New annual competition commemorates sàr-Ghàidheal

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The trustees of Urras Dhòmhnaill Iain – The Donald John MacKay Educational Trust – have launched an competition to be held annually over the next 10 years.

The competition, in memory of Donald John MacKay, formerly depute chairman of trustees and project development manager at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, will mark the outstanding contribution made by Donald John to Gaelic and industrial development throughout the Highlands and Islands.

The competition is open to any student in Scotland, in full-time or part-time study, at further or higher education level, or working towards a doctorate.

Mr MacKay had a long association with the work of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Lèirsinn Research Centre, An Comunn Gàidhealach, of which he was the first director (1965-70), Comunn na Gàidhlig, British Alcan, the Harris Tweed Association, Highlands and Islands Development Board, and the Gaelic Society of Inverness, as well as a range of other organisations.

The competition will be administered by Fèisean nan Gàidheal (FnG) on behalf of the trust and all entries should contribute to the aims and objectives of the current National Gaelic Language Plan and align to the aims and objects of the trust.

Entries must be from individuals and will be judged by a panel including a representative of the MacKay family, one trustee, one representative of FnG and up to two other independent assessors to be invited by FnG and the trust.

The winning entry will be published on the FnG website and a copy of all the winning entries shall be retained in the FnG library for archive and research purposes.  The trustees and FnG will evaluate the winning entries to ascertain the possibility of further development.

Speaking on behalf of the trustees, Duncan MacQuarrie said: ‘The main aims of the competition are to promote all aspects of Gaelic culture; to promote education in and through the Gaelic language; to promote the study, appreciation and use of the Gaelic language; to encourage young people to continue the seminal work of revival which Donald John MacKay inspired; to enable young people throughout the Highlands and Islands to develop entrepreneurial skills; to build community confidence through strategic planning; and to facilitate social inclusion and lifelong learning. Donald John was a key figure in many Gaelic-related developments in the 20th and 21st centuries.

‘This competition will enable young people to demonstrate innovative ideas, fresh thinking and develop personal interests.’

Arthur Cormack, chief executive of Fèisean nan Gàidheal added: ‘We are honoured to collaborate with the Donald John MacKay Educational Trust and will work to deliver an annual competition for Gaelic students throughout the UK worthy of the memory of a key figure in the development of Gaelic and the Highlands and Islands.’

The competition is now open and applications should be in by Friday November 30.

Specific examples of topics relating to industry/work areas on which entries for the competition could be based include forestry, livestock, arable farming areas, arts development, sculpture and other creative arts, transport issues, support for the disabled and/or young people, development of sporting opportunities, music-related developments, writing and oral skills, the natural environment – wildlife, flowers, fauna etc, accountancy/finance/financial planning, sports and pastimes for young people in particular, development of numerical skills in young people, imagination, the seascape of the Highlands – wildlife and the environment, sailing, climbing and outdoor pursuits such as hunting, shooting, fishing.

caption: Donald John MacKay.