How Irish has given me opportunities English never could

Eadaoin Fitzmaurice

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Deiseanna saoil de bharr an Ghaeilge:

When we think of the Irish language most people associate it with learning your cúpla focal in school or spending summers in the Gaeltacht. However, there is so much more to the language than that. In fact many people use the language everyday and have had amazing life and career opportunities as a result.

Shamrocks & Clovers - Falon Yeats
Shamrocks & Clovers – Falon Yeats

This week marks Seachtain na Gaeilge,an international event dedicated to celebrate and appreciate Irish language and culture. To mark the week, The Circular spoke to some people who have the Irish language to thank for their success.

1. Micheál Ó Ciaraidh – Láthreoir Cúla 4

Originally from Letterkenney Co. Donegal, Michéal left his job as a primary school teacher to become the face of Cúla 4, the children’s section of TG4. He presents the wraparound programme on the station that showcases shows such as Dennis & Gnasher, Spongebob, Breadwinners and The World Animal Championships. Thanks to his job Micheál uses his Irish everyday and is able to share his passion with a younger audience.

Michael Carey - Cúla 4
Micheál Ó Ciaraidh- Cúla 4

Micheál explains how is attitude toward Irish changed as he got older and also the opportunities it has given him in his life:

Sa bhliain 2000, theip orm sa scrúdú Gaeilge ‘s mise ag freastal ar mo chead bhliain sa mheánscoil. Níos measa fos, bhí fuath agam don teanga. Sa bhliain 2017, inniu, aithním go bhfuil mo shaol ar fad lonnaithe agus bunaithe sa teanga, sa chultúr agus cinnte sa chraic. Tar éis neart bliain a chaitheamh ag foghlaim an Gaeilge ar scoil, tréimhse ama ag obair mar ceannaire sa Ghaeltacht, mar mhúinteoir sa Ghaeltacht, ag múineadh Gaeilge go daltaí bunscoile, ag obair mar láithreoir teilifíse le Cúla4, ag seinm ag na feilte móra ar nós ‘Body & Soul’ agus ‘Electric Picnic’ – is léir go bhfuil an meon sin a bhí agam athraithe go huile ‘s go hiomlán.

Tá na deiseanna ann. Bain triail aisti 

-Translation:

In 2000, Micheál failed his Irish exam in his first year of secondary school and he hated the language! Now in 2017 Michéal believes his whole life is based around the language, the culture and of course the craic. After many years learning Irish in school, some time working as a ceannaire in the Gaeltacht, as a teacher in the Gaeltacht, teaching Irish to children in a primary school, working as a television presenter with Cúla 4, playing big festivals such as “Body and Soul” and “Electric Picnic” – It is clear that the attitude toward Irish he once has has completely changed.

“There are so many opportunities. Surprise yourself!”

2. Máire Mhic Mhuiris – Iar-Phríomhoide Gaelcholáiste na Mara, An tInbhear Mór

Before retirement in August, Máire had been teaching Irish for over 30 years. She has made an impact on many students lives and has always encouraged them to go above and beyond. Irish has always been close to her heart and working as principal gave her the opportunity to engage in her passion on a daily basis.

Máire ar scoilMáire ar scoil

Máire explains how Irish has impacted her life:

Chaith mé mo shaol gairimiúl ag múineadh Gaeilge in iar- bhunscoil agus bhaineas an-taitneamh as grá dár dteanga dúchais a chothú i measc scoláirí. Lean morán acu ar aghaidh agus roghnaigh siad an ghaeilge mar ábhar ollscoile. Bhí an t-ádh glan liom ansin post a fháil mar phríomhoide ar ghaelcholáiste nua a bunaíodh i 2007. Tháinig fás agus forbairt ar an scoil leis na blianta agus is ábhar mórtais dom go n- éiríonn leis na scoláirí ansin ard-caighdeán a bhaint amach go hacadúil, ins na scrúdaithe stáit agus chomh maith sa spórt agus in imeachtaí breis- curaclam. Tá ag éirí go hiontach le gaelcholáistí ar fud na tíre agus is rud an dearfach é sin maidir le dul chun cinn na teanga. Tá glún óg le Gaeilge ar a dtoil acu agus grá don ghaeilge go smior acu.

-Translation:

Máire spent her career teaching Irish in a secondary school and she really enjoyed passing her love for the Irish language on to her students. A lot of her past-pupils have since gone on to study the language in university. She considered herself very lucky to have gotten the job of principal in the  Gaelcholáiste in Arklow when it was set up in 2007. The school has grown and improved throughout the years and she is extremely proud that the students are high achievers in state examinations, in sport and in extra curricular activities. She believes that gaelcholáistí across the country are improving and that this is a very positive influence for the language. There is a young generation who speak Irish fluently and have a strong passion for it.

