Gaelic Word of the Week – Falkirk East

Each week publish our Gaelic Word of the Week podcast which you can listen to at the link above. Here on the blog we add some extra 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 we continue our journey around the different sgìrean – constituencies – of the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba.

We are back in the Central Belt for Falkirk East – An Eaglais Bhreac an Ear.

Falkirk is an interesting name. In Gaelic An Eaglais Bhreac means the speckled kirk. This doesn’t make too much sense until we look at the Scots form Fawkirk – ‘faw’ meaning speckled.

Falkirk East – An Eaglais Bhreac an Ear is full of many fascinating placenames including California and Bo’ness or, to give it its full name – Borrowstounness.

By peter henderson, CC BY-SA 2.0,

There isn’t a Gaelic term for California – “the sunshine village” or for Bo’ness – but there is one for Kinneil, which you may have heard of if you are a rail enthusiast, since it is on the Bo’ness and Kinneil heritage railway. The name Kinneil comes from Ceann Fhàil – the head or end of the wall, referring to the Antonine Wall.

Train at Manuel Junction, Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway

Ceann appears in many placenames and is often anglicised as Kin in names such as Ceann Loch Liobhainn – Kinlochleven, Ceann Loch Raineach – Kinloch Rannoch.

Once connected with Ceann Fhàil by a long-closed railway is the village of Slammanan – possibly the most interesting placename in the Eaglais Bhreac an Ear constituency. It comes from the Gaelic Sliabh Mhanann. Sliabh means hillside, slope or moor. The second part is more intricate. One theory is that the Mannan part comes from Manannán mac Lir, a sea god of Gaelic mythology. It is from him that the Isle of Man – Mannin/Manainn gained its name! According to mythology, he wore impenetrable armour, carried an invincible sword and rode over the waves in a splendid chariot.

However, the more likely theory, accepted by Ainmean-àite na h-Alba, the national expert group on Gaelic placenames is that Sliabh Mhanann means the moor associated with the area of the Manu – a Brythonic-speaking tribe which was then part of the Kindgom of Gododdin.

So Falkirk East – An Eaglais Bhreac an Ear has ties to Wales – a’ Chuimrigh, Ireland – Èirinn, the Isle of Man – Eilean Mhanainn – and of course, in the US – na Stàitean Aonaichte to California!

Another settlement in An Eaglais Bhreac an Ear is Grangemouth. In Gaelic it is Inbhir Grainnse. This is a relatively new name which has become established through use in the Gaelic media. You will recognise Inbhir, meaning river mouth, from names like Inverness, Inverkip and more.

This week’s Gaelic Word of the Week is: An Eaglais Bhreac an Ear – Falkirk East.

This week’s Gaelic Word of the Week has been written by Alasdair MacCaluim, Gaelic development officer who is rather fond of railways and has had many happy visits to Rathad-iarainn Bo’ness is Cheann Fhàil!

Gaelic word of the week blog – Archaeology – Àrc-eòlas #gaelic

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 archaeology – arc-èolas.

The 17th of July to 1st August is the festival of British Archaeology so today we’re going to look at archaeology and it’s connection to the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba.

The Gaelic for archaeology is arc-eòlas.

The word in eòlas arc-èolas means “knowledge” and can also be found in the name of many other subjects such as bith-eòlas – “life knowledge” or biology, sòisèolas – sociology and many more.

So what does arc-eòlas have to do with the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba?

Care of historic monuments is a devolved power which the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba – is responsible for.

Our connection is not just about what is discussed in the Parliament building, however, but also in what is to be found below it!

The area has an important history – eachdraidh – which is of interest to archaeology – arc-eòlas.

Buildlng at the Scottish Parliament From Wikimedia Commmons by Finlay MacWilliam

The Parliament building is situated in a very ancient area of Edinburgh – Dùn Èideann, right next door to Holyrood Abbey which was established by King David 1 in 1128.

Several royal visitors lodged at the abbey’s guest house which later became a royal palace in 1501 during the reign of James IV – the last Scottish king known to speak Gaelic.

Today this is still a royal residence and is known as the Palace of Holyrood House which is also our next door neighbour!

Holyrood is an interesting name – rood is an old English word for cross. The word cross was borrowed into English from Latin via Gaelic from speaking churchmen, crois being the Gaelic for cross.

The Canongate in Edinburgh was a prosperous area by the 16th century but later fell into decline in the 1700s and the development of the New Town. The area where the Parliament is situated today became tenements housing and then in 1781 became a brewery and remained so until the 1950s. The Queensberry House part of the building was initially a mansion house before becoming a hospital.

Due to the rich history – eachdraidh – of the site, some archaeological investigation – rannsachadh arc-eòlais – was done in 1998 before building work on our new Parliament commenced. The investigations confirmed the survival of deep soils dating back to the medieval era on part of the site. They found indications of prehistoric human activities as well as a great amount of information about the use of the land in all the periods already mentioned.

Interestingly, one of the many interesting findings of archaeologists – àrc-eòlaichean was that during the later medieval and post-medieval periods most of the site was decorative gardens. This tradition continues today with the Parliament’s garden which you can see from our Garden Lobby.

You can read the very detailed archaeological report on the site by clicking on this link:…iew/2450/2430

And if you speak Gaelic or are learning Gaelic and want to learn more about archaeology in Gaelic, you may also be interested in the DigIt! – Discover Scotland’s story website which contains a variety of blog posts in Gaelic, Scots and English about archaeology written in very accessible language.

This week’s Gaelic WoW is archaeology: arc-eòlas.

Alasdair MacCaluim

Gaelic Development Officer

Gaelic Word of the Week blog – A’ mionnachadh – swearing in

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 swearing in – A’ mionnachadh.

Wednesday saw the first meeting of the new Session of the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba following the election.

The first item in the agenda was to take the Parliamentary Oath or Affirmation. In Gaelic, to take an oath or affirmation is a’ mionnachadh. The oath is called bòid or mionnan in Gaelic and the affirmation is called dearbhadh. Dearbhadh literally means to prove, attest or verify. It is closely linked to the very common expression gu dearbh – indeed.

Members – Buill – have to take the oath – a’ mionnachadh – before they can undertake their parliamentary duties.

What is the difference between the oath and affirmation, exactly? Basically it’s that God – Dia – is mentioned in the oath but not in the affirmation.

This morning’s meeting saw a range of languages being used as Members – Buill – are allowed to take the oath – a’ mionnachadh – in another language in addition to taking it in English – Beurla.

Here are the members who chose to take their oaths in Gaelic as well as English

Reflecting Scotland’s lingustic diversity past and present, we’ve heard a wealth of languages in the mionnachadh. These have been Gàidhlig, BSL, Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic – Arbais, German – Gearmailtis, Shona and Welsh – Cuimris. Some Members – Buill – also chose to take the oath in Scots, some even in their own dialect such as Doric or Orcadian – Scots Arcaibh.

Not only do the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba – have a Gaelic plan and a BSL plan, we also have a language policy – poileasaidh cànain – covering how people can interact with he Parliament in different languages – cànan – to make sure that the Parliament works for everybody in Scotland – Alba – whatever their language – cànan.

Whatever your language – cànan – is, we look forward to talking with you– Pàrlamaid na h-Alba – in this new session!

This week’s Gaelic Word of the Week is a’ mionnachadh – swearing in.

You can watch the Members taking their oaths or affirmations on the Scottish Parliament YouTube channel or read who who took the oath in which language in the Official Report.

Alasdair MacCaluim

Gaelic Develoment Officer