By Cara Sulieman
A GLASWEGIAN who can’t speak a word of Gaelic dreamt up Scotland’s new Celtic social networking site.
And English-speaking web surfers will be able to translate the site from the native tongue into English at the click of a mouse.
Gillian Thompson, 31, pitched her idea of a Gaelic facebook-type website to the Bord an Gaidhlig who were looking for ways to reach out to Scots and encourage them to learn the traditional language.
Despite being from the Central Belt and with no knowledge of Gaelic, Gillian wanted to help the Bord an Gaidhlig promote the language.
And she was stunned when they agreed to fund the £250,000 site.
She said: “Gaelic is an essential part of Scotland and it needs to be preserved and celebrated. The Welsh have done such a great job with their language and we can learn so much from them.
“The language has been in decline for years and needs a boost, which is why I jumped at the chance to help create this website.”
Although the Bord an Gaidhlig asked for an information portal, the director of the IT firm Creative Cell, is giving them an awful lot more.
Creating their own profile, users of mygaelic.com will be able to chat with one another as well as finding out more about the Celtic legacy.
There will be a list of Gaelic courses across the country, as well as information about the Highlands and Islands, the traditional home of the language.
It is hoped that by using the site, people will discover their Celtic roots and acquire a love for the language.
Gillian herself found that she had relatives from the Gaelic community, with her grandfather travelling down to Glasgow from the tiny island of Bernera in the Sound of Harris.
She said: “It wasn’t until I started researching the community background to the language that I realised I had connections to the Islands. I’ve vowed to learn Gaelic this year – I really should practice what I preach.”
Users can chose whether to view the website in English, Gaelic, or simple Gaelic, allowing them to adjust the settings to their ability.
Rosemary Ward, acting CEO for Bord an Gadhlig, said: “We’re aiming to raise awareness about Gaelic. It’s the year of the Homecoming Scotland and we thought it would be the perfect time to start pushing the language a bit more.
“Many people will have Gaelic connections but they wont know about it. The website aims to point non-Gaelic speakers in the right direction to finding out more about their Celtic links.”
A date is yet to be fixed for the launch of the site, but the team are aiming for the end of this month. With plans for a launch party in Glasgow’s George Square, Gillian is getting ready to unveil the new Internet sensation.