Postgraduate profile: Jillian O’Malley
Irish speaker from Mayo is studying for an MA in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid at UCD
Jillian O’Malley: “Proficiency in Irish gives one access to the fullness of our rich literary and cultural heritage.”
I completed my undergraduate degree – a BA in applied languages (Irish, French and Spanish) – at the University of Limerick. After college I worked in Microsoft Ireland’s graduate programme as a French accounts manager.
I have recently begun working at Aonad na Gaeilge, the Irish Language Centre within the School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics at UL. My focus is on promoting the Irish language community at the university; developing university links with the Irish language community in the region, managing the Irish language social space at Seomra na Gaeilge; and co-ordinating Irish language courses for students and staff.
So there is a huge overlap between my academic and professional life – one compliments the other. I am very lucky to be able to put what I am learning into practise on a daily basis.
I’ve always been passionate about the Irish language and Irish culture. I wrote my final-year thesis in Irish. The topic related to the singing and musical tradition in the west of Ireland, and I really enjoyed the whole process, which involved interviews, transcriptions and research.
I knew at that stage that I wanted to continue studying Irish, with a focus on translation. There is also the opportunity take modules in different languages with at UCD’s Applied Languages Centre as part of this master’s, which I think is very beneficial.
One thing that attracted me to this master’s was the option to complete a work placement. I am in my first of two years on this course, so I will be completing this placement next summer. Ideally, I’d like to do a translation placement in one of the European institutions. Irish has been an official language of the EU since 2007 and it is gradually being upgraded to a full working language.
This phase is due for completion in 2021/2022; in the meantime, the EU will expand their translation services in order to cope with the increased workload. This means the creation of jobs for Irish speakers in order to bring it on a par with the 23 other official languages of the EU.
In addition to translation, there are numerous publishing, media (print, radio television, online), teaching and research available for people with Irish language qualifications. There are also Celtic language departments in universities worldwide. The Fulbright programme is proving hugely successful in the US.
I am completing this master’s on a part-time basis, which means at most two modules per semester. I have chosen modules that relate to translation and grammar for the most part.
Na Meáin Ghaeilge involves continuous assessment, diary entries, readings and an essay. It is a very interactive module, with weekly guest speakers throughout.
One of my favourite things about the course is the small class size (10), which makes for a more personalised learning experience when your tutors know you and your group well. The tutors on this course are experts in their field, and I have really enjoyed the modules I have chosen so far.
UCD’s flexible timetable allows me to work at the University of Limerick while studying in Dublin possible. Most of the modules are scheduled in the evening time.
Proficiency in Irish gives one access to the fullness of the rich literary and cultural heritage that our lovely nation is built on: our traditions, our music, our history and geography, and even our way of speaking English!
If you are interested in Irish, there is such a variety of master’s courses available that you can afford to be picky and find one to suit your interests and career aspirations.