Despite being endangered, Scottish Gaelic has been spoken (or studied) by many prominent figures, including the family of the former president of the United States.
Scottish Gaelic is an endangered language that was brought to Scotland around AD 500 by way of Ireland. Our 2011 census revealed that around 57,000 people spoke the language while 87,000 had some of the ‘language skills’ - a fairly low figure for a population of over 5.5 million.
However, after Gaelic’s launch on the language-learning app Duolingo saw it successfully pull in 1.5 million learners, there’s been renewed hope for its survival. Famous musicians, social media influencers and TV shows have showcased the language too, making it an exciting time for Gaelic students.
As Donald J Trump visits Scotland this week, many are reminded of his ties to Scotland which includes his mother – Mary Anne MacLeod – who was a native Gaelic speaker from Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides.
In recognition of Gaelic and its legacy in the world, here are 11 famous speakers – or students – of the Scottish tongue.
1. Mary Anne MacLeod Trump
Mary Anne MacLeod was born in the village of Tong which is a few miles away from Stornoway; the main town on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Raised in a Gaelic-speaking family, the Scottish tongue was her native language while she learned English in school. As was common with Hebridean islanders following historical events like the Highland Clearances and World War One, she left for the United States in 1930 as a youth at 18. She later met and married Fred Trump and the two would have Donald J Trump; the 45th president of the country. Photo: Andrew Milligan (PA) and YouTube Screenshot via TG4
2. Calum Maclean
Calum Maclean is a TV presenter who is fluent in Scottish Gaelic, he has worked with the likes of BBC Scotland creating content about the outdoors and particularly outdoor swimming of which he published his book '1001 Outdoor Swimming Tips' this year. Recently, Calum beat Lewis Capaldi in being named the 'most influential Scot on TikTok'. Photo: Submitted
3. Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes is a member of the Scottish Parliament who has served as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy since 2020. Born in Dingwall, Forbes was educated at a Gaelic-medium school where she became fluent in the language. Photo: Andrew Milligan / Jane Barlow via PA
4. Julie Fowlis
Julie Fowlis is a Scottish folk singer who primarily sings in Scottish Gaelic. In Disney's 'Brave' (2012), Fowlis is credited as the singing voice of the movie's main character Merida - representing the Scottish princess' feelings with hits like "Touch the Sky" and "Into the Open Air". Photo: Submitted / Andrew Matthews via PA