New Year message of collaboration from Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig

A New Year with a new National Plan for Gaelic is an opportunity to achieve results through collaboration, according to the Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Speaking as she welcomed the New Year and the commencement of the next National Plan, 2023–28, which was finalised at the end of 2023, Mairi MacInnes said:

“Looking ahead to what will be a very important time for Gaelic, I am delighted that the National Plan will allow us to work together to achieve progress in the promotion and development of the Gaelic language. At its heart is a measurable increase in the numbers of people speaking, learning, using and supporting Gaelic.

“Bòrd na Gàidhlig will now produce a Corporate Plan which will identify how the aims and targets in the identified priority areas of the National Plan will be achieved. Success will only be realised through working together and this National Plan will bring together authorities, organisations, and communities, indeed, everyone who has an interest in ensuring that Gaelic thrives across Scotland, and beyond.

“I also urge everyone to engage with the process of the Scottish Languages Bill, which will make its way through the Scottish Parliament this year. Legislation is an important foundation for the development and security of the language and this is an opportunity to enhance Gaelic’s status in law.”

You can read more about the new National Gaelic Language Plan here.

Training sessions for Probation Teachers!

Bòrd na Gàidhlig are running training sessions for Gaelic probationers this year!

There will be 4 sessions in this series, the first of which will will run on Wednesday, 06.12.23 from 4:15pm to 5:15pm on Microsoft Teams.

We are going to be focusing on Education Scotland and are very happy that Maeve MacKinnon will be joining us to talk about the resources available to teachers.

You are most welcome to join us to talk and listen and it will be a great opportunity for probationers to network with other new teachers accross Scotland.

If you would like to join us for the session, please book your place on Eventbrite. Dont miss out – there are only 25 spaces!

The dates for the three remaining sessions are still to be confirmed, but they will each have a diffrent focus and will be looking at;

  • Other Gaelic Resources
  • Immersion Pedagogy
  • An Introduction to Gaelic Organisations who Support Schools and Education

If you would like more information, you can contact Sian Baldwin, Development Officer (Teachers), at

Reappointment of Mairi MacInnes as Chair

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Ms Gilruth, yesterday announced the reappointment of Mairi MacInnes as Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig.


Mairi MacInnes has over time held numerous leadership roles within her local community relating to Gaelic language & culture, education and community development: spanning early years, primary and adult learning.  Mairi, former head teacher of Sgoil an Iochdair, was also a member of the 1+2 Approach to Language Learning Group in the Western Isles.  Mairi is Chair of Cnoc Soiller Ltd, and a founder board member of Ceòlas Uibhist, the highly acclaimed Gaelic arts organisation. She has also sat on the board of a number of national organisations, such as the Scottish Arts Council and Comataidh Craolaidh Gàidhlig. Mairi lives in South Uist.

Mairi MacInnes has been the Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig since 16 March 2020.


This reappointment will be for two years and will run from 16 March 2024 to 15 March 2026.

This reappointment is regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner

4 New Members Appointed to Bòrd na Gàidhlig Board

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Ms Gilruth, today announced the appointment of Robert Dunbar, John MacDonald, Michelle Macleod and Donald MacPhee as Members of the Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

Mairi McInnes, Chair, Bòrd na Gàidhlig said:

“We’re delighted to welcome the new board members at Bòrd na Gàidhlig. The four new members bring such a wealth of knowledge and experience across a wide range of fields and this will be more will be more important and beneficial than ever while Bòrd na Gàidhlig looks forward to a new National Gaelic Language Plan and the introduction of the Scottish Languages Bill.”


Robert Dunbar has been Professor of Celtic at the University of Edinburgh since June 2013. He is one of the foremost experts in the world on law and policy for linguistic minorities. He is an expert of the Council of Europe in relation to minority language issues, and since February 2023, he has been a member of the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, a Council of Europe treaty. He has also worked with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe in relation to language law and language policy. He has frequently advised governments, language policy bodies and NGOs on language legislation for minority language, including the Welsh Academy in relation to the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. Robert holds a PhD in Celtic from the University of Edinburgh, on the life and secular poetry of John MacLean (1787-1848), the Tiree and Nova Scotia Gaelic poet, as well as an LL.M from the London School of Economics, an LL.B from Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, and a BA from the University of Toronto.


