Comhrá agus An Tuaisceart

The days have been flying by in Gleann Cholm Cille. The six days of class a week have been very tiring, leaving little time for outside activities. I have gotten to be with a couple different teachers now, including one with the Munster dialect. My speaking abilities have certainly been getting better, as I was able to understand and hold a full conversation with a native speaker from just up the road in Donegal. While the accent and pronunciation differences proved tough, my previous exposure to the dialect in past weeks helped immensely, as did his willingness to slow his speech and repeat himself if I did not understand. It was a great feeling to be able to understand and respond in a natural conversation and not just one in class. After classes, we always have a nightly program, which varies ever day but essentially repeats every week. We did, however, get the chance to listen to an Irish harp concert the other night. This rare event provided an interesting point of view on my time here in Donegal. The harpist, Janet Harbison, is widely known throughout the traditional music world and has been coming to Gleann Cholm Cille since the 1980’s. She told a number of stories throughout the night, including one of her and the Belfast Harp Orchestra winning a 1993 Grammy for a collaboration with The Chieftains. The really intriguing part of the story was that the orchestra, a youth one, included both Catholics and Protestants. Her attempt to bring people together during the Troubles demonstrated an attitude many people, especially from the north, expressed when the topic arose. Because Brexit has become such a looming issue, the possibility of violence breaking out again has risen substantially. However, everyone I talked to from the north about the issue favored finding a road to peace rather than a staunch, more antagonistic approach. One friend of mine, a man from Tyrone, remarked that while he would like a united Ireland, he did not want it at the cost of more violence. He admitted that cultural differences could prove hard to overcome. Hopefully, this attitude will prevail as the seeming inevitability of Brexit approaches.