Gaelic

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Colourful fireworks explode over Edinburgh Castle during Hogmanay celebrations © Grant Ritchie
Homecoming 2014 ››

Find out more about Homecoming 2014

Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis) Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) © Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Outlander ››

Learn about Outlander, a series of books set in 18th century Scotland

The ancient Celtic language of Gaelic dates back hundreds of years and you can still hear it spoken in parts of Scotland. In the past, Scotland was described as a ‘three voiced country’, referring to the languages of Scots, Gaelic and English. Gaelic is now spoken by some 60,000 people in Scotland.

From traditional music to literature and television, Gaelic, or Gàidhlig, continues to add its own unique twist to Scottish culture and it boasts a rich cultural following in Scotland and beyond. You can see where it has left its mark by travelling through the northerly and westerly regions of Scotland, where you’ll discover the language’s roots in the ancient Scottish landscape.

  • Gaelic text painted on the side of a craft shop in Isle Ornsay, Skye
    Gaelic text painted on the side of a craft shop in Isle Ornsay, Skye
  • The Brenish Water on the Isle of Lewis. In Gaelic, the area is known as Brèinis
    The Brenish Water on the Isle of Lewis. In Gaelic, the area is known as Brèinis
  • The Duncan Ban MacIntyre Memorial, near Dalmally, Argyll
    The Duncan Ban MacIntyre Memorial, near Dalmally, Argyll
A Gaelic signpost, welcoming visitors to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis

About Gaelic

Learn more about the history and origins of the Gaelic language, and find out where it's spoken around Scotland and beyond

The entrance to the Isle Ornsay Hotel with Gaelic text, Isle of Skye

Learning the language

Get to grips with Gaelic and learn to say a few useful phrases on your travels around Scotland

Standing stones, known in Gaelic as Na Sguelachan, on the Isle of Coll

Gaelic literature

Discover Gaelic's presence on the Scottish literature scene and learn more about key works over the centuries

A pipe band marching at the World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow Green

Traditional Scottish music

From the bagpipes to the fiddle and accordion, and Gaelic song to the clarsach, there has never been a better time to explore the country's diverse traditional music

Discover more traditional Scottish customs and history

Understanding surnames

While some surnames arose in 12th century Scotland, the use of surnames didn’t spread until the 18th and 19th centuries.

Ceilidhs

Ceilidhs, a traditional Scottish dance, have played an important role in Scotland’s social and cultural life for many years.

Clans

Few aspects of Scotland’s history were as colourful, or as bloody, as the clan system. Learn more and discover your clan.