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Gaelic, Music, Nature

Project & Video 

Delighted to share the work produced by this project

Gàidhlig, Nàdur, Ceòl is Seinn

Hosted by environmental charity Earth in Common, supported by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and alongside the Capital Gaelic Officer, The City of Edinburgh Council, young people from Edinburgh's Gaelic community and James Gillespie’s High School created a series of poems and songs about nature and worked with composer Deborah Shaw to embed their work into an electroacoustic composition. Children also explored how to make sound and music from recycled plastic objects. This multi-generational project also delivered sessions for adult Gaelic learners where participants learned songs, poetry and new phrases.

This was organised and delivered by Ann Paterson, Capital Gaelic Officer, Deborah Shaw, composer and sound designer, Petrea Cooney, educator and musician, Màiri Callan and Ewan MacIntyre, Gaelic singers, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, writer, poet and musician, Laura Macpherson, Comunn na Gàidhlig, and Cailean Methven, Gaelic Curriculum Leader, James Gillespie’s High School.        

Còmhla ris a’ charthannas àrainneachd Earth in Common, le taic bho Bhòrd na Gàidhlig agus ag obair còmhla ri Oifigear Capital Gaelic, Comhairle Baile Dhùn Èideann, chruthaich sgoilearan bho Àrd-sgoil Sheumais Ghilleasbuig sreath de dhàin agus òrain mu nàdar agus dh’obraich iad còmhla ris an sgrìobhaiche ciùil Deborah Shaw gus an obair aca fhighe a-steach do sgrìobhadh electroacoustic. Lìbhrig am pròiseact ioma-ghinealach seo seiseanan cuideachd do luchd-ionnsachaidh na Gàidhlig far an do dh’ionnsaich com-pàirtichean òrain, bàrdachd agus abairtean ùra. Cuideachd, rannsaich na sgoilearan mar a dhèanadh iad fuaim agus ceòl à stuthan plastaig ath-chuairtichte.

Chaidh seo a chur air dòigh agus a lìbhrigeadh le Ann Paterson, Oifigear Capital Gaelic, Deborah Shaw an sgrìobhaiche-ciùil agus dealbhaiche fuaim, Petrea Cooney neach-foghlaim agus neach-ciùil, Màiri Callan agus Eòghann Mac an t-Saoir, seinneadairean Gàidhlig, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, sgrìobhadair, bàrd agus neach-ciùil, Laura Macpherson, Comunn na Gàidhlig agus Cailean Methven, Ceannard Roinn na Gàidhlig, Àrd-sgoil Sheumais Ghilleasbuig.

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What is an Urban Croft? 

We want to explore what a croft can give to the people of Leith, and particularly to the young people here. We want to look to the guides of our past and, like them, take our future into our own hands.  


In this vein, our croft is not a ‘croft an righ’ (for the king), nor a traditional croft, producing food for just one household, but a ‘croft an coitcheannas’ - for the community, the people. The Croft is a project on common good land, working to reclaim a connection to our environment, nurture belonging and togetherness, and maintain a thriving green space for all the members of our urban community to use and benefit from. 

“What you are embarking on in Leith is a great example of citizens not waiting for government but getting on and doing it for us - taking collective action for more sustainable agriculture and food production, and for more equitable access to land. This is the same principle that the people of Braes and elsewhere in the Highlands and Islands upheld in the land risings of the 1880s – without collective action based on this principle, crofting tenure would never have been created in the first place.”

      - Crofting Federation Statement of Support 

How does our Gaelic heritage link to urban crofting and our wider work?

Gaelic is one of Scotland’s native languages, alongside Scots, British English, Scottish Standard English and Scottish Sign Language, and it has ancient roots: it is an indigenous language of this country.

In general, we believe in the value of Indigenous worldviews, knowledge and wisdom, which can make major contributions to tackling issues such as the climate and biodiversity catastrophes. (See our Restorative Climate Justice policy, linked to responsible global citizenship.) The value and content of Indigenous legacies – a priceless heritage – arguably cannot be fully understood or transmitted without the languages associated with them. This, in itself, is an important reason for sustaining Indigenous languages (adding to the many benefits of bi- and multi-lingualism, which include greater empathy!)


South Africa has the concept of Ubuntu, Senegal has teranga, Hawaii has aloha ʻāina, and Scotland has the Gaelic concept of dùthchas, which is connected to the diverse, productive and sustainable agriculture practised by the Gaels in the Highlands before the Clearances, and continued, to an extent, in the crofting tradition which developed in the aftermath of the Clearances. Dùthchas is centred on a sense of belonging to the land and having a duty of stewardship over it, as mentioned below. (See Iain Mackinnon’s talk.)

Our urban croft, which we hope will be the first of a nationwide network, aims to re-establish a sense of dùthchas amongst modern city dwellers, some of whose ancestors will have been displaced, for example, in the Highland or Lowland Clearances in Scotland or in the Enclosures in England. It aims to build community around connection to the land and nature and, more widely, also to foster responsible global citizenship. It is therefore fitting, for more than one reason, that it also nurtures our Gaelic heritage.

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