January is nearly over and so too the onslaught of new- year resolutions. It is resolutions involving getting fitter and healthier that continue to rank as the most popular, with a recent survey carried out by irishopinions.com revealing that getting fitter and doing more exercise was favoured by 22 percent of us as the top new year resolution that we are most likely to sign up to in 2015.
However, if you wish to try your hand at something a little different this year, remember there are many options to choose from.
One such option includes learning a new language. And, with Seachtain Na Gaeilge just around the corner, what better reason to take up the challenge of speaking a little bit more Irish?
If you have come through the Irish education system, you do have some level of Irish, even if it is only one or two of the most basic words or phrases. You simply need to find the confidence and motivation to speak the Irish that you have.
‘The only way to learn any language is by speaking it as often as possible.’ ’Regardless of how much Irish you have, remember it only takes two to practice’, says Seán Ó Ceallaigh, National Scheme Manager of Gael-Linn.
Colleges all around the country provide you with an abundance of services and, indeed opportunities, which can help and support you to re-engage with your native language in a positive way. Many colleges run Irish classes for both staff and students. Whether you want to simply brush up on that ‘cúpla focail’ or study Irish in more depth, the different levels, ranging from first-time learners to significantly more advanced ensure that all capabilities are catered for.
DIT run free Irish language classes, which provide you with the opportunity to learn Irish in a positive, encouraging and relaxed environment.
The classes take place in various DIT campuses from the beginning of February, over the course of eight weeks. Similarly, Trinity College run Irish language classes for both staff and students, with no payment required.
During these classes, the emphasis is placed on spoken Irish. The weekly, hour-long classes ran by Trinity College take place over the course of eight weeks also. You can register on-line for these classes on the individual college’s website
UCD also run Irish classes. These will cost you ten euros. However, if you wish to experience the language a little more outside of the classroom, why not kick-start February by speaking more Irish and becoming a member of UCD’s Cumann Gaelach?
UCD have a vibrant Irish language society, with almost 1,500 members currently. Irish language societies are a central feature of college life, organising countless highly anticipated events throughout the entire year.
Your standard of Irish should not discourage you from getting involved, with UCD‘s Cumann Gaelach even running a ‘My First Gaeilge’ event for international students.
‘The cumann gaelach is like a family, in which native speakers, school speakers, strong and weak and simply those who are enthusiastic to learn the language and associated culture are binded together’, adds chair-person of Cumann Gaelach DIT, Jack Ó Tuathail.
From speed-dating and take me out nights to yoga classes to help you de-stress as post- Christmas exams approach, the increasingly broad and diverse spectrum of events ensure that there has never been more reason to celebrate our native language and put your Irish into practice.
‘We cover both the traditional and the contemporary, ensuring there is never a dull moment’, says auditor of UCD Cumann Gaelach Dónal Ó Catháin.
If that isn’t enough encouragement for you to get involved with your Cumann Gaelach, don’t forget about that annual trip to Oireachtais na Samhna, which is organised by most Irish language societies, such as that of DIT, between the months of October and November .
It is a highly anticipated event by students nation-wide. ‘Oireachtais na Samhna is the biggest Irish social and cultural event for students in the whole country’, says Ó Tuathail.
Outside of college, there are also numerous platforms, based on which you can use your Irish, and enjoy speaking it, giving you no excuse not to do so. National Irish language organisation, Gael Linn, located in Dame Street in Dublin, runs many events that everyone can partake in, regardless of your level of competency in the language.
Adult Irish courses ran by the organisation take place both in Dublin and in gaeltacht areas, with adult courses in gaeltacht areas taking place in Gaoth Dobhair, Co. Donegal. Adult courses in Dublin will cost you 200 euros.
Gael-Linn also run regular social and cultural events throughout the year, as well as debating competitions aimed specifically at third level students, which are ran in conjunction with the Irish Times.
There is no better time to take up the ‘cúpla focail’ this year. Small, specific steps throughout the entire year often prove to yield far more successful results than one broad goal set out at the beginning of the year, only to be abandoned by eighty percent of us just two months later, according to statistics from independent.ie.
So, try to speak just two or three words of Irish every day and gradually incorporate it in to your daily life, thus, ensuring its place in Irish life.