Tiree council first to meet in Gaelic with translator

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Tiree Community Council held its online meeting partly in Gaelic this month, becoming the first to test a pioneering Gaelic-English translation service run by Argyll culture network CHARTS.

Via Zoom on January 12, the chairperson of Tiree Community Broadband (CIT) Rhoda Meek updated Tiree community councillors in Gaelic about the Scottish Government’s R100 roll-out of superfast broadband, thanks to a live English translation by Iain Mac Ille Chiar.

‘It is really wonderful people can hear this in Gaelic,’ said convener Dr John Holliday. ‘We are the only council in the world doing this translation. It really is a wonderful service.’

Rhoda, a native Gaelic speaker, said: ‘It’s very important to me that Gaelic continues as a language in natural daily use. By normalising Gaelic in these situations others may be encouraged to use it more too.

‘If I can use my native language again at a Tiree Community Council meeting or in another similar context, I will! I certainly had to brush up on my more technical Gaelic vocabulary, which is no bad thing!’

The Teangan Earra-Ghàidheal project, run by the Culture, Heritage & Arts Assembly, Argyll & Isles (CHARTS), says it ‘aims to assist our Gaelic speaking members, both fluent and learners, and increase the usage and familiarity of the Gaelic language across cultural and community development in Argyll and Bute’.

‘We believe this is the first project of its type in Scotland outside of administrative services being provided by the Scottish Government,’ said CHARTS’ director Kathleen O’Neill.

‘As well as simultaneous translation services to meetings, this pilot project includes the recruitment of Gaelic speakers as translators. We encourage keen Gaelic speakers to apply and are providing training and support.

‘We aim to create a pool of Gaelic translators from this project as a legacy, that anyone can contact CHARTS for a translator in the future.

‘CHARTS received almost £2,500 from the Argyll and Bute Supporting Communities Fund for this project. As a small pilot project, this aims to identify both the needs and benefits of making this service available.

‘This pilot project was designed by CHARTS in partnership with Tiree Community Council, Mull Community Council, and the Mull and Iona Gaelic Partnership.

‘The project targets Gaelic speakers and groups principally in Oban, Lorne and Isles, and also in the Mid-Kintyre and Isles area. The Argyll Estate and the Gaelic Gathering will also use and benefit from this project over coming months through development projects with CHARTS.

‘Tiree Community Council are able to use this project for meetings until March when the project in its pilot form is due to end. Mull Community Council intends to use the project for simultaneous translation over coming months.’

CHARTS’ chairperson Jo McLean added: ‘Our Gaelic projects, supported by Argyll and Bute Council, are producing tremendous results and we look forward to developing this work throughout 2022.’

Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: ‘Gaelic is fundamental in the history of Argyll and Bute, and we are committed to promoting it and the many notable St Columba Trail sites in the area.’