A Brief History of the Society
The Gaelic Society of Inverness was established in 1871 for the specific purpose of “cultivating the language, poetry and music of the Scottish Highlands and generally furthering the interests of the Gaelic speaking people”. Having survived some difficult periods, the Society has undergone a revival in recent years, and the present membership roll of over 500 is probably the highest ever.
Since it began the Society has been active in supporting Gaelic in many ways. It was instrumental in the establishment in the 1870s of the Chair of Celtic at the University of Edinburgh — the first such chair in Scotland — and in the 1880s made strong representations to the Government proposing the appointment of a commission to investigate the appalling conditions in the crofting districts of the Highlands and Islands. The Napier Commission report was to result eventually in the Crofter’s Act of 1886, the cornerstone of the modern crofting system.
Other campaigns in which the Society was involved in its early days include the first Gaelic Census of 1881 and the Education Act of 1918, the first to make provision for the teaching of Gaelic. More recently it has strongly supported the establishment of a Gaelic Language Board and provided financial assistance for Faclair na Pàrlamaid (Parliamentary Dictionary of Terms) published in May 2001.
The Society’s Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness are published every two years and copies are provided free of charge to all subscribing members of the Society. Additionally there are in excess of 60 societies and libraries which subscribe to the Transactions.
The Transactions contain papers and lectures delivered at meetings of the Society, and each Volume contains between 10 and 20 of these covering a wide variety of topics, mainly related to Gaelic and the Highlands. Having been produced for over 100 years, the Transactions now form a valuable source of information regarding Gaelic and related subjects.
Much detail of the Society’s activities is contained in the centenary “History of the Gaelic Society 1871–1971” written by Mairi A. Macdonald and contained in Volume XLVI of the the Society’s Transactions.