The Gaelic story at Glasgow University

Chithear an duilleag seo sa Ghàidhlig aig:

A project led by Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh and Dr Katherine Forsyth will explore the history of Gaelic and Gaels at the University of Glasgow.  Gaels have been present at the University since its foundation in 1451 both as students and as members of staff.  Gaelic however, was not taught at the University as a subject which contributed to an MA degree until session 1906-1907.   This project will look at aspects of the story of Gaels and Gaelic connected  to the University over the longer period as well as Gaelic as a subject, under the auspices of Celtic, at the University.

After a long campaign Gaels in Edinburgh succeeded in getting a chair for Celtic established at the University in that city in 1882.  Glasgow, however, to a greater extent than Edinburgh, was seen as the major city and hub for Gaeldom, with a much larger Gaelic community, and it was a source of considerable disquiet that there was no provision at the University for Gaelic.  As it often the case, funding was an issue and the logjam was broken by the Rev. Dr Archibald Kelly MacCallum, a Baptist minister, who left a bequest of £3000 to the University in 1893, on the condition that the money be used to set up a Celtic lectureship.  Professor Magnus Maclean was employed, 1900-1903, on a part-time basis, to deliver a series of lectures. He was followed by Professor Kuno Meyer, who delivered six lectures per annum over three years, 1903-1906, finishing off his final lecture with a call for the establishment of a chair of Celtic at Glasgow, a wish that was not to be fulfilled for fifty years.

First three lecturers

In the meantime, however, Maclean and Meyer’s lectures, well attended by members of the public and students alike, and widely reported in the press, generated great interest in the question of Celtic and Gaelic at the University. Kelly-MacCallum’s bequest was insufficient to pay a full-time lecturer but a public subscription from a range of individuals and organisations in 1905 soon raised the necessary funds. As a result of this the Rev. Dr George Henderson was hired on a full-time basis as a Celtic lecturer in 1906. Celtic became a subject which could qualify for the degree of MA in session 1906-07.

It is anticipated that this project will uncover sources which will shed fresh light on aspects of the story of Gaels and Gaelic at the University and It is hoped to give a flavour of these on this blog over the coming weeks and months.

Sgeul na Gàidhlig aig Oilthigh Ghlaschu / The Gaelic story at the University of Glasgow


This research was funded by the University of Glasgow, the Chancellor’s fund at the University of Glasgow, the R.L. Thomson endowment and Soillse. ______________________________________________________________________

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