‘I was brought up speaking English and I never went to a Gaelscoil’

Ciara Ní É from Clontarf, Dublin studied UCD’s Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge

Ciara Ní É: ‘The Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge course specifically caters for people who are looking to get in to translation and interpretation’

Ciara Ní É: ‘The Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge course specifically caters for people who are looking to get in to translation and interpretation’

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Ciara Ní É from Clontarf, Dublin studied UCD’s Scríobh agus Cumarsáid course. She is currently teaching Irish and taking graduate studies classes in Villanova University in Philadelphia, on a Fulbright award.

I was brought up speaking English and I never went to a Gaelscoil. That said, both my parents have a respect for the language, and they were willing to send me to the Gaeltacht (Coláiste Chamuis, Ros a’ Mhil) every summer. In sixth class in school I had two great teachers (Mrs. Mc Grath and Mrs. O’Grady!) who taught Irish through music, drama, and fun. From that I developed an interest in the language, and it was in Coláiste Chamuis, and later while studying it at university, that I developed a love for it.

I think for the most part, Irish in schools it is not taught well. You can’t look at the abilities of the average 12 year old and say it’s taught well. I’m just lucky that I had some great teachers, otherwise I wouldn’t be speaking or using Irish now.

I do think Irish should remain compulsory, definitely. I look at my own experience and I know I would have felt differently about learning Irish if it was something I knew I could drop, or would drop. Learning a language to any level of fluency takes time and continual effort, and knowing you can carry that all the way up to Leaving Certificate makes it feel like an investment worth making.

I know that students would still have the option to keep it, but given that I myself came from a personal background where Irish wasn’t really a feature, I think that I might have just accepted from a young age that it wasn’t “compulsory”, wasn’t something that was going to figure in my life, and that attitude would have negatively coloured every interaction I had with Irish.

I studied English Literature and Modern Irish for my undergrad at Trinity College Dublin. In both languages I had modules in various types of literature, although in Irish we also had classes on the language itself. When I finished my BA I went to London and worked as an Editorial Assistant for Dorling Kindersley for a year. I loved working there but I missed using Irish every day, and realised that I would really love to work with the language.

I had good Irish after my BA, but I knew I needed to improve if I wanted to use Irish professionally.

I researched masters programs and was recommended UCD’s Scríobh agus Cumarsáid course.

The course has great reputation for helping students achieve a higher standard of Irish. There are a lot of different options to choose from but I took classes in editing, translation, and writing. The classes were small so you really get great time with the lecturers. I got to do work experience at the end of the course too, which was a great opportunity.

The Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge course specifically caters for people who are looking to get in to translation and interpretation. It would be also useful for those looking to work in publishing or any kind of media, teaching (second and third Level), or in any job in the Irish language sector where a high proficiency in the language is needed.

The post grad definitely opened doors in working with Irish, and I wouldn’t be here in Villanova without it! Not only would I recommend it, I was happy enough to advise one of my friends to do the course this year. It’s the perfect course for anyone who wants to work with Irish but isn’t totally confident in their abilities. By the end of the year you are guaranteed to be vastly improved. I also have a YouTube channel, and write (poetry and articles mainly, although I am working on a drama). I also run a bilingual spoken word night called REIC so I’mdelighted to celebrate Bliain na Gaeilege.

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