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  1. #1
    Join Date
    2nd March 11
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    Scotland, Ontario, Canada
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    A Family Story (Myth?) and Question about Gaelic Languages

    I am very fortunate to know a lot about my paternal Grandfather's early life and family. He was a Presbyterian minister and I guess use to writing a sermon every week so when he retired well into his 70's he started a memoir. It is very detailed about his family history and early life but unfortunately he became to ill to carry on before he got much beyond his childhood.

    He was born in Clachnaharry just outside Inverness. His father was a seaman and shipwright and English speaking. His mother was from Ross-Shire and grew up a native Gaelic speaker. She must have been a smart and educated lady because he mentions that she was not only fluent but literate in both languages. He mentions in his youth a lot of young people from the Highlands were moving to Glasgow for work and his mother used to both write and read letters back and forth, in both languages, for neighbouring families who were less literate. In any case my Grandfather grew up with a lot of exposure to Gaelic and by all accounts spoke it fairly well.

    As a young man (and here the story gets fuzzy because it is beyond his written record) he moved following many friends from his youth to Glasgow to work in the shipyards. He saw no future in this work and so also studied at night in a Bible College. He became a Presbyterian Minister. Surprising to me, but his first Kirk on his own was in Wales. During this time he married his sweetheart from Glasgow, my Grandmother. I have an old marble clock which was presented to him on the occasion of his marriage by his Welsh congregation.

    Now here is where we may move from fact to fancy. My eldest Aunt was born in Wales and had memory of those days (my Grandfather later moved back to a church in Glasgow and then eventually on to Canada). She use to say that her father got along very well with the Welsh miners in the congregation because he could speak to them in Welsh. Could this be a fact or just an embellished story by a young girl who loved her father?

    My research would indicate the languages were too different for mutual understanding but I am only basing this on dry reading with no actual understanding of either Scots Gaelic or Welsh as living languages.

    Any insight would be appreciated.

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