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Tuar dóchais dúinn

May 8, 2017

Bhí Iorras, taobh amuigh de Chluain Maine, ar cheann de na Gaeltachtaí ba láidre in Éirinn sa 19ú haois. Creidtear nár thosaigh tuismitheoirí ansin ag tógáil a bpáistí le Béarla go dtí na 1870í. Bhí meath ag teacht ar an Ghaeilge faoin am sin cheana féin de thoisc eisimirce agus cúiseanna eacnamaíochta eile. Agus bhí cosc ar an Ghaeilge sna scoileanna náisiúnta.

Ar an 22 Iúil 1888 osclaíodh teach pobail nua in Iorras. Bhí an deasghnáth ar fad i mBéarla agus chuaigh seanmóir an easpaig i bhfeidhm go mór ar an phobal. Maítear gur chuir seo le himeacht na Gaeilge sa cheantar.

Ach is mór idir inné agus inniu. Cáintear an Eaglais Chaitliceach sna meáin beagnach gach lá agus tá freastal ar an Aifreann i bhfad níos lú. Tá an Ghaeilge ag dul i léig ina lán áiteanna: de réir an daonáirimh is déanaí tá titim shuntasach ar líon na ndaoine sa Ghaeltacht a labhraíonn an teanga go laethúil. Mar sin de, cuirfear iontas ar dhaoine go raibh teach pobail mór in Inis Eoghain (Aireagal Naomh Muire, Bun Cranncha) lán go doras an tseachtain seo caite fá choinne Aifreann Gaeilge. Chuaigh 59 páiste as Gaelscoil Bhun Chranncha agus as na trí bhunscoil i nDoire faoi lámh an easpaig. Bhí caidreamh an-mhaith ag an Easpag Mac Eoin leis na páistí. Bhí sé in ann labhairt leo ar a leibhéal féin. Labhair sé Gaeilge ‘bhlasta bhinn’ bunús an ama, ag aistriú go Béarla ó am go ham ar mhaitheas na ndaoine nach raibh Gaeilge acu. Táimid an-bhuíoch den Easpag agus de na sagairt a chuidigh leis, an tAthair Ó Brolcháin agus an tAthair Mac Cannaí.

Tá ardmholadh tuillte ag na múinteoirí a d’ullmhaigh na páistí fá choinne na sacraiminte. Ócáid reiligiúnda a bhí ann go bunúsach. Ach chomh maith leis sin ba iontach an t-ardán don Ghaeilge í. Léiríodh luach an Ghaeloideachais: tá caighdeán oideachasúil na bpáistí an-ard. Bhí an amhránaíocht, an ceol uirlise agus an léitheoireacht ar fheabhas. Comhghairdeas arís le gach duine a bhí páirteach!

Giving us hope

Urris, outside of Clonmany, was one of the strongest Irish speaking areas in the country during the 19th century. It is believed that parents there only started bringing up their children speaking English in the 1870’s. Irish was already declining at that time because of emigration and for other economic reasons. And Irish was banned in the national schools.

On the 22nd of July 1888 a new church was opened in Urris. The whole service was in English and the bishop’s sermon made a great impression on the people. It is claimed that this contributed to the demise of Irish in the area.

But times have changed. The Catholic Church comes in for criticism in the media on a daily basis almost and attendance at Mass has fallen away greatly. The Irish language has declined in many places: according to the latest census, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of people in the Gaeltacht who speak Irish on a daily basis. So people will be surprised that a large church in Inishowen (St. Mary’s Oratory, Buncrana) was packed out last week for an Irish Mass. 59 children from Gaelscoil Bhun Cranncha and the three bunscoileanna in Derry were getting confirmed. Bishop McKeown was very much in tune with the children. He was able to speak to them at their own level. He spoke mostly in Irish– his Irish is superb- and he translated from time to time for the benefit of the people who didn’t speak Irish. We are very grateful to the bishop and the priests who assisted him, Father Bradley and Father Mc Canny.