John MacDonald is a native Gaelic speaker, originally from South Uist, who lives in Edinburgh. Having obtained a business degree, he worked in the IT industry in his early career and then spent over 30 years of his working life in the Scottish voluntary and community sector before retiring in 2022. His roles ranged from Development Officer to Director and Chief Executive with national charities. This has given him insight into effective community development, sage stewardship of public funds and good governance. He has served on the board of trustees for a number of voluntary organisations over the years and is currently a volunteer adviser for Citizens Advice in Edinburgh as well as running online conversation classes for Gaelic learners.


Michelle Macleod, originally from the Isle of Lewis, is a Professor of Gaelic at the University of Aberdeen. Michelle has taught Gaelic and related subjects in universities in Scotland and Ireland for more than 25 years; she has also taught applied sociolinguistic courses and has supervised PhDs in language planning. She has held various leadership roles for languages in higher education including in 2022 being one of three Future of Languages Research Fellows funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council where her work considered how research could support the policy ambitions for the UK’s indigenous languages; she also currently sits on the British Academy/University Council for Languages Strategic Committee for Languages in Higher Education. Michelle has conducted research into Gaelic literature, theatre, second language acquisition and community language planning. Her community language planning research was inspired by the three years she spent as Project Officer and then the first Director at Ionad Chaluim Chille ìle and she recently collaborated with Comunn na Gàidhlig and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Bòrd’s project to establish a network for Gaelic language officers. She is currently Chair of Theatre Gu Leòr and the Catherine McCaig Trust.


Donald Kenneth (DK) MacPhee is a fluent Gaelic speaker who was born and brought up in a strong Gaelic speaking community in South Uist where his late father John was a Gaelic teacher for 40 years. DK’s values, knowledge and skills were further developed over nine years in Catholic seminaries, three of those in Valladolid, Spain. In 1983, this time teaching English in Spain as part of his degree at the University of Glasgow, an unexpected diagnosis of cervical dystonia/spasmodic torticollis literally changed the direction of his life. After graduating with MA (Hons) Hispanic Studies in 1985, and then from Napier College (now University), Edinburgh in 1986 with a Postgraduate Diploma in European Marketing and Languages, his working life began at a charity that supported the unemployed into work. Promoting skills and learning for all, especially for the most excluded and disadvantaged, was to become a central theme of his working life. Voluntary work, including the establishment of the first self-help group for people with dystonia in Scotland and then his appointment as the first Dystonia UK officer outside London, also continued throughout those years.

After two decades of development roles across charities and public sector agencies, in 2009 DK became the lead strategic policy and development officer for Gaelic corporate planning and development within Glasgow City Council with responsibility for all aspects of the council’s Gaelic Language Plans. The expansion of Gaelic Medium Education and the implementation of the Gaelic Plan are also commitments in Glasgow City Council’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan. Some family members also work in, or have children in, Gaelic Medium Education. DK has a special interest in sport, in particular football, and has contributed to Gaelic radio and television programmes views on football, dystonia and other general interest stories for decades. A BBC ALBA documentary about his life with dystonia called Dystonia: Beatha air Fhiaradh / Life at an Angle won a Gaelic Award in 2021. He is also one of the many Gaelic voices of Duolingo and has been a Board member of Comunn na Gàidhlig since 2018 and of FC Sonas since 2022.

New Ceannard of Bòrd na Gàidhlig Appointed

Bòrd na Gàidhlig today announced the appointment of Ealasaid MacDonald as its new Ceannard (CEO) who will take up the post in September 2023.

Ealasaid, hailing from the Western Isles and with her home in Stornoway has extensive experience of working in both mainland and island settings.  In her current role as Director of Strategy and External Affairs with MG ALBA she leads on corporate and stakeholder communications. With experience of working in the public sector and as a freelance policy and public affairs consultant, Ealasaid has been at the forefront of many initiatives and developments to promote the needs of Gaelic speakers throughout her career.

Based in Stornoway, Ealasaid will lead Bòrd na Gàidhlig through forthcoming developments, working closely with Board members and the senior management team, and also with Scottish Government, public bodies and Gaelic communities.

Màiri MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ealasaid to this important role, at an exciting time for the progress of the Gaelic language with a new National Gaelic Language Plan and a new Scottish Languages Bill. She has a background working with key public bodies and with a particular focus on corporate policy initiatives. With her experience of working in this sector, Bòrd na Gàidhlig will benefit from the skills she has acquired in management and development issues related to the Gaelic language and culture.”

Ealasaid said, “I am very pleased to be taking on this important role at a crucial time for Gaelic. I look forward to working with our communities, Gaelic organisations and wider partners to develop the Gaelic language across Scotland and beyond. Working in partnership is a reason for success as we look towards the new National Plan for Gaelic, it is more important than ever.”

