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  • Lunch with Cathal Ó Searcaigh

    January 27, 2010 @ 12:04 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh will be the guest of BBC NI presenter, William Crawley, as part of the Queen’s University, Belfast, series “Out to Lunch”. The two will hold an after-dinner interview, before a live audience, in the university’s Great Hall on Wednesday, 24 February, between 12.30 and 2.30pm. Crawley has already used the format to interview singer Brian Kennedy, poet Seamus Heaney, writer Brian Keenan and politician, the Reverend Ian Paisley. Tickets cost £25, inclusive of lunch.

  • Run for your language

    January 26, 2010 @ 2:26 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Rith 2010 is a mass sponsored fun run organised as part of the Seachtain na Gaeilge celebrations. The run will begin in Belfast on Tuesday 9th March and participants will cover 1,600 km until they reach Galway on Saint Patrick’s Day. The aim is to celebrate the language in a public way and the organisers invite individual runners, schools and community groups to take part and help carry a ‘language’ baton, with a message from the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, throughout the 15 counties included in the course. Let the cry go out: blisters before Béarla!

  • Are EU talking to me?

    @ 1:46 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The European Commission are recruiting Irish Translators to work in the Translation Centre of the European Union. Candidates must be a citizen of a EU country, a university graduate, have perfect Irish, very good English and a good knowledge of a third EU language. Deadline is 19 February. More info here.

  • Celebrating Ó Direáin

    January 25, 2010 @ 11:35 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Poet Máirtín Ó Direáin (1910-1988) was born 100 years ago. I was fortunate enough to hear the Inis Mór man read in Cumann Chluain Ard in west Belfast back in 1983/84. Ó Direáin had some poems on the A-Level Irish course and had come to Belfast at the invitation of our teacher. I don’t pretend that I understood everything he said that night – my Irish was not that good and his dialect was different to what we were used to. Nonetheless, it was obvious, even to this gauche teenager, that we were listening to someone of authority.

    To celebrate the centenary of his birth, a new book – Na Dánta: Máirtín Ó Direáin (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, edited by Eoghan Ó hAnluain) will be launched this Saturday (30th January) at 2pm in The Galway Arts Centre, Dominick Street, Galway, as part of the Merriman Winter School. The book includes contains all of the poems from Máirtín Ó Direáin: Dánta 1939 –1979 as well as some unpublished work. In addition, the book contains original art work by Inis Mór artist, Seán Ó Flaithearta, and Gael-Linn will also launch a re-mastered recording of Ó Direáin reading his own poetry.

    I should mention too that the winter school is dedicated to Ó Direáin with a series of talks and lectures in Irish on his work. Full details are available on the Merriman website.

  • ‘National role’ and new name for Údarás na Gaeltachta

    January 22, 2010 @ 4:31 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The board of the Gaeltacht development agency, Údarás na Gaeltachta, have decided to change the name of the organisation to Údarás na Gaeltachta agus na Gaeilge in recognition that the future of Irish in the Gaeltacht is entwined with the development of the language nationally and that both branches of the Irish-language community needed stronger links. At a meeting in Na Forbacha, Co Galway, today, the board welcomed the Government’s 20 Year Strategy for Irish and recognised the importance of the “new role” it, as a Gaeltacht-based agency, would have in developing language projects on a national basis.

    It was a matter of encouragement, they said, that the organisation was to have a central role in delivering the strategy and the board believed that that role was a vote of confidence in them. They welcomed the proposed “radical reorganisation” of Irish within the education system. There was a need to provide specific teaching qualifications through Irish, a professional training centre to train teachers in Irish, to emphasise spoken Irish in the curriculum and to keep 20 per cent of places in teaching colleges for students from Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna.

  • Raidió na Gaeltachta on the shortlist

    @ 11:24 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta has been shortlisted for Radio Station of the Year at the Celtic Media Festival while station presenter, Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí, has also been shortlisted for Radio Personality of the Year. The festival recognises the work of radio and television stations in Celtic regions and Raidió na Gaeltachta won Station of the Year last year. RnaG head, Edel Ní Chuireáin, said that the nomination was “a great source of pride for the service, and recognises the excellence of our programmes and our staff – which includes, of course, the inimitable Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí’s whose nomination is a fitting recognition of his talent as a broadcaster”.

