The Power of Story and Hope Continued

Gerry Hassan

December 9th 2009

A beautiful piece by Libby Brooks in ‘The Guardian’ today on the wonderful work of the Galgael Trust in Govan who build astounding boats – Gaelic longboats or birlinns – and use this to aid young men and women refinding traditional skills, hope and exploring the waterways of the river Clyde (1).

Her article also has a very positive mention of my Glasgow 2020 project, coming up for two and half years after it concluded its activities. She states talking about the work and conclusions of Glasgow 2020 that ‘if a sense of history is about a grasp of narrative and one’s place in it, this can only assist us in imagining the future’. The project found that ‘inhabitants of some of the most deprived areas continued to tell stories of optimism for the future of their families, friends and neighbourhoods’. She concludes, ‘The true legacy of history can be hope’.

It is a very good piece, written with a care and love of the work of Galgael, who are an inspirational project, but I think in parts Libby evokes a set of caricatures to then try to show there is another perspective: of the victims of the Highland Clearances coming to Govan, of the economic and social dislocation areas like Govan have gone through in recent decades, and the old hoary myth of the ‘divided Scotland’, Lowland/Highland, blah blah blah. Maybe I am being too hard here as I don’t really want to be, and feel a little guilty even writing the paragraph above.