English-speaking Tiree residents in 1845
Transcription of the Rev. Neil MacLean’s letter about the number of people with English on Tiree in 1845.
Courtesy of His Grace the Duke of Argyll
In 1845 the Parish minister, Rev. Neil MacLean, estimated that in three-quarters of the families in Tiree at least one member had some English. All the children apart from those attending the Gaelic schools were taught the language to some extent.
In the early 20th century most children entering primary school spoke only Gaelic but were taught solely in English. A survey conducted by Co-Roinn Ghàidhlig Thiriodh ’s Cholla in 1994 found that around 45% of the adult population on Tiree and 15% on Coll could speak Gaelic, most of these in the older age brackets.
In 1989, concern over the decline of the Gaelic language led to the opening of a Gaelic medium unit within the Primary Department of Tiree High School which is attended by half the island’s children.