Sunday, 20 December 2015
In search of Gaelic - Glasgow
I would love to have the time and resources to devote to a full-time course at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, but my job in London and my wee dog Dougal put paid to that. Fortunately, living simply in an Airstream trailer means that I only have to work 50%, and as I work in the travel industry I can do a ton of extra shifts during the holiday seasons, then take extra time off during term time.
That is exactly what I did this autumn. I took time off which meant I only needed to go back to London every fortnight, giving me four clear runs of 10 days in Glasgow. Commuting was done on the Caledonian Sleeper, and what a wonderful way to travel that is:
On the first set of days off, I headed on up to the Isle of Lewis in search of Gaelic (see earlier blog entry), then on the next three blocks I stayed in the city itself.
What a brilliant time I had. It is fair to say that if you have the time, and the devotion, you can find a stack of Gaelic in the city.
If you look at the Gaelic Map of Glasgow, you'll see that there are opportunities galore for structured learning, but not so many 'drop in' sessions of the kind I was looking for.
A great place to start when looking for more informal Gaelic events is the An Lòchran website (click on the name) where you can find a list of events coming up. Be warned that many events are only listed a week or so before they take place, so keep checking back.
I hit jackpot as soon as I landed in Glasgow, as there was a stack of events going on.
First off was the Gaelic music session at the Lios Mòr (Lismore) pub in Partick on the first Wednesday of the month. I went along and for the first hour enjoyed the music but didn't really know anybody. However, Calum (of Beag Air Bheag fame) introduced himself to me and we had a good chat for half an hour in Gaelic, then I met a really nice guy MB who was also a more advanced learner, and we chatted for the rest of the night. It was a brilliant evening. I guess, though, like any pub night, you will have some nights that are quiet and others that are terrific.
Two nights later on the Friday night I was in the basement of the Argyll Hotel on Sauchiehall Street at Àdamh O' Broin's event, the An Gealbhan social. The night I went was a quiet night and my Gaelic wasn't quite up to the fluency of the others there, but it was a fun and interesting evening.
Next day, by pure luck, the Irish/Scottish group Gaels Le Cheile put on a day of language classes, aimed mainly at those looking to learn Irish Gaelic but also with sessions for those of us looking to improve our Scottish Gaelic. As such, I spent a fantastic day with the brilliant Joy Dunlop, going through a ton of pronounciation exercises and other really useful stuff. The event was, sadly, under-subscribed but I wonder if that's because there wasn't a huge amount of advance notice given. I would seriously take a day off work and make the trek from Dover to Glasgow for another session like that.
Finally, the following Wednesday, I made the journey back to Partick for the lunchtime session at the Gaelic Bookshop (An Lèanag) with Inbhich gu Fileanteas, a structured two hour weekly session for those looking to improve their Gaelic fluency. It was a super crowd and I was made to feel warmly welcome. The two hour session is led by two separate fluent Gaelic speakers and it was a really worthwhile experience; so much so that I shall be heading back hopefully once every month or two just to catch up with them all as work and finances allow.
Let's not forget that there are plenty of other opportunities in Glasgow to put your Gaelic skills to test, whether it is craic at the Park Bar or one of the many other formal learning events that take place through the university or through An Lòchran.
Sadly, the combination of migraine attacks and needing to go to work at weekends curtailed my activities and I didn't get to as many events as I had originally planned. But I have to say, if you're looking for somewhere to go and practice your Gaelic and you are prepared to 'put yourself out there', Glasgow is definitely the place.