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Gaelic language

Gaelic in Fife

Fife has a long and rich history of Gaelic, predating the crowning of Malcolm Canmore (a corruption of Ceann mòr meaning chief), at Dunfermline Abbey, and lasting after the Fife Adventurers (a group of 12 men from Fife sent by James VI in an attempt to ‘civilise’ the Macleods of Lewis).

Gaelic in Fife is not widely known of but is well documented, with Fife being mentioned in the Book of Deer, the earliest surviving written Gaelic in Scotland. The vast majority of place names in Fife are Gaelic in origin, indicating not only how long Gaelic was spoken here but that it was the main language of the area for a substantial period of time.

Gaelic in Fife today

The 2011 census showed 87,000 people in Scotland having some Gaelic language skills, an increase on previous census returns. Current estimates would attribute 5% of all Gaelic speakers in Scotland currently living in Fife.

It is worth noting that Gaelic speakers living in the rest of the UK are not recorded.

Why not follow our account on 'X' (formerly Twitter) for regular updates on Gaelic Development within Fife: Gaelic in Fife

Gaelic Language Plan

The Gaelic Plan for Fife 2019-2024 sets out Fife Council's commitment to supporting Gaelic development and equity of language in line with the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.

Gaelic development in Fife is a community-led affair with a range of groups and service providers coming together to create a sustainable network of events, activities and opportunities for our Gaelic community and those looking to learn.

Examples of opportunities regularly taking place across Fife include:

  • adult learning classes;
  • conversation groups;
  • book collections in libraries;
  • Bookbug and Gaelic Bookbug gifting;
  • early years provision;
  • Gaelic learning in schools and;
  • more in partnership with Fife Gaelic Development Group and the Partnership Group for Gaelic in Fife.

Gaelic Place names 

In some areas, such as Galloway, Fife and Aberdeenshire - the landscape is still one named by Gaelic speakers.

Place name

Gaelic Name



Obar Dobhair

Mouth of Water


Coilltean Beithe

Birch Woods


Dùn Phàrlain






Inbhir Chèitein

Mouth of the Keithing Burn


Marc Innis

Horse Meadow


Ros Fhìobh

Headland of Fife

St Andrews

Cill Rìmhinn

The town was first called Muckross (boar-wood), then Kilrymont (church on the royal mount), then Kilrule (church of St Regulus) and finally St Andrews after the church of St Andrews

Beagan Gàidhlig/ Wee bit Gaelic



Suggested Phonetics*

Good Morning

Madainn Mhath

matting vah

Good Afternoon

Feasgar Math

feskar mah

Good Night

Oidhche mhaht

EYE-che vah

How are you?

Ciamar a tha thu?

Kimura ha-u

I’m fine

Tha gu math

ha g’mah

I’m tired

Tha mi sgith


Don’t worry

Na gabh dragh

na gadrugh

Thank you

Mòran taing


   *Phonetics is a suggestion only and largely depends on your own accent.

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