A FORMER Dunbar Grammar School student is making history at a college on the Isle of Skye.

Izzy Flower will be the first student to undertake Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s new Masters by Research (MScR) degree and will be working on a project exploring confidence among Gaelic speakers.

The 25-year-old, who has a first-class degree in Gaelic and French from the University of Glasgow, is no stranger to the college.

In 2018, she was awarded Student of the Year at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

She says: “As a previous student at Sabhal Mòr, I’m delighted to return this year to begin a Masters degree, with a research project that will study Gaelic speakers’ confidence and attitudes towards language.

“Scotland’s National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture is the perfect place for this kind of research, providing opportunities and experience unavailable in other universities.”

Izzy worked alongside her brother Joseph on Sgiùradh, which won Best Student Film at the Gaelic Film Competition (FilmG) earlier this year.

The five-minute film is a twist on a traditional folk tale about a bean-nighe, or washing woman. Her neighbours suspect she is doing a little more for them than just their laundry. It turns out the bean-nighe, played by Izzy, has the power to do good but also bad.

Izzy, whose mum Kirsten Maguire still lives in Dunbar, studied Gaelic in Edinburgh for a year when she was a teenager. No one in her family previously spoke the language.

Now fluent, she said: “I think at first I liked the idea that there was another language in Scotland you could learn without having to go abroad to learn another language.

“I think I started to become a part of the community and it became more obvious it is a community.

“Once you start to get welcomed in you want to keep going.”

The former University of Glasgow student will be working alongside Dr Tim Armstrong, who welcomed her back to the college.

He said: “Izzy is a former graduate of the highest academic calibre, and we are delighted that she is returning to do research with us.

“Her project will be valuable both theoretically and practically, especially as we look for ways to encourage both new speakers and native speakers to use Gaelic in their daily lives.”

Izzy is one of two new postgraduate research students, alongside Liam Alasdair Crouse at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Abigail Burnyeat, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s head of research, said: “We are delighted to have such fine young scholars joining us, and that Liam and Isabelle will take the next steps in their academic careers here at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. The projects they will be working on will make an important contribution to our research on Gaelic language and culture, and our community of researchers looks forward very much to working with them over the course of their degrees.”