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Saturday Gaelic Club

16 May

Since the end of January we have been attending the Gaelic Club on a Saturday morning in the Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu and I can’t believe that summer (of a sort) is nearly here.  It seems strange to think that in a couple of weeks the club will be over for a few months.  I think it would be difficult to overstate what it has given us as a family – time together working towards a shared goal, learning Gaelic (us through proper lessons, my son through play), making new friends and dipping our toes into our local Gaelic community, and the chance to ride a bike without stabilisers (well, my son has, and perhaps “ride” is a little ambitious).  The club really is a fabulous resource.

I suppose that’s why I was saddened to hear that Glasgow City Council are making it difficult for the club to function to its fullest capacity.  Bear with me here because as I’m new my understanding of the present situation is limited but it appears that Glasgow Life aren’t sure that the club is worth their investment.  Words like “creche” are bandied about, and some staff have gone several months now without payment – yet they are devoted enough to continue to turn up whilst the situation is resolved.  It is no wonder that there is a feeling that the council hope to close the club by extinction methods if they can’t do it outright.  I do appreciate that running the club requires a lot of funding from the council but losing the club would, I believe, be a big mistake.  I wonder if they’ve thought about what they’d put in its place to further the learning of Gaelic by families in Glasgow.  I doubt it.

A group of parents hope to meet to look at the club and consider how to ensure it stays alive for a long time to come.  It’s easy to fear that this is the first nail in its coffin and yet I choose to look at such a discussion as positive.  I hope that the idea is to look at ways to build on the club’s current successes and make it clear to the council that it is still a vibrant, necessary part of Glasgow city life – whether that be by restructuring the organisation a little, making some additions or even coming to the conclusion that the club perfectly fits its purpose as it is at the moment and adding further support to the evidence the council have already been presented with.

I don’t know much about the behind-the-scenes running of the club, though it seems like the bulk of the grunt work falls at just one or maybe two people’s feet.  What I do see is that there could be more families there on a Saturday morning.  Getting families to attend anything is always challenging as you work around shift patterns, clubs & organisations, visiting friends & family, but that’s probably not the only reason.  It might be interesting to find out how people hear about the club – what brought them along in the first place?  I saw details about it on the school website but the language barrier coupled with the information given being old put me off for several months.

I didn’t know:

  • if the club was still running,
  • if you had to have a child in the school/nursery to attend,
  • if you could start at any point in the year or if you needed to start in August,
  • if there was a lower age limit for children, and
  • how much it cost.

Perhaps a first step to redressing this is to think about how the club communicates not only with existing families but also with those who would be interested in coming if only they knew more about it.  Could Facebook & Twitter be used to give more up to date information – maybe even a simple website with information for prospective families?  The second step I would take would be to make it easier to “drop in.”  Obviously this is less of a problem for those who already have a little Gaelic, but it’s harder for new-to-Gaelic families to come along mid term because there’s a sense that they’ll not catch up with the current intake of beginners so it’s better to just wait for the new term.  That does make sense but sometimes it’s more important to strike whilst the iron is hot – to get people through the door whilst they’re motivated and help them to see why it’s important to come back for a proper start in the new term.

Because it is important.  Yes, the children “play” whilst the adults “learn” but it only takes a quick look at the Curriculum for Excellence to realise that learning through play – learning by doing – is how children learn best.  Any parent who has no/little Gaelic and yet who has had to start playing “Dè ‘n uair a tha e, Maighstir Madadh-allaidh” (What’s the time, Mr Wolf) and “tunnag, tunnag, gèadh ” (duck, duck, goose) with their four year old son, or realised that their 24 month old daughter can count to ten in both English and Gaelic will tell you that there is real substance – real value – to the time spent there on a Saturday morning .  It is most definitely not a creche.  I only wish they had a Gaelic play group there for the under 3s (though it hasn’t stopped my daughter!) but then that’s why we need Glasgow City Council to continue supporting its constituents.

So perhaps over the summer we need to take the time to raise awareness of the Saturday Gaelic Club and ensure that it lives to promote the Gaelic language for another year.  You can help with this by sharing the details of the club to spread the word that little bit further.

If you’re interested:

  • it meets on Saturday mornings from 10am till 12pm.
  • I know that several of the families in the same beginners’ class as me have no children in the school or, in some cases, even the nurseries yet (they’re starting young!) so I don’t think you need to feel you have to hold off until your child is five.
  • the last club of this school session is Saturday 26th May – (probably a more informal affair that day.)
  • It costs £5 for a family and £1.50 (I believe) for individual adults.

(I hope all that is correct but if it’s wrong maybe someone could let me know and I’ll update it.)

Who knows?!  Maybe I’ll see one Saturday in the not too distant future…

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