The Piobaireachd Society: Gaelic language

The Piobaireachd Society worked hard to promote the playing of traditional highland music and so preserve a part of the culture of the highlands. Another part of highland life that can be seen through the correspondence is the Gaelic language. There are a couple of letters in Gaelic and also, the names of the piobaireachdan (the piping tunes) are often preserved in their Gaelic form.

Gaelic letter from Donald Mackinnon (DC80/360)

I came across this Gaelic letter (above) in the correspondence files and sent a copy to Fiona Dunn, the Gaelic Language Officer of the University of Glasgow, who kindly translated it for me. It reads:

My friend / dear friend,

I was looking forward to receiving your letter. It was well written.
Captain Stewart can now publish the little paper with the corrections I made to it.

Your loyal friend,
Donald Mackinnon

To Young Calum”

There are also letters from Gaelic societies in the files that tell of the connection the language had with the playing of traditional pipe music. The Gaelic societies were keen to establish a link with the Piobaireachd Society and so unite efforts to preserve the different elements of highland life that were fading in the modern world.

Letter-head of a letter from the Gaelic Society of London to the Piobaireachd Society (DC80/361)

The drive to popularise Gaelic is still going strong today and the University of Glasgow have had a programme, ‘Gaelic@Glasgow’, for the last few years that promotes the learning and speaking of Gaelic, and the celebration of Gaelic culture, amongst the students around campus.

Letter-head of letter from ‘Alba: the only Gaelic weekly in Scotland’ (DC80/374)

If you would like to find out more about the Piobaireachd Society collection or view the correspondence files, please let us know by contacting the Duty Archivist.



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  1. The Piobaireachd Society: Royal Patronage « University of Glasgow Library

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