The teachers who prepared the children for the sacrament deserve high praise indeed. It was primarily a religious event. But it also provided a window for Irish. It demonstrated the value of Irish medium education: the children’s standard of education is extremely high. The singing, the instrumental music and the reading were all first rate. Congratulations again to all those involved.

Which school?

January 6, 2017

That time again. This week parents will be putting in applications for places in different types of schools. It is a difficult decision. I have wide experience in schools both here in Ireland and in Scotland and I have to say that it would be difficult to find any better than the English medium schools here in Derry with regard to educational standards and the enthusiasm of the teachers. So I would not order a parent ‘Send your child to an Irish medium school.’ Parents should discuss the matter and come to a sensible decision. I know I am biased, but I would say that a Gaelscoil has advantages that other schools do not have. The website gaelscoileanna.ie points out some of these advantages, for example, according to research, bilingual children are more attentive, they are better at undertaking tasks, and they have more effective listening and communication skills.

Irish medium primary schools in Derry do very well despite one huge disadvantage: the three of them are accommodated in temporary buildings, although the parents are fighting hard to change that situation. Parents are very supportive of Irish nursery education in the city. Two out of the three nursery schools have taken in maximum numbers over the past few years.

The same can be said of post-primary education in Derry as has been said about primary education: first rate facilities and first rate teachers in every school. Parents must choose the school most suited to their child’s needs. Children who have been studying in an Irish medium school and who wish to continue learning through Irish are very fortunate. The Irish medium stream in Saint Brigid’s College is going from strength to strength. It is accommodated in a modern building in a progressive school under the direction of a highly experienced staff.

Incidentally, Irish medium education is also advancing in Inishowen. At present, Charlie Mc Connelogue TD is putting pressure on the Minister of Education to locate an Irish nursery school, primary school and secondary school on the one site in Buncrana.

Read more at: http://www.derryjournal.com/news/opinion/cen-scoil-1-7759857

Internet sites

April 4, 2016

There are now hundreds of Irish internet sites. There is a very comprehensive guide available to Irish speakers.

There are now hundreds of Irish internet sites. There is a very comprehensive guide available to Irish speakers.

‘Gaeilge ar an Ghréasán’,a site with more than 800 links operated by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (A university college in the Scottish Gaeltacht. Caoimhín Ó Donnaile, an Irishman and a former member of the Gaelic League in Glasgow is on the staff.) If you are interested in Scottish Gaelic, go to ‘Gàidhlig air an Lìon’.

I would like to mention a couple of sites this week. Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann/The Irish Minstrels’ Association, publishes a list of poems and stories for young Fleadh competitors. But it would be helpful to any learner. A beginner is better learning a poem by heart rather than a complicated rule. For example, it is more useful to learn a poem like ‘Seán agus an Dall’ than ‘In the first declension, the nouns are masculine and end in a broad consonant. The final consonant is slenderised to form the genitive singular’. Got that? The poem illustrates the rule clearly. (Go to Comhaltas – education.)

Gaelscoileanna has a very informative site. This organisation gives support and advice to all-Irish schools and to parents. Gaelscoileanna states that a system that uses only Irish is much more effective in the acquisition of the language. But it supports Irish streams in places where pupil numbers are low. But an Irish language stream is not a poor replacement. Pupils from Irish medium primary schools in Derry do half of their timetable through Irish in St. Brigid’s College. They can take advantage of the facilities of the main school and can take part in activities where numbers are important – sport, for instance. They say that half a loaf is better than no bread, but the Irish language pupils get much more than half a loaf in a first class educational centre, as can be seen from St. Brigid’s internet site.

Read more: http://www.derryjournal.com/news/columnists/internet-sites-1-7303570#ixzz44qThMF91

St. Catherine’s College, Armagh, wins first place for best project done through Irish in BT Young Scientist competition

January 18, 2016

Congratulations to the pupils In the Irish language stream in St. Catherine’s College, Armagh, who won first place for the best project done through Irish in the BT Young Scientist competition in Dublin.

This story illustrates two things: that Irish is a modern language and that it can be used in everyday life, and in the world of science. Moreover, the award demonstrates the high quality of Irish medium education: anything can be taught through Irish.

