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Gàidhlig Local Studies


(Quick download):

Second edition:
Vol. 01 (470 KB)
Vol. 02 (345 KB)*
Vol. 03 (427 KB)*
Vol. 04 (444 KB)
Vol. 05 (438 KB)
Vol. 06 (378 KB)
Vol. 07 (361 KB)
Vol. 08 (355 KB)
Vol. 09 (604 KB)
Vol. 10 (488 KB)

Vol. 11 (304 KB)
Vol. 12 (505 KB)
Vol. 13 (419 KB)
Vol. 14 (436 KB)
Vol. 15 (432 KB)
Vol. 16 (454 KB)
Vol. 17 (443 KB)
Vol. 18 (458 KB)
Vol. 19 (451 KB)
Vol. 20 (522 KB)

Vol. 21(1521 KB)
Vol. 22 (544 KB)
Vol. 23 (753 KB)
Vol. 24 (564 KB)
Vol. 25 (459 KB)
Vol. 26 (511 KB)
Vol. 27 (566 KB)

*Copies include additional 1881-1901 tables!

(116 KB)




Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) Local Studies



General introduction

In the framework of a number of European project initiatives it has been possible to investigate the development of Scottish Gaelic in local detail for the past 125 years. The studies deal with local communities which were predominantly Gaelic-speaking at the end of the 19th century. Based mainly (but not exclusively) on local population census information the reports strive to examine the state of the language through the ages from 1881 until today. The most relevant information is gathered comprehensively for the smallest geographical unit possible and provided area by area - a very useful reference for people with interest in their own community. Furthermore the impact of recent developments in education (namely teaching in Gaelic medium and Gaelic as a second language) is analysed for primary school catchments.

Since 1881 every decennial population census in Scotland included a question about the Gaelic-speaking population. Despite some difficulty in interpreting this data (what really means to tick a box being able to speak Gaelic) this long-term data set holds a wealth of sociological and historical information. It highlights the circumstances in which people speaking this Celtic language have lived and still live today. In most cases this data has been used only either for very problem-specific socio-linguistic studies or they were the basis of regional or Scotland wide analysis. However, it proved very difficult for people who were interested in their own local area to have a comprehensive overview of the number and distribution of Gaelic-speaking people right on their doorstep. This series covers all regions of Scotland where Scottish Gaelic (A'Ghàidhlig to be correct in its own words) was still spoken by a substantial part of the population at the start of the 20th century. Accordingly besides the main "Highland counties" of Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness and Argyll the fringe areas of Bute (including the Isle of Arran), western Caithness, Nairn, North Dunbartonshire and more particularly Highland Perthshire are covered. It is hoped that these small reports will be of interest not only to science people but also to those who have to cope with opinions like Gaelic was never spoken here in their own local community.

A copy of the bibliography may be downloaded separately. An important acknowledgement is given at the bottom of this page.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Third edition is being prepared! First results of the 2011 census are given in a short Census Brief provided here.

PLEASE NOTE: Special fact-sheets about the language situation in selected localities according to the 1891 census are available on the ALBA 1891 page (also on this site). There information is provided especially about communities near the so-called "language frontier" in 1891. Thus fact-sheets include figures and comments about villages and hamlets from Gallaibh (Caithness) in the north to the island of Arainn (Arran) in the south-western part of the country.

Short introductions of individual Gàidhlig Local Studies are given below:



Volume 1: Aird nam Murchan & Loch Abar an Iar (Ardnamurchan & West Lochaber)

This area in the West-Central Highlands has been a stronghold of the language right until the Second World War. Thereafter the trend did show a substantial decrease of Gaelic-speaking caused by the same various social and political pressures as experienced generally in Scotland. However, the most recent census results of 2001 paint a slightly more positive picture - especially in the communities served by the existing Gaelic medium units at Ath Tharacaill (Acharacle) and Mòrar. It is important to note that an increase of both the number of Gaelic-speaking persons and their percentage of the population has occurred in the catchment area of Acharacle primary school (serving the area between Roshven in Moidart and Salen on Loch Sunart). Ardnamurchan generally has a far more positive ratio between younger and older Gaelic-speakers than West Lochaber.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (461 KB) in pdf format.