    The winners will be announced at the festival in Newry, Co Down, in April.

  • Aye, it was hamely

    January 21, 2010 @ 11:24 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s TG4 documentary The Hamely Tongue – Cultúr Ceilte, an intelligent, thoughtful and affectionate look at Ulster-Scots/Scots in Ulster. The programme makers certainly got a couple of very personable witnesses for the defence with Liam Logan – a nationalist supporter of the tongue – poet, Willie Drennan – with whom I did a very pleasurable trilingual poetry reading once – and writer James Fenton whose book, The Hamely Tongue, is undoubtedly one of the great literary gems to have been published in recent years. 

    Aye, if only we had all started our Ulster-Scots journey from such wisdom. However, there are two big problems that Ulster-Scots still has to negotiate: the political one and the actual question of whether there is even such a language.

    As regards the politics, the ham-fisted efforts of political unionism to set up Ulster-Scots as a counterbalance to Irish did the cause no favours. The suspicion amongst many Irish speakers was – and probably still is – that Ulster-Scots is little more than an exercise in trying to hamstring the long-term development of Irish in the North. Indeed, their identification of Ulster-Scots with loyalism and Protestantism – a view not supported by every contributor to The Hamely Tongue – was off-putting, to say the least. (And yes, let us not forget, there were Irish speakers on the other side of the sheugh who were more than happy to identify Irish with the republican cause and violence.) 

    Still, who is to say that the true supporters of Ulster-Scots won’t yet succeed in renegotiating the terms of linguistic reference? There is, in my experience, a variety of opinions within the Ulster-Scots movement as to what it is or should be. That is probably no bad thing as it might well provide a little wriggle room for all with an interest in it. 

    Above that, then, is the question of whether it exists as language at all? Little that was spoken last night would have been beyond the ken – to lapse into Ulster-Scots – of anyone familiar with the area. That the programme makers felt the need to subtitle, in English, some of the contributors is, perhaps, understandable. North Antrim speech can be a wee bit difficult to follow – though was it that far removed from English? 

    The Hamely Tongue – Cultúr Ceilte asked some interesting questions, it was original, enjoyable, respectful and the beauty of
    North Antrim – and the love its inhabitants have for the place – shone through. No mean place and no mean achievement.

  • ‘Need for action plan’

    January 20, 2010 @ 12:26 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The co-ordinating body for Irish-language voluntary groups, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, believe that there is a need for “an action plan” if the Government’s proposed 20-year strategy for Irish is to succeed. They will put the proposal before today’s Joint Committee on Gaeltacht Affairs in Dublin which is to discuss the plan with language groups.

    In addition, Comhdháil will argue that an organized structure for managing the strategy and an independent review on its implementation and evaluation must be established. They also say that there must be an integrated curriculum for teaching Irish from pre-school to third level; that the role of Comhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) in the promotion of the Irish language through the Irish-medium education system must be strengthened and that an pro-Irish-language recruitment policy be established for the Public Service.

    President of the organisation, P.T. Mac Ruairí said that “the intrinsic value of the Irish language is not easy to estimate and the State must make a long-term investment in the future of the language through the 20-year Strategy.  The State must focus on the short, medium and long-term priorities in order to achieve the desired outcome of the draft-strategy in a way that ensures value for money”.

  • Help for Haiti

    @ 10:26 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Tomorrow (Thursday, 21) at 8.30pm at Club Chonradh na Gaeilge, 6 Harcourt Street, Dublin, there will be a special Club Sonas to raise funds to help people in Haiti. Entertainment on the night will be provided by the Sonas house band and a number of special guests. Admission is €5 and all proceeds go to GOAL.

  • Irish Canadians

    January 19, 2010 @ 2:29 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The Ireland Canada University Foundation is offering scholarships for Irish-language teaching assistants and visiting Irish-language professors to work in Canadian universities between September 2010 and May 2011. The foundation has been in operation since 1994 and runs an annual programme of awards in all academic disciplines between universities in Canada and Ireland. Application forms and further details on the ICUF site. Friday 5th March, 2010, is the deadline for applications.

  • ‘Absolutely essential that Irish is taught effectively’

    @ 12:00 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The Irish-language group, Conradh na Gaeilge, want an integrated course for Irish in schools to be established immediately. President of Conradh na Gaeilge, Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, said that it was “absolutely essential that Irish is taught effectively throughout our education system, and we are recommending that a proper fully integrated and graded course for the Irish language, from pre-school to third level, be put into effect without delay.”

