, even to have been nominated, and privileged to be the first winner of such a prestigious award.”

It was through the vision and efforts of Sir Iain that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was established in 1973. The college is now part of the University of the Highlands and Islands and offers courses in various subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level all through the medium of Gaelic. Sir Iain was a successful merchant banker and businessman, but is perhaps best remembered in the Highlands for his constant and proactive support of Gaelic.

As such it was fitting that this year’s lecture looked at the life and work of Sorley MacLean, a life-long champion of the language whose poetry earned international acclaim which, in turn, helped to raise the profile of Gaelic among a global audience. Like Sir Iain, Sorley was also an important figure in the early history of the College, as one of the first Trustees of the College’s Board and also as the second ‘Filidh’ or Poet in Residence of the College in 1975.

Ian MacDonald is from Grimsay in North Uist, and has been a key figure in Gaelic publishing for many years, both as an editor and as the Director of the Gaelic Books Council, the principal organisation responsible for Gaelic literature in Scotland. He retired from the Books Council six years ago, but still assists authors and does editorial work. He played a major part in the Scottish Qualifications Authority initiative to produce the Gaelic Orthographic Conventions report and is a member of the Corpus Steering Committee recently established by Bòrd na Gàidhlig. He was co-compiler with Boyd Robertson of the Essential Gaelic Dictionary, published by Hodder.

Ian MacDonald said: “For me it was a great honour to give the Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture, and the topic I was given was very appropriate, in view of Sorley MacLean’s own very close relationship with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.”
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “There are very few people who possess the depth and breadth of knowledge of Gaelic literature that Ian Mac Donald has. As well as being an expert on linguistic matters and an editor par excellence, he is a fine scholar, as was evident in the lecture he delivered on Wednesday evening about the life and poetry of Sorley MacLean. The lecture was informed, reflective and insightful and worthy of publication.”

 

