The Skye Book Festival 2015 saw the launch of a new book entitled A’ Ghàidhlig air Aghaidh na Tìre: Ainmean-Àite an t-Sratha An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (Gaelic In The Landscape: Place-names of Strath, Isle of Skye).
Strath is one of the seven parishes in Skye and extends from Kyleakin and includes Broadford, Elgol and the islands of Scalpay, Pabay and Longay. Over 100 lesser known place-names from this area have been gathered and recorded in the book. Dr Jacob King, who co-authored the bilingual booklet with Eilidh Scammell, hopes that the book will be a source of reference for years to come.
Both Jacob and Eilidh work for Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba, the national advisory partnership that researches and determines authoritative forms of Gaelic place-names across Scotland. This particular project has been coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage, which is charged with protecting Scotland's nature and landscapes for people to enjoy.
Robyn Ireland, SNH's Gaelic officer, stated: “Gaelic focuses on the link between the people and the landscape. Launching this book celebrates that link and is a great achievement.”
The process of writing the book involved finding local, knowledgeable informants and recording their opinions and memories. Wells are particularly prone to being forgotten, and a section of the book is devoted to recording the names of wells. Other chapters discuss coasts, rivers and lochs, hills, skerries and stones, as well as man-made areas.
The booklet is available online as a free download.
Even a brief glance at the book reveals that painstaking attention to detail has gone into it, from establishing the correct names, to memorialising the stories behind the names. The Gaelic and English text means it will be of use for many years to come. Glè mhath!