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TITLE
Fred MacAulay on Decline of Gaelic (2 of 3)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_FREDMACAULAY_09
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Fred MacAulay
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1627
KEYWORDS
Outer Hebrides
broadcasting
Precentors
psalm singing
SSPCK
Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge
audio

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Fred MacAulay was born in Sollas, North Uist, in 1925. Educated at Inverness Academy and Edinburgh University, he went on to become Senior Gaelic Producer of BBC Scotland in 1964, and Manager of BBC Highland in 1979. An active campaigner for the continuation of the Gaelic language, he was one of the most distinguished Gaels of his generation and made a lasting contribution to Gaelic culture. He died in Inverness in 2003, aged 78. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in 1983, Fred talks to Sam Marshall about the decline of the Gaelic language.

With the Reformation, and the changes there, you had the Catholic Highlands in need of being protestantised, or whatever the word is, and so you've got the 'Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge', the SPCK, coming in to spread their sort of gospel. And an odd policy and yet, you know, it - perhaps in the light of knowledge of that time - it may not have been so odd, but the idea was that the only way you could get this religion across was by exterminating the, the Gaelic language, you see, and imposing English. And it didn't work. So, finally they realised the error of their ways, changed to Gaelic, and suddenly the SPCK began to make great, great inroads, although one must think that, you know, their, their initial policy must have caused quite a lot of psychological problems.

And then, of course, you didn't have any Gaelic publications at all, you see, because of the oral tradition and the, the lack of readership as, in fact, it still applies; only thirty percent of Gaelic speakers today are literate, and that's a very fine feather in the cap of the Scottish Education Department as far as I'm concerned.

The literacy, or lack of it, led to the psalms being given out line by line and this, in fact, resulted in this tradition that you have in the Highlands today of a thing they call 'Precenting'. The Precentor gives out one line, the congregation sing that line, then he goes to the next, they sing it, and so it goes on. And it's quite a - it's quite a marvellous experience if you've had it, as I've had it, from boyhood

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Fred MacAulay on Decline of Gaelic (2 of 3)

1980s

Outer Hebrides; broadcasting; Precentors; psalm singing; SSPCK; Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: Fred MacAulay

Fred MacAulay was born in Sollas, North Uist, in 1925. Educated at Inverness Academy and Edinburgh University, he went on to become Senior Gaelic Producer of BBC Scotland in 1964, and Manager of BBC Highland in 1979. An active campaigner for the continuation of the Gaelic language, he was one of the most distinguished Gaels of his generation and made a lasting contribution to Gaelic culture. He died in Inverness in 2003, aged 78. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in 1983, Fred talks to Sam Marshall about the decline of the Gaelic language.<br /> <br /> With the Reformation, and the changes there, you had the Catholic Highlands in need of being protestantised, or whatever the word is, and so you've got the 'Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge', the SPCK, coming in to spread their sort of gospel. And an odd policy and yet, you know, it - perhaps in the light of knowledge of that time - it may not have been so odd, but the idea was that the only way you could get this religion across was by exterminating the, the Gaelic language, you see, and imposing English. And it didn't work. So, finally they realised the error of their ways, changed to Gaelic, and suddenly the SPCK began to make great, great inroads, although one must think that, you know, their, their initial policy must have caused quite a lot of psychological problems.<br /> <br /> And then, of course, you didn't have any Gaelic publications at all, you see, because of the oral tradition and the, the lack of readership as, in fact, it still applies; only thirty percent of Gaelic speakers today are literate, and that's a very fine feather in the cap of the Scottish Education Department as far as I'm concerned. <br /> <br /> The literacy, or lack of it, led to the psalms being given out line by line and this, in fact, resulted in this tradition that you have in the Highlands today of a thing they call 'Precenting'. The Precentor gives out one line, the congregation sing that line, then he goes to the next, they sing it, and so it goes on. And it's quite a - it's quite a marvellous experience if you've had it, as I've had it, from boyhood