Dr Petra Johana Poncarová is very much not your typical Gaelic speaker, although the 'ch' sounds were a breeze thanks to her native Czech.

While there is now something of an Irish Gaeltacht in her home city of Prague - the result of the embassy funding classes since the 1990s - she is quite possibly the only fluent Gaelic speaker in the Czech Republic.

She is also, now, a noted Gaelic scholar and has translated a novel by author Tormod Caimbeul into Czech.

"It started with a general interest in Scotland as a whole," said the academic, who has the islands of Skye, Raasay, Lewis, Harris and St Kilda tattooed on her forearms.

"When I was in secondary school, you would be getting the idea that the UK was England.

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"Thanks to the support from the Irish embassy there have been classes in Irish Gaelic since the 1990s and now there is a bit of a Prague Gaeltach.

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"I wanted to carve out my own niche and no one was doing Scottish Studies," said the academic who is co-director of the National Centre for Gaelic Translation. 

She said she was perhaps more attuned to the idea of learning Gaelic and "supporting the underdog" because of the oppression of her own native language when the Czech lands were part of the Habsburg Empire in the 19th century. The promotion of the Czech language formed a key part of the country's journey to independence when Czechoslovakia was created in 1918.

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Charles University in Prague funded the cost of Gaelic lessons at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture in Skye and she then did a full-time course, an experience she describes as "wonderful".

"As a Czech speaker, I think I had some advantages because in Czech we have seven cases so dealing with four in Gaelic - that was alright," said the academic.

"Also in terms of pronunciation, some of the sounds are quite similar. I don't have any problem pronouncing 'Ch'."

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She has just finished a book on Derick Thomson, the scholar and activist who was the driving force behind influential initiatives aimed at promoting Gaelic

"He is quite interesting to me because he tried to make Gaelic Scotland open to people not from this country, like myself," said Dr Poncarová.

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She is currently on a two-year fellowship at the University of Glasgow and leading a new research project focussed on Ruaraidh Erskine of Marr (1869-1960), the influential but some say forgotten Scottish nationalist activist, writer and Gaelic language revival campaigner.

He founded the Scots National League, forerunner of the National Party of Scotland and ultimately the SNP.

Born and educated in England, the Catholic aristocrat declined to go to university but instead went to a journalism school in Northampton and became friends with Cambridge University-educated Herbert Vivian, known for his friendships with important cultural and political figures such as Oscar Wilde.

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They were both members of the Order of the White Rose, a Jacobite group that campaigned for the restoration of the house of Stuart, and in 1891 the two split from the order to found the Legitimist Jacobite League of Great Britain and Ireland.

He became vice-president of the Scottish Home Rule Association and studied Gaelic, moving to Aberdeenshire.

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The research, jointly led by Dr Poncarová and historian and university Pro Vice Principal Murray Pittock, is focused on the magazines Erskine created that were pivotal in promoting the language.

"He was a very interesting figure, flamboyant and eccentric but very influential," says Dr Poncarová. 

"He was very keen on the idea of combining support for independence with a Gaelic agenda.

"He was not a native speaker but as far as I'm aware the first person who learned the language and started to write creatively in it.

"He wrote detective stories in Gaelic, he was a very fine and fluent critic and the magazines covered international politics."

 "He was also very interested in Irish revolutionary politics and was in touch with people like Patrick Pearse and Michael Collins. A fascinating life but very little has been written about him.

"We are trying to build up a bilingual website and hopefully there will be a book at some point."