     Mac Fhearghusa made his comments as a delegation from Conradh na Gaeilge, Ireland’s oldest Irish-language group, prepares to meet the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gaeltacht Affairs tomorrow in Dublin to discuss the Government’s Draft 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language.

    The group will also argue that equal status be given to Irish on bilingual road signs; that the public service adopt a recruitment policy that encourages the employment of bilingual members of staff and that the new language authority, údarás na Gaeilge, mentioned in the strategy continues to support enterprise and employment in Gaeltacht areas.

    General Secretary of the organisation, Julian de Spáinn, said that the public have a vital role to play in the implementation of the strategy and the group believed it was vital that Irish-language institutions were responsible for the Gaeltacht and Gaeltacht communities: “In terms of our language and culture, the people of the Gaeltacht are entitled to special recognition; the long-term sustainability of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht would be at risk if the general public treat the language with indifference and if the State refuses to accept its importance. We believe that it is crucial that the new authority noted in the strategy continues to have a responsibility for the creation of employment in the Gaeltacht areas, as Údarás na Gaeltachta has done to date, and that adequate resources are provided for the Authority to do so.”

    The meeting of the joint committee will be broadcast live on TG4 between 2pm and 4.30pm

  • Hamely TG4

    @ 11:25 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Ulster-Scots/Scots in
    Ulster is one of those subjects guaranteed to get many Northerners – of all persuasions – hot under the collar. Is it a language? Is it a dialect? Does it even exist? TG4 will broadcast The Hamely Tongue – Cultúr Ceilte (The Hamely Tongue – A Hidden Culture) tomorrow (Wednesday 20th Jan) at 9.30pm. Producer Deaglán Ó Mocháin says that the programme is aimed at ordinary people with an interest in the subject and is made from the perspective of an Irish speaker: “We tried to be positive about the subject, something that is not too common at the moment.” The programme is in Irish with English subtitles.

  • Literary Irish

    January 18, 2010 @ 2:55 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The literary journal, Irish Pages (Dúillí Éireann) is preparing to publish its first entire issue in Irish. The Irish-language editor, Cathal Ó Searcaigh, would welcome any submissions – poetry, short stories, etc. Full details are available on the publication’s site in Irish.

  • Asking why

    @ 2:53 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Professor Jim Cummins, University of Toronto, will give a talk entitled “When can you ask why? Exploring language policy choices in Ireland, past, present and future” in Theatre N, Newman Building, UCD Belfield, Dublin 4, Thursday (21st) at 5.30pm. Cummins has published 13 books and is an expert in the fields of language and education with a special interest in minority languages and their educational policies. The event is free but you must book a place via email at muriel.keeganATucd.ie (Replace AT with @)

  • Growing Gaelchultúr

    @ 11:23 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The Irish-language educational group, Gaelchultúr, has added to its evening classes for adults and is now running 40 courses in 13 locations throughout Ireland. Director of Gaelchultúr, Darren Ó Rodaigh, said there had been a fourfold increase in the number of adults attending classes since they were first established in 2004. As well as long-standing venues in Dublin, Galway, Letterkenny and Cork, they have recently added Athlone to their base of operations, just in time for spring courses which begin in early February. Ó Rodaigh says that the classes help adults learn Irish “in an enjoyable and effective way” by providing a free Online Placement Test. Almost 10,000 people have used this service which helps learners find out their competency in Irish. In addition, Gaelchultúr will also be running open nights in Dublin, Cork, Carlow, and Sligo for new learners.

    “The popularity of our classes shows that our method of teaching Irish works. Our next goal is to expand our network of courses outside Ireland. Many learners abroad are already using our e-learning site, ranganna.com, but we want to give them the opportunity to also attend classroom-based courses,” said Ó Rodaigh

  • Back in the saddle

    January 17, 2010 @ 6:58 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The bad weather has meant little opportunity to cycle. I knew the thaw had come in these parts when, after a number of barren weeks, I finally spotted a lone cyclist, then another which encouraged me to get out over the weekend. However, I mistimed my run home and found myself on the road as the sun set. I was on the high ground in south Antrim, turned a corner down a country lane for home and saw the sun dip across Lough Neagh and fall into the Sperrins in Tyrone. Honestly, it was breath-taking – and that is not just the tiredness talking. The sun was half behind the mountains, caught between orange and red, the hills silhouetted as they have been for thousands of years. Had you travelled to the furthest corners of the planet, you would not have seen a more picturesque view. That said, the temperature quickly dropped and I kicked for the finish line. Even more amazing, I could see mist beginning to gather and rise out of the fields around Lough Neagh and into the cold sky. It was like something Fionn and the Fianna would have encountered on their wanderings. I half expected to meet Bodach an Chóta Lachna.

