Seachtain na Gaeilge adds glamour, glitter and grit
‘You don’t have to be fluent’ the message of two-week celebration of Irish language
Noel McGrath, Caitlín Nic Aoidh and James Patrice at the launch of Seachtain Na Gaeilge le Energia which runs from March 1st - 17th. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography.
Last year, over 30,400 events were organised as part of the festival and over 750,000 people are estimated to have taken part in events around the world.
Social media influencer and backstage reporter on RTÉ’s Dancing With The Stars James Patrice said he was “honoured” to be asked to be an ambassador.
“I just remember (Seachtain na Gaeilge) was always a huge deal in school and from what I have heard, it is getting bigger and better,” he said.
He said he would encourage people to use social media to converse in Irish during the two-week festival.
“Snapchat has county filters ‘as Gaeilge’. You can do your WhatsApp through Irish, you can do Facebook through Irish, you can do all of these everyday things. It’s those little steps - if people start to take them - and do it on your phone . . . people would subconsciously become very much more immersed in it.”
“I want people to use their Gaeilge with me on Snapchat @jamespatrice or on Insta and chat to their friends as Gaeilge online. It would be amazing to see everyone online really having a go for Seachtain na Gaeilge. Don’t worry about making mistakes, every effort counts!”
Making an effort
Caitlín Nic Aoidh said participating in Seachtain na Gaeilge is about making an effort – regardless of the standard of Irish.
“It’s all about using the cúpla focal you have. A lot of people say ‘Oh, I don’t have any Irish’ but it’s not true – everyone in the country has a certain amount of Irish. It’ s worth it – if you are ordering a coffee or a tea – and using the phrases you have, just use it and don’t ever be afraid of making mistakes or anything like that because I think that’s probably one of the things that turns people off.
“They are nearly afraid to speak in case they make a mistake but people are actually delighted to hear people talking ‘as Gaeilge’. So, coinnigh oraibh ag cleachta! (please continue practicing!)
As with many other Irish language events, Seachtain na Gaeilge draws heavily on a combination of grass-roots organisation and local enthusiasm. Events are organised by community groups, schools, libraries, local and city authorities, cultural and sporting groups.
All-star and Loughmore-Castleiney hurler Noel McGrath said he was delighted to be involved with the festival.
“The GAA is as Irish as it comes. Irish is a massive part of that. It’s spoken in lots of clubs around the country and there are a few in my own club who are well able to speak it. It was great to get involved and I’m delighted and looking forward to the next few weeks.”
According to the organisers, the ambassadors were specifically chosen due to their various standards of Irish to encourage people of various levels to get involved.
Noel McGrath said the public should “just get involved and enjoy it!”
“I’m sure from my point-of-view, there’ll definitely be mistakes in any Irish I try to speak but just get over them and try the best you can and have fun!”
“Through Seachtain na Gaeilge there’s the rith, there’s different functions going on at different places and for people to go and enjoy them and talk to other people who are interested in the language as well and you never know, you might get to meet new people who are probably in the same place as you are and everybody might enjoy it then.
The Tipperary centre-forward said he hears more and more people speaking Irish.
“I spent a lot of time in Dublin over the last few years and when I went into teaching in Stillorgan I was in a school just down the road from Coláiste Eoin so you would have seen and heard students talking Irish fluently at games and at matches and maybe even around outside of school as well. I think it has become more and more...I suppose 'cool' might be the word to use.”
He said there were “definitely three, if not four or five who are able to speak fluent Irish” on the Tipperary inter county team.
“I’m not one of them unfortunately, not yet. I have a few words – It was something that maybe seven or eight years ago I would have been able to have a conversation but if I could even get back to that level again where I could speak to someone in a two or three minute conversation I’d be happy,” he said.
“It’s where we are from, it’s who we are. It’s nice to have some words and to get better at it would be even better again,” he added.
Hailing from Cloich Cheann Fhaola in the Donegal Gaeltacht Caitlín was raised with Irish.
She encouraged people to visit the Seachtain na Gaeilge website (snag.ie) for information about events.
“Tá neart achmhainní le fáil ar líne ag Snag.ie (Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia) so má tá múinteoirí nó duine ar bith ag iarraidh teacht suas le smaointe le rudaí a dhéanamh sna scoileanna is fiú go mór é súil a chaitheamh ar an suíomh sin.”
This year, the Energia-sponsored festival takes place from March 1st - 17th. For more information on Seachtain na Gaeilge, visit snag.ie.