Aha– you’ll be doing what generations of children in Ireland have done from the tender age of 5 (or from 0, if they’ve grown up in a Gaeltacht area – Irish speaking area – on the island!) Although, they are expected to do a lot more than just the basics!
The Gaelic language in Ireland – Gaeilge, or Irish, as it’s known locally – is a Celtic language and one of “the oldest and most historic written languages in the world” according to Foras na Gaeilge. A certain amount of proficiency in the language will allow you to recognise spellings around the country; namely, place names (official signage in the Republic of Ireland features the Irish language beside the English equivalent) and Irish surnames.
So where can you learn? Almost anyone you meet while you’re here will be only too happy to fill you in on a cúpla focal (a few words). But do take note – it’s not like English at all and may prove tricky to pick up in a short period. And if you’re visiting the Gaeltacht, then you'll definitely hear the dulcet tones of locals chatting away in their first language: Irish.
You can try being ‘Irish for a day’ at places like Causey Farm
in County Meath, but unless you’re sticking around for a while, classes may be hard enough to come by. You could, though, pick up basics wherever you are in the world before you even arrive – the language-learning app Duolingo allows anyone with access to start learning Irish.
And although it might be slightly advanced for beginners, you can always tune into TG4
, the public service broadcaster for Irish-language speakers. This will provide an opportunity to hear what the language sounds like, and it’s always fascinating to hear an ancient and quite unknown language spoken on TV! A similar option to this is to listen to RnaG
– the national Irish-language radio station.
Whichever way you decide to go with it, Irish people always appreciate the effort! So Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat (Good luck!) In the meantime, does anyone else have any other suggestions on how to get to know the basics of the Irish language?