Loch Iall (Loch Eil) near Srathan (Strathan) in Aird nam Murchan (Ardnamurchan)


Volume 2: Eilean Bharraigh (Isle of Barra)

The island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides has been overwhelmingly Gaelic-speaking for many centuries. The downward trend of Gaelic-speaking in this part of the Hebrides set in shortly after the Second World War. This decline seems now to have slowed down considerably and Gaelic is still important as a community language on Barra al-though on a slightly lower level than in previous decades. Intergenerational language maintenance was even achieved in the north-eastern part of the island - the retreat of the language is concentrated on the island "capital" of Castlebay and on the island of Vatersay. The decrease of Gaelic-speaking in younger age groups since 1981 is almost halted because of Gaelic medium education in the primary school of Castlebay and the introduction of Gaelic pre-school education. The overall decrease of Gaelic-speaking on Barra with around 6 % between 1991 and 2001 was one of the smallest recorded on all the islands of the Outer Hebrides.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (354 KB) in pdf format.


Tràigh Bharraigh (The beach of Barra)


Volume 3: Uibhist a Deas & Beinn a'Bhaoghla (South Uist & Benbecula)

The islands of the Outer Hebrides in general have long been regarded as the last remaining strongholds of Gaelic in Scotland. During the past decades, however, even there the language has lost ground. This is also true for the communities of South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay in the south of the island chain. But the investigations presented here conclude that South Uist ranks currently among the few locations where intergenerational language transmission works to a considerable degree. This is nevertheless only slowing down decline but it is still not enough to counter the recent trend. On the other hand the apparent increase of Gaelic-speaking incidence on Benbecula since 1991 is caused mainly by the closure of military installations and the leaving of army personnel and their families. This one-off effect should not gloss over the less strong language transmission on this island. Generally signs of revitalisation of Gaelic in these islands are very much apparent.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (427 KB) in pdf format.


Loch Aineort (Loch Eynort) on the eastern side of Uibhist a Deas (South Uist)


Volume 4: Iar Thuath Chataibh (Northwest Sutherland)

This volume is dedicated to the communities on the thinly populated north-west coast of Scotland. Historically this part of Sutherland had a strong Gaelic tradition. However, the language suffered substantially by official neglect and an ignorant education policy of the former county council. Today the general conclusions may be drawn as follows: Northwest Sutherland can no longer be seen as a Gaelic-speaking community in a strict sense as even the generation born before World War I is passing away. The situation of Gaelic in the whole area is depressingly worrying. The only encouraging features are the developments in the communities of Melness and Tongue on the north coast with a number of commendable cultural activities and Gaelic medium education in the local primary school.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (445 KB) in pdf format.


Volume 5: Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist)

The island of North Uist lies in the centre of the Outer Hebrides and has the southernmost Protestant community in the island chain. The investigations underline that North Uist is still a community with high incidence of Gaelic-speaking. Intergenerational language viability is healthier than in the island group as a whole but it is nevertheless not totally secured. Strongholds of the language are more or less confined to the northerly communities like Port nan Long and Paible. Language retreat is strongest on the island of Berneray and in and around the main township and ferryport of Lochmaddy. In order to prevent further decline in language use intensive improvements especially in the educational sector have to be accomplished regarding pre-school and primary school education.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (438 KB) in pdf format.


