This week saw the presentation of a Gaelic Bible to the National Trust for Scotland for use in the Kirk on St Kilda. Fergus Macdonald of the Scottish Bible Society first visited St Kilda three years ago and noticed that the only Bible in the Kirk was an English version. Gaelic was the first language of the original St Kildan population, and it is likely that church services would have been held in this tongue. Gaelic Bibles are hard to come by these days, however, as they are no longer published new, but Fergus managed to track down a Gaelic Bible published in 1902 and still in good condition. He arranged to have it rebound, and he returned to St Kilda along with a party from the Scottish Bible Society to kindly hand the Bible over.
A short ceremony was held in the Kirk this morning, led by Fergus and attended by the National Trust for Scotland Work Party currently on the island. Fergus's grandson, a Gaelic speaker, read a verse from the Bible and a prayer was said in Gaelic, before the Bible was officially handed over to the National Trust for Scotland. As Fergus said in his opening lines, the return of a Gaelic Bible to the Kirk helps to complete the restoration of this simple but moving building, and he dedicated it to the extended family of St Kilda, not just the direct descendants but to all those who hold St Kilda dear to their hearts.
Fergus Macdonald presenting the Gaelic Bible to Sarah, the NTS Seabird Ranger