Dolly Doctor speaks up for Gaelic

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From the People’s Journal, 27 September 1958.

It’s a while now since Dr Donald Macdonald [Dolly Doctor] of Gisla in Lewis practised at his profession. But the jovial, big-hearted doctor is still a cure and a tonic for many folk not only in his native island, but in many other circles.

Take the old folk in Stornoway. He has taken them under his wing, brightens up their eventide with his cracks and joviality, and they, in turn, just dote on him.

The doctor has such a deep-rooted interest in them that he often makes a special journey from his old family homestead in Gisla, 35 miles away, to help entertain at the weekly ceilidhs arranged for them.

And he has the enthusiastic backing and support of his charming wife.

but there are times when the stalwart doctor, whose ‘hail-fellow-well-met’ disposition makes him an immensely popular personality with young and old, gets angrier and angrier. It’s when you mention the Gaelic. Then he throws out his massive chest and snorts like a grampus.  For the Gaelic to him is soemthing dear, a priceless gem to be cherished and preserved. And it makes him furious to think of the way the old language is being neglected.

“You haven’t go the Gaelic?” he asked our reporter. “And you from Inverness. Inverness is going all o pot. The capital of the Highlands and no Gaelic!”

It was the doctor who, some time ago, suggested that, in order to give it a real uplift, the young Prince Charles should be taught the language.

“But what’s happened to my proposal?” and his deep voiced boomed again in anger. “It’s been pigeonholed for good. And now,” he sighed, “the Welsh have got him, ” alluding to the Prince’s new title.

The Gaelic,” he went on, “what can we common folk do about it? Parents, even in Lewis, aren’t interested in keeping it alive. They don’t see what good it will do their children in earning their livelihood.”

“What’s the use of john Bannerman and me getting up in our Highland dress on a platform and talking about it? It’s only the converted who are there to hear us. I don’t know where its decline is going to end, probably by taking a plunge of the Butt of Lewis out into the Atlantic.”

But, whatever the fate of the old language, there’s one thing sure. So long as he can raise his voice, the doctor will champion its cause and strive to keep it alive.

The National Mod is a ‘must’ for him. He’ll be there in Glasgow next week, in full Highland array, keeping time with head and hands to the lovely lilts of Gaelic melody and music. He’s being going to the Mod off and on since 1910 and he’s loved every minute of it.