Baile Mhàrtainn (Balemartine) on the Atlantic side of Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist)


Volume 6: Na Hearadh (Isle of Harris)

This volume is concerned with the southern part of the largest island of the Western Isles. Harris and its neighbouring island of Scalpay are traditionally considered as major strongholds of Gaelic in Scotland. This fact was underlined by impressively high percentages of Gaelic speakers in census counts right until 1981. However, the last two census dates saw a considerable weakening of the language community especially in the pre-school population. Currently language maintenance based solely on intergenerational transmission is not completely assured on Harris as in many other rural parts of the Outer Hebrides. Only in a few locations like the island of Scalpay the language remains remarkably strong in contrast to the population centres of Tarbert and Leverburgh. But still a very high proportion of islanders could at least understand spoken Gaelic (almost 80 %) in 2001.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (378 KB) in pdf format.


Bun Abhainn Eadarra (Bunavoneadar) and the mountains of Na Hearadh (Harris)


Volume 7: Eilean Leòdhas: Na Lochan (Isle of Lewis: Lochs)

This report is concerned with the south-eastern part of Lewis. Considering the past developments in the Lochs district this part of the Isle of Lewis can no longer be considered per se as a stronghold of the language. Here the retreat of the language is still widespread and this fact remained unimpeded at a considerable rate until 2001. This development may be explained partly by the inadequate educational provision for Gaelic in the past. These circumstances, however, may improve in future. After all Lochs is the most depressing example of the decline of Gaelic in rural Lewis.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (361 KB) in pdf format.


The lochan-studded landscape near Bail'Ailean (Balallan) in Na Lochan (Lochs)


Volume 8: Eilean Leòdhas: Uig & Carlabhagh (Isle of Lewis: Uig & Carloway)

The parish of Uig (including the settlements of Breascleit and Carloway as well as the island of Great Bernera) lies in the centre of the Gaelic heartland. The investigations within this volume conclude that even today some of the strongest Gaelic language communities in Scotland survive in this part of Lewis. Language viability is almost accomplished through the added effects of effective intergenerational language transmission and Gaelic-medium education which reaches the vast majority of primary school children. However, even these positive developments could not counterbalance totally the impact of incoming monolingual English speakers which caused the decrease in the proportion of Gaelic-speakers since 1991. Accordingly additional efforts have to be undertaken to ensure that Uig remains at the heart of the Gaelic revival.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (355 KB) in pdf format.


Lonely crofting homestead in the district of Bhaltos (Valtos) in western Uig


Volume 9: Taobh Siar Rois: Loch Bhraoin & Geàrrloch (Wester Ross: Lochbroom & Gairloch)

The two mainland parishes of Lochbroom and Gairloch have a long-standing tradition as Gaelic-speaking areas. The investigations reveal that Gaelic is now on the brink of return in the northern part of Wester Ross after a century of constant decline. Whereas the recent educational activities have already succeeded in halting the decrease in the parish of Lochbroom, it can be assumed that also Gairloch is not a hopeless candidate any more. Census results in the primary school catchment of Ullapool have already shown the way how to increase both number and percentage of Gaelic speakers.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (604 KB) in pdf format.


Farmhouse on the shores at Gruinneart (Gruinart) in northern Taobh Siar Rois (Wester Ross)


Volume 10: Taobh Siar Rois: A'Chomraich, Loch Carrann & Loch Aillse (Wester Ross: Applecross, Lochcarron & Lochalsh)

The Gaelic language communities in the south-west of the ancient county of Ross and Cromarty have long resisted the general trend. But after the Second World War the well-known dramatic decline in Gaelic-speaking set in also in the district between Applecross and Glenelg. Now this part of the former Gaidhealtachd shows some signs of recovery especially around the villages of Lochcarron and Plockton. Whereas in communities without Gaelic medium units the percentage of Gaelic-speakers went down considerably the school catchment of Lochcarron experienced only a slight decline of 0.4 % since 1991. The other area with Gaelic medium education (Plockton primary school) even reported an increase of percentage and number of speakers.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (488 KB) in pdf format.


The waterfall of Allt Coire Mhic Nobuill in the mountains of Toirbheartan (Torridon)


Volume 11: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach: Trondairnis, Diùirinis & Minginis (Isle of Skye: Trotternish, Duirinish & Minginish)

This volume looks at the temporal evolution and contemporary state of Gaelic in the north-western townships on the Isle of Skye. The crofting communities on the Trotternish, Duirinish and Minginish peninsulas have experienced substantial economic and social disruptions in the past which took their toll also from the Gaelic language community. Only during the last two decades economic conditions have improved and population figures are rising again. Prospects for the maintenance of Gaelic as important community language in this part of the island are no longer as gloomy as they used to be. This is especially the case in Trotternish with roughly 40 % of primary school children attending Gaelic medium classes in Staffin, Kilmuir and nearby Portree. The settlements on Waternish and around Dunvegan show also some signs that decline has almost arrested. On the other hand local conditions in Glendale, Edinbane and entire Minginish are far less satisfactory and bode not well for the future.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (304 KB) in pdf format.


The hill range of A'Chuith-raing (Quiraing) in Trondairnis (Trotternish)


Volume 12: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach: Port Rìgh, An Srath & Slèite (Isle of Skye: Portree, Strath & Sleat)

The Isle of Skye has been a Gaelic-speaking stronghold for centuries. After World War II decline set in especially in the main townships of Portree, Broadford and Kyleakin. However, in recent years a remarkable renaissance has taken place with a considerable success in Gaelic-medium education and of course the establishment and growth of the Gaelic further education college at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Sleat peninsula. Foundations have now been laid for a successful regeneration of Gaelic in the south-eastern parts of the Isle of Skye. However, there is still much room for improvement especially in the pre-school sector and in a few locations like Raasay where Gaelic has shown a dramatic decline recently.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (505 KB) in pdf format.


Ealaghol (Elgol) with the An Cuiltheann (Cuillins) mountains in the background


Volume 13: Eilean Leòdhas: An Taobh Siar & Nis (Isle of Lewis: Westside & Ness)

The area between Shawbost and Ness on the Atlantic side of Lewis is traditionally seen as a major stronghold of Gaelic. Since 1981, however, this situation has slowly declined despite some commendable educational activities focussing on the communities of Lionel and Borve. Ness as the northernmost part of Lewis still remains a comparatively strong part of the "Gaelic-speaking heartland" but deterioration tendencies are clearly seen in Westside especially in Arnol and Bragar. Therefore it will be extremely necessary to improve especially the educational provision in this part of Lewis.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (413 KB) in pdf format.


Traditional Taigh Dubh (Black House) near Arnol in the area of An Taobh Siar (Westside)


Volume 14: Eilean Leòdhas: Am Bac & An Rubha (Isle of Lewis: Back & Point)

This report examines the conditions of Gaelic in rural parts of the parish of Stornoway. In this north-eastern part of the Isle of Lewis the retreat of the language has been especially pronounced in recent decades. The language communities north of Stornoway, however, withstood the anglicisation trends more successfully than those situated on the peninsula of Point. Whereas Gaelic has still a considerable base today in the settlements between Coll and North Tolsta the language has lost substantial ground especially amongst the younger generation in the communities around Aird and Bayble.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (436 KB) in pdf format.


Tràigh Tholastaidh: The beach of Tolastaidh (Tolsta)


Volume 15: Eilean Leòdhas: Steòrnabhagh (Isle of Lewis: Stornoway)

This issue is concerned with the main township in the Outer Hebrides. Stornoway and its neighbouring settlements around Laxdale, Newmarket and Sandwick have experienced a dramatic decline in Gaelic-speaking intensity in the past. The comparatively small decrease between 1991 and 2001 can in all probability be attributed to the influx of Gaelic-speakers from other parts of the islands. Especially at young age Gaelic is very much a minority issue and almost no Gaelic-speaking children below the age of 3 were recorded in 2001. There is much room for improvement regarding the state and status of the language on the doorstep of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (432 KB) in pdf format.


The fishing harbour of Steòrnabhagh (Stornoway)


Volume 16: Ile, Diùra & Colbhasa (Islay, Jura & Colonsay)

Islay and its less populated neighbours of Jura and Colonsay were once very strong Gaelic-speaking communities. But the relative accessibility of the islands and a failing educational system led to severe de-cline in language use after the Second World War. Today Gaelic still suffers from decades of neglect and ignorance in the southernmost Hebrides. The basis for a possible consolidation of language use is rather limited and the language community has a strong bias towards the older generation. Educational provision is not on a comparable level with other islands in the Inner Hebrides. This in itself provides the main growth potential. Improvements could easily be accomplished through intensified pre-school provision and dedicated second language teaching in local primary schools. Future positive impacts can be expected by the planned extension of activities around Ionad Chaluim Chille (St. Columba Centre) in Bowmore.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (454 KB) in pdf format.


Famous Celtic cross in the cemetary of Cill Daltan (Kildalton) in southern Ile (Islay)


Volume 17: Gleann Comhann, Lios Mòr & Aird Chatain (Glencoe, Lismore & Ardchattan)

The whole investigation area between Loch Leven and Loch Etive in the central western Highlands was once an important stronghold of Gaelic right until the Second World War. Especially in the communities around Glencoe (namely Ballachulish and Kinlochleven) the decline has been dramatic und unimpeded with no educational support whatsoever. Within the last decade positive developments, however, have started in the district of Appin and on the island of Lismore further south. The latter community may still be characterized as partially Gaelic-speaking. Further growth in this area may be expected due to the in-troduction of Gaelic-medium education at Strath of Appin and Kinlochleven as well as the inclusion of a number of local schools in the GLPS scheme for tuition of Gaelic as second language.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (443 KB) in pdf format.


Caisteal Stalcair (Castle Stalker) and An Linne Sheileach (Loch Linnhe) with the island of Lios Mòr (Lismore) in the background


Volume 18: An t-Oban & Latharna a Deas (Oban & South Lorn)

Oban is the main focal point of the communities of northern Argyll. This harbour town acts as an economic and social bridge between the mainland communities of Lorn and the central Hebridean islands from Mull to Barra. As such Oban was always home of a considerable number of "exiles" from the stronger Gaelic-speaking island communities - a fact which strengthened the status of the language in this area for a long time. Parts of neighbouring Lorn were strongly Gaelic-speaking until World War II especially the islands of Seil and Luing. There regrettably the language has almost gone. Nowadays despite recent educational efforts the profile of Gaelic is still remarkably low in the town of Oban and its hinterland. In order to halt the decline or even start a revival much stronger emphasis has to be laid upon educational provision from pre-school to secondary stages.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (458 KB) in pdf format.


The harbour of An t-Oban (Oban)


Volume 19: An Gearasdan & Loch Abar an Ear (Fort William & East Lochaber)

The district of East Lochaber and its capital Fort William have kept their Gaelic traditions longer than many comparable areas in the Highlands. Nonetheless the language experienced a considerably weakening during the decades. Quite recently, however, attitudes became more favourable towards Gaelic. Some positive signs of recovery (on a comparatively low level) have already surfaced in the 2001 census. The increase of Gaelic-speaking intensity since 1991 in the town of Fort William is in itself an achievement. But overall there is still a mountain to climb to improve the status of the language in all of East Lochaber. Recent improvements in educational provision may help to redress the balance in favour of Gaelic in the future.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (451 KB) in pdf format.