  • TG4 broadcast

    January 15, 2010 @ 11:20 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    TG4 will give a live broadcast of Wednesday’s meeting (20th January) of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gaeltacht affairs between 2pm and 4.30pm. The committee will be meeting with a number of Irish-language organisations to discuss the Government’s Draft Strategy for Irish. The strategy will direct the development of the language in the coming 20 years. Deputy Head of TG4, Pádhraic Ó Ciardha, says that the meeting is an important occasion for viewers in Ireland and throughout the world who can also watch the proceedings live on the Web at www.tg4.tv

  • An Ulster August

    @ 11:05 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Great excitement across the water in British cycling with the launch of the Sky team in time for the new professional season. Bradley Wiggins – Wiggo – the great British Olympian is on board for Sky and there is talk of his winning the Tour de France. You would have to feel a little sorry for Irish cycling in comparison. While there are a number of very good cyclists, there is not the same buzz about the sport at the moment – which is not the say there is no buzz. Cycling is very popular where I live and there are very few days I would  not see a lone cyclist or a small peloton on the roads. Indeed, I was talking to a fellow recently who remarked, wistfully, that he used to race against Philip Deignan, aka Letterkenny Lightning, the Irish man who finished in the top 10 of last year’s Vuelta in Spain.

    For most of us, grand tours and classics are fantasies. That is not to say that you could not set yourself a wee target if, like me, you are a weekend warrior on the bike. The date for this year’s Lap the Lough has been set for Sunday 29th August. The lap is 87miles/140km around Lough Neagh and is not a race but a sportive. It is very enjoyable. I did it last year for the first time – raging against the dying of my athletic light and would highly recommend it. Don’t panic – entries are not open until May of this year which gives you plenty of time to train. The course is very flat for the most part, very picturesque (if you can spare the oxygen to look at the scenery) and is well worth the effort. So, yes, it’s January and it’s dark and dismal but think August, think Ulster.

  • Heads! We win!

    January 14, 2010 @ 11:47 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    I admit to tuning into to TG4’s new crime/horror series, Na Cloigne (The Heads, Wed, 10.30pm), with some nervousness. I have probably lost count of the number of dramas on TG4 that have failed to pass muster over the years. I need not have worried in this case – Na Cloigne is good, very good. It is intriguing and imaginative – never a bad start –  with enough plot lines of murder, family feud and jealousy to keep the show moving along but not too many to become confusing. In addition, the show’s producers have created a very credible and believable atmosphere for the enterprise. It is somewhat reminiscent in tone to the Swedish television cop series, Wallander – the original one, not the Kenneth Branagh BBC remake – with enough broodiness to make it edgy but not so much as to be clichéd.

    It is certainly testament to excellence of the production that the many Ros na Rún regulars who appear are unrecognisable from the day jobs, unrecognisably in the sense that the place they now inhabit, Cloigeann, is far removed from soapy Spiddal but they do not seem out of place. The lead pairing of Siobhán O’Kelly, as artist Nuala, and Dara Devaney as DJ Seán, is very strong while the rest of the cast are equally impressive. Barry McGovern, as Superintendent Ó Sé, is both charismatic and enigmatic as he searches for the killer. (I will admit to some concern that Ó Sé might become a Morse-like poseur, given his habit of quoting Auden and Leibnitz. Hopefully, Detective Ó Giollagáin (Mike P. Ó Conaola) will be ‘Lewis’ enough to keep him in line. I do worry too about the ‘supernatural’ elements but, so far, so subtle.)

