Gaelic Word of the Week blog – building – togalach


Each week we publish the text of our Gaelic Word of the Week podcast here with added facts, figures and photos for Gaelic learners who want to learn a little about the language and about the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. This week our word is togalach – building.

Architecture has been in the news a lot this week due to the announcement of the 2021 winners of the national architecture awards by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

For this reason, we’ve chosen building – togalach – as this week’s Gaelic Word of the Week.

The word togalach comes from the verb “tog” to build or to lift.
Here at the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, we are very proud of our togalach.

Our building – togalach – at Holyrood – Taigh an Ròid – opened in 2004.

The Scottish Parliament building – togalach Pàrlamaid na h-Alba – sits at the foot of Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile in front of Holyrood Park and the Salisbury Crags. Constructed from a mixture of steel, oak, and granite, the complex building was hailed for its innovative design on opening..

Drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape, the flower paintings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the upturned boats – bàtaichean– on Scottish seashores, Enric Miralles, one of the world’s premier architects – ailtirean –developed a design that he said was a building “growing out of the land”.

When the Parliament building – togalach na Pàrlamaid – officially opened in October 2004, a poem was written for the occasion by the then Scottish makar the late Edwin Morgan. The poem Open the Doors looks at the duties of and aspirations for the Parliament in the context of the unique new building – togalach.

It starts with:

Open the doors! Light of the day, shine in; light of the mind, shine out! We have a building which is more than a building.

You can find the full text here:
archive2021.parliament.scot/visitandlea…/56969.aspx

A Gaelic translation of the poem was commissioned from the acclaimed Skye-based poet Rody Gorman for the occasion of the first Scottish Parliament Gaelic language plan in 2008.

It starts with :

Fosglaibh na dorsan! A sholais an là, soillsich a-steach; A sholais na h-aigne, soillsich a-mach! Tha togalach againn sa bheil barrachd agus togalach fhèin.

Here is the full Gaelic text:

Fosglaibh na Dorsan
Fosglaibh na dorsan! A sholais an là, soillsich a-steach;
A sholais na h-aigne, soillsich a-mach!
Tha togalach againn sa bheil barrachd agus togalach fhèin.
Tha malairt eadar an taobh a-staigh ‘s an taobh a-muigh,
Eadar soilleireachadh agus sgàil,
Eadar an saoghal ‘s an fheadhainn a smaoinicheas mun t-saoghal.
Nach e rùn-dìomhair a th’ ann? Bidh gach rud a’ tighinn ri chèile
Mar a bhios na bileagan air an t-sìthean
Ach cuideachd bidh iad a’ sgaoileadh nan teang’ ac’ air aghaidh
Gus beantainn ris is blaiseadh air an fhonn a’ taomadh.
An robh sibh ‘g iarraidh taigh-comhairle
No taigh-dubh-no-geal air ùrachadh mas fhìor?
Taigh-mòr an uachdarain? Cùil is ceàrn air an cuairteachadh?
Cha robh ‘n seo, cha robh na!
Cha robh ìomhaigh no IKEA no beinn-eighe
Ach cuarsgagan is cuasan, cruinneachadh is camadh,
Còmhlachadh is càrnadh, contrarradh is clisgeadh.
Cumaibh a-mach o chunbhalachd
Ach cuiribh còmhla leacan is cruaidh gun smal,
Eibhear dubh ‘s eibhear glas,
Darach agus craobh-gheal abaich,
Cruadhtan a tha cho bàn ‘s cho mìn ris an t-sìoda –
Cha mhòr nach eil am measgachadh na bheò – tha e ri anail ‘s a’ smèideadh.
Chan e marmor na mòrachd is nam morairean a th’ ann idir ann!

Thigibh sìos am Mìle, a-steach ann an cridh’ a’ bhaile, seachad air an eaglais
Aig MacIllìosa ‘s na clobhsachan ‘s na lònaidean-cùil
Far an robh na taibhsean a bh’ ainmeil rin linn,
A dh’òl am fìon dearg is a thuit ri ceumannan nan àros
A-steach ann an gàirdeanan nam biùganach ach a sgrìobh
‘S a bhruidhinn mu Shoillseachadh soilleir an latha –
‘S romhpa na bàird aost’ a mheall cluas Rìgh na h-Alba
Le ceòl ‘s le drabastachd is le comhairle fhosgailte –
‘S nuair a tha sibh ann, shìos an sin, an lùib nithean,
Chan ann air ur socrachadh air tulach le sròn san adhar agaibh,
Bidh fios agaibh gur h-e seo ‘n t-àite sam bu chòir don mhòd
Agaibh fhèin a bhith agus seo far a bheil e, ‘n seo dìreach.


Dè tha na daoine ‘g iarraidh bhon àite? Tha iad ag iarraidh gum bi e
Ga lìonadh le daoine ri beachdachadh a tha cho fosgarra
‘S cho adhartach ris an ailtireachd na chois.
Nead a dhaoine fon eagal, chan e sin a tha iad ag iarraidh.
Coinneamh mhòr luchd-dàlach, chan e sin a tha iad ag iarraidh.
Feachd luchd-sodail, chan e sin a tha iad ag iarraidh.


Agus theagamh seach càil sam bith, chan e na briathran fada sin,
‘Cha b’ e mo choire-sa bh’ ann’ a tha iad ag iarraidh.
A chàirdean a nì na laghan, a luchd a’ mhòid, ‘s ann a tha sibh
A’ leantainn làraich de mhòrtas is de mhoit a chaidh a bhriseadh
Cha mhòr, ach nach deach, seadh, nach deach idir,
Nach deach a bhriseadh no a chur air dhearmad a-riamh.
Nuair a thig sibh còmhla, bidh sibh a’ gairm às ùr, le mothachadh
Nach làn air a’ chumhachd, nach làn fhathast air a’ chumhachd làn,
Ach mothachadh math air na bh’ ann an urram ur glacaidh uair a bh’ ann.

Ceart gu leòr.
Cuiribh far ur cuimhne, no na cuiribh, an t-àm a dh’fhalbh.
Tha dùdaichean is fallaingean glan ach anns an àm a tha ‘n làthair
Is anns an àm a th’ air thoiseach bidh barrachd a dhìth oirbh.
Dè th’ ann? Chan fhaod sinne, na daoine,
Cur an cèill dhuibh fhathast ach bidh fios agaibh
Nuair a chuireas. Thug sinn dhuibh cead a bhith gar riaghladh,
Na cuiribh nur sporan e ‘s toirt air falbh.
Thug sinn dhuibh a’ mhiann a bu dhùrachdaich’ againn riaghladh gu math,
Na canaibh nach eil ùghdarras againn a bhith cho danarra.
Thug sinn an togalach mòr seo dhuibh,
Na leigibh le ur cuid obrach is dòchais a bhith càil ach mòr
Nuair a thèid sibh na bhroinn ‘s a nì sibh toiseach-tòiseachaidh.
Tòisichibh ma-thà. Fosglaibh na dorsan is tòisichibh


As well as being part of the word “togalach”, the verb tog is a very useful word in Gaelic and features in many useful phrases and idioms.

Tog dealbh” means to take a photograph – literally lift a photograph.

Tog air” means to go away or to get a move on.

And “tog fianais” means to demonstrate.

Alasdair MacCaluim

alasdiar.maccaluim@parliament.scot