CLI in Nairn: make a note of the date!

Hallo a (bh)charaidean!
CLI Gaidhlig, an organisation that runs excellent courses in Gaelic, is coming to Nairn! There will be a one day Saturday course for all levels of Gaelic Learners in Nairn. The proposed date is Sat 13 May. Does anyone know of any big events which are on in Nairn that day? Please let me know, as we don't want it to clash with anything major. The Cost will be £25 but those living in Nairnshire will be subsidised by £10 to £15 ( from money from Gaelic in the Community Scheme). I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile pencil the date in your diaries.
Le durachd Janice


Gàidhlig unit at Millbank gets go-ahead

How it was reported in the P&J:
'A Gaelic medium unit will be established in Nairn, it was agreed by Highland Council yesterday. The prospect of a Gaelic unit in the town attracted criticism from Nairn councillor John Matheson, who remains opposed to the setting up of the unit. Previously Mr Matheson had claimed it was "the wrong time politically" to open the unit in Nairn.At the education, culture and sport committee meeting in Inverness yesterday it was agreed unanimously that a Gaelic medium department would be established at Millbank School from August, subject to the availability of additional accommodation and teacher staff, but if the target date is not possible, Gaelic medium provision will be established as soon as reasonably practicable.Bruce Robertson, director of education, said: "This will be our latest development in Gaelic medium education and it's excellent that we have been able to bring Gaelic medium provision to the most easterly part of the Highlands."'
For the full P&J article please see here.
Some comment from the web now:
‘S e ceum mòr air adhart th’ ann. Rinn Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd co-dhùnadh an-dè airson aonad foghlaim trom mheadhan na Gàidhlig a chur air bhog ann an Inbhir Narann. Abair naidheachd, a-nis bidh Gàidhlig beò ann an Inbhir Narann air bilean ginealach eile. Tha mi uabhasach fhèin toilichte airson nam pàrant, tha iadsan air a bhith a’ strì airson an cuid coireachan airson bharrachd air 20 bhliadhna. Thuirt Sarah Ralph dhan Phress & Journal an diugh. ‘Tha daoine bruidhinn Gàidhlig ann an Inbhir Narann, mise nam measg, agus tha fhios agam gur e feadhainn a-mach mu dheidhinn ciamar a bu chòir dhuinn a bhith ag ionnsachadh canain eile a leithid Mandarin air sgàth ‘s gur e canan gnothaich a th’ann. Ach chan eil beatha mu dheidhinn gnothaich, tha i mu dheidhinn cultair agus dualchas. Tha Gàidhlig mu chuairt oirnn., ‘s e ar cultar agus dualchas. Tha i fhathast ga faicinn ann an ainmean àiteachean. Thug iad bhuainn le fòirneart i. Chuir iad caisg oirre sna sgoiltean. Mar sin nuair a tha iad ag ràdh gur e chanan aig uchd bàis a th’ innte, cha robh i a’ bàsachadh gu nàdarra. Tha faireachdainn làidire agamsa mu a deidhinn.’ Sin thu fhèin Sarah, air sgath ‘s a h-uile càil a rinn thusa agus do chàirdean bidh Gàidhlig air ais aig cridhe ar coimhearsnachd. ‘S math a rinn sibh!


Highland Council Workshops for parents in Nairn

Supporting Children’s Gaelic outside School

Workshops for Parents

Exposure to Gaelic outside the school, and particularly at home, can have a great influence on a child’s attitude to the language and on his or her ability to get the best from Gaelic-medium education. Comhairle na Gaidhealtachd/Highland Council is running two informal workshops for parents of children interested in Gaelic-medium education. The aim is to provide information and advice about giving practical support to children’s Gaelic outside the classroom.

These workshops will take place on Tuesday 21st March and Wednesday 29th March, between 7.00 pm and 9.00 pm, in the Newton Hotel, Nairn. The topics will be as follows:

Tuesday 21st March: Raising Gaelic-Speaking Children
Trying to raise Gaelic-speaking children in an (apparently) English-speaking world presents parents with a number of issues to deal with. No matter what their own ability in Gaelic, there is a lot that parents can do.

