The Trustees of Urras Dhòmhnaill Iain have launched this year’s competition in memory of Donald John MacKay, formerly Depute Chairman of Trustees and Project Development Manager at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. The competition marks the outstanding contribution made by Donald John to Gaelic and industrial development throughout the Highlands and Islands and is open to any student in Scotland, in full-time or part-time study, at further or higher education level, or working towards a doctorate.
Mr MacKay had a long association with the work of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Lèirsinn Research Centre, An Comunn Gàidhealach, of which he was the first Director (1965-70), Comunn na Gàidhlig, British Alcan, the Harris Tweed Association, Highlands and Islands Development Board, and the Gaelic Society of Inverness, as well as a range of other organisations.
The competition is administered by Fèisean nan Gàidheal (FnG) on behalf of the Trust and all entries should contribute to the aims and objectives of the current National Gaelic Language Plan and align to the aims and objects of the Trust. Entries must be from individuals and will be judged by a panel including a representative of the MacKay family, one Trustee, one representative of FnG and up to two other independent assessors. The panel will evaluate the winning entries to ascertain the possibility of further development.
The winner of the inaugural award in 2018 was Sharon Cooper, who is currently undertaking the production of a book and exhibition of prints, rubbings and cyanotypes from plants and grasses, along with Gaelic text including their names and background notes.
Speaking on behalf of the Trustees, Hugh Dan MacLennan said: “The main aims of the competition are to promote all aspects of Gaelic culture; to promote education in and through the Gaelic language; to promote the study, appreciation and use of the Gaelic language; to encourage young people to continue the seminal work of revival which Donald John MacKay inspired; to enable young people throughout the Highlands and Islands to develop entrepreneurial skills; to build community confidence through strategic planning; and to facilitate social inclusion and lifelong learning. Donald John was a key figure in many Gaelic-related developments in the 20th and 21st centuries. This competition will enable young people to demonstrate innovative ideas, fresh thinking and develop personal interests.”
The competition is now open with a deadline of Friday 4 October. Further details of the competition, including timescale, are available on the Fèisean nan Gàidheal website here.