    Finally, a word about the script. Brilliant. Ciarán Ó Cofaigh and Darach Ó Scolaí have a good story to tell and everyone speaks Irish – just as the French speak French and Germans speak German. The first episode contained no mongrel, half-chewed, regurgitated Gailgéarla rather the writers – Lauren Mackenzie and Darach Ó Scolaí (a prose writer of note in Irish) – have composed a modern dialect that reflects the need to talk about “relationships” but does so in Irish that is recognisably, wonderfully, native, creative and expressive.

    I can pay Na Cloigne no greater complement than say that I happily look forward to episode two.

  • What’s the story?

    January 13, 2010 @ 5:04 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The production of the weekly Irish-language newspaper, Gaelscéal, took up a step forward with the announcement that Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (41) has been appointed Project Manager for the publication. Ó Clochartaigh, who has a background in community development, drama and television work, says that he aims to have the paper on sale before the end of March. He is currently looking to recruit an editor, two journalists and a designer for the Conamara headquarters of Gaelscéal and columnists and contributors throughout the country. Talking to him yesterday, a very energetic and upbeat Ó Clochartaigh said that he hoped to interview candidates by the end of this month. That leaves the new staff a month and a bit to prepare for the launch. That’s a tight schedule by any reckoning. Anyway, Ó Clochartaigh invites applications to gaelsceal(AT)gmail.com. (Replace AT with @.)

  • The Gaels gather

    @ 5:02 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The Gaels gather in Galway. February’s Tóstal na Gaeilge grows ever closer with the organisers, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, announcing that Professor Colin Williams, Cardiff University, and Doctors Conchúr Ó Giollagáin and Brian Ó Curnáin will give the major talks during the weekend which will take the theme “Ó Aidhm go Feidhm” (From Aim to Action). Williams, a Welsh speaker, will give the keynote address on language planning, a subject on which he is an expert, having worked on the Welsh national language plan. Ó Giollagáin and Ó Curnáin have already written in this newspaper about their concern that the Government’s 20 year strategy, with its emphasis on bilingualism, will have a detrimental effect on the native Irish-speaking communities in the Gaeltacht.

    It will be interesting to see what mention is made of the cross-Border body, Foras na Gaeilge, in the talks, both formal and informal. It would have been too much to expect that Comhdháil (who are funded by Foras na Gaeilge) could have organised a session on Foras. However, given that FnaG reached its 10th birthday in December 2009, thus marking a decade of inertia and incoherence, it is pity that their remit will not scrutinised in a dedicated talk. FnaG is the linguistic elephant in the room. They fund virtually every aspect of the voluntary language sector outside of the Gaeltacht and their cheque book and decisions will have an impact on much of what happens in the foreseeable future in terms of both aim and action.

  • Scléiptacular

    January 12, 2010 @ 1:25 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The co-ordinating body for Irish-language schools, Gaelscoileanna,  is looking for entrants for its annual talent competition for Irish-medium and Gaeltacht post-primary schools, Scléip! The competition aims to encourage pupils to use Irish in the arts and has eight different categories: pop/rock music; creative dance (solo); creative dance (group); solo singing; music groups; drama/mime and variety acts. 

    The organisation hopes that today’s generation will “be inspired in the same way as ex-gaelscoil pupils before them, such as members of Kíla, the Frames and of course Dara Ó Briain”. Regional heats will take place in Cork, Galway, Dublin and Derry this month and February with the final to be held in the Axis Theatre, Ballymun, Dublin, on Saturday 20th March. 

  • Euro Gael

    @ 12:23 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The country’s oldest Irish-language organisation, Conradh na Gaeilge, will launch a series of ten-week Irish classes for adults in Dublin, Ennis, Galway, Loughrea, Limerick, Mayo and in other centres next week. The classes cater for complete beginners to those who are fluent and the syllabus is based on Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (The European Certificate for Irish), giving students the chance to sit exams under the auspices of NUI Maynooth and gain a recognised qualification. Each course costs €200 with a discount price of €180 for unemployed, students and senior citizens. A full list of courses is to be found on CnaG’s web site.

  • Novel learners

    January 11, 2010 @ 2:46 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    At the beginning of the last century, the writer Pádraic Ó Conaire lamented – if memory serves me right – “the tyranny of the school book”. His complaint, as a creative writer of the first order, was that he could not make a livelihood out of his fiction but had to rely on school books to make a few bob. A hundred years on, no one is complaining about the “tyranny of the novel for the adult learner”. In fact, the genre is one that has flourished in recent years with many writers (including this journalist) more than happy to give it go in the hope that it encourages more adults to read Irish.

