When I was growing up in Ireland my mother and grandmother spoke a form of English, peppered with Irish words. It wasn’t until I moved to America that I came to realize how many expressions escape my lips that are nowhere to be found in the Oxford English dictionary.
When polishing furniture I was always told to put a “snas” on it rather than a shine. We’d pass the “bainne” around the table, not the milk. When telling of old wives tales we’d refer to “piseoige” rather than superstitions, and to this day I find it very hard to think of the word superstition.
I learned to speak Irish during my 13 years of schooling in Ireland. My mother completed her education through Irish, and as children she read many of our bedtime stories in Irish.
When I left Ireland over twenty years ago, I was pretty much fluent in the language. Alack and alas, I have not used it much since and my vocabulary is disappearing pretty fast.
The only time I used Irish in the past few years was after my triplets were born. One of my little boys had terrible colic, and the only thing that settled him was a bout of swinging and singing in Mommy’s arms. Now I am no singer, but when I lilted old Irish tunes he always seemed to settle. I laughed when I read the following quote. I agree wholeheartedly.
“There is no language like the Irish for soothing and quieting.”
– John Millington Synge
It saddens me when I realize my children have little knowledge of the language of their forefathers, a beautifully expressive tongue. I remember learning of Pádraig Pearse’s belief that our language is the soul of our country.
“Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.”
“A country without a language is a country without a soul.”
– Pádraig Pearse
I would love to revive my own mastery of the Irish language, and start introducing my children to some words. Since starting this blog I have learned there are some incredible resources for learning Irish on the internet.
One such program is offered by Bitesize Irish Gaelic, a company established by Eoin Ó Conchúir in 2008, and dedicated to helping people learn the Irish Gaelic language online. Eoin is a fluent, native Irish speaker.
The album is just over 2 hours long, contains 16 lessons and is available via download only.
To enter to win, just leave a comment below, in Irish, English or Double Dutch if that’s what suits you. Let us know why you would like to learn to speak Irish Gaelic.
The last chance to enter is Saturday, December 15th at midnight. I’ll notify the winners by e-mail and on this website on Sunday the 16th.
Bite Size Irish Gaelic also offers other online programs you may wish to investigate.
Best of luck to all the entrants.
Slán agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom