Decisions of a Skye Parent
BY AN ANONYMOUS SUBMITTER
...how many homes will be fluent Gaelic speakers again. Or will parents will still be torn between Gaelic or English school for their wee ones?
Both my husband and myself have grown up on Skye (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach) and for the majority of our adult lives have lived there. So when it came to our eldest child starting school for the first time you would have thought it would have been easy for us to choose which school to send her to. In fact, it was completely the opposite of easy.
We had the choice of two great schools in Portree (Scottish Gaelic: Port Rìgh).The English school which in fact I went to all those years ago has a brilliant set of teachers, support teachers and head teacher. Many of whom we have gone to church with over the years, so we knew our daughter would know people and probably be quite happy.
We also had the choice of the Gaelic school in Portree. This was a new school with many great resources and even though we didn't know the staff as well, they had a good reputation. We had a dilemma! Two good schools, one steeped in memory and comfort and one steeped in history and culture. This in fact simplifies the dilemma too much. As both school's have these things. However, we needed to make a choice.
Both our families have come from a Gaelic household. My mum's father was a Gaelic minister originally from Lewis (Scottish Gaelic: Leòdhas) and my husband's mum has Gaelic as her first language. Despite these Gaelic roots, neither of us had been brought up in a Gaelic speaking household.
The respect for our heritage is why we eventually decided on sending our child to Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Phort Rìgh. She is one of many that started primary one from an English speaking home. Even though it feels like she is out of her depth language-wise at the moment, I am assured by primary three she will be fluent (while I will still be plodding away at Duolingo).
It will be interesting to see in the next couple of generations how many homes will be fluent Gaelic speakers again. Or will parents will still be torn between Gaelic or English school for their wee ones?