Wednesday 29th March: Supporting Gaelic-Speaking Children – Things to Do
This will deal with effective ways of supporting the work of the school through educational activities in the home and outside. The workshop will give an opportunity to find out about books, video and audio tapes, CDs, websites, and television and radio programmes.

We do hope that you will be able to attend these workshops; we want them to be relaxed, yet helpful and informative. Previous workshops in other areas have been very well received by parents, who saw them as a welcome opportunity to raise questions, get advice, pick up ideas and find out about Gaelic resources. Tea, coffee, etc. will be provided


Nairn Parents meeting held Weds 5 Oct

NAIRN PARENTS’ INITIATIVE FOR A GAELIC MEDIUM EDUCATION UNIT MINUTES OF MEETING HELD WEDNESDAY 5 OCTOBER 2005 AT 19:30 NAIRN COMMUNITY CENTRE The minutes of the previous meeting were approved. Apologies from HR, DJMacL and DMcD who informed the group, via e-mail, late the same day, that they would not be able to attend. This did not give the group enough time to cancel the meeting, so in their absence, Janice McLeod chaired the meeting. It was agreed that although this changed the nature of the meeting, the time should still be used as an idea forum to discuss relevant issues and share information about the progress made so far. The reason given by the above absentees for their non-appearance, was that since the Council meeting scheduled for August last had not taken place, there was insufficient further progress to merit a meeting. The councillors present said the next Nairn Area Committee Meeting would be 25 October 2005 and that discussions have taken place and are ongoing re GME in Nairn. They estimated the cost for a unit would be £1000,000 for a 2 Classroom unit. The Scottish Executive would meet 75% of this cost, but the councillors said there was already a deficit in the local budget. A possible site had been identified at Millbank Primary School and the old canteen was scheduled for demolition around Easter, but it was felt this would be too late for the promised start-up date of August 2006. Since the initial meeting on 27 April 2005, D J MacLeod had proposed that a part-time teacher would be in place to maintain and develop the Gaelic Language abilities of the current P1 pupils on the waiting list, so that they would not be disadvantaged when they hopefully started at the GM unit in Sept 2006 when they were in P2. Parents saw this as a positive step forward. The post had apparently been advertised but there had been no applicants. CD questioned where the job had been advertised, as it was known that there was at least 1 local person who was qualified and willing to apply, but this person had been unaware that the post had been advertised. Findlay McLeod of CNSA suggested that Nairn is the only place in Scotland where a GME unit has been refused and felt that it was being deliberately blocked locally. He thought that the reasons given were always to do with accommodation or staff or money, but he real reason is that there is a lack of will in Nairn. The councillors responded that there is a budget deficit, but again it was thought that with the Scottish Executive’s financial help, it should be feasible to achieve the objective of a GME unit, especially since EU funding is available for minority languages. It was suggested that Nairn Parents would have to protest to get something, which is their legal right. The councillors were asked whether GME was on the agenda of the next Committee meeting. They said it was not. JM said that if you asked the people of Nairn if they would rather money was spent on a new Bailey Bridge or a GME unit, he knew what their response would be. In response to this comment it was noted that the people of Nairn would never be offered a choice like that, so the point was irrelevant and again it was strongly felt that the local council is very anti-Gaelic. It was agreed that to further the cause, there would have to be clarity and two-way communication and that there should be a parent delegation to discuss things further with the authorities e.g. councillors, Director of Education, MSP’s, Scottish Office etc. It was also agreed that a letter should be drafted to the absent DJMacL, DMcD and HR and a list of questions and issues attached. Copies of this correspondence should be kept and sent to other interested parties from whom the parents could expect support. People have to be informed of what is happening and there should perhaps be a press release when the next meeting is scheduled. FM asked the three local councillors present (EMacD, JM and LF) what their opinions were on GME. LF said he kept an open mind and would support parents who wanted it and that he said the same two years ago. JM spoke of the need to be very careful in airing personal opinions at the meeting in the light of the major shortfall in the education budget, and that we should not be entering into new commitments. There were other priorities. LF said a music teacher had recently been lost because of cuts. E McD said she would also keep an open mind. She told the meeting that she had been a founder member of the Gaelic Playgroup in Nairn. She said that she was also on the School Board of Millbank PS and that the school had other pressures, e.g. school canteen in need of repair. MM said that 75% of funding for the GME unit would be coming from the Scottish Executive. It was asked whether perhaps the percentage could be increased and also whether Eleanor Scott MSP could help, as resources seem to be the main problem. JM said the group’s timing was atrocious in light of the £7 million budget deficit problem, but excellent from another point of view; the Gaelic Act gives equal respect to Gaelic and English. This has a regulatory function, which is required to take forward policies and standards of Community Education. At present twenty years of GME across Scotland are being celebrated. DMacG said Bord na Gaidhlig had been set up to extend language use and raise levels of acquisition and the current Minister for Education was positive towards GME, which also helped foster a positive feeling for the future of GME. FMcL said the councillors should be praised for attending and thanked them. CD said that parents would have to write letters and with existing letters of support, as well as letters of assurance that a GME unit would be up and running in time for August 2006. She said she would be ready to take it further to achieve the desired end. FMcL said the most important thing for the future of GME in Nairn was positive communication, building relationships and driving real issues forward. It was worth offering to go and meet the absent Council Officials to discuss this. In a letter to them the group should set a date for reporting back and set a mutually agreed date for a future open meeting. As an initial response, it was agreed that a letter to DJ MacL, HR and DMcD would be written expressing disappointment at the lack of communication, and to initiate dialogue and face to face contact with a parent delegation. JMcL thanked everyone for attending and drew the meeting to a close.


