Visiting Speaker: Rosemary Ward, The Gaelic Books Council

February 10th, 2017 by claire_furey | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Rosemary Ward, The Gaelic Books Council
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The second guest speaker of semester two was Rosemary Ward, Ceannard of Comhairle nan Leabhraichean. That’s Director of The Gaelic Books Council to most.

Gaelic Books Council logoGaelic is an indigenous language, with 1.7% of the Scottish population having some Gaelic skills, while 32,400 can read, write, and speak the language. There are also Gaelic speakers abroad. 24% of the Council’s online sales are shipped abroad. Surprisingly, Germany is a large market – due in no small part to Michael Klevenhaus, founder of the Gaelic Academy in Bonn.

The first Gaelic book was published in 1567 but until the 20th century most publications were church focused. Things changed in 1951 with GAIRM magazine, which introduced a new generation of Gaelic writers and created a demand for an organisation. Hence the Gaelic Books Council was set up in 1968. They have charity status and are publicly funded.

1985 was another turning point with the opening of the first Gaelic Medium School in Glasgow, creating a demand for Gaelic textbooks.

The Gaelic Books Council have three goals:

  1. Support writers and publishers

The Council commission books, give grants to publishers and attend literary festivals. Rather than having just one special Gaelic literary festival, the idea is to normalise Gaelic by having a presence at all the big festivals. They also support writers and publishers through talent development and training. For instance, there was a real delay getting Gaelic books published because of the lack of editors. The Gaelic Books Council have produced intensive courses to fill the skills gap.

  1. Capacity Building

There are two annual prizes for new Gaelic writers and the Council also has several partnerships and scholarships, such as the biannual Gaelic scholarship at our own University of Stirling.

  1. Sales and Marketing

They have a shop in Glasgow, An Léanag. Check it out if you’re passing! (Mansfield St, just off Byres Rd.) In addition, there is an online shop and they are active on social media and in reaching out to schools and communities, to expose people to Gaelic.

Challenges Rosemary identified were the small number of publishers, AMAZON! (always), negative perceptions of Gaelic in the media and funding.

On a more positive note, developments and opportunities that were outlined included

  • Lasag, a series of novellas for learners and young people.
  • Children’s co-editions and originations.
  • Donald Meek award, which is only for unpublished works.
  • New talent.
  • Leugh le Linda. Linda McCloud is their reading ambassador and does reading sessions, which the BBC are now planning to film as a series.
  • Steall, a new Gaelic magazine, a new version of the pivotal GAIRM, which is no longer in publication.

We must say móran taing to Rosemary for an engaging, interesting and informative talk on Gaelic publications. If this has peaked your interest in Gaelic, head over to to get started!


Claire Furey

Gaelic Books Council Scholarship 2015-16

June 9th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Books Council Scholarship 2015-16
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Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 22.14.00The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication is delighted to announce that the Gaelic Books Council will be offering a scholarship for a place on our MLitt in Publishing Studies programme for the academic year 2015-16.

The scholarship will cover fees (at Home/EU level) and offers up to £2000 in reasonable travel and subsistence relating to the work placement aspects of the module.

Full details of the scholarship are available here: GaelicBooksCouncil_Scholarship1516_fps (pdf). The deadline for submissions is 12pm on Friday 3 July 2015.

Enquiries should be directed to Professor Claire Squires, the Programme Director of the MLitt in Publishing Studies.

A previous recipient of the Gaelic Books Council scholarship, Liam Crouse, writes about his experience of the scholarship here.

Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse

February 9th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse
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Liam Crouse, the first recipient of the Gaelic Books Council Scholarship, reports on his award:

Profile-Publishing1My initial interest in Scottish Gaelic literature was fostered during my undergraduate degree in Celtic and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Two forms of prose, the short story and the novel, were instrumental by both fostering my linguistic ability and cementing my interest in Gaelic-language literature. Following graduation, during my return home, my once fluent conversational skills began to ebb. However, by engaging with the modern literature, I was able to keep some semblance of fluency. It was during this period that I recognised the importance of literature to minority languages – not only in terms of cultural value, but also to foster usage and regeneration.

