As I approach the end of my time here in Ireland, I am both shocked and thrilled by how far I have progressed. I have become much more proficient speaking and listening, especially to the Ulster dialect. Perhaps even more importantly, my confidence in my own abilities has skyrocketed. I have felt much more comfortable slipping into Irish while talking with someone, a skill I tried at the pub a few nights ago. As I explained that I was majoring in Irish and taking a course at Oideas Gael, the man asked if I spoke any. I responded simply in Irish, stating “Tá Gaeilge agam; níl sé an-mhaith, ach tá Gaeilge agam” (I have Irish; it isn’t very good, but I have Irish). He was shocked. He then complimented me, laughingly saying that I had more than him but he’d moved back from Switzerland to learn and to make sure his kids learned it while they were young. It was fun to use my Irish with someone new, and to feel confident enough to initiate the interaction in Irish. I have also been taking advantage of the bilingual signage throughout the area. It provides a fantastic opportunity to practice reading and translating, something we haven’t focused on very much in classes. Both An Trá Ban (the Silver Strand) and Sliabh League have great signs that are both interesting to read and fun to try and understand as Gaeilge. It’s been fascinating to see the historical and cultural aspects of the area, and I hope to keep exploring and better my Irish at the same time!
An Trá Ban, a beach about 10km from Oideas Gael, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland, and Sliabh League, a mountain with the highest sea cliffs in Europe.