Chaidh a’ chòigeamh Òraid Chuimhneachaidh air Sir Iain Noble a thoirt seachad le Iain MacDhòmhnaill aig Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Diciadain sa chaidh (9 Samhain), agus b’ e cuspair na h-òraide aige “Somhairle MacGill-Eain: Beatha is Bàrdachd”.
Chaidh an Òraid a stèidheachadh o chionn còig bliadhna le Sabhal Mòr Ostaig OGE agus Urras an Eilein, dà bhuidhinn ris an robh dlùth-cheangal aig Sir Iain fad iomadh bliadhna, mar chuimhneachan air an obair mhòr a rinn Sir Iain don Cholaiste, don sgìre agus don Ghàidhlig.
B’ ann air sgàth lèirsinn agus oidhirpean Shir Iain a chaidh Sabhal Mòr Ostaig a chur air bhonn ann an 1973 – agus an Sabhal an-diugh a’ tabhann ghrunn chùrsaichean aig ìre fo-cheum is for-cheum tro mheadhan a’ chànain. Choisinn Sir Iain cliù dha fhèin na bheatha mar bhancair, neach-gnothaich agus neach-gnìomhachais, ach air a’ Ghàidhealtachd ’s cinnteach gu bheil e nas aithnichte airson na h-obrach a rinn e a thaobh na Gàidhlig agus a cheangal leis a’ Cholaiste.
Mar sin bha e air leth iomchaidh gum b’ e cuspair òraid chuimhneachaidh na bliadhna sa beatha is saothair Shomhairle MhicGill-Eain, fear a chuir bàrdachd Ghàidhlig agus gu dearbh a’ Ghàidhlig fhèin fo chomhair an t-saoghail mhòir, agus fear aig an robh dlùth-cheangal e fhèin ris a’ Cholaiste tràth na h-eachdraidh. Bha Somhairle air aon de na ciad Urrasairean a bh’ air Bòrd an t-Sabhail agus b’ e an dàrna Filidh a bh’ aig a’ Cholaiste ann an 1975.
’S ann à Griomasaigh a tha Iain MacDhòmhnaill, agus tha e air a bhith an sàs ann an saoghal litreachas na Gàidhlig fad iomadach bliadhna, mar neach-deasachaidh agus mar Stiùiriche Chomhairle nan Leabhraichean, a’ phrìomh bhuidheann-taice do litreachas na Gàidhlig. Leig e dheth a dhreuchd aig a’ Chomhairle o chionn sia bliadhna, ach tha e fhathast ag obair a’ cuideachadh ùghdaran agus a’ deasachadh leabhraichean. Bha e gu mòr an sàs anns an iomairt aig Ùghdarras Theisteanas na h-Alba air Gnàthachas Litreachaidh na Gàidhlig agus tha e na bhall den Bhuidhinn-Stiùiridh Corpais a stèidhich Bòrd na Gàidhlig o chionn ghoirid. Bha e na cho-dheasaiche le Boyd Robasdan air an Essential Gaelic Dictionary, a chaidh fhoillseachadh le Hodder.
Thuirt Iain MacDhòmhnaill: “Bha e na urram mòr dhòmhsa Òraid Chuimhneachaidh Shir Iain Noble a thoirt seachad, agus bha an cuspair a thugadh dhomh glè fhreagarrach, is ceangal cho làidir aig Somhairle MacGill-Eain fhèin ris an t-Sabhal.”
Thuirt Prionnsapal Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, an t-Ollamh Boyd Robasdan: “Chan eil mòran dhaoine aig a bheil an doimhneachd eòlais agus an fharsaingeachd seallaidh a th’ aig Iain MacDhòmhnaill air litreachas na Gàidhlig. A thuilleadh air a bhith na eòlaiche cànain is na neach-deasachaidh barraichte, ’s e fìor sgoilear a th’ ann agus bha sin follaiseach san òraid a thug e seachad mu bheatha is mu bhàrdachd Shomhairle MhicGill-Eain oidhche Chiadain.  Bha an òraid fiosraichte, breithneachail is lèirsinneach agus airidh air a cur an clò.”
A bharrachd air an òraid, chaidh duais shònraichte a thoirt seachad air an oidhche airson a’ chiad uair le Urras an Eilein airson “Neach Òg na Bliadhna”. Tha an duais ga buileachadh air neach òg às an Eilean Sgitheanach a tha air daoine a bhrosnachadh gu bhith cleachdadh na Gàidhlig agus a tha air inbhe a’ chànain a thogail tro an cuid saothrach is dìchill.
’S i Eilidh NicFhraing à Cille mo Luaig san Eilean Sgitheanach a thog duais na bliadhna-sa. Chaidh Eilidh gu Bun-sgoil Chille Mhoire agus an uair sin gu Àrd-sgoil Phort Rìgh, far an robh e na chleachdadh dhi a bhith togail dhuaisean aig Mòdan ionadail is nàiseanta, gu h-àraidh airson bàrdachd, sgeulachdan, còmhradh agus leughadh.
Bhon uair sin tha Eilidh air a beòshlaint a dhèanamh ann an dreuchdan Gàidhlig. Chuir i seachad beagan bhliadhnaichean ag obair aig an ionad cùraim-chloinne Ghàidhlig, Fàs Mòr, mus do thòisich i san dreuchd anns a bheil i an-diugh agus i na h-Oifigear Pròiseict airson na farpais chliùitich, FilmG, a tha stèidhichte aig Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
Thuirt Murchadh Peutan, Rianadair Urras an Eilein, “Tha sinn a’ cur meal-a-naidheachd air Eilidh, a bha air leth airidh air an duais. Tha Urras an Eilein a’ sùileachadh gum bi an duais seo air a toirt seachad gach bliadhna aig Òraid Chuimhneachaidh Shir Iain Noble, agus tha sinn an dòchas gum bi deagh thaghadh de thagraichean againn an ath-bhliadhna cuideachd.”
Às dèidh dhi an duais a thogail air an oidhche, thuirt Eilidh NicFhraing, “Tha e àibheiseach a bhith faicinn gu bheil Urras an Eilein airson taic a chumail ri daoine òga aig a bheil ùidh ann an Gàidhlig agus ’s e urram mòr a th’ ann gun deach mo chur air adhart airson a leithid de dhuais.”