    Poet Áine Uí Fhoghlú is the latest to try her hand at the novel for adult learner with Crúba na Cinniúna (Coiscéim, €7.50). With two collections of poetry under her belt, this is her first foray into the learners’ arena – and a happy one too for she won first prize at Oireachtas na Gaeilge 2009 for this work which tells the story of Siobhán, a young teacher, who witnesses an event on the way home one night. As usual with these kind of publications, the sentences are short and punchy, there are key words and phrases at the bottom of the page and a glossary at the end.

  • Musical musings

    January 8, 2010 @ 11:30 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    I have no musical ability. In fact, the sum total of my engagement with traditional music was a tin whistle class in Andytown Leisure Centre almost 30 years ago. I am afraid to admit it but I was one of the cover-one-hole, two-holes, one-hole, three-holes brigade. Needless to say, I will not be jamming with Altan any time soon.

    Still, we will not let my ignorance stand in the way of musicians who really know their stuff. Here, then, is a mention in musical dispatches for those who know their amhráin from their elbows.

    Áine Ní Cheallaigh has won Corn Uí Riada, the most prestigious award for sean-nós singing, twice. Her latest album is Binneas Thar Meon (Gael Linn) and is comprised of songs collected by Liam de Noraidh in East Munster during the 1940s, including Dónall Óg and Táim Sínte Ar do Thuama. Those two tracks also appear in Síle Ní Fhlaithearta’s, Duitse a Bheirim Grá (Cló Iar-Chonnachta).  Ní Fhlaithearta is another sean-nós singer – that opera of the Gael – from Conamara and there are 17 tracks in total on her album. Meanwhile, Reelin’ in Tradition (Cló Iar-Chonnachta) sees Mick, Louise and Michelle Mulcahy present a selection of reels, jigs, polkas and hornpipes with some of the most musical names ever composed: Munster Buttermilk; Down the Broom; Kitty Lie Over; Toss the Feathers.

    And let us not forget our Gaelic-speaking friends across the water in Scotland. Singer and musician Julie Fowlis goes from strength to strength and has a new album out, Uam (Shoeshine), another fine collection of songs from Gaelic Scotland. I would be tempted to call Fowlis the new Karen Matheson but the old Karen Matheson is not actually that old and is still going the best as far as I can see. I don’t speak Scots Gaelic but did not need to in order to enjoy Fowlis’s singing. Her two previous albums – Mar a tha mo chridhe and cuilidh – are still my favourites but Uam is well worth a listen.

    I might yet dig that tin whistle out from under the bed!

  • New drama for TG4

    January 7, 2010 @ 12:10 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    TG4 will broadcast a new three-part drama series and modern horror story, Na Cloigne (The Heads), this Wednesday (13th January) at 10.30pm. The story revolves around the discovery of the bodies of two naked and decapitated young women in the Conamara village of Cloigeann. Artist Nuala (Siobhán O’Kelly) and her two-timing boyfriend Seán (Dara Devaney) are drawn into the investigation, lead by Superintendent Ó Sé (Barry McGovern).

    Producer, Ciarán Ó Cofaigh, describes Na Cloigne as being “a thrilling story, touching on the darker side of the human condition and a hint of the supernatural. As well as the gripping murder investigation, we also explore the themes of jealousy, family feuding and redemption. We’ve assembled a fantastic cast and crew of well loved Irish talent for this production. Na Cloigne is must see television for 2010”.

    Must see? Well, we’ll wait and see. Still, it does sound interesting. Tis a long way from James Carney and Early Irish Poetry, to be sure.

  • No native speakers here

    January 6, 2010 @ 11:15 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Guest writing today’s Tuarascáil, journalist Seán Tadhg Ó Gairbhí, casts his eye over the Government’s 20 year draft strategy for Irish – and is not that impressed by the way in which it leaves the native speaker in the half penny place. Giving his own analysis of the draft strategy, citing work by academics Conchúr Ó Giollagáin and Brian Ó Curnáin, published in The Irish Times, and also drawing on John Walsh’s analysis in this month’s Beo!, Ó Gairbhí wonders whether the native speaker is to be sacrificed in order to create a new order of bilingual learners.

