(Pronounced: Dee-a Hoitz; Means: Hello)
Alright, alright, I’ll admit it. Gaelic isn’t the prettiest of languages. If you recognize the greeting above, then you were probably born in the Gaeltacht which simply means a part of Ireland that uses Gaelic as their primary spoken language. I had the pleasure this last weekend to stay in the Gaeltacht region of Connemara where they speak Gaelic. It was a wonderful learning experience and I learned a lot about the language at the Acadamh na gOllscolaíochta Gaeilge; potentially enough to add to my LinkedIn skills! (Even abroad you need to think about this stuff!) The Gaelic language is full of tons of quirks. Some quirks include: the deep horrifying guttural sound you have to make when you pronounce Tá sé go hálainn, buíochas le Dia (it’s a beautiful day, thank God), the fact that tae has the letters switched (tea), but most of all the connection between their spoken language and God.
Religion and the language walked hand-in-hand during the 19th century and remained intertwined until around 1920 when a huge shift occurred. This language shift occurred during the occupation of England. Catholicism, following the English, became a powerful force in the education system. Within a decade, 15% if Irelands population remained Gaelic monoglots; the majority of the population was bilingual. Since the 1930’s, when the Gaelic League was formed, whose aim was the preservation of the Irish language, there has been a dramatic shift in the education system. Now Irish is taught in the school curriculum country-wide. Although there is debate about the practicality, I for one, thought it was a valuable learning experience.
After our classes each day we were bussed back to our “Lady of the House” or more informally our Host Mom to eat the best meals I’ve ever had. Let’s do a quick walk through:
- Day One: “Creamy Chicken Soup,” Siracha Pasta Bake, and Brown Soda Bread
- Day Two: “Hearty Curry Vegetable Soup,” Chicken Tikka, and Jasmine Rice
- Day Three: Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Brown Soda Bread
I know, right? Considering I’ve been (unsuccessfully) cooking for myself, the meals were out-of-this-world good. I made a reference to Hansel and Gretel since she was feeding us so much, but she didn’t get it. It was uncomfortable to say the least.
This has been one of the best weekends of my life (thus far), and I hope all of our excursions are so well coordinated. Next week I set out for Dublin, followed by Madrid, and then Copenhagen. It’s going to be a long, but very fun and rewarding month. Let’s get to it.
(Pronounced: Slawn; Means: Farewell)