Gaelic Word of the Week blog – Book – Leabhar

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 leabhar – book.

This week is Books Week Scotland, an annual celebration of books and reading that takes place across the country.

So this week’s Gaelic word of the week is ‘leabhar’ (book). This word would seem to be an early borrowing into the Celtic languages from the Latin ‘liber’; it is found similarly in Welsh as ‘llyfr’.

The Parliament’s Gaelic team often uses leabhraichean – books, particularly faclairean for our Gaelic writing and translation work!


Books – learbhaichean – have a long history in Scotland; indeed, one of the theories around the famous Irish illuminated manuscript known as The Book of Kells (or Leabhar Cheannanais Mhòir in Gaelic) is that it might have been created around 800 AD on the Hebridean island of Iona (Eilean Ì) or in Dunkeld (Dùn Cheallann) by Gaelic-speaking monks.

‘The Book of Deer’ (Leabhar Dhèir), written in an abbey called ‘Deer’ near Buchan (Bùchainn) in Aberdeenshire (Siorrachd Obar Dheathain), is the oldest surviving book containing written Gaelic in a Scottish context. This book is a Latin gospel composed in the 900s with Gaelic notes written in the margins that are thought to date to the early 1100s.

Leabhar Dheir

The earliest printed book in Gaelic or Irish was a version of the Book of Common Order (Foirm na n-Urrnuidheadh) published in Edinburgh in 1567 and translated by John Carswell (Seòn Carsuel who was known in Gaelic as ‘An Carsalach Mòr’, ‘the big Carswell’).

If you are interested in Gaelic books, you might want to check out the Gaelic Books Council (Comhairle nan Leabhraichean), Acair, Bookbug or Gaelic4Parents, where you can listen to audio versions of many Gaelic books suitable for children or learners.

This week’s Gaelic Word of the Week is ‘leabhar’ (book).

West Highland Tales le Iain Òg Ìle

This week’s Gaelic Word of the Week has been written by Mark McNeilly, Gaelic Development officer whose favourite Gaelic book is ‘Popular Tales of the West Highlands’ by J.F. Campbell (‘Iain Òg Ìle’). It was read by Alasdair MacCaluim, Alasdair MacCaluim whose favourite Gaelic book is Hiort: Far na Laigh a’ Ghrian le Calum MacFheargais.