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A NEW schools resource which celebrates the contribution Runrig have made to the Gaelic language and culture has been launched by Gaelic educational resources organisation Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig.

The unit is a significant addition to the Gaelic resource corpus and part of Stòrlann’s Fileanta suite of resources for fluent Gaelic speakers in secondary school, although it can also be used with some learner classes.

It became available to schools in August, a few days before the band played their farewell concerts at Stirling City Park, and it was back to Stirling for the official launch on Thursday, 19 September at Wallace High School.

Like all Fileanta resources for Gaelic classes, the Runrig unit is available exclusively online and had been planned before the band announced their retirement. With appropriate timing, it celebrates “the huge contribution” they have made to the Gaelic language, culture, and education.

The unit includes the text of nine songs, for literary analysis; seven passages for close reading; a class project for young people to write a Gaelic song of their own; and two interviews – an archive BBC interview with Seonaidh Beag, the man who inspired the song The Cutter, and another with founding Runrig member Calum MacDonald, which was recorded especially for Fileanta.

Acknowledging the significance of the new resource, Stòrlann Chief Executive Donald W Morrison said: “I very much wish to thank Wallace High School – in particular Gaelic teacher Alison Macrae – for hosting this launch, Stòrlann’s production and authoring teams and Runrig for their support and kindness. 

Stòrlann is delighted to acknowledge Runrigs significant contribution to the regeneration and development of Gàidhlig language and culture.

I consider this new piece of work to be wholly apposite, when one considers that the roots of Runrig lie in a time where Gàidhlig language development was finding a place in communities and on strategic public agendas.

“At that time some key emergent initiatives such as Fir Chlis, Cinema Sgìre, the Gaelic pre-school movement, Historical Societies, the Bilingual Project, and Comunn na Gàidhlig were forming. Coupled to this, Gaelic Medium Education, in Glasgow, Inverness and Lewis, along with increased Gàidhlig outputs on radio and television worked to place Gàidhlig language and culture in the field of Scottish consciousness.

The unit can be found online at www.storlann.co.uk/fileanta/leughadh-litreachas

Mairi Macritchie, Stòrlann Project Officer for secondary school resources, developed the unit along with another teacher. Mairi – pictured showing the unit to Wallace High School pupils – said the idea for the Runrig unit had come from teachers themselves, via a panel who advise Stòrlann.

“We had just thought there was a gap in the market. There was a feeling that something on Runrig was missing and we thought we shouldn’t really restrict it to one age group – why not write a unit that’s suitable for all?

“The aim was to have a unit that commemorated and focused on their work and it so happened that it was coming to a close when Runrig announced their retirement as well.

The reasons for choosing Runrig as a topic were simple. “They had just contributed so much to the Gaelic language and Gaelic culture. Their farewell concerts were evidence of that, as three generations of Gaels were there. The songs are a huge part of Gaelic history and the history of the Gaelic language.”

Although Fileanta units are normally geared towards fluent Gaelic classes at National 4 and National 5 level, even Higher, there are elements of the Runrig unit that could be used with children at any stage in secondary school, depending on the extent of their Gaelic.

The idea was to avoid restricting the unit to a particular age group and to allow flexibility.

As well as the songs, close reading passages, creative writing piece and the interviews, there is also a timeline of the band, illustrations by Des Campbell, and various external links.

Mairi said the unit “ticks all the boxes” in terms of Curriculum for Excellence. She pointed out that band member Calum MacDonald had been very helpful in the development of the unit.

“I think Gaelic is seen as being rather trendy and fashionable now but it wasn’t then. It was a fight for them. They didn’t have the support at the start that they ended up with. It wasn’t as easy.

“I think the timing is just perfect as well because a lot of the children and young people who were at the concert will have a new or renewed appreciation in the band and this unit will help them to link school with their extra-curricular life.”

Fileanta was first launched in 2015 and is generally aimed at National 4 and 5, although some elements of all the units are also suitable for Higher.

The work of creating resources and uploading them to the website — www.storlann.co.uk/fileanta — is continual. Mairi said the response to Fileanta in general had been “very positive”.

 Gallery photographs: Mairi Macritchie from Stòrlann shows the unit to Wallace High School pupils, who are also pictured watching the interview with Runrig’s Calum Macdonald, done especially for the Fileanta unit. Also included are the cover for Runrig’s landmark album Play Gaelic, a graphic from the unit and a number of cartoons of the band by Des Campbell for the Fileanta unit