Over the last few years a Scottish Gaelic learning community has been evolving in Maryland and northern Virginia. On the 4th of June, we had the first joint gathering of Sgoil Ghàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhóir (The Gaelic School of Baltimore) and Gàidhlig Photomac (The Potomac Scottish Gaelic Society).
This whole event was outdoors, so it was good that we had sunny and bright weather. It was a beautiful day at Carderock Recreation Area. Great food contributed by everyone, great music and singing, and a lovely hike on Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac learning Gaelic in the woods, really tying the language to the land.
Many thanks to Scott Morrison and Liam Cassidy for their leadership and teaching; Michelle LaFrance for scouting out and securing the site; the musicians of the day, Scott Morrison, Peter Walker, Maraji Gwynallen, and Liam Cassidy for a great cèilidh. And everyone who participated.
After enjoying food and company, the group gathered to start the Gaelic immersion portion of the day, the language hike. Scott and Liam led the group through the terms most likely to be used during the hike, and assigned scavenger hunt responsibilities whereby groups of two sought to find and photograph certain things to be found along the trail. A pdf of the vocabulary list can be accessed here.
The trail wound through the woods along the Potomac, up and down, over rocks and roots, a narrow bridge, and a tiny stream.
The hike paused at many locations as scavenger hunters found the objects of their quest, or folks had questions about the Gaelic terms for things not identified in the vocabulary list.
The most interesting find of the day goes to Liam Flynn of O’Flynn’s for the artifact he discovered in the woods. Two other hikers, Amy Gray and Peter Walker, identified it as half of an old lemon squeezer. Most of us only found slugs, trees, and beetles, and such.
Back at camp the hikers compared pictures of what they had found, asked more questions, and generally refined our understanding of the Gaelic language for our surroundings.
Then, more food and a lot of great music and singing. It turned out to be kind of an international picnic area. Next to our Gaelic group was a group of French speakers playing petanque. They enjoyed us and we enjoyed them.
It’s a wonderful Gaelic learning community that’s evolving in Maryland and northern Virginia. We hope you will join. For more information on Sgoil Ghàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhóir programs, Click Here. For more information on Gàidhlig Photomac, check out their Facebook page here, and their Meet-Up page here.