A’ Fosgladh Dorsan between Islay and Ballycastle…

I’ve a English mate who’s bringing up his kids on Islay. They learn Gaelic at school and have a reasonably comfortable life there. It’s one of the few offshore islands around the archipelago with almost full employment, between the large number of distilleries on the island, the grouse moors, birders and the tourists. And here’s something that never struck me before. All that lovely whiskey (that’s without an ‘e’ – ed) and Gaelic is only twenty miles off the coast of Co Antrim. Now there’s a new joint scheme to encourage parents on both sides of the water to engage their kids with Gaelic culture… H/T GGN

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  • This is a fantastic (Ulster Scots?) initiative that some within the Irish speaking community in North Antrim have been working at for some time now and the links between here and the islands of Scotland would be increased further with the restoration of the Campbelltown ferry.
    I firmly believe that there is a market on the north coast for cultural tourism, especially in and around the Glens, and developing sporting, cultural and linguistic links to the Scottish islands can only enhance this.

  • ggn

    Thanks for posting a ‘positive’ Gaelic story Mick, much appreciacted.

    I have been been getting frustrated by Unionist commentators complaining that they only ever hear the ‘negative’ stories, and projecting this on to Irish speakers whrn I would have thought that Darwin Templeton was a more likely suspect.

    But this is a great program they have going, it is aimed at parents with little or no Gaelic who have kids at GME and intends to get them to use what they have in the home.

    Incidentally, the cd-rom course is great, I hope it becomes widely available and it is the only source of ‘Beginners’ Islay Gaelic I know off. The Irish is from North Donegal.

    It is great to see such soild Gaelic cooperation between the two groups and it is great for me to see the good work being done up in Ballycastle.

  • Pigeon Toes


    Dont think there is the money to put that service back on. I also believe that the Audit Office has
    issued a report recently into the initial Ballycastle/Campbelltown service.

  • I’m also a regular visitor to Argyll and the inner Hebrides, from which:

    – yes, bring back the Cambeltown / Ballycastle ferry, please; it was a boon, socially, culturally and economically wehn it ran from 1997 to 2000.

    – yes, we have much to learn from their whisky tourism in summer, jazz festival in autumn, bird-twitchers in winter and surfers in spring approach to economic and tourist development

    – yes, their use and acceptance of Gaelic is a joy to behold, except one friend told me when he moved back to Daithi’s County Antrim and put up a Scots Gaelic house name, it was torn down and thrown away. Friendly, eh?

  • Dewi

    Excellent initiative – Gaelic fragile in Islay

    Down from 35% to 24.5% from 1991 to 2001. Good to read that your English mate’s kids are being taught Gaelic in school.
    No provision apart from language lessons in Islay High:

    Co-operation in action

  • My McLaughlin relatives arrived at the Islands of Carnmoon from Islay at the turn of the 19th century. It’s possible they might have slipped away to Islay at the end of the 18th 🙂

    They maintained their links with Islay and purchased their farm horses there up until relatively recent times. I presume they ferried them into Ballintoy harbour.

    Islay – Getting there

    Islay Sea Safari offers a fast rib service from Islay to those who wish to observe the wildlife in Ballycastle!!

  • Pigeon Toes

    And the Campbeltown ferry would make getting to Islay easier?

    Nice to see Daithi trying to re-establish the Scottish links…

    I believe the Islay ferry is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, the company which his party colleague’s department were desperate to get rid of in Ballycastle.

    Did they not also originally own the ship used on the initial Campbeltown venture, and erm doesn’t the MacBrayne group own the MV Canna on the Rathlin service?

    As I recall, the announcements on the MV Canna to Rathlin were in English and Gaelic (although Scots Gaelic).

  • William

    The benefits that will flow from the links with the Scottish Gaelic community in the Islands and their links to North Antrim are to be appreciated…the problem with the Irish Gaelic culture [as David, sorry Daithi McKay] will be well aware of is, that it is in-your face Irish Gaelic from his Sinn Fein / IRA colleagues. The real Gaelic community in Northern Ireland [especially] are mute compared to the Sinn Fein / IRA types who have taken over the Irish Gaelic movement in most areas e.g. the proposed Gaelic quarter in Londonderry [Doire] is run by two Sinn Fein activists [one a failed Councillor and the other a failed Council election candidate]…..need I say more ???
    However, links to my ancestral homeland of Scotland are to be encouraged, as we have more in common in our East / West relations than North / South.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “THE spending of £2 million to upgrade Ballycastle and Rathlin harbours to accommodate the Campbelltown ferry has been heavily criticised by the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO).
    Comptroller and auditor general John Dowdall was critical of the way the whole project was handled by the Department of the Environment and the Department of Regional Development.

