Real Talk 15th March 2023 by Megan Roantree
Grá don Ghaeilge: The Importance Of Giving Irish a Go
STELLAR PROMOTION: Megan Roantree tells us how to flex your Irish muscles
You’ll probably recall back in February when Paul Mescal walked the red carpet at the BAFTAs. There, he was interviewed by TG4 about his movie Aftersun. “Tá a lán grá agam di,” he said of his co-star and on-screen daughter Frankie Corio. He spoke about the importance of Irish film, and added a humble “Tá brón orm as mo Gaeilge”. Social media was alight with excitement.
Many praised him for not only speaking Irish but for doing so live, with little to no preparation, on what was already quite a nerve-wracking night for the actor. The quick chat brought about an interesting conversation about fluency and how we can be too hard on ourselves when it comes to being ‘good enough’ to speak Irish. But the saying ‘Is fearr Gaeilge briste ná béarla clíste’ is popular for a reason!
I was lucky enough to grow up in a Gaeltacht, but as my parents didn’t speak Irish, I often worried that I’d mess up or use the wrong words and sometimes it meant I’d switch back to English out of awkwardness. As I got older, I’d often have people comment on my fluency, my strong canúint (or accent) and tell me it’s lovely to hear Irish from the west. This changed my perception on the fluency and quality of my Irish. Now, I speak it with pride and really miss it when I’m not around other Gaeilgeoirs.
That’s why I’ve always loved Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia. The two week celebration of the Irish language focuses on the idea of ‘bain trial aisti’ or ‘give it a go and surprise yourself!’
One thing people said about Paul’s interview, and often say to me when they hear me speaking Irish, is that they wish they’d ‘kept it up’ or could speak it now. And what they often don’t realise is that it’s so very possible.
The theme of this year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia’s festival is ‘feidearachtai’ or ‘possibilties’, and how there are so many changes and opportunities to flex your Irish muscles if you just go for it.
So with Seachtain Na Gaeilge le Energia’s ethos in mind, why not give it a go? Because small, simple steps can have you chatting as Gaeilge no time.
Simple ways to improve your Irish:
Follow Irish Speakers on social media
A few years ago this wouldn’t have been so easy but now, there are a whole host of vloggers, TikTokers, and Instagram users who speak Irish on their platform. It’s not all lessons and frásaí an lae either (though more education based accounts exist too if you want that!). Many people online cover areas such as fashion, beauty or food content sprinkled with Irish. This means that you can easily consume a bit of Gaeilge by simply clicking the follow button. Creators like Seachtainn na Gaeilge le Energia ambassador Éadaoin Fitzmaurice, Muinteoir Meg and Caoimhe Ní Chathail make it so easy to incorporate Gaeilge into your life.
TV, Radio and Film
Speaking of media, there are so many brilliant shows, podcasts and movies that are in Irish. An Cailín Ciúin made history this year by being the first Irish language feature-film ever nominated for an Oscar. And while that’s amazing, it’s also just an incredible film, regardless of language spoken. That’s the key with this tip, find content you love and it won’t feel like homework. Whether it’s catching up on the juicy storylines on Ros na Rún, or getting the goss from the gals Sinéad Ní Uallacháin, Áine Ní Bhreisleáin and Siún Ní Dhuinn on their podcast Beo ar Éigeann, you won’t even realise how many words you’re picking up by just pressing play.
You can pick up words and phrases from TV or online but really, nothing will improve your Irish quite like chatting to other Irish speakers. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to do it. Whether it’s heading to a Pop Up Gaeltacht in various locations around Ireland and the world, joining a local ciorcle comhrá, or just asking a pal who is an Irish speaker to switch up your catch-ups over a cupán tae to Irish.
If you feel like casual consumption isn’t enough to get you up to speed, there is a myriad of options for you when it comes to formally learning Irish. Whether it’s an app like DuoLingo or Irish language classes in your local community centre or language school. Places like Conradh na Gaeilge and Gaelchultúr hold weekly classes around the country.
With so many ways to learn Irish, it’s easy to incorporate it into your life, whether it’s sticking on a podcast on for your walk to work, doing daily Duolingo on the bus, watching a makeup tutorial thought Irish, or getting some Gaeilgeoirí together to get some conversational Irish back in your life. Whatever your current level of Irish is, there’s no wrong place to start.
Most importantly, bain triail as!
STELLAR has partnered with Energia to promote Seachtain Na Gaeilge for 2023. This year’s festival runs from March 1-17, but you can practice your Irish all year round. With these tips and small steps, just imaging how fluent you’ll be by the time next year’s festival comes around!
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