The eastern ridges of the Beinn Nibheis (Ben Nevis) range near Tulach (Tulloch)


Volume 20: Muile, Tiriodh & Colla (Mull, Tiree & Coll)

This issue is concerned with the islands in the centre of the Inner Hebrides. Gaelic remained as dominating community language on Mull and Coll as late as the Second World War; in Tiree Gaelic still plays a major role today. Gaelic on Mull seems to have narrowly escaped from the "point of no return" in recent years. The island could provide an excellent example for language resurrection if current initiatives continue - hopefully with increasing vigour. The picture of the Gaelic language on Tiree is slightly more encouraging. It still constitutes a prominent factor in local life although on a lower level than in the past. This status could be enhanced, however, much more successfully if the whole community (and all school children) would have a real chance to embrace Gaelic as part of their own lives. Linguistically Tiree looks very much divided between "locals" and newcomers.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (522 KB) in pdf format.


The pittoresque harbour of An Tobar Mhoire (Tobermory) on An t-Eilean Muileach (Isle of Mull)


Volume 21: Bàideanach, Srath Spè, Nàrann & Bràighean Mhàrr (Badenoch, Strathspey, Nairn & Braes of Mar)

The report does not only cover the traditional "Highland" districts of Badenoch and Nairn, but it also describes the situation in a "terra incognita" of Gaelic speech: The north-eastern fringe. Right until the First World War it was common place to hear Gaelic on the streets of Grantown-on-Spey, Tomintoul and even Braemar in Aberdeenshire. Equally unknown in many circles is the fact that the last "native speaker" of Aberdeenshire Gaelic died as late as the early 1980s. In Badenoch Gaelic still survived as a community language until the Second World War. Today the language is held up in the whole area by a very small number of speakers. Newtonmore in western Badenoch is the only community where Gaelic still shows some flickering light with Gaelic-medium nursery and primary school education in the local school. Parental demand on the contrary is high but so far only a Gaelic-medium unit in Nairn has been realised. Essentially arrived at rock bottom ironically the situation of Gaelic can only improve in this district.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (1.521 KB) in pdf format.


In western Bàideanach (Badenoch) the language still survives around the village of Bail Ùr an t-Slèibh (Newtonmore)


Volume 22: Cataibh an Ear & Gallaibh (East Sutherland & Caithness)

Gaelic once was the dominant means of conversation in East Sutherland and the western districts of Caithness. Since the end of the 19th century the language was on a relentless decline caused both by official ignorance and the low self-respect of its speakers. A century later Gaelic is only spoken by a very tiny minority of inhabitants, most of them born well before the Second World War. Signs for the future look not promising. Gaelic is still being sidelined officially in the whole area. Local councillors even object to bilingual road-signs. Educational provision is either derisory or non-existent. Only constant parental pressure has achieved the introduction of Gaelic medium provision in Thurso and Bonar Bridge. The language would already be dead in northern Scotland without this grassroots support for the once dominant tongue.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (544 KB) in pdf format.


Bearghdal (Berriedale) was among the last parts of Gallaibh (Caithness) where Gàidhlig lingered on until World War I


Volume 23: Inbhirnis & Taobh Loch Nis (Inverness & Loch Ness-side)

Gaelic has had a long history in the northern part of the Great Glen and its communities between Fort Augustus and Inverness. The "Highland Capital" and the district around Loch Ness has experienced a decline of Gaelic speaking similar to many other parts of the once Gaidhealtachd. But within the last few decades Inverness has been at the forefront of many positive developments connected with Gaelic including early provision of Gaelic medium education. Commendable efforts to support the language in the town and its surrounding district have been done but there is still scope for considerable improvement. This includes more intensive second language teaching in primary and secondary schools and a more positive attitude concerning the usage and visibility of the language in public space and official proceedings.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (753 KB) in pdf format.


