Delaney, Daniel

Name: Daniel Delaney
Location of Study: Ireland
Program of Study:
Sponsor(s): Robert Berner

6 thoughts on “Delaney, Daniel

  1. During my first night in Galway on July 18th, I was not sure what I had gotten my self into. I was alone in a foreign country…my first time in Europe and I was traveling on my own. It was a really daunting thought. I had cut my summer short…I was missing out on concerts with my siblings and sending my sister off for her freshman year of college. I began to think the trip wasn’t worth missing all that.

    I knew it would get better once I was doing what I came here to do. I wandered around Galway, taking in some sights and getting my bearings. I was getting myself into the mindset of Gaeilge. I had not spoken any in a couple months. How was I going to fare?

  2. After a week of learning Irish in the Gaeltacht, I started to think “what I have I gotten into?” The scenery was beautiful; our house sits right on the water with magnificent sunsets every night. The Bean an Tí was treating us like royalty with huge meals and every household chore taken care of. But my Irish was struggling. Some of the other people in the house could have long conversations with our hosts. I struggled to string together my thoughts into proper Irish sentences. I couldn’t help but remember watching Des Bishop: He went with no Irish and by the end of the show, he was pretty fluent. Would I ever reach that level? I knew it would take a lot longer than a week but still, what kind of progress was I making?

    In class we were going over things I had some grasp of while expanding my vocabulary immensely. I could come home with some phrases or words that I had needed before while talking to the Bean/Fear an tí. They offered me much encouragement and assistance as I expanded my understanding of the language.

  3. More than half of my time was up when something interesting happened sa theach:

    Bhí mé sa chistín ag caint le Níamh, the daughter of my hosts. She is engaged and lives closer to her work place so we did not see her all that often. But anyway, we were talking just about whatever, as Gaeilge. She, like her parents, was being very patient with my broken Irish. I got up from the conversation to eat dinner. Bean an tí told me later that Niamh said I have an excellent Connemara accent. She asked if this was my first time in Connemara and was surprised to learn it was.

    This was a great self-esteem boost. Being immersed in the language was paying off. Not only was I expanding my grammar and vocab, but I was subconsciously imitating the sounds I heard.

    I also attributed this to the unique situation I had of being taught Irish by two native speakers, born and raised in Connemara. Although at Notre Dame they stressed an understanding of all three dialects, it was inevitable that their Connemara accents/ways of speech were dominant and had the most influence on me.

    I am very thankful that that was the case. It made me feel more like a local and made my stay in Connemara that much more rewarding.

  4. Agus anois, I sit in my hotel room in Shannon. My time in Ireland is over. This was without a doubt the most adventurous thing I have ever done. Never in a million years would I have even dreamed that this sort of opportunity even existed. Prior to coming to ND I really had no knowledge of the Irish language let alone the concept of a Gaeltacht. And here I am. I just spent over 4 weeks immersed in a minority language. I lived with native speakers. I took classes 6 days a week. I traveled to famous sights in county Galway.

    The immersion in the language has had quite a noticeable effect on me. I find myself thinking “b’fhéidir” instead of “maybe.” I am thinking “sin é” when I am finished telling a story. These and many other little phrases are ingrained in my thoughts, replacing/coexisting with the Bearla that I have grown up speaking. While on the phone with my family I was using Irish without even thinking about it. Tá Gaeilge agam anois. I am not fluent. There are many structures, words, idioms, etc that I do not know. But I am that much closer to reaching my goal of being bilingual.

    Thinking back to how nervous and homesick I was that first night in Galway, I am now thinking about coming back next year. What a different perspective after just one month. I loved everything about this trip. The people I met may go their separate ways. Maybe our paths will cross again some day le cúnamh Dé. But if not, I will have these memories forever. I will be able to share these stories with my children and who knows, maybe they will be inspired to go to the Gaeltacht and learn an teanga of their ancestors.

    I am so blessed to have had this opportunity. I would not go back and change a thing about it. I hope to see my hosts again one day. I raise my glass to them in humble appreciation for all they did, not only in teaching me new words, but in opening their home to me to take advantage of this unique chance. Is féidir linn a bheith beo ar an am arís.