This point was proven also in last week’s Derry Journal. The paper carried an advertisement from St. Bridget’s College, Carnhill, listing the facilities of the school and the achievements of its pupils. Some of the pupils gave their opinions about the college. One boy, Tiarnán Ó Coigligh, a former pupil of Gaelscoil Éadain Mhóir, wrote: ‘I chose St.Bridget’s College because it gave me a chance to practice my Irish and some of my friends go there.’ Tiarnán is in First Year. Any Irish teacher would be happy if his or her pupils were able to write Irish like that after five years of secondary education.

 Tiarnán does half his subjects through Irish in the Irish language stream. I have frequently pointed out the advantages of a good Irish medium school with regard to education and culture. But the job is only half done when the pupil leaves the primary school. (This is also true of English primary education, of course.) It is difficult to cater for the needs of Gaelscoil pupils after primary school, but the various Irish language steams are doing a great job throughout the Six Counties. You should not change horses in midstream: Irish language streams give pupils the opportunity to continue learning through Irish in places where pupil numbers are low.

Read more: http://www.derryjournal.com/news/columnists/talented-pupils-1-7159272#ixzz3xaRltery

Derry Irish and Integrated schools form unique partnership

November 30, 2015

Neighbouring Irish medium and integrated primary schools in Derry have formed a unique shared education partnership.

A group of students from Gaelscoil na Daróige and Groarty Integrated Primary School have formed a joint choir and were last week learning festive tunes as gaelige in both Irish and English as part of the project.

The festive tunes are in preparation for a bilingual Christmas Concert taking place at Foyleside Shopping Centre in December 14.

It is part of a wider education project involving the two schools, which are located on either side of the Coshquin Road in the Ballymagroarty area.

Oisín Mac Eo, principal of Gaelscoil na Daróige, said: “It’s a very unique partnership because it’s between the Gaelscoil and an Integrated School.

“We started off with a number of extra-cirricular activities. We have a joint choir, football jointly together as well, and they practice every week on a Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We also work on joint literacy work and CRED Community Relations Education work.”

Mr Mac Eo said the proximity of the two schools meant the project made sense.

He said: “Because we are two schools of similar size, in a similar position, next to each other, and it just seemed natural we should work together to maximise the resources and the provisions we could provide for the children.

“Also as professionals, sharing expertise, there are things maybe that we could do here we could skill their teachers up, and things they had to increase our knowledge too.

“That has been going since last year and it’s great. Teachers love working together.

“Between the two of us we are offering something different and unique in terms of choice for parents in the area- integrated education and Irish medium education. It means the parents in this area have a great opportunity to choose something a wee bit different for their children.”

The schools will be doing their own Christmas shows and have invited each other to watch, while the joint choir is getting in some final practice before taking to the stage at Foyleside Shopping Centre on December 14th to perform some bilingual songs.

Read more: http://www.derryjournal.com/news/derry-irish-and-integrated-schools-form-unique-partnership-1-7089039#ixzz3syBI9TlU

’Coláiste Chineál Eoghain closure a ‘disgrace’

April 21, 2015

The closure of Colaiste Chineal Eoghain could also serve as the “death knell” for the peninsula’s Irish language primary and pre-schools, according to a loal TD.

Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn said: “If you’re a parent who wants their children to go through their education in the Irish language you’ll want them to do so through primary, secondary and be fluent by the time they get to university. If the secondary school closes, some may not opt to send their child to the national school.”

Deputy MacLochlainn said “all the issues need to be sorted out.”

“What we won’t be doing is accepting that there won’t be an Irish language secondary school in Inishowen,” he said.

Minister Joe McHugh described the news as “very upsetting.”

He said the school’s ‘temporary status’ which was “difficult for parents to give a commitment to.”

He said: “There are excellent teachers there and pupils who have excelled. I have learned there is a huge appetite and love for the Irish language in Inishowen and we need to do everything in our power to keep it open. Also, taking away that temporary status would increase confidence.”

Colm Og MacLochlainn, who is part of the campaign to keep the school open, said the school had been getting the required number of pupils.

