History of the Fund
Urras an Eilein , the Skye Gaelic Trust, was inaugurated in 1973 by the late Sir Iain Noble of Eilean Iarmain, the late Donald MacMillan, Portree and Donald John MacLennan of Broadford, with a grant of £1000. The purpose was to support cultural and educational activities with an emphasis on those which are indigenous in character, and the Trust Deed was worded accordingly.
The strategy of the trust has been to regard any donations it receives as capital for investment and to use the revenue to support suitable activities and events.
Over the years many businesses and individuals have made generous donations and the capital has grown significantly in value to the extent that currently the fund is valued at over £250,000 with an annual revenue in of around £8000.
Donors and Patrons
The Urrasairean (Trustees) are most appreciative of all help and support and acknowledge all donations. They aim to increase the scale and scope of the Urras so that it can make a really meaningful contribution to the cultural and educational fabric of the Isle of Skye.
Projects to Date
In the past the Urras has supported a very wide range of projects and events, including tours by professional Gaelic singers, Gaelic drama, a film about Sorley MacLean, donations for scholarships and the library at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a ceilidh in Dunvegan to honour Kenna Campbell, the Skye Provincial Mod, the Glasgow Skye Association and such like.
In the field of education Gaelic playgroups, Gaelic Medium primary schools, Portree High School and the Glasgow Gaelic school have all received a number of grants for innovative projects.
In recent years tours to the Western Front have been arranged with Acts of Remembrance in Gaelic being held in cemeteries where Highland soldiers are buried.
The Urras, in conjunction with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, sponsor the annual Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture.
Sir Ian Noble Memorial Lecture 2017
Reflections on Land Law History delivered at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Tuesday 13 th November with Roderick John MacLeod, Lord Minginish, Chairman of the Land Court.
Ann an Làrach-Coise Ghaisgeach – DVD
26th July 2017
In June 2015 Urras an Eilein arranged a tour to the Western Front as part of a series of events marking the centenary of the Battle of Festubert. The tour also included visits to the Somme, Beaumont Hamel, Ypres, Arras, Vimy Ridge and St Valery-en-Caux.
A DVD of the tour was launched at Aros in Portree on 26 July 2017.
Urras an Eilein wish to place on record their gratitude to the following for their financial support without which this film could not have been made.
Comhairle na Gàidhealtachd | Kilmac Energy | Jansvans | Fearann Eilean Iarmain | Taigh-òsta Eilean Iarmain | NFU Mutual | MacQueen Builders | M & D MacLeod
Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture recalls the life and poetry of Sorley MacLean
The fifth Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture was delivered by Ian MacDonald last Wednesday (9 November) at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, where he gave a wide-ranging talk, entitled “Sorley MacLean: Life and Poetry”, on the life and work of the famous Raasay bard.
The annual lecture was established five years ago by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Urras an Eilein (Skye Gaelic Trust) – two organisations which Sir Iain helped to establish and with which he enjoyed enduring ties during his lifetime – to honour the work and achievements of Sir Iain, especially with regard to the College, the island and the Gaelic language.
It was through the vision and efforts of Sir Iain that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was established in 1973.
The college is now part of the University of the Highlands and Islands and offers courses in various subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level all through the medium of Gaelic.
Sir Iain was a successful merchant banker and businessman, but is perhaps best remembered in the Highlands for his constant and proactive support of Gaelic.
As such it was fitting that this year’s lecture looked at the life and work of Sorley MacLean, a life-long champion of the language whose poetry earned international acclaim which, in turn, helped to raise the profile of Gaelic among a global audience.
Like Sir Iain, Sorley was also an important figure in the early history of the College, as one of the first Trustees of the College’s Board and also as the second ‘Filidh’ or Poet in Residence of the College in 1975.
Ian MacDonald is from Grimsay in North Uist, and has been a key figure in Gaelic publishing for many years, both as an editor and as the Director of the Gaelic Books Council, the principal organisation responsible for Gaelic literature in Scotland.
