by Crystailín Narayana, for The Irish Gift
Ever since I was a young girl growing up near Boston and I first heard Irish music on the radio, I have been fascinated with Irish language and traditions. The passionately ornamented style of Irish folk music and the beautiful ancient sound of the Irish Gaelic language made a resonance in my heart. I wanted to learn how to speak this beautiful language so I could sing along.
For years, I searched for a way to learn Irish Gaelic, which more correctly known as Gaeilge, or simply “Irish”. I purchased books and cassette tapes (this was way back in the day!) and I memorized phrases, but I could not get a handle on the mysterious grammar that was so different from English or the Spanish that I had studied. The various dialects or Irish baffled me, and the written words looked like gibberish with way too many letters!
I searched for Irish language classes in New England and my eventual home in Ohio, but to no avail – I could not find even one native speaker of Irish in here in America, and I could not afford to go live in Ireland for an extended period. What was I to do?
My passion for learning Irish was put on the back burner for a while, but I never forgot my dream.
These days, we have some amazingly powerful tools available to us through the internet – video chat allows people from across the world to connect and share knowledge. It was this that lead me to search once more for Irish language classes online.
This time, I found an amazing organization called The Irish Gift, a non-profit dedicated to teaching traditional Irish music and Irish language online. Two speakers of Irish now coach me in grammar and singing, and we connect with students and teachers from all over the United States, Ireland, and the world.
The class is easy and fun, and I was able to understand a lot of words and even phrases in songs and on Irish television programs right away after just a few classes, AND I can listen in for free to the native and high-level speakers in their online conversation hour on Monday evenings.
The Irish Gift also hosts an annual gathering with Irish musicians, speakers of Irish, and people from the online community – I hope I will meet you there!
Find more about the classes I take at The Irish Gift.