Meeting Millbank Wed 1 Feb 7.30.p.m.

Teachdaireachd bho pàrant ann an Inbhir Narann/ Message from Nairn Parent:

Hallo a (bh)charaidean
Hector Robertson (Area Education Manager for the Highland Council) has written to Parents inviting them to attend a meeting at Millbank Primary School, Nairn on Wed 1 Feb at 7.30pm to discuss the proposal of GM unit in Millbank Primary School, Nairn.

The meeting, to be chaired by Councillor A Anderson, Chairman; Education, Culture and Sport Committee, is to discuss the implications of the Consultative Paper issued in Dec 2005. See attached copy.

Written comments can also be sent to the Area Education Manager, 13 Ardross Street, Inverness IV3 5NS to arrive no later than Tuesday 21 Feb 2006.

I am unsure of the protocol and wonder if it is an open meeting or not, perhaps some of you will know.
As always your support is always appreciated.


Ruairidh MacIlleathain - lecture

Ruairidh MacIlleathain (Roddy Maclean), the author of “The Gaelic Place Names and Heritage of Inverness” will be giving an illustrated lecture on the “Gaelic Place Names of Inverness” for the Nairn Literary Institute in:
St Ninian’s Church Hall, Queen Street,
Nairn this Friday 9th December at 7.30 pm.
I understand that non-members can attend for a fee of £2.50.


Nairn parents attack councillor over his Gaelic-medium unit stance

by Paul Wilson
Press and Journal 23 11 05

Parents have accused a senior Highland councillor of burying his head in the sand over his opposition to a Gaelic medium primary school.

They said they were dismayed by Councillor John Matheson’s claim it was “the wrong time politically” to open a Gaelic medium unit at Millbank School, Nairn.

Mr Matheson, who represents Nairn Alltan and is chairman of Highland Council’s resources committee, criticised his colleagues for starting a consultation process over a new Gaelic school at the request of a large number of parents.

He said there was no Gaelic community in Nairn and that a Gaelic school could mean the town missing out on other things.

Tommy and Janice Macleod of Auldearn, near Nairn, send their child to Nairn’s Gaelic nursery school.

Mrs Macleod said: “Gaelic medium education in Nairn should have happened more than 100 years ago.

“In 1826, 62% of the people in Nairnshire spoke Gaelic. If Gaelic medium education existed then Gaelic would still be widely spoken in Nairn.

“Many people outwith the area are amazed a Highland town the size of Nairn does not have a Gaelic medium unit within a primary school.

“In fact, I think Nairn is the only Highland town of its size not to have this facility.”

Mr Macleod said: “I agree that you can’t retain a language unless it is the language of the home and the community, but I disagree that no community exists in Nairn.

“A community does exist and is thriving. Ask anyone who attends the Gaelic Choir, Croileagan (Gaelic nursery), various Gaelic language learners or the feis.

