“Speak to me In Irish!”
Irish Gaelic, that is!
I stumbled across Irish, known as Gaeilge by native speakers, when researching a fiction book I’m writing. Instantly, I was intrigued with this Celtic language with ancient roots, hiding in the backwaters of Ireland. That it’s endangered sucked me in. It’s still spoken in the Gaeltacht regions, communities living in Irish towns, but it’s declining in its native country.
Gaeilge sounded alien yet beautiful to me. I discovered it was the language of great Irish writers and poets of the past. Bards spoke in this language to tell stories of Irish folk lore. It’s the language of a nation that has been invaded too many times and ‘purified’ from its own tongue.
Something deep inside of me wanted to rebel and scream, “No, this language can’t die!”
I can’t say for sure whether it was a soul awakening or whether it is just in my blood from my Irish descent, but I knew I had to discover a way of learning Irish…
I soon found online resources that could teach me Irish and the momentum of my passion quickly grew. In no time, I found myself practicing daily with the help of Bitesize Irish Gaelic (an online program) and Liofta/ranganna.com (another program), Duolingo Irish, and several Facebook sites, such Duolingo Irish, the Irish Bookclub, Gaelskype and Irish Language Learners. Very quickly, I had everything I needed to learn the language despite being Australian, living in Queensland where no one I knew spoke Irish. Honestly, most didn’t even know the language existed.
When I said, “I’m learning Irish.”
They’d say, “English?”
And I’d assert, “No, Irish!”
And they’d look at me as if I’d just walked out of a spaceship.
But this only made the learning the language more appealing… it’s quirky, unique and interesting. It became a great discussion starter and made socializing easy. I realized I was on to something! Learning Irish opened a door and I walked through.
I can’t describe my journey beyond it feels like ‘coming home’. My heart opens to the sounds and written word of Gaeilge, even those incredibly long words with too many vowels and ‘mh’ and ‘dh’ and ‘faidh’ (which is pronounced “ee”). And then I discovered there is an upsurge of people around the world beginning to learn Gaeilge and I think to myself… yes, there is an Irish language revolution happening and I want to be a part of it. So I created Teanga m’Anama (Language of my Soul) to share my experience of learning the Irish language and Irish culture.
Here’s my Challenge!
- I pledge to regularly blog on my experience of learning Irish – the frustration, the achievements and the fun!
- I will discuss my experience of the international Irish speaking community and traveling through Ireland, including attending Irish language immersion courses, where I’ll join with locals in the Gaeltacht and fellow Irish learners to learn Irish, play ‘sean nós’ (traditional Irish music), Irish dance and visit ancient sites that hold secrets from thousands of years ago.
- And finally, I pledge to promote others who share my passion for Irish.
The question is… “how many people will it take to tip the scales for Irish to become an established language yet again?”
Join me in reviving this enchanting Celtic language…
“Fáilte agus Dia Dhuit!”
(“Welcome and Hello!”)