    The public spending watchdog said the money was spent on upgrading the harbour before a viable ferry service had been secured, meaning the new facilities were not being used…..

    The watchdog also stressed that in any future projects, more stringent arrangements are put in place to establish clear understandings as to respective roles, responsibilities and accountability.

    A DRD spokeswoman said: “It would not be appropriate for the department to comment on the particular circumstances and issues raised in this report in advance of a possible PAC hearing and the subsequent Memorandum of Reply.”

  • Pigeon Toes

    Perhaps this is part of the big plan that Conor Murphy has for Rathlin i.e to establish a gaeltacht on the island, as well as a family centre for addicts. Oh and let us not forget a tax haven.

    The addicts bit puzzles me, since we had numerous politicians asserting in the summer that it took three weeks for the Islanders to get a G.P appointment.

    Perhaps the issue that these same politicians need to be raising is why GP’s in Ballycastle are discriminating against the Islanders?

  • ggn
  • OC

    From what I’ve experienced, read, and been told, the Gadhlig speakers in the Isles are predominately Presbyterian, and Unionist.

  • PaddyReilly

    From what I’ve experienced, read, and been told, the Gadhlig speakers in the Isles are predominately Presbyterian, and Unionist.

    Presbyterian, yes, mainly some sort of Free Church, though there are Catholics on Barra, Uist and Benbecula, and a very small number of Episcopalians elsewhere; Unionists no, this means Tory in Scotland, Gaelic speakers tend to be Nationalist, Liberal or Labour if they’re trying to make a living in the Highlands, though I have encountered Gaelic speaking Brigadiers and Squadron Leaders who were Tory.

  • OC

    PR: Thanks for the update. Although the Isles aren’t technically the Highlannds, iirc.

    BTW the Gadhlig speakers of Nova Scotia have been split pretty evenly between RC’s and Prods – both churches being instrumental in keeping the language alive there.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    “A’ Fosgladh Dorsan between Islay and Ballycastle…”

    Mick, could you be so kind as to translate the title for us, I don’t want translaion of the whole article or the transcript, just the title. It should be enough, thanks.

  • ggn

    It means ‘opening doors’.

  • Lurigethan

    Any prominent involvement by miltant republicans,[text removed – mods], will strangle any hopes of this worthwhile venture gaining acceptance outside the politically motivated ” Irish speaking community”.

    My family circle live across the western isles and North Antrim and they are dismayed that their cultural heritage may be tainted in the wider community by those who promote the language primarily as a tool of division grandstanding on the issue.

  • Dewi

    Forgive me for being a bit dictatorial. If Gaelic will survive in Scotland then every school in the Hebrides, Skye and the islands off Argyll needs to be a Gaelic medium school. We do radical things to save animal species – linguistic diversity is just as important.

  • fionn


    “However, links to my ancestral homeland of Scotland are to be encouraged”

    Of course, links to your ancestral homeland are to be encouraged. What about links to other people’s ancestoral homeland? For instance, the ground you happen to be standing on right now?

    “as we have more in common in our East / West relations than North / South.”

    You may, others don’t.

    Shared space anyone?

  • Lt Commander Data

    “However, links to my ancestral homeland of Scotland are to be encouraged, as we have more in common in our East / West relations than North / South.”
    I disagree

  • ggn

    Just want to point out the Seanchas Íle website, http://www.seanchas-ile.net/

    It has some interesting sound recordings which would be of interest to any Gaelic speaker.

  • ggn

    … and maybe sombody would be interested in this vid.


  • Shame about the poor sound quality of the video, ggn.

  • ggn


    Steven Spielberg was booked that day but the quality improves as people settle down.

    I just remembered it was there.

    Hopefully people could get a few similar talks onto youtube, there were a couple of Glens Irish talks in Ballymena recently and I think that a Rathlin talk will be held in Belfast quite soon that that one will probably envitably be in Irish.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Erm why would a Rathlin talk be held in Belfast?

    Given that the Islanders appear to be saying that it takes three weeks to see a doctor in Ballycastle how will they get to Belfast.
    Unless of course it involves a funding application, since they all rely on “farming and fishing”, -which is bullshit by the way

  • Pigeon Toes


    Link to the NIAO audit office report on the Campbeltown service. Highly critical….