Iomain Cholmcille began with one international rules match between Micheal Breathnach GAA from Ireland and a Select team of Scottish Gaelic speaking shinty platers in Oban in 2007.
At the event’s heart was the Gaelic language, Every player had to have Irish or Scottish Gaelic and they had to use it as well. Everyone who played in this game loved it, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
After that first game, the project has grown over the course of a dozen competitions held in Connemara, Skye, Donegal, Glasgow and Fort William.
In 2015, the women’s competition, An Còrn Sgàthaich began, and youth competitions have always been a feature since the beginning. Coaching is usually provided to local youngsters by the visiting team and this raises the confidence of the local people.
There is a good standard of play in these games, with Gaelic speaking players who have played at the top level alongside players from smaller clubs. The games attract large crowds and has reputation as a great spectacle wherever it is played.
Music and craic are very important elements of the whole event as well, and many great ceilidhs have been held as part of the competition with players and officials getting the opportunity to speak and learn from each other.
The benefits of Iomain Cholmcille are long lasting with connections strengthened between Gaels within nations and between nations, with strong friendships established over the years.
The use of Gaelic and the building of confidence in using it are at the heart of everything Iomain Cholmcille does. It provides an opportunity and a place for young people with an interest in the sport of the Gael to use their language in a fun, informal situation full of energy and encouragement.
In Scotland, Iomain Cholmcille (Alba) also works with support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig to raise the status of Gaelic in shinty through youth competitions and community events.