Poet Laureate's Parliament poem goes Gaelic

18/11/2008

The poem penned by Scotland’s Poet Laureate Edwin Morgan to mark the opening of the Scottish Parliament building will be recited at Holyrood again this week – in Gaelic.

The poem, Open The Doors!, has been translated by author Rody Gorman, who will read it at the launch of the Parliament’s new five-year Gaelic Language Plan on Thursday 20 November.

The recital will mark the start of two days of Gaelic events being held at Holyrood to welcome the new plan, which sets out the Parliament’s core commitments to expanding the Gaelic services and resources it provides to the public.

Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP will officially unveil the plan on Thursday when Mr Gorman will also read his translation of ‘Open The Doors!’

Mr Fergusson said: “It is fitting that this special poem written to celebrate the opening of this unique building is being read again in Gaelic at the launch of this new plan.

"As Scotland’s parliament we are committed to promoting Gaelic given the important place it holds in Scotland’s rich cultural identity.

"The Scottish Parliament is committed to engaging with as many people across Scotland as possible and this plan will ensure Gaelic speakers have access to even more resources in their language of choice than ever before.”

Mr Gorman, once a writing fellow at Scotland’s only all-Gaelic college - Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Skye - and more recently at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, said he was "honoured” to be asked to recite the poem on such a special day for Gaelic speakers.

He said: “I was honoured to be asked to translate the work of such a truly great person and poet as Edwin Morgan about this momentous historical event. Whilst I have taken some small liberties with the text to suit the Gaelic, I hope I have done the spirit of the original work justice.”

The poet, who has recently translated a number of Bob Dylan’s songs into Gaelic, will attend various events being held at Holyrood to mark the launch of the plan.

These include information stalls for MSP and members of the public, guided public tours with a Gaelic flavour and a forum for organisations engaged in Gaelic planning to discuss issues and opportunities for promoting the language across Scotland.

The Parliament will also be printing restaurant menus in Gaelic, labelling all artwork and more signage throughout Holyrood in the language and hosting the annual BT Scotland National Gaelic Schools debate.

Edwin Morgan’s Open The Doors! was first read in public by poet and playwright Liz Lochhead at the opening of the Scottish Parliament building on 9 October 2004.

The Gaelic Language Plan will expand the Parliament’s resources and services in a number of ways including expanding the range of public information available in Gaelic, introducing Gaelic awareness training for front-of-house staff and ensuring Gaelic is considered in policy making. It was devised in conjunction with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the statutory Gaelic body set up to encourage the use and understanding of Gaelic.

Rosemary Ward, Acting CEO of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said: “We are delighted a poet of Rody Gorman's standing has been chosen to recite such an appropriate piece of poetry to mark the launch of the Scottish Parliament's Gaelic Language Plan.

"The Parliament and Bòrd na Gàidhlig worked together to produce this strong five-year plan which will enable the public to access even more information in Gaelic at the Parliament."

The Gaelic language Plan is a requirement of The Gaelic Language ( Scotland ) Act 2005 which aims to secure the status of Gaelic in Scotland.

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