‘My job didn’t exist when I was doing my postgrad’

Profile: Siún Ní Dhuinn is digital co-ordinator for Irish language content at RTÉ

Siún Ní Dhuinn: ‘I think it’s time to re-evaluate the narrative around the language’

Siún Ní Dhuinn: ‘I think it’s time to re-evaluate the narrative around the language’

 

I grew up in Dundalk. Neither of my parents were fluent speakers. I attended an Irish medium school, Gaelscoil Dhún Dealgan, situated in a disadvantaged area in Dundalk.

My parents, despite not having fluent Irish valued the culture and hoped the acquisition of another language would be of benefit to me. We were educated in prefabs until fourth class but what I remember most are the songs, the language and the wonderful teachers, not the damp prefabs!

My experience of the language has been a positive one, though I acknowledge not everyone has been as lucky as I have. I think it’s time to re-evaluate the narrative around the language and maybe look at separating literature from the curriculum and making that an option for students.

I did a BA in UCD – English and Irish. I studied linguistics in first year too. I then went on to do the MA in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge which was the first of its kind at the time; a postgrad in which a sizeable amount of the course was work experience. We spent time in TG4, RTÉ and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, that’s what led me to it, primarily. It was founded by Dr Regina Uí Chollatáin who understood media, academia and how to create a course that reflected both.

The course has evolved since I graduated but still features an element of practical work. I developed my skills in writing, editing and broadcast media while on the course. The course also opened up the world of Flann O’Brien to me and other incredible writers for that I am ever grateful. I wrote a thesis on Flann O’Brien’s columns in The Irish Times and still contribute to conferences on his work.

I’ve had wonderful opportunities afforded to me because of the language and my qualifications. Teaching is always an option but isn’t the only option, from media to translation to working in promotion of the language, there’s a vast landscape fulfilling opportunities out there.

I now work as the Digital Co-ordinator for Irish language content in RTÉ. Like most people my age (I’m 32), my job didn’t exist when I was doing my postgrad.

The digital space has allowed us harness and galvanise the vibrancy of the Irish-speaking community. My postgrad opened doors to places like RTÉ to me, allowed me an insight into the “real life” workings of media and founded my learning in context of critical thinking. I would recommend the course to anyone with an interest in the language, media and lifelong skills.

Studying through Irish has coloured not only the rest of my educational journey but how I view the world. I see the world through TG4’s “súil eile”; It has given me a respect for minorities, put me in a position where I acknowledge other cultures, their struggles to survive and flourish and has introduced me to the most interesting characters along the way. I feel very lucky.