GAELIC was once a significant local language in Glasgow and its environs and there is still evidence of its influence today.

Often, some of the earliest evidence of the language spoken in a particular area can be found in its place names - take Shettleston, for example, or Baile Nighean Seadna (Seadna’s daughter’s farm), linking the area to a Gaelic-speaking woman of around 1170, or Gartnavel and Auchenshuggle - the Gaelic word ‘gart’ means farm, while ‘auch’ comes from achadh meaning ‘field’ or ‘farm’. (See for more details).

Estate maps and rental rolls, which we hold in the City Archives, are excellent sources for place name research especially as they preserve earlier spellings.

While Gaelic was eventually replaced by English as the dominant language, there was a resurgence when Gaelic-speakers from the Highlands and Islands migrated to Glasgow, establishing several societies where their members could meet socially. One such organisation was the Glasgow Gaelic Club, founded in 1780. We hold the records of this club and, among them, is its first minute book.

READ MORE: Celebrating Glasgow's Gaels in city's own little corner of the Highlands

It’s one of only a few archives written in Gaelic to be held in our collections. There are several reasons for this. Some of the early Gaels who settled in Glasgow made learning English a priority for their children. For example, the Highland Society of Glasgow (established in 1727) founded a school to provide boys with English-language education to better equip them for working life in the city.

As a result, generations of Gaels were brought up in Glasgow without knowledge of Gaelic. During the Victorian era , the 1872 Education (Scotland) Act ruled that English should be the only language of instruction in schools, even in areas like Tradeston, which had large Gaelic-speaking populations.

There was a growing movement to reverse this in the mid-twentieth century. In our Glasgow Corporation Department of Education papers, there is a survey of Gaelic speakers attending the Corporation’s schools in 1945. This prompted the decision to offer Gaelic as an extra subject in two senior secondaries (Woodside and Bellahouston) in the late 1940s. Several decades after this, the city’s first Gaelic-medium Education (GME) unit opened at Sir John Maxwell School in 1985.

In the thirty-five years since, Gaelic’s fortunes in Glasgow have changed once again.

Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (The Glasgow Gaelic School) in Berkeley Street provides GME for children aged 3-18, while a separate primary school in the south and several nurseries throughout the city are teaching the language to new generations of Glaswegians. We hope that our collections will include more archives written in Gaelic before long.