Our Galway and Connacht Education officer Aoife recently spent one week in Oideas Gael, an adult Irish college. As Aoife covers many schools in the Gaeltacht region, she thought it would be beneficial to improve her Irish so she could deliver workshops through our native language. We caught up with her to ask her about the experience.
Hi Aoife, well done on completing your course in the Gaeltacht, did you enjoy the experience?
Bhain mé an taitneamh as ar fad! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The week in Oideas Gael really ignited my interest in the language. It has been 18 years since I studied Irish and I was amazed at how much came back to me when I was fully immersed in a Irish speaking environment.
Did you go to Irish collage as a teenager? How different was the experience this time around?
As a teenager I visited the Gaeltacht for a long weekend with school, but never did a full course during summer holidays. I imagine the experience to be quite similar tough. We did 35 hours of class during the week and spoke Irish amongst ourselves at lunch and break time and in the evenings. Every evening there were events organised to keep us entertained, such as traditional music or a ceilí. This was a opportunity to speak casual conversational Irish amongst ourselves.
Many schools in your district teach through Irish. Will you be able to deliver all our workshops through Irish from now on?
Well, all through Irish would still be a bit of a struggle, but I certainly feel more confident speaking Irish in front of a group. I would have to use cúpla focail as bearla, and I’m sure I can get some help from the students in schools I visit too! They will be my best teachers going forward, giving my new phrases and ways to say things and helping with my vocabulary when I’m stuck for a word!!
Perhaps a visit to the Aran islands is in store for you?
Yes, I would be delighted to visit schools on the Aran Islands - I’ve never been! It would be a real adventure taking the ferry across and experiencing island life. I might wait until the weather improves a little though!
Do you think it is important for Irish people to be able to speak the native tongue?
Yes, I think it’s a beautiful language and something we all learn at school so it is a shame not to keep it up. Having a second language is a great skill and helps to exercise our minds when we use it – so why not put your brain to work and try incorporate ‘cúpla focail’ into conversation.
Well done Aoife. If your school is in the Galway and Connacht area, and you would like Aoife to deliver some of our workshops (either in Irish or in English), you can email her at [email protected]
Of course, it wouldn’t be right to have a blog post of Aoife’s experience in the Gaeltacht without cúpla focail, so we thought we would give Aoife a final word on her experience.
D’oscail an cúrsa teanga in Oideas Gael doras an tábhachtach do chultúr saibhir na tíre seo. Ní hamhain don teanga Gaeilge ach d’fhoghlaim mé alán faoi stair agus traidisiúin na hÉireann freisin. Sa taobh seo tíre tá an ghaeilge laidir, agus tá súil agam páirt níos mó a glacach sa phobal as seo amach. Táim an bhuíoch as an deis a fuair mé ó Dogs Trust an cúrsa seo a dheanamh. Thaispeáin said suim faoi leith i gcultúr agus teanga na tíre seo. “Beatha teanga í a labhairt”.