“You could also ask any other person of th 7.25% of Inverness and Nairn area who have some knowledge of the Gaelic language. I would certainly argue therefore that there is a Gaelic community in Nairn.”

But Mr Matheson yesterday stood by his opposition to the school and accused the parents calling for the Gaelic medium school of trying to ensure smaller class sizes for their children.

He said: “Simply having Gaelic primary education is not nearly enough to ensure the language will be preserved.

“We need it to be the language of the community and the language of the home.

“The danger is that once the youngsters are out of the school they will forget all about Gaelic – we need continuity throughout life if it is to be preserved.”

He said only a handful of children would be able to attend classes at the school because most people do not speak Gaelic.
More here on the
P&J site


Nairn Gaelic Playgroup: Family Ceilidh Dance 3rd December

Cròileagan Inbhir Narann
Ceilidh is Dannsa Teaghlaich
le Meantime
Tha Meantime air cliù mhòr a choisinn dhaibh fhèin mar luchd-ciùil air leth
(chaidh an cur air adhart airson Duais Ceòl Traidiseanta na h-Alba ann an 2004)
Na caillibh an cothrom seo!
Disathairne 3 Dùbhlachd 2005

Ionad Coimhearsnachd Inbhir Narann
7 – 11f

Ticeadan £3 Inbhich, £1 Clann, fo 2 bhliadhna an asgaidh

Tachartas Dà-chànanach
Dannsa Gàidhealach, Òrain Cloinne, Pìobaireachd agus Maic Fosgailte aig letheach-slighe
Stovies, Brot is Beicearachd gan Reic

Ticeadan bho Phàrantan, Ionad Coimhearsnachd Inbhir Narann, Fòn 07717 615177 no aig an doras [/color]

Nairn Gaelic Playgroup
Family Ceilidh Dance with Meantime
Meantime have built up an excellent reputation as one of the emerging talents on the current Gaelic Music Scene
(Scots Trad Music Award Nomination 2004)
Don’t miss this!

Sat 3 December 2005

Nairn Community Centre

7 – 11pm

Tickets £3 Adults, £1 Children, U2s free

Bilingual Event
Highland Dancing, Children’s Songs, Piping and Open Mike at interval

Stovies, Soup and Home Baking on Sale

Tickets from Parents, Nairn Community Centre,
Tel 07717615177 or at the door


Some responses to the Press re the John Matheson article

The Editor Press & Journal
Dear Sir
I am astounded by the comments of Councillor John Matheson of Nairn regarding Gaelic Medium Education (Press and Journal Monday 14 Nov 2005). Does the man in charge of the Council's resources not know that it costs the same for a teacher who speaks Gaelic as for one who speaks English and that is the only difference in a Gaelic Medium Class. Granted, there may be some additional cost associated with start up and the smaller class sizes in the early days but this will be marginal. If Councillor Matheson really wants to save money why hasn't he spoken up against the huge extra cost of the Schools Private Finance Initiative which is going to cost the Highland Council hundreds of millions more than the traditional method of financing? It appears he thinks it is alright for public money to go to line the pockets of private financiers but that he would deny his own claimed Gaelic tradition. With friends like Councillor Matheson Gaelic needs no enemies.
Yours sincerely. Dave Thompson

I was extremely angry, but not surprised, to read John Matheson'sill-informed comments regarding Gaelic medium education in Nairn. He saysthat the provision of a GME unit is financially 'bad timing' - for whom? MrMatheson fails to mention that 75% of the cost of a GME unit would be met bythe Scottish Executive, and that the local council is legally obliged toprovide GME education where a minimum of 4 children require it, (Nairncurrently has a list of at least 25 children whose parents want them to betaught through the medium of Gaelic. Local parents have tried three times toget a GME unit for the town, and have each time come up against a brick wallof intransigence. I was at a meeting a few weeks ago which was organised bya local parents' initiative for GME, at which Mr Matheson was present(although he declined to add his name to the attendance sheet), and it wasobvious from his contributions that the last thing he wants is a Gaelicschool for Nairn. He also thinks there is no Gaelic community in Nairn? I would suggest thenthat Mr Matheson obviously does not know his own town. Is he unaware of theexistence of the Gaelic pre-school nursery, the Gaelic toddler group, theGaelic choir and the Feis Inbhir Narainn which was such a success a fewweeks ago? As for Gaelic speakers, I was in the high street last Saturdayand in the space of 10 minutes I had spoken to two other Gaelic speakers,one a fellow learner and another native speaker. Moreover, the Gaeliclanguage classes are now well-established in Nairn. So if Mr Matheson thinksthat if Nairn gets a Gaelic Medium unit then he may not get re-elected in2007, perhaps this would be a good thing, given that he is so obviouslyout-of-touch with what is really happening in his own backyard.
Sarah RalphNairn