    Ó Gairbhí argues that such a move would be detrimental for the long term survival and well-being of the language: “Mar nuair a iompaíonn teanga ina teanga d’fhoghlaimeoirí amháin ní fada go dtosaíonn líon na bhfoghlaimeoirí ag dul i léig. I ndiaidh tamaill eile ní bhíonn fágtha mar fhoghlaimeoirí ach an scoláire agus an staraí. Ná fágaimis fúthu siúd breithiúnas a thabhairt ar Straitéis 20 Bliain na Gaeilge. Táimid ag ground zero na Gaeilge arís.”/["When a language turns into a language for learners only, it is not long until the number of learners declines. After another while, the only learners left are the scholar and the historian. Let us not leave the judgment of the 20 year strategy to them. We are at ground zero for Irish again."]

  • New Year’s Resolution

    January 5, 2010 @ 12:03 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The New Year is traditionally the time to make a resolution: losing weight; exercising more or, perhaps, taking up an Irish class? If you could ask the Government to make one resolution to improve the lot of the Irish language, what would it be?

  • January’s Beo!

    January 4, 2010 @ 11:22 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The January issue of Internet mag, Beo!, is now on-line. This issue includes an interview with actress Clíona Ní Chíosáin, aka Aifric; academic John Walsh on the Government’s 20 year draft strategy for Irish; journalist Robert McMillen on the challenges facing SF president Gerry Adams; television producer Pat Butler on world cinema and… oh you know where it is.

  • Spillane in Belfast

    @ 10:56 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    The Irish-language cultural centre in Belfast, An Droichead, will hold a concert with Cork singer John Spillane and traditional group, Lumiere on  Friday 15th January. It is a one-night performance, doors open at 7.45pm  and tickets are £12.50.

  • Three men in a bád

    January 2, 2010 @ 12:16 pm | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Comedian Dara Ó Briain popped up on BBC2 NI last night as part of the ongoing whimsy that is Three Men in a Boat. With companions, Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones they were in Ireland on another little sailing expedition the point of which seems to have been to fill the screen for a couple of hours. Amiable enough stuff with little of note – except at the end. Ó Briain and friends visited Inis Mór where he got the chance to speak some Irish. He seemed genuinely moved at being in the Gaeltacht and the importance of the culture – which is not to say the film makers did not take the opportunity to take the hand of him while he recited Irish poetry from Dún Aonghusa.

    Ó Briain is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in contemporary comedy, having swapped hosting The Panel for the greater challenge of Mock the Week and various other gigs. The Three Men in a Boat series is wearing thin but you wonder if there is not an opportunity there to get a little more out of it – Ó Briain actually exploring the living Celtic languages in Ireland and Britain. He could take his crewmates if he wanted. Rhys Jones is Welsh and, if I am not mistaken, there is a Cornish connection with McGrath. So that only leaves an excuse to visit the Gaelic-speaking Hebrides and call in to the Isle of Man on the way home. They can even sail over to Brittany and give us a little insight into how Breton is getting on. Sailing, jokes and a wee bit of culture. What could be better?

  • Tóibín tells tales

    January 1, 2010 @ 10:52 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    Irish speakers like to speak Irish (naturally) and listen to Irish being spoken. There is something also Homeric in their devotion to the spoken word. On the other hand, Irish speakers are not the quickest down to the shops to buy contemporary fiction in Irish. To that end, Dublin publishers Cois Life have come up with good idea – they have taken some of short stories by one of the language’s most imaginative writers, Seán Mac Mathúna, and have asked the actor Niall Tóibín to record them. The result is what they are calling a Closleabhar, an aural book (€18), with eight stories on four CDs. Tóibín’s reading is both senatorial and sensuous while the stories are original and surprising. It is very much an exercise in loving listening.

  • ‘It’s total Bethlehem’

    @ 10:50 am | by Pól Ó Muirí

    As the children grow older, the tendency to receive gift tokens has also grown. That in itself is not bad as it gives them a chance to buy books and CDs they like. The bad part is that you end up having to take them over to the shopping centre – something that is best avoided this time of year. Pandemonium reigned during the most recent visit. It was what adults would call ‘bedlam’. However, one of my daughters, came up with a variation on the theme that suited the holy season that is in it. When confronted with the hoards of bargain hunters, she shouted: “Daddy, the shops are packed. It’s total Bethlehem.”

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