5th Edition: A little Irish language, a bit of Blarney...

Céad Míle Fáilte!

"One-hundred thousand welcomes" to the 5th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture!

Today is St. Ciarán's Day! Well, one of many St. Ciarán's days celebrated throughout the Irish calendar year. It turns out that Ciarán (or Kieran) is quite a popular Irish name, particularly for saints.

Ready for a little introduction to the Irish language (An Ghaelige), its cousin Hiberno-English, and the Irish way with words? If you are a new student of the language of the Irish people or just curious about Irish ways and words, you'll find info galore among the following articles. If Irish is your native tongue, I hope you'll find some fun reading our little tribute to the language.

So settle back, do your best impression of a good Irish brogue, and join us as we laud the language of the bards of Ireland!

You might think that my interest in Irish Gaelic and my idea to focus an edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture on it stems from my vast personal knowledge of the language. If you thought so, think again! As much as I'd like to begin to understand the Irish language, I realize that anyone hearing me try to pronounce anything more than "Céad Míle Fáilte!" would probably say, "Níl Gaeilge aici". (Translation: "She does not have Irish.") Read more about my limited Irish language skills and a little introduction to Hiberno-English at my post Sad news: there is "no Irish at me" here at A light that shines again.

Want to hear from an Irish speaker who knows his stuff? Colm Doyle, a language teacher from Ireland living in Estonia, has a knowledge of and devotion to the Irish language and languages in general. His contribution to our carnival is on his blog Corcaighist (he has three - one of which is written in Irish). Ambasadóirí na Gaeilge - Ambassadors of the Irish Language is, as he states, "a post about the importance of every single speaker of Irish in ensuring a future for the language." Wonder what the status of the Irish language is today? Want to hear one insider's perspective on the issues that it faces within Ireland and to learn about its spread outside of the country? Read the words of this Irishman who "has a grá for the language" and finds that it "warms the cockles of the heart and brings a tear to [his] eye".

Colm's post makes mention of the "political, emotional and societal baggage" which the Irish language carries today. For an introduction to a good resource on the history of the language see my post entitled "Sticks and stones can break my bones... here at A light that shines again. The book I've found takes a look at the background behind today's state of the Irish language through a look at primary sources that tell the story of its history back to the year 1366.

If you are personally interested in learning to speak a little Irish yourself, be sure to get a reliable teacher. It can be dangerous to depend on someone else to teach you their language, as Colleen Johnson illustrates with her story Gabh Mo Leithscéal or Pardon Me. What do you get when mix an Irish grandmother from County Clare with an appreciation for a good laugh, a slew of similar-minded Irish folk, and a naive young granddaughter visiting from the United States? You guessed it: trouble. Read Colleen's post to "feel her pain" as she tells the story of her embarrassing Irish language moment.

If you are like Barbara Joly and myself, your Irish immigrant ancestors go back a little farther in the generations and your family's experience with the Irish language passed on before your arrival. In a tribute to Tipperary, one of Barbara's family's counties of origin, Barbara shares the story of her heritage as she knows it in Tiobraid Árann and I at Our Carroll family Genealogy. Her post includes an explanation of the background of the well-known song It's a Long Way to Tipperary and introduces another Tipperary musical tribute that is much prefered by the Irish.

While we're on the subject of Tipperary (Tiobraid Árann in the Irish language), stop by for a visit to Smoky Mountain Family Historian. Lori Thornton gives a little introduction to learning about Ireland and County Tipperary from an outsider's perspective in her post It's a Long Way to Tipperary. Lori's surprise at the name of Killarney reminded me how easily things can be misconstrued in translation. A tip for would-be Irish geography students: check out an introduction to irish placenames such as DoChara's or About.com's. You'll be feeling better about visiting Killarney and all places starting with Kil- or Kill- knowing that they are named for woods or churches and not what you might have first feared!

Back to the topic of Irish grandmothers, Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family shares fond memories of his great-grandmother's and other relatives' attempts to ensure that he knew of his Irish heritage. His post, entitled Irish Words, Irish Ways, is a tribute to the "gift of gab" that he received from his relatives and through which he learned many beloved family stories. As Thomas states, "my family didn't use Gaelic words but as you can see, they were schooled in the Irish tradition of storytelling". I hope that the Irish way with words is more of an inherited trait, yet as Thomas shows, it sure helps to be schooled in it by a dedicated Irish grandmother!

For a little more on Blarney, that famous Blarney stone, and some treasured Irish proverbs from another Irish grandmother (Janice Brown's "lovely gram") visit Cow Hampshire to read New Hampshire: Blarney Spoken Here. Janice also shares a few suggested links on the Irish language including an Irish dictionary and an online translator.

Janice's post mentions that in New Hampshire - as in many places influenced by the Irish - "you can't help but hear wee ghosts of the lilting Gaelic language in the current accents, and in certain words still used". It is a language that won't die easily. As I mentioned in my post about Hiberno-English, it carries on in the speech of those who now speak another language. Shades of it also remain, as we have seen, in the "gift of gab" of many who had a story-telling grandmother of Irish descent.

It is my hope, as I have written in my article The death of memory, that the Irish language will overcome its modern obstacles and remain a part of the Ireland of the future, as well as a keeper and reminder of our beloved Irish culture and heritage.

In closing, I wish you all an Irish blessing:

Saol fada chugat!

Long life to you...
...and long life to the Irish language!

Go maire an Ghaeilge go deo!

For an introduction to the upcoming 6th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, see What does it mean to be Irish? over at Small-leaved Shamrock. Hope to see you at the carnival!

This carnival was originally published on April 30, 2008 at A light that shines again. Visit A little Irish language, a bit of Blarney... to see this edition as it was first published and to read additional comments.

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