I QUICKLY became aware of this “other language” after I first met my wife Christina – a Gaelic-speaking lass from Tolastadh bho Thuath (or North Tolsta) on Lewis – at Cardonald College in my hometown of Glasgow.

It was Scottish, sure enough, but to me at the time, it was exotic, strange, and beautiful to listen to.

All of this was more than 40 years ago, and since then I have grown to fully appreciate the wonders of this great Scottish language and its cultural place in our nation’s history, folklore and, of course, the present day.

Every year for many years, we would return to Lewis in the summer, and I would be surrounded by this wonderful language that I didn’t understand, but still listening in to catch the moment I would perhaps be mentioned by “Granny”. Our young daughter Helen loved the freedom of the crofting land, the wee local beach, and her Gaelic cousins. All quite magical.

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The language remained a mystery to me – I was dreadful at French in school too – but I knew inside that this was something worth protecting.

As any map will show you, Gaelic is ingrained in Scottish culture and in its very making. The language was once spoken throughout our land, from the islands to the lowlands. It was Scottish then, it is Scottish now, and it will be Scottish in the future.

However, there is a darker side to the story of this language in our nation; there are those who would attack its very use and denigrate its existence. I find it quite pathetic to read articles in so-called national newspapers bleating on about its use on road signs, or the teaching of it to our children, almost as if they are ashamed of their own heritage!

Some go further and accuse the Scottish Government of using Gaelic as a political tool, a kind of separatist weapon to make us feel “different” from the rest of the UK. Well, we are different – so what? We are Scots, the Welsh are Welsh, the English are English and we share an island – is it not difference that makes life interesting?

In our Farming Scotland magazine, we are proud to support Scottish farming and rural life throughout the five nations of the British Isles – because of the cultural differences, the great local produce in Scotland, Wales, England, and, of course, Ireland. We support them all, we love the differing cultures, we don’t attack them because they are different. When we created our Gaelic section “Beatha an Eilean” (Life on the Islands), no one in England complained and attacked that! The reaction was quite the opposite.

When we launched our “Northern Isles” section, working with local Orkney and Shetland papers, no one in the south of Scotland complained!

When we more recently launched our Fermio Cymru section, we heard no screams of derision, only joy from those in all those areas who read the magazine.

This is why I do not understand the attacks on this part of Scottish culture through the years. I remember one politician even looked upon the teaching of Gaelic as a threat to Britishness – what a load of sad, little anti-Scottish nonsense.

The National:

I am proud in our own small way, to support the Gaelic language and its culture within our magazine. We are even looking at how we could incorporate Scots and Doric in the near future.

I would urge the mainstream media to open their eyes to the Gaelic language – it is nothing to be afraid of and certainly it should be below their standards to attack it as somehow being subversive!

My own message to the Gaelic speakers of Scotland is: I see you, I hear you, and I support you. If Farming Scotland can make that commitment to our native culture, I would hope that others in the media can throw away their silly attitudes towards our differing and unique Scottish cultures. Perhaps one day then, they will finally represent Scotland and its people as one nation.

To all Gaelic speakers wherever you may be, slàinte.

Athole Murray Fleming is the editor of the Farming Scotland magazine. You can visit its website here.