The joys of speaking Irish

As a journalist who has spent more than three decades writing in the language of the colonizer, I have to say I did not pay too much attention to the Irish language for many, many years.

Even though I went to an all-Irish school and genuinely worried that it would become extinct.

And then, during the pandemic in 2020, I began doing publiic relations for a small art centre on a Gaeltacht island.

When an opportunity came up to apply for a job as a Tourism Officer, on a two year contract, I jumped at it. Even though I had to answer most of the questions during the online interview in English, because my command of Irish had become so “rusty” over the years.

Now that my contract has finished, I’m delighted to report that I have fallen in love (perhaps for the first time) with the endangered language of my ancestors.

Even though I was good at Irish at Coláiste Iognáid, I never really appreciated the language, its connection with our ancestors and the land about it, and the way in which Irish speakers view the world through a completely different prism than their English language counterparts.

As I face into the unknown again, I decided to write a blog about relearning (and getting to love) a language in middle age.

Because I had a decent level in my late teens, this was a journey of rediscovery. I felt a great sense of achievement in being able to converse with the islanders after having little confidence in my first few months on the island.

I began blogging sporadically on Medium last year and hope to eventually get admitted to the platform’s Partner Programme.

In a tough climate for journalists, I still feel it’s important to keep writing about issues I am passionate about.

#language #Gaeilge #AranIslands

The place where islanders remember those who lost their lives at sea. Photo by Ciaran Tierney.

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