“One bad year and they decide to close it. It’s a disgrace and unacceptable.”


Teanga d’achan duine

March 31, 2014

I went to a lively public lecture in Muff last week. Linda Ervine was giving the talk. She is married to the brother of the late David Ervine, the PUP politician. Linda is a Protestant, and she is promoting Irish in East Belfast. And she is having great success: hundreds of people are attending classes in the East Belfast Mission and most of them are Protestant. Linda gave an account of the influence of Protestants in the preservation and revival of Irish in the 19th century- the work of John Mac Adam, the manuscript collector, for example. It was very fashionable to have names and mottos carved in stone in Irish on public buildings in 19th century Belfast. (That custom is still preserved, but they use aerosols now.) Linda said that Irish belongs to everyone, not to one political party or one religion. She showed how the Church of Ireland supports the language through its Irish association which organises services and publishes books in Irish. Services in Irish are held regularly in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast. There was a wide ranging discussion from the floor.
One contributor mentioned the great work of Cosslett Ó Cuinn, the Church of Ireland minister who gathered folklore from the last of the native speakers in Inis Eoghain in the 1930’s and who translated the New Testament into Irish. People complained about teaching methods, about compulsory Irish, about political influence. It was an honest open discussion and I think most of the audience had a favourable attitude towards Irish. This cross community work is very important. But it is very ironical that at this time, when so much progress is being made with regard to recognising Irish as belonging to all of the people of Ireland, that Iontaobhas Ultach, the organisation which does so much work to promote Irish as a community language, will be getting the axe.


Comhartha sláinte

March 18, 2014

Bhí mé ag rá an tseachtain seo caite nach bhfaighimid a lán deiseanna Gaeilge a labhairt.

Táimid inár gcónaí in Eirinn, ach tá timpeallacht Bhéarla agus timpeallacht chultúrtha Shasanach againn. Amuigh ar an tsráid, cluintear Béarla an t-am ar fad, beagnach, agus ag amharc ar an chuid is mó de na comharthaí os cionn na siopaí i nDoire, shílfeá go raibh tú i mbaile Sasanach. D’imigh cuid mhaith de na comharthaí Gaeilge i rith na mblianta: Siopa Sheáin, ar Shráid an Chreagáin, mar shampla – bhí ceacht beag Gaeilge sa chomhartha sin. Feictear ainmneacha sráideanna ina lán áiteanna, áfach, agus cuidíonn sin go mór le stór focal agus le litriú na Gaeilge.

Ach tá bláth nua ag fás amuigh san fhásach. Bhuail mé isteach i siopa/caife nua ar Shráid an Chaisleáin i lár na cathrach ar na mallaibh- an Siopa Císte – comhartha taobh amuigh i nGaeilge! Labhair mé leis an úinéir, Seán Ó Baoill. Tá Gaeilge mhaith aige, cé go ndeir sé go bhfuil sí rud beag meirgeach. Ach tá scoth na Gaeilge ag duine de na freastalaithe, Aoibheann Ní Dhéin. Tá sí bródúil as a teanga, agus tá sí breá sásta comhrá a dhéanamh. D’fhreastail Aoibheann ar Bhunscoil Chomcille i nDoire, agus ar Mheánscoil Dhoire sular druideadh í. Tá beirt óganach eile ag obair sa chaife – iardhaltaí na Meánscoile fosta, agus tá Gaeilge ar a dtoil acu. Léiríonn sé seo gur féidir fostaíocht a chruthú tríd an Ghaeilge.

Chomh maith le Gaeilge bhlasta, faigheann tú cístí blasta sa chaife/siopa. Tá tríocha bliain de thaithí ag Seán. Faigheann sé uibheacha óna chearca féin, agus fásann sé torthaí do na cístí: úlla, rúbarb, sméara dubha, sútha talún. Mar sin de, feiceann tú gur siopa glas atá ann sa chiall leathan den fhocal!