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said: “I would like to welcome the appointment of Ealasaid MacDonald as the next CEO at Bòrd na Gàidhlig and congratulate her on a successful application for this important ministerial appointment.”

“The Scottish Government is looking forward to working closely with Ealasaid and the team at Bòrd na Gàidhlig in supporting and promoting Gaelic across Scotland as we prepare to take forward our Scottish Languages Bill.”

Short Life Working Group on Economic and Social Opportunities for Gaelic: Report to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy

In March 2022, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy convened a Short Life Working Group (the Group) with an aim to strengthen Gaelic by means of a focus on economic opportunities and to strengthen the economy by making the most of Gaelic opportunities. The Group has published a report this morning explaining the context in which the group worked, some of the challenges facing Gaelic and also the good opportunities the languages has for positive social, economic, cultural, and educational outcomes.

The report is available on the Scottish Government’s website in both Gaelic and English and can be read here.

As part of the process, Bòrd na Gàidhlig me twith the Group on two occasions before submitting a paper to the Group, reporting and commenting on childcare, health and social care, tourism, education and teacher recruitment, housing, and a range of other issues impacting Gaelic in Scotland today. Bòrd na Gaelic have also made this paper available to read here.

On publication of the report, Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said:

“We welcome the Short Life Working Group’s Economic and Social Opportunities for Gaelic report to Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy.  It clearly demonstrates the links between economic opportunities the language creates and the changes required to safeguard and grow Gaelic. Bòrd na Gàidhlig also welcome the group’s acknowledgment that additional funding is required to take forward new initiatives and Gaelic policy development and that it is an important aspect of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.  We were pleased to provide evidence to the Group across a range of policy areas.

“This report highlights the need for traditional communities of Gaelic speakers to be maintained and increased. This echoes the National Gaelic Language Plan which emphasises the demographic challenges island and rural communities face.  These include lack of housing, the working-age population, poor transport links and social challenges and provides a range of solutions.  It also recognises the role and importance of the urban communities in increasing the number of Gaelic speakers and use of the language.

“Bòrd na Gàidhlig is committed to working collaboratively to help implement these recommendations and drive positive change.”

Statement on Report on Scottish Government’s Consultation for the Scottish Languages Bill

Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: “We welcome this latest step by the Scottish Government in progressing the new Scottish Languages Bill.  There is much in the report that relates to developments that are in place and need strengthened and expanded.”

“It also shows that there is agreement with recommendations that Bòrd na Gàidhlig made in its response last year and that stronger legislation is required to make greater progress.” 

“The extensive conversations we had with a wide range of communities throughout 2021 and 2022 informed our views of what changes are needed to strengthen the position of Gaelic in Scotland.  These conversations also contributed to the development of the next National Gaelic Language plan which will be published shortly.”

“We also welcomed the recognition that Bòrd na Gàidhlig requires more resources in order to increase our impact currently. Any additional responsibilities which arise from new legislation will create changes to our functions and structures, again requiring a suitable resource to deliver what is expected.”

“There was strong alignment between some of Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s recommendations and those of the others who contributed to the consultation, such as:

–           A stronger statutory basis for Gaelic language plans enabling greater impact and increased accountability.

–           legislation to create the right to Gaelic-medium education (GME).

–           Stronger management and greater accountability for GME requiring Local Authorities to plan development and report on progress annually.

–           Increased support for the recruitment and particularly retention of GM educational staff for early-years, primary and secondary provision.

–           The importance of economic and social issues in retaining and attracting young people to the islands.

“Both this report and our own consultation show the interest there is in the future of Gaelic and how important it is in island, rural and the urban areas of Scotland.”

“There is a desire in both reports for Bòrd na Gàidhlig to be more open and transparent and to show our progress on the work we are currently delivering. This is something we have been developing over recent years with much more transparency and accountability across the organisation.”

“We look forward to continuing our work with our partners across the public sector and in communities to support greater growth for Gaelic.”

Bòrd na Gàidhlig commissions new research into links between wellbeing and Gaelic

As understanding and increasing wellbeing become more important in all our lives, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has awarded a commission to DC Research to carry out a study into how Gaelic enhances the wellbeing of individuals, communities and the nation as a whole.

Wellbeing is increasingly recognised as a factor in a wide range of fields across the economy and society. Online meetings in Gaelic during the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated that wellbeing, inclusion and networking were important and could be enhanced, and also demonstrated the role of Gaelic in increasing wellbeing generally.

The recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (2021) revealed that 70% of those learning Gaelic believed that this contributed to their wellbeing.  As the numbers of people learning the language grows, this aspect of engaging with Gaelic could be increasingly important.

When it commences this month, the research will evaluate and describe how Gaelic contributes more widely to society as more than just a language but as a culture and provide an understanding of how facets of wellbeing can be used to assist and encourage Gaelic users, as speakers and learners and as a language community. It will also set out, in a political context, how Gaelic contributes to the National Performance Framework (NPF), as well as seeking to evaluate and describe the contribution of Gaelic so that this is recognised while also considering research in other minority languages.

Shona MacLennan, Ceannard, Bòrd na Gàidhlig said: “We recognise that wellbeing is increasingly important, both for individuals and for society.  The evidence from this research will help us to make stronger arguments for ensuring that Gaelic, and its contribution to wellbeing, is recognised and supported in national and regional policies so as to provide greater support for Gaelic communities.”

Dr Stephen Connolly, Director at DC Research and project manager for the research, who will be working alongside Professor Mike Danson, Dr Douglas Chalmers and Eilidh Danson on the study, said: “We are looking forward to exploring these issues around Gaelic and wellbeing in consultations with a range of experts, speakers and influencers from Scotland and internationally over the summer months”.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig Seeks New Ceannard

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is the public body responsible for planning and leading the campaign to promote the Gaelic language and its culture in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. Our aim is that the Gaelic language will be seen and heard on a daily basis throughout Scotland, to the extent that it will be recognized as a fundamental part of the lives of the people of Scotland and as a precious language that contributes to the culture and economy of the country.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig is looking for a bold and dynamic individual with a passion for Scotland’s Gaelic language and culture and someone who can drive forward this national asset. You may come from another public sector or third sector environment with a national focus.

As Ceannard, you will ensure that decisions and policies are implemented effectively and efficiently through leading the senior management team, managing the staff and through promoting BnG’s work with others.  In that role, building relationships with other organisations, public and community, as well as other government departments is key.

Responsibilities include:

  • Accountable to the Board, you will lead the work of the organisation, ensuring that the strategic aims and objectives of the organisation are achieved
  • Accountable to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers as the Accountable Officer for Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
  • Ensuring the organisation develops the National Gaelic Language Plan and monitors its implementation.
  • Partnership working, initiating and establishing innovative approaches to partnerships, and modelling excellent consultation and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Leading and representing Bòrd na Gàidhlig to promote the work of the organisation, both internally and externally, working for the long-term aims of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and growing the reputation of the organisation
  • Guiding the development, monitoring and reviewing of strategies and plans, through the effective management of Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s activities and resources
  • Accountable for corporate governance and ensuring the organisation meets all regulatory and public sector responsibilities and duties

You will have the initiative and resilience to lead an organisation of this size in a complex environment. An outstanding communicator with integrity and enthusiasm to develop high performing teams and drive a culture of excellence. A commitment to equality, inclusion and diversity is essential to create an environment where everyone can meet their full potential.

Candidates need not necessarily have operated at CEO level before but will bring a breadth of leadership experience to this role.

If you share Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s ambitious vision and would relish driving this forward, we would very much welcome your application.

Further information:

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Ceannard of Bòrd na Gàidhlig announces retirement

The Ceannard of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Shona MacLennan, has announced her decision to retire, with effect from 31 October this year, after seven years’ service with the Bòrd. 

She has given 6 months’ notice of her retiral. This is in advance of the required three months’ notice, to give the Bòrd the best opportunity of appointing a successor before her departure. 

Shona said: “My time as Chief Executive has seen a period of development and growth for Gaelic and for the organisation. It has been a time of enormous change for Bòrd na Gàidhlig. This has been a stimulating and rewarding time and I have been fortunate to be very well supported throughout by a talented and innovative team. 

“It has been a real privilege to serve Bòrd na Gàidhlig over this period. That said, there remain many opportunities and challenges over the next 6 months and I will continue to play my part in addressing these, while doing everything I can to ensure a smooth transition. So it will be business as usual for me until November and then I intend to enjoy time with family and travelling.” 

Cathraiche, Mary MacInnes said: “While I am very sad to hear this news, I am very grateful to Shona for allowing us time to find the right replacement for this key role and to enable a smooth transition. Shona is an outstanding Chief Executive who has led transformation of the Bòrd through an extremely challenging period, and has created an organisation which can realise future opportunities. I wish her the very best for her future plans.”