Supporters of a University of the Highlands and Islands have this week launched a bid for a Pounds 20 million centre for the study of the Gaelic language and culture.
Scotland's Gaelic college, Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye, is coordinating the project for Bail' Ur Ostaig (literally, the new village at Ostaig), seeking funding from the Millenium Commission, which will support landmark projects to celebrate the year 2000.
It is intended as a key component of the new federal university being planned by Highland Regional Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
James Hunter, a co-chairman of the Bail' Ur Ostaig steering group, said: "The notion that the Highlands and Islands are forever doomed to be an impoverished and disadvantaged periphery is one that has had its day. Bail' Ur Ostaig and the wider University of the Highlands and Islands are central to the developing effort to make certain that people living there have access to opportunities every bit as good as those available to folk elsewhere."
A 2.5 hectare site close to the college has already been acquired from an American businessman for the centre which is also supported by local enterprise company Skye and Lochalsh Enterprise.
Norman Gillies, director of Sabhal Mor Ostaig, said: "The centre will help to stimulate interest in the Gaelic language and in many other aspects of our heritage. It will highlight and celebrate the musical, artistic and literary contribution which Gaelic speakers have made over very many centuries to Scotland, to the British Isles, to Europe and the wider world. It will connect with that wider world with the help of the latest computer and telecommunications technology."