Cnoc Soilleir Officially Opened by Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP

Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP was welcomed to officially open Cnoc Soilleir together with local tradition bearers Margaret Walker and Kirsty MacMillan.

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP with local school children

Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP was welcomed to officially open Cnoc Soilleir together with local tradition bearers Margaret Walker and Kirsty MacMillan. 

The sun shone as local pipers Allan Henderson, Calum MacMillan and Joseph Nicholson accompanied Mr Swinney towards the entrance with Cnoc Soilleir board member, Seonaidh MacDonald, who made formal introductions and warmly thanked those gathered. He then invited Mr Swinney, Margaret and Kirsty to perform the ribbon cutting.

On entering Cnoc Soilleir, Mr Swinney and our guests were greeted by the pupils of Sgoil Dhalabroig, singing the traditional Gaelic song, “Teann a-Nall” followed by “Oran Cnoc Soilleir” uniquely written by Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul. A Hebridean Dancing demonstration of Flora MacDonald’s Fancy completed a wonderful children’s performance.

Seonaidh MacDonald continued the formalities saying “It is right and appropriate that at this auspicious Cnoc Soilleir Opening event, we all pause to recognise the scale and scope of the achievement it represents, both now and for future generations. Cnoc Soilleir embodies, in a very visceral way, all that is good about our islands, Gaelic culture, our rich tradition and our hopes for the future” and invited Mr Swinney to speak.

He said that “It is a privilege to open the new Cnoc Soilleir centre and I welcome their activity in supporting Gaelic and the economic prosperity this vital project offers the Uist community. We recognise the cultural, economic, educational and social value that Gaelic brings and the Scottish Government is committed to maintaining support for Gaelic and increasing the number of people using and learning these languages. Our aim is to create a secure future for Gaelic and Scots in Scotland and this will only be achieved by an increase in those learning, speaking and using the languages. The Cnoc Soilleir centre will play a vital role in achieving this aim.”

This was followed by Cnoc Soilleir board members Archie MacDonald and Mairi MacInnes giving thanks to funders and all those who have supported the development.

Following the speeches Niall MacDonald played the tune he had specially composed for Mr Swinney to celebrate this momentous occasion for the Uist community.  He then presented Mr Swinney with a framed copy of the beautiful tune.

Following the formal opening guests were invited to enjoy a tour of Cnoc Soilleir and view the photograph exhibition by Michael Faint, poems by Niall Campbell with Gaidhlig translation by Martin MacIntyre, and appreciate the island hospitality.

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