He retired from the Books Council six years ago, but still assists authors and does editorial work. He played a major part in the Scottish Qualifications Authority initiative to produce the Gaelic Orthographic Conventions report and is a member of the Corpus Steering Committee recently established by Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
He was co-compiler with Boyd Robertson of the Essential Gaelic Dictionary, published by Hodder.
Ian MacDonald said: “For me it was a great honour to give the Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lecture, and the topic I was given was very appropriate, in view of Sorley MacLean’s own very close relationship with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.”
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “There are very few people who possess the depth and breadth of knowledge of Gaelic literature that Ian Mac Donald has. As well as being an expert on linguistic matters and an editor par excellence, he is a fine scholar, as was evident in the lecture he delivered on Wednesday evening about the life and poetry of Sorley MacLean. The lecture was informed, reflective and insightful and worthy of publication.”
As part of the evening’s proceedings, the inaugural “Skye’s Young Gaelic Person of the Year” award was presented to Eilidh Rankin from Kilmaluag in North Skye for her contribution to the use and promotion of Gaelic.
Eilidh attended the local primary school in Kilmuir and then Portree High School. She was involved in many Gaelic events in her youth – including drama groups and productions such as “Na Mo Chuid Aodaich” as well as local and national Mods where she competed in various competitions for poetry, storytelling, conversation and reading.
Since leaving school, Eilidh has continued with her commitment to the Gaelic language. At first she worked at the Gaelic Childcare Facility, Fàs Mòr, in Sleat, and in more recent years she has worked as the Project Officer for FilmG, MG ALBA’s Gaelic short film competition, which is delivered by Cànan, the multi-media company based at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
Urras an Eilein Trust Administrator Murdo Beaton said: “We congratulate Eilidh, who was a very worthy winner of this new award. Urras an Eilein intends for this award to be presented at future Sir Iain Noble Memorial Lectures and we are hopeful that next year many other young people from Skye communities will be nominated for the award.”
After receiving her reward on the night, Eilidh Rankin said: “It’s fantastic that Urras an Eilein wants to support young people who have made a commitment to the language. I am delighted, and very surprised, even to have been nominated, and privileged to be the first winner of such a prestigious award.”
The Trustees represent different parts of the Isle of Skye and they meet from time to time as necessary. They have, over the years, gradually evolved the policies of the Urras as they are today. All meetings are conducted in Gaelic.
Current Trustees are:
Dr Angus MacDonald
Dr Angus MacDonald was for many years a GP in Portree. He is now retired and lives in Braes.
Calum Graham is a professional trustee and administrator for self-administered pension schemes. He lives for part of the year in Garrabost, Point, Lewis, and also in Sgulamus.
Mary Anne MacKenzie
Mary Anne MacKenzie owned and ran a very well known restaurant in Dunvegan. She has now retired and lives in Edinbane.
Margaret Nicolson was head teacher of several Skye schools and latterly at Staffin and Kilmuir primary schools. She has now retired and lives in Flodigarry.
Faye MacLeod is a partner in an accountancy firm in Portree. She lives in Braes.
Donald MacDonald is a businessman and company director. He lives in Staffin.
Murdo Beaton was a teacher in Portree High School. He is now retired and lives in Struan.
Current policy is to support cultural and educational projects which are located in the Isle of Skye or connected with it.
Preference is given to projects which are in Gaelic or relate to Gaelic and they may be in the fields of music, literature, drama visual arts or education.
The Urras regrets that it cannot give grants towards tuition fees.
Grants usually range from about £200 to around £1,000.
Application forms may be downloaded from the website and completed forms should be sent to the Trust Administrator (see below) in the first instance (Please download and print the form by right clicking and taking the ‘save as’ option).
Copies of all applications will be circulated to the Trustees and should give a brief summary of the project and all associated costs.