Learning Irish is child’s play

    Eoghan O’Néill, Michael Casey and Frank Marshall

    By Jimmy Rhatigan

    Pics: Martin Doheny

    THEY EVEN drank tea and nibbled biscuits as gaeilge.

    The Pop Up Gaeltacht at Kilkenny Education Centre on the Callan Road proved to be a bumper success.

    It doesn’t mean that everyone and anyone in our city and county will be spouting Irish from here to eternity but it does signal the start of a new era when more people will be putting their hearts and souls into uttering what they call cúpla focail ó am go hám.

    The exercise was perhaps a wonderful eye opener for those whose school days are in the fadó, a long journey into the ago when Irish was taught with the use of blackboards and chalk and gentle persuasion from an muinteoir’s bata.

    Mary Fitzpatrick, Christina Warner, Dan Brennan and Lucy Ryan

    How things have changed.

    Today, top class educational institutions like the gaelscoileanna use what might be termed children’s games, rhymes, singing, pleasant and happy ways, and certainly less painless ones of encouraging youngsters to talk their native tongue.

    It works and hence we have a whole new generation of willing speakers who are so proud of their language.

    Fifty two, a neat deck of cards, turned up for opening night, a rang of daltaí that included five from Mullingar who are hoping to set up their own Gaeltacht in the midlands.

    The roll call reached 48 on night two, 40 on night three and the high 30s by night four.

    Some were unable to commit fully because of family and other commitments but a majority helped to make the Gaeltacht’s maiden voyage a smooth journey.

    Irish teachers were to the fore for 45 minutes every evening as they brought students through the world of grammar and explained how Irish is taught.

    Guests included priomh oide scoil Seán Ó hArgáin, Liam Suipéal from Ring Gaeltacht, Cabrini de Barra, Development officer Glór na Gael, Prionsias Ó Áilin, her daughter, Gráinne Ní Áilin and there were songs by Eoghan Ó Néill, a son of Donegal now living in Kilkenny.

    As people began to relax and feel more at ease, there was ever growing confidence and a determination to use Irish more.

    Don’t be afraid or ashamed to use your own language, was the message.

    There was caint, ceól and cúpla deoch in The Hole in the Wall Hostelry, off High Street on Friday.

    The good shop education was docked and friends enjoyed each other’s company as gaeilge, still talking Irish, and enjoying every minute of it.