Nairn is going to get a Gaelic Medium Education unit because enough parents want it, and I just hope that when we do, Mr Matheson does not use it as a scapegoat for any future plans going ‘pear-shaped’ as he put it. How easy it will be for him to put the blame for the local council’s failings on the Gaelic Medium Unit!
Peter Ralph

If you listen more carefully about the town perhaps you might hear a bit of Gàidhlig. There are around two hundred people in Nairn who can speak, understand or read Gàidhlig. I’m a learner but I get plenty of chances to speak with native speakers or other learners in Nairn, not quite every time I go up the High Street but near enough. I just heard about the item on this site from a friend who lives locally (she explained it to me in Gàidhlig). There is a Gàidhlig community in Nairn, John! Gàidhlig exists side by side with English . I was just on my way back from the museum, I’d been looking at Census information the Cawdor Heritage group had been working on, in 1901 there were 1007 people in the Cawdor area, 203 of them spoke Gàidhlig. They didn’t get the chance to have their children educated in the language, maybe it is time to put things right? You’ve put in a lot of work over the years for Nairn, please don’t be remembered for this!
Des Scholes

I find it sad that there is such a struggle for people in Scotland to promote and celebrate their heritage and culture. Wales and Ireland look at their native tongue with pride and they thrive alongside English. As one of the parents involved with the request for the Gaelic medium,I would like to say this is the third attempt by parents in Nairn to get a Medium unit, the previous two attempts obviously did not come at the 'right time' either. We have the numbers , we can show continuity, the Scottish Executive will give 75% funding. If Nairn does not get the GMU the money will not be rerouted elsewhere within Nairn, our children will just miss out on a fantastic opportunity to keep gaelic alive, and hopefully help increase some of the statistics quoted from the Sunday Times. Finally for those who don't think there is a Gaelic community in Nairn, please come along to the Nairn Community Centre on the 3rd of December and join our thriving Gaelic community for a ceilidh. C Davidson, Inbhir Narann '