Unlike the English-language publishing industry, in the Gaelic world we need more – more books, more authors, more publishers, more support. That was one of the reasons for creating the Gaelic Books Council scholarship. Initiatives within the past decade have focused on populating the literary corpus with quality works of prose. All the while continuing with those initiatives, new efforts are being exerted towards developing publishing capacity.

Through the course at the University of Stirling, I have gained an industry-oriented knowledge-base of the publishing industry, both in Britain and abroad. Courses in marketing strategies, business acumen, digital skills and publishing dynamics complemented each other in insightful and appealing ways. These skills were brought together in my publishing project – a geospacial app mapping out the life of the celebrated Gaelic poet Duncan Bàn MacIntyre along the West Highland Way, for which I was awarded the Faber & Faber prize for digital innovation. Towards the conclusion of the course, my thesis concerning the market for Gaelic books allowed me to investigate the multifaceted industry in a way which combined my zeal for the language with my interest in business and marketing practice.

Throughout the course, I gained first-hand experience working with publishers both big and small. The Gaelic Books Council arranged two internships at Gaelic-language publishers, one in Stornoway (Acair)and the other in Highland Perthshire (Grace Note Publications). While working with Grace Note, I helped in the translating of a children’s book which just recently was published in late November. I also secured an internship at the multinational publisher, HarperCollins, working on bilingual dictionaries. The contrast between large and small, multinational and local, and English and Gaelic made for interesting comparison.

I further became involved in Gaelic publishing in a more entrepreneurial spirit in December 2013, when news broke about the termination of Gaeldom’s sole magazine. A small group of enthusiasts and I rose to the challenge and established the first e-zine in the language called Dàna. The past year has been immensely enjoyable and enlightening, allowing me to directly apply many points from the degree. The e-zine is a tangible project with which I feel like I am helping to progress the language’s literature and we intend to continue developing the site’s outreach and influence in the coming years. It will certainly keep me busy!

The scholarship and degree have been both interesting and engaging. To those prospective publishing students: not only will it provide the keen librophile with a good balance of business sense, it will also equip you with the knowledge and connections that will allow you to thrive within the industry.

Note: Liam will shortly be taking up a post as Gaelic Development Office at Ceòlas Uibhist Ltd.

Gaelic Publishing in the 21st Century: a Lecture by John Storey

May 11th, 2013 by Amanda Losonsky | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Publishing in the 21st Century: a Lecture by John Storey
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Amanda Losonsky reports on John Storey’s visiting speaker session:

On 11 April, John Storey of the Gaelic Books Council, Comhairle nan Leabhraichean, came and spoke to the publishing students at the University of Stirling. His topic of discussion: Gaelic publishing and publishing in the 21st century.

In the country of the language’s birth, Gaelic is currently a minoritized language, meaning that it still isn’t widely spoken. In 2011, only 1.9% of the population have some ability in Gaelic while 0.9% can read the language, a percentage that has gone up since 1991. Yet despite these low numbers, there is a worldwide interest in the Gaelic language, with supporters and learners from countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia.

Because there exist so many who are interested in the language, Gaelic publishers must ensure their content will be well-received by many different markets; they cannot solely be thinking in terms of Scotland. Otherwise put, Gaelic publishers must follow and adhere to the principles that Storey termed as “The Beiber Effect”, which simply means “it must be cool”.

The Gaelic Books Council exists not as a publisher of Gaelic pieces, but as a council that supports and offers aid to those who wish to write and publish in the language. Their main aim is to build a capacity within the Gaelic publishing industry. They do everything from identify and support Gaelic authors, commission new pieces, develop content, market and design—all with just five staff members! In addition, the Council covers not only Scotland’s interest in the language, but overseas as well. In a world where Gaelic is so often overlooked and forgotten, it is the Gaelic Books Council’s job to remind people of the language’s presence and significance.

There have been a number of developments and innovations within the market in the past few years. In the 20th century, Gaelic publishing focused primarily on poetry, yet the 21st century saw the rise of “Gaelic punks”. Since then, freedom of expression has continued to grow within the Gaelic market. In April 2013, the very first Gaelic Science Fiction novel written by Tim Armstrong was published by CLÀR, which shows the versatility of the Gaelic market. There have also been a number of translations of well-known English titles into Gaelic as well. Some of these include: “Peter Rabbit”, “The Gruffalo”, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “MacBeth”.

