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I’m really excited about today’s language!  My passion is for endangered languages, and I’m excited by stories of languages that have not only been saved but have been revitalized (you can see some examples of this in my Green Book posts).  And my guest today is sharing one of those languages!

Professor Ronan Connolly grew up in Monaghan, Ireland, and now lives in Washington, DC where he teaches Irish language classes (if you live in the DC area, here is his website!  He offers classes frequently and they look like a lot of fun!)  He grew up monolingual in English, but has since learned Irish and says his life is bilingual whenever he goes back to Ireland.

Ronan says he loves “the richness, the history and culture associated with the Irish language.”  Irish (sometimes called “Gaelic,” or Gaelige in Irish) is a very old language, he explains, older than English, with “the oldest written literature of all the surviving Celtic languages… [it] was first written 2,000 years ago.”

“Irish was the language of the vast majority of the population until the early 19th century, when the devastating effects of English colonialism started taking their toll on the native tongue,” he notes. “The development of Ireland as a free country during the early 20th century brought with it a cultural revival. The Irish language made major gains in the 20th century due largely to a combination of public, private and government efforts.”

Ronan is hopeful about the state of his language.  “Currently, the language is going through a major renaissance and more people are able to speak and write Irish today than have been able to for over 150 years,” he says. “The great increase in learning Irish by children, as well as adults in non-Gaeltacht areas and abroad, is also very encouraging.”

The Gaeltachts are areas of Ireland where Irish is the dominant language, and the vernacular spoken in the home.  The three areas – Ulster, Connacht, and Munster – are fairly isolated from each other geographically, meaning that each area has its own distinct dialect.  Ronan speaks primarily with an Ulster accent.  In this clip, he says: “I wanted to communicate with the listener – tell them who I am, what I do and also a little bit about the Irish language!”

Dia dhiaoibh a chairde, caidé mar atá sibh?

Is mise Ronan Connolly agus faoi láthair táim i mo chónaí anseo i Washington DC, príomhchathair na Stáit Aontaithe.

Bíonn ranganna Gaeilge ar bun agam anseo – bím ag teagasc in Ollscoil Chaitliceach Mheiriceá sa chathair, agus chomh maith le sin bím ag teagasc mo ranganna féin, Learn Irish With Me.com, I dtuaisceart na cathrach.

Anois, cad is brí le Gaeilge?  Cén sort teanga í? Ar chuala tú í riamh? Bhuel, cinnte gur chuala tú an Ghaeilge cheana féin! Tagann focail ar nós dude, smashing, phony, galore, whiskey, baloney, shamrock, in cahoots, hooligan, uilig ón nGaeilge. Agus cinnte gur chuala sibh faoin gcathair Baltimore – sin ainm eile a thagann ón nGaeilge! An ndeir tú ‘so long’ le duine agus tú ag fágáil? Deirtear go dtagann an frása sin ón nGaeilge chomh maith, mar deir muidne ‘slán’ in ionad ‘goodbye’. Slan / so long – feiceann tú an chosúlacht!

Tá an teanga thart fá 3,000 bliana d’aois – b’fhéidir níos mó, b’fhéidir níos lú –agus is í ceann de na teangacha is sine san Eoraip, níos sine ná  an Bhéarla, Fraincis nó Spáinis.

Faoi láthair tá thart fá 80,000 ag caint na Gaeilge in Eirinn gach lá, ach tá an uimhir sin ag méadú an t-am uilig. Le raidio, teilifís agus na meáin trí mhean na Gaeilge, táim féin an-dóchasach don teanga! Bhuel, sin mo phíosa anois – má tá suim agat I bhfoghlaim na Gaeilge, cuir scairt orm!

Go dtí sin, slán!

English translation:
Hello friends, how are you?

I am Ronan Connolly, and I am presently living in Washington DC, the capital city of the USA. I teach Irish classes here – at Catholic University of America in the city, and also my own classes, Learn Irish With Me.com, in the north of the city.

Now, what exactly is Irish? What sort of language is it? Have you heard it before? Well, most certainly you have heard it before! Words such as dude, smashing, phony, galore, whiskey, shamrock, hooligan, all come from Irish. And surely you have heard of the city of Baltimore – that’s another name that comes from Irish! Do you say ‘so long’ when you are saying goodbye to someone? It’s said that that phrase comes from Irish too, because we say ‘slán’ for ‘goodbye’. Slán / so long – you can see the similarity!

The language is about 3,000 years old – maybe more, maybe less – and it’s one of the oldest languages in Europe, older than English, French or Spanish.

There are presently 80,000 people speaking Irish in Ireland everyday, but the number is rising. With radio, television and media in Irish, I am very optimistic for the language! Well, that’s my piece for now – if you are interested in learning Irish, just call me!

Until then, goodbye!

Thank you very much, Ronan, for sharing your lovely living language with us!