Response to Article in Press and Journal dated 12-11-2005 Article title: Challenge to Plan for Nairn Gael Primary School According to Mr Matheson, Gaelic Medium Education in pre-school has little effect. Little effect on what, might I ask ? Certainly not education. Gaelic Medium Education has been shown to, at the very least, produce equal positive outcomes regarding education and in many instances even better. I also question the supposition that it is, “ the wrong time politically” to grant parents request for a Gaelic Medium Unit. The time is, I believe, right, given that we have the historic Gaelic Act and are only a year and a half away from The Year of Highland Culture, what better time to promote Nairn as well as Gaelic (Pederson and Hecla Consulting, 2004 ). Pederson and Hecla identified that there would be substantial benefits from Gaelic development for Inverness and Nairn area. Benefits, which are already being felt, thanks to Gaelic, in the form of £1.8million generated for the area with 100 full-time jobs earning an average wage of £22.800. The time is financially ripe too, with 75% of the cost of a Gaelic Medium Education Unit being met by the Scottish Executive. I agree with Mr Matheson, when he says that, “you can’t retain a language unless it is the language of the home and the community”, but I disagree with him when he asserts that no community exists. A community, as defined by no less an authority than the Oxford Dictionary, does exist and is thriving. Ask any one who attends the Gaelic Choir, Croileagan (Gaelic nursery), various Gaelic Language learners groups or the Feis. You could also ask any other person of the 7.25% of the local population (Inverness and Nairn area) who have some knowledge of the Gaelic Language. I would certainly argue therefore, that there is a Gaelic Community in Nairn. Incidentally, the best way of ensuring the continuation of a Gaelic Community, according to Mr Matheson’s employers is, ”that education is the most important vehicle through which the decline of the language can be arrested and the route through which a renaissance in the language and culture be promoted. Highland Councils Gaelic Education policy seeks to do just that”. (Highland Council’s response to the Gaelic Bill). Given the opposition at times to Gaelic (something that has been described by the Education Minister Peter Peacock as, “a precious part of our history and culture”), I sometimes wonder if we have really come in the words of the same minister, “a long way since the dark days of 1616 when an act of parliament ruled that Gaelic should be abolished and removed from Scotland”.
Tomaidh MacLeoid
Response to Article in Press and Journal dated 12-11-2005 Article title: Challenge to Plan for Nairn Gael Primary School I am dismayed but not surprised at Councillor Matheson’s views. It is attitudes such as his that hinder Gaelic Development in Nairn. As a parent of a child in the Nairn Gaelic Playgroup, who is involved in the third request for a Gaelic Medium Unit in Nairn, I would like to correct John Matheson on a couple of points. Two of the four local councillors were personally invited to the initial meeting between Parents and Highland Council Officials. Neither of the councillors was able to attend. We then sent detailed minutes of the initial meeting to them. They and Councillor Matheson were then invited to the second and most recent meeting. So it cannot be said that there has been no member involvement. As to the point ‘no Gaelic Community exists in Nairn, why then does Nairn have a large Gaelic Choir, a well attended and valued Gaelic Nursery, a Gaelic Parent and Toddler Group, Adult Gaelic Language Evening Classes and a Feis? As to it being the wrong time politically, there never seems to be a good time. Gaelic Medium Education in Nairn should have happened more than a hundred years ago. In 1826, 62% of the people in Nairnshire spoke Gaelic. If Gaelic Medium Education existed then, Gaelic would still be widely spoken in Nairn. Many people out with the area are amazed that a Highland Town the size of Nairn does not have a Gaelic Medium Unit within a primary school. In fact, I think Nairn is the only Highland town of its size not to have this facility. Thank goodness for the Gaelic Language Act passed recently. We now have a good chance of reversing the trend. As to finance, are the public aware, that 75% of the funding for Gaelic Medium Primary School Education comes from the Scottish Executive Budget and not Local Authority. Councillor Matheson, if you truly wanted to preserve Gaelic Language and Culture, as you say you do, you would have a ‘can do’ attitude rather than the negative and destructive attitude you portray in this article. You are a politician with a Gaelic Heritage, don’t bury your head in the sand. Time is running out.
Seonaid NicLeoid (Janice McLeod)


John Matheson' s comments

As reported on the Press and Journal website 12 11 05
A Senior Highland councillor has warned that, if a Gaelic medium primary school is opened in Nairn, none of the serving councillors in the area will be re-elected. Councillor John Matheson, who chairs the council's resources committee, said to grant the request of a large number of parents for Gaelic-medium education now was the "wrong time politically". This is the first request to the council following the new Gaelic Language Act, which asks local authorities to consider such requests very seriously. The council's education culture and sport committee has agreed to start a formal consultation process, following the request. Mr Matheson said: "Discussions so far have been between officials and parents and there has been no member involvement. By the time members become involved, it will have already built up a head of steam and there is no chance to stop the consultation process. "I also have concerns about affordability. Because of the state of the budgets, we should not be entering into new commitments. "I am as committed to the preservation of the Gaelic language and culture as anyone else and my family comes from centuries of Gaelic tradition. Sorley MacLean's mother is a family member, as is Karen Matheson of Capercaillie. "But, from my own personal experience, I believe that Highland Council's policy falls short of what is required. Gaelic medium education in primary school has little effect, and you can't retain a language unless it is the language of the home and the community, and no community exists." Councillor Matheson added: "I would like members to be involved in the preparation of the consultation paper. Council policy is to provide Gaelic-medium education within available resources, and we don't have the resources. "Major projects scheduled for Nairn are going pear-shaped, and there is an expectation in Nairn that the council will do what it promised eight years ago. There is a danger that Nairn will end up with no more than a primary school Gaelic-medium unit. If that is the case, serving councillors standing again in 2007 will have little hope of being re-elected." The council's education chief Bruce Robertson said: "This is a formal request from parents and we are duty bound to respond to that."