Tá fáilte roimh achan duine chuig an Siopa Cístí- Gaeilgeoirí agus Béarlóirí araon. Bain sult as cuairt ar an áit an-Ghaelach seo an tseachtain seo, go háirithe. Beannachtaí na Féile ar ár léitheoirí go léir!

I was saying last week that we do not get many opportunities to speak Irish. We live in Ireland, but we have an English speaking environment and an English cultural environment. Out on the street, you hear English nearly all the time, and looking at the signs above most of the shops, you would think that you were in an English town. Many Irish signs have disappeared over the years: Siopa Sheáin on Creggan Street, for instance – there was a little Irish lesson in that sign! You can see a lot of street names in many places, however, and that is a great help with regard to vocabulary and spelling. But a new flower is blooming out in the desert. I dropped into the new café/shop in Castle Street recently- An Siopa Císte- which has the sign outside in Irish. I spoke to the owner, Seán Boyle. He has good Irish, although he says it is a little rusty.

One of the waitresses, Aoibheann Ní Dhéin, has excellent Irish. She is very proud of her language and is very pleased to chat! Aoibheann attended Bunscoil Cholmcille in Derry and the Irish secondary school before it closed. There are two other young people working in the café: they are also former Meánscoil pupils, and they are both fluent speakers. This shows that jobs can be created through Irish. As well as great Irish, you get great cakes in the café/shop. Seán has thirty years’ experience. He gets eggs from his own hens, and he grows fruit for the cakes: apples, rhubarb, blackberries, strawberries. So it is a green shop in the broad sense of the word! Everyone is welcome at the Siopa Císte- Irish speakers and English speakers! Enjoy a visit to this very Irish place – this week especially. A happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all our readers!

Sliocht na Seachtaine/ Quotation of the week

‘No language can survive if its use is confined to just private and domestic contexts. A lot of us now feel that we can only practice the language with other consenting adults behind closed doors.’ John Glennon, Irish Times, 7 Márta.


Irish language secondary school meeting tomorrow in Derry

February 12, 2014

A public meeting will be held in Derry tomorrow to discuss plans for an Irish language secondary school in the city.

The meeting, which will be held in Rafters, Northland Road, on Wednesday at 7.30pm, will hear the concerns of parents about the delay in setting up a new Irish medium secondary school.

It will also hear from two speakers who will share their own experiences of attending Irish medium secondary education. A spokesperson for the organisers said; “Our children deserve the highest standard of education through the same language they have been educated in their primary years. “It is wrong that the gifts with which they leave our gaelscoils are not built upon when they go to secondary school. “Every year that goes by without a resolution is a disappointment to those who have lost out and a worry for parents of younger children. A viable option for establishing second level education is already on the table and, for the first time, has the support of all the schools and the majority of parents. “The meeting is not a platform for other agendas or for raking over the past; we have been distracted for long enough. “This is an opportunity for parents to put forward positive ideas on how we can move forward united together as a parent body and highlight this issue for the sake of our children.” The public meeting is open to all who want to see Irish Medium second level education restored in the city.


Ní thuigim a n-intinn

February 3, 2014

From June there will be six organisations looking after the Irish voluntary sector. Thirteen other organisations will have to get funding from elsewhere or go to the wall. None of the six is based in the North. This is bureaucracy gone mad. A lot of Foras na Gaeilge’s work has been highly successful. But why can they not build on what they have done? We lost the newspaper Foinse a few years ago. At that time Foinse was one of the best newspapers in the country. It was far better than most of the English language papers. It attracted top writers. The paper had problems regarding circulation and advertising. But instead of helping Foinse through this, Foras terminated its contract and gave it to Gaelscéal. The Gaelscéal staff lacked necessary experience and their contract was ended early. Now we don’t have a national newspaper in Irish. (The Indo publishes a small supplement every Wednesday, and that’s your lot.) Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge set up a very professional Internet site: www.gaelport.com It provides pieces of news about the Irish language as well as information about Irish events. It is a very good service: there is a demand for it, but the service is limited. The Comhdháil has a highly qualified staff, and with extra funding it could develop the service. Now an Chomhdháil will be gone in six months and this service will most likely disappear too.


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