Gaelic in the Outer Hebrides

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  • Borgh Pottery on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
    Borgh Pottery on the Isle of Lewis
  • A details of a Gaelic/English stone sign welcoming visitors to Stornoway, Outer Hebrides
    A details of a Gaelic/English stone sign
  • Harris Tweed
    Harris Tweed
  • The stock in the Harris Tweed and Knitwear Shop, Tarbert
    Harris Tweed and Knitwear Shop, Tarbert
  • An informal session of accordion music with local musician Duncan Mackinnon on Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides
    An informal session of accordion music with local musician Duncan Mackinnon

Despite over 200 years of suppression and condemnation, the Gaelic culture is still vibrant in the modern world with the Outer Hebrides being the heartland of it.

The Gaelic culture of the Outer Hebrides is rooted in the landscape and has an extremely rich vocabulary for describing this unique environment.

Did you know for example, that there are over 80 Gaelic words meaning hill, mountain or elevated ground? Ben, corrie, glen and machair all originate from Gaelic. Associated with legendary or historical features, they're connected to stories which are a rich feature of the Gaelic oral tradition.

Gaelic language also boasts one of the richest singing traditions in Europe. There are Gaelic songs for all sorts of work activities and social occasions, including reaping, sowing, and even milking, and all have instrumental adaptations.

For a chance to hear Gaelic singing as well as foot-stomping traditional music during your trip to the Outer Hebrides, check out some of the great live music festivals taking place across the islands such as the Hebridean Celtic Music Festival, Harris Arts Festival, Barra Live or the Feisean festivals.

The Gaelic community has supplied Scotland with many of the country’s national icons, including kilt, sporran, bagpipes and whisky to name just few.

The region is also home to the world famous luxury cloth known as Harris Tweed. Visit one of the Harris Tweed mills on Lewis to learn about the making of the world-renowned luxury textile.

Many arts and crafts shops through the islands sell Celtic-inspired arts and crafts from jewellery and knitwear to individual pottery pieces and much more.

The Gaelic culture can be seen and embraced across the isles during a holiday to the Outer Hebrides.

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