3. Caoimhe Ní Chathail – Meon Eile

Caoimhe currently works as a video journalist for a production company based in Belfast called Meon Eile. She has been extremely involved in the promotion of the Irish language in television and radio throughout the years and has now also taken to social media. Caoimhe believes Irish has given her opportunities in the television and radio industry that she might not have had if she didn’t keep up her Irish after school. She and myself were lucky enough to land ourselves our own TV show as a result of our Irish language Youtube Channel.

Caoimhe & Éadaoin ar WAC
Caoimhe & myself ar WAC.

Caoimhe told us a little bit about her background and how important Irish has been in achieving her dream career:

I studied Journalism and Irish in DCU and without the addition of Irish I do not believe I would have managed to secure as many opportunities as I have to date. Myself and my best friend Éadaoin started an Irish language YouTube channel while in first year in university. We wanted to gain valuable experience from producing content and we felt that an Irish language channel filled a niche in the market. We were soon contacted by the production company Macalla who asked us to present a 52 part children’s series, WAC. Without the initiative to fill a void and start an Irish language YouTube channel we would never have gotten our first taste of television presenting; a career path we want to continue with well into the future!

Caoimhe and I have our very own all Irish Youtube Channel called TusaTube. The channel has allowed them to produce our own content and promote the language in a new and different way. We make all kinds of videos from travel vlogs, the chubby bunny challenge to 1916 history !

The TusaTube girls inform us about the women involved in The 1916 Rising.

Caoimhe explains how her loyalty to Irish has grown with each experience she has had:

As part of my course I completed a four month internship in Raidió na Gaeltachta. The experience I gained was invaluable and was highly beneficial in boosting my radio skills – all through the medium of Irish. I honestly do not believe I would have been given the same opportunities to report for, produce and present a drive time current affairs show were it not for Irish language media. My experiences stood to me as soon after, I succeeded in becoming both a video journalist for the Irish online news website Meon Eile and a news reporter for Nuacht RTÉ and TG4. My loyalty to Irish language media has not let me down as the opportunities are never ending.
I am always looking for new opportunities and my presence on social media through the medium of Irish has given me opportunities to appear on the likes of ‘Róisín’ and ‘7 Lá’ on TG4, to be a vlogger on a BBC Irish language YouTube channel, as well as run the TG4 Snapchat account.
Irish has been invaluable to me on my career path in media. My experiences with Irish language media outlets have always led to new opportunities and for that I will always be grateful of my grá don teanga passed down by family and teachers.

Caoimhe is very active on social media and uses this to promote the language. She is especially popular on Twitter and Snapchat. She believes that social media is a great tool to normalise the language and also share her passion with her followers.

A tweet from @CaoimheChats Twitter

4. Niamh Ní Chroinín – Láthreoir ar Spin 103.8

Niamh has been very involved in promoting the Irish language, particularly on radio. She has worked in stations such as Raidió na Gaeltachta, Raidió RíRá and Spin 103.8. She has also been heavily involved in putting together Ceol 2017, an all Irish CD that features artists such as Picture This, The Delarentos, IMLÉ and Gavin James.

Niamh ar raidió Spin 103.8
Niamh ar raidió Spin 103.8

Niamh tells us that she has had many career opportunities because of her Irish:

Tá an teanga an-tábhachtach dom & is dócha go labhraím níos mó Gaeilge ná Béarla gach lá anois. Braithim go bhfuil an Ghaeilge tar éis an oiread sin deiseanna breise a thabhairt dom sa saol – níos mó deiseanna fostaíochta & mó deiseanna sóisialta. Gach post a fuair mé ó d’fhág mé an coláiste, fuair mé é toisc go raibh Gaeilge agam. Tá mé an-bhuíoch go bhfuil sí agam agus beidh i gcónaí!

-Translation:

Irish is extremely important to Niamh and she said she guesses now a days she actually speaks more Irish than English on a daily basis. She feels that Irish has given her so many opportunities in her life – more employment and social opportunities. Every job she has had since she has left university, she got because she had Irish. She is very thankful to have Irish in her life and always will be!

Seachtain na Gaeilge 2017
Seachtain na Gaeilge 2017

The Irish language has offered people many opportunities in life that they might not have had without it. It is still used widely today and is only getting stronger. Seachtain na Gaeilge is the perfect time to celebrate the language and culture we have in Ireland. During the coming weeks there will be lots of events running all across the country and also internationally.

To find out more about the event visit www.snag.ie 

During Seachtain na Gaeilge why not give it a go! Bain triail aisti!

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Eadaoin Fitzmaurice