From Russia with Grá: Muscovite appointed to promote Irish in Kerry

Dr Victor Bayda has been a lecturer in Irish for 15 years and speaks nine languages

Dr Victor Bayda, originally from Moscow,   has been appointed  Irish language planning officer for the south Kerry Gaeltacht area. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

Dr Victor Bayda, originally from Moscow, has been appointed Irish language planning officer for the south Kerry Gaeltacht area. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

 

The person who will plan the future of the Irish language in one of the country’s Gaeltachts is a Russian.

Dr Victor Bayda has this week moved from his home in Moscow to take up residence in Ballinskelligs on the tip of the Iveragh Peninsula.

Dr Bayda has been a lecturer in Irish in Moscow State University for over 15 years since first becoming interested in the language as a teenager.

He has become the tenth Oifigeach Pleanála Teanga (language planning officer) appointed by Údarás na Gaeltachta as part of the State’s 20 year strategy for the Irish language. The plan’s aim is to keep the language alive in Gaeltacht areas as well as increase the number of daily speakers of Irish.

Speaking from South Kerry last night, Dr Bayda said he was delighted to take up the position and looked forward to the challenge of planning the future plans for Irish in Kerry. The Gaeltacht is one of the smallest in the country, with the number of native speakers reduced to several hundred.

“I was interested in languages in school and when I was 13 years old I began learning different languages,” he said. “I went to England to attend courses and it was there I found out there were other languages in the island.”

Dr Bayda learned Welsh and Scots Gallic and also began to learn Irish. He did his degree in Dutch and Irish and as part of his course, he attended Trinity College Dublin for a term to improve his Irish.

He later attended the Connemara Gaeltacht, especially An Spidéal and An Cheathrú Rua, and Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta in NUIG.

He now speaks fluent Irish with a Connemara ‘blas’ as well as Dutch, Welsh, Gallic, French, German, Swedish and Icelandic.

His duties as officer will be to implement the plan for the Irish language area in South Kerry along with community groups in the region.

Dr Boyda listened to TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta each day in Moscow, as well as Irish language media such as Tuarisc.

He said that it was frustrating to listen to the demise of the language from afar and it was difficult to do anything from Moscow.

“This position will be a challenge but it allow me to do something for the language and try to help its development and revival. I have met the local committee in South Kerry and they are very energetic and enthusiastic. Irish is weak in the region but people are full of energy,” he said

Dr Boyda is hoping his wife and her son can join him in Co Kerry once his visa status has been determined.