The John MacLeod Memorial Lecture

Published: 10 Jan 2020

The second annual John Macleod Memorial Lecture, organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach and supported by the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies of the University of Edinburgh, will take place on Thursday 30 January 2020, in The Project Room, 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9LH, 19.00-21.30pm.

In recognition of John’s enthusiasm and encouragement of young people in the Gaelic community it is appropriate that the second address will be delivered by Dr Alasdair Whyte (Tosgaire na Gàidhlig 2019 – Gaelic Ambassador of the Year 2019).

We shall gather at the University where Professor William J Watson resided for over 20 years. It is fitting that the Memorial Address in 2020 will focus upon “fèin-aithne agus fèin-misneachd nan Gaidheal”. This subject allows Alasdair to weave his academic background into the subject of identity and self-esteem. Placenames help us to understand our identity, and Alasdair is a leading authority on the Gaelic placenames of Scotland.

Ninety four years have passed since The Celtic Place-names of Scotland was first published. Almost one century later we gather, at the University of Edinburgh, to listen to an address by a new authority on Celtic Placenames, which seeks to
help us understand our identity. Professor Watson would have approved.

Dr Alasdair Whyte said: It is a real honour to be invited to present this year’s John MacLeod Memorial Lecture. It was through local and national Mòds that I first came to know John, and his dedication to Gaelic and promotion of Gaelic identity was an example to me. The age of globalisation has devalued the local across the world but with it comes opportunity. Through innovation and new technology, we can lead from the front in celebrating and advancing our own rich language and culture, as John did.

Allan Campbell, President of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said, “We very much look forward to welcoming Dr Alasdair Whyte to deliver the second John Macleod Memorial Lecture. Alasdair is a young man whose commitment to Gaelic has already brought him much success including winning the An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal at the 2006 Royal National Mod in Dunoon; a First-class Honours Degree in Gaelic, followed by a PhD; and named the Scottish Government’s Gaelic Ambassador of the Year at the 2019 Royal National Mod in Glasgow. Alasdair inherited his love of singing and his musical talent from his family of noted musicians from Morvern”

Prof. Rob Dunbar, Departnment of Celtic and Scottish Studies of the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are delighted and indeed, deeply honoured to host the second John Macleod Memorial Lecture. John was a tireless and principled campaigner for the language and contributed greatly to the Gaelic community both nationally and here in Edinburgh. It will be a pleasure to welcome Dr Alasdair Whyte to the University. Alasdair was this year’s recipient of the Scottish Government’s Gaelic Ambassador of the Year award at Glasgow’s Royal National Mod in October. His continued commitment to progressing Gaelic language and heritage make him an excellent role model and a most appropriate lecturer.”

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