But Storey states that one of the most important developments for the Gaelic language is Ur-Sgeul. Started in 2003, Ur-Sgeul promotes new Gaelic fiction and also established opportunities for new writers. It encourages new Gaelic writers, as well as a new generation of authors. There have also been collaborations with musicians as well. In addition, Ur-Sgeul also had the first ever German-Gaelic collaboration as well. Ur-Sgeul really helped set the bar in terms of the quality of writing.

Yet there also exist a number of complications within the Gaelic publishing market. One of the biggest issues is that the market itself is quite fragile. While there do exist a few Gaelic publishers, such as Acair, CLÀR, Leabhraichean Beaga, Scottish Gaelic Texts Societ, and Padua, the market for Gaelic books is currently small, which makes it difficult to be profitable.

In addition, the quality of content can also present a problem for the market as well. Because the market is small, there is always a struggle to find quality Gaelic writing, which raises a number of questions and dilemmas for Gaelic market. How do you afford Gaelic authors freedom while still maintaining standards? What role does a publishers play in this issue? How do you discourage Gaelic authors from running to Amazon?

Speaking of Amazon, another issue is the limited avenues for minority languages to sell their products. Amazon still discriminates against minority languages, as was seen recently with Amazon’s lack of support for Welsh pieces on Kindle readers. The most recent statistics taken for the Gaelic market regarding ereaders showed that only 16% of Gaelic readers were interested in ereading, however, these statistics were taken in 2010 and current demands hint to the fact that these numbers have increased. With lacking support from such a well-known source like Amazon, how can Gaelic push its way into the digital marketplace? Or can Gaelic forge a digital path for itself without Amazon’s support?

And, of course, with 2014 approaching and a big decision on Scotland’s independence to be made, what will come of Gaelic publishing in the future? No matter what the outcome of the referendum, a New Scotland is on the horizon, and with it comes a new future for Gaelic and publishing.

It’s an important time for Gaelic publishing, Storey concludes, but this is just a crossroads. The 21st century affects Gaelic publishing just as much as it affects English publishing, but it also invites a mix of its own problems as well. Gaelic publishers must offer added value in their products. They need to be innovative in their approach to present content. They need to understand the brand and have strong imaginative interaction with audiences, but there are many opportunities available to make the market stronger.

In collaboration with the Gaelic Books Council, the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication is offering a fully-funded scholarship for a Scottish Gaelic language student. Full details are available here.

Gaelic Publishing Scholarship

April 15th, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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A new Gaelic publishing scholarship is launched by the Gaelic Books Council and the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling.

The fully-funded scholarship is open to candidates with fluent written and spoken Scottish Gaelic, on Stirling’s industry-leading MLitt in Publishing Studies programme for the session 2013-14.

Rosemary Ward, Director of the Gaelic Books Council said: “The Gaelic Books Council is delighted to be working in collaboration with Stirling to offer this exciting Gaelic scholarship opportunity.

“The demand for Gaelic publications continues to increase as a result of the growing number of pupils attending Gaelic Medium Education and the ever increasing number of adult learners. Investment in this sector is essential if existing Gaelic publishers are to cope with growing demand.”

She added: “This scholarship will attract new talent into the sector and begin the process of increasing capacity and knowledge transfer.”

Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication said: “We’re very pleased to be working with the Gaelic Books Council to provide this opportunity for a Gaelic-language student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling.

“The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication has always been closely connected to the Scottish publishing industry, and many of our students have gone on to develop successful careers within it. On the programme, students develop hands-on skills and business acumen, and also an understanding for the wider cultural and social contexts of publishing.

She added, “We also strongly encourage our students to develop an entrepreneurial approach to publishing, and we envisage that this partnership with the Gaelic Books Council will have a positive impact on the development and sustainability of the Gaelic publishing scene.”

The successful student will study at the University’s Stirling campus and the Gaelic Books Council will secure appropriate placements with Gaelic publisher(s). Additionally, the Gaelic Books Council will act as adviser for the student’s Publishing Project and Dissertation which is required to have a Gaelic focus.

The deadline for applications for the Gaelic scholarship is Friday 31 May 2013. Further details are available here: Gaelic Books Council scholarship further details (pdf).