Srath Farair (Strathfarrar) in the western hinterland of Inbhirnis (Inverness)


Volume 24: Taobh Sear Rois & An t-Eilean Dubh (Easter Ross & Black Isle)

At the turn of the 19th century almost half of the population still spoke Gaelic in Easter Ross and the western parts of the Black Isle. After World War II the language was effectively dead as a community language by any standards. Nowadays Easter Ross is on the brink to achieving language viability (on a comparatively low level). Gaelic on the Black Isle, however, does not show any sign of recovery. But the potential for a major breakthrough both in Gaelic medium education and in second language teaching is still there. It is only a matter of policy (and an increased pool of suitable teachers). The support of parents and whole communities has achieved remarkable results in the past - Easter Ross in particular could be a prime example of successful language recovery.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (564 KB) in pdf format.


In the fertile countryside of Taobh Sear Rois (Easter Ross) and the peninsula of An t-Eilean Dubh (Black Isle) Gàidhlig was still widespread around 1900


Volume 25: Dal Riada & Cinn Tìre (Mid Argyll & Kintyre)

The Gaelic language was once widespread and dominant all over Mid Argyll and the Kintyre peninsula. Whereas Campbeltown and the southernmost tip of Kintyre were anglicised relatively early by the intro-duction of Lowland settlers in the 18th and 19th century the remaining country kept its Gaelic tradition well into the inter-war period of the 1930s. Nowadays Gaelic in both areas is very much waiting to be revitalised. Besides some recent initiatives in the communities on the western shores of Loch Fyne there is not much worth reporting. Compared with the rich Gaelic tradition in these heartlands of Earra-Ghàidheal (Land of the Gael) the profile of the language in the district is on an all-time low these days.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (459 KB) in pdf format.


The fishing harbour of An Tairbeart (Tarbert) on the isthmus separating Dal Riada (Mid Argyll) and Cinn Tìre (Kintyre)


Volume 26: Comhal, Siorrachd Bhòid & Dùn Breatainn (Cowal, Buteshire & Dumbarton)

This study is concerned with traditionally Gaelic speaking districts on the western and northern shores of the Firth of Clyde. In this respect the report looks at the past strength of the language on the peninsula of Cowal, in the neighbouring Highland parishes of Dunbartonshire and, last but not least, on the islands of the former County of Bute. The latter of course includes the island of Arran where the local dialect lingered on until the 1990s. Since the 1880s Gaelic went into a substantial decline in the area until quite recently when numbers of Gaelic speakers rose again for the first time on the Cowal peninsula between 1991 and 2001. In recent years Dunoon has started to act as a catalyst for Gaelic language activities in the area - even Arran slowly wakes up to its cultural legacy. Currently a number of small steps are being taken to bring new life into the once thriving language in places which tended to be considered as hard core "Gaelic free zones" a few years ago.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (511 KB) in pdf format.


Caolas Bhòid (Kyles of Bute) looking towards the islands of Bòd (Bute) and Arainn (Arran)


Volume 27: Siorrachd Pheairt & Sruighlea (Perthshire & Stirling)

Only a century ago Gaelic was commonly spoken in a large portion of the counties of Perthshire and Stirlingshire in Central Scotland. Despite the dramatic decline in the 20th century the once dominant community language has not been altogether forgotten in these historic counties. Although still confined to a small band of enthusiasts and supported only by scattered teaching of Gaelic in local schools the language is rising considerably in the perception of the public. Compared with the old days Gaelic has still a long way to go but in the "Heart of Scotland" at least actions have started to redress the balance.

The second edition of this report can be downloaded here (566 KB) in pdf format.


Around Loch Teimhil (Loch Tummel) Gàidhlig was commonly spoken until World War II


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Acknowledgement: © 2003-2013 Text Copyright Kurt C. Duwe. All rights reserved except private and non-commercial use. Any other use has to be cleared by the author Kurt C. Duwe, Jägerstr. 120a, 21079 Hamburg, Germany ( and it may also fall under restrictions of the Crown Copyright of census data. Original census data shown or used were supplied and/or published by the General Register Office for Scotland. The use of this material in this series is permitted under Licence No. C02W0003665. Crown Copyright of census data is acknowledged. 





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