You’re already good enough to be able to speak the Irish language. It could be that you’re comparing yourself to others, and living with regret of not learning, rather than following your curiosity with the Irish language, culture, music and history.
In addition to the podcast above, here’s a little treat from our Bitesize lessons:
(The reason for distinguishing the education system is to see who’s using the language outside of obligatory and optional schooling).
70,000 is a ridiculously small number of speakers. That’s just a large town in Ireland.
Gaeltacht regions: fast changes
Those speakers are not in one place, either. They are spread across different regions on the island of Ireland. There are concentrations in the designated Gaeltacht rural regions, for sure.
According to the 2016 census, only 66% of the population of the Gaeltacht regions are even able to speak the Irish language. (When these regions were designated I would guess that 90% of the population there spoke the language daily).
And of the 70,000 daily speakers, 20,000 of them were in Gaeltacht regions.
So the language’s stronghold regions (Gaeltacht regions) only have 20,000 daily speakers.
Would the Irish language survive without Gaeltacht regions?
A language exists on the fact that there are speakers of that language, and that they use it.
There are many positive trends around the Irish language (Irish Gaelic):
Today’s connected society makes it all the more likely that Irish speakers are in touch regardless of where they live, allowing for a more distributed population of speakers
TG4 TV station has definitely hit the “cool” aspect of the language. It’s a cornerstone of the language. With this post-TV era we’re in, they offer lots of options to watch online.
While the language struggles to break past its historically-instilled shame of speaking it, certain youngsters do identify with the language and make it part of their identity. There are fantastic organisations out there like Feachtas playing their part.
The connected society has an direct implication for you: your actions are more important that you might think. Every little bit of interest you share with your friends in the Irish language (and the rest of our culture) has the potential to change those around you.
There is absolute justification for you in learning to speak the Irish language in its own right. You make that decision concrete by not just making it part of your everyday life, but by reaching out and speaking it with others every day.
2018 is turning out to be a really important year in the history of Bitesize & the Irish language learning community. If you read our newsletters, blog posts, watched our YouTube videos or listened to our Podcast episodes, you noticed a few changes.
Today, we’re happy to announce that one of these changes is to go back to our original name “Bitesize Irish”.
You probably noticed this change over the past few months. We decided that it’s better to identify as Bitesize Irish instead of Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
Why did we change our name to Bitesize Irish?
By using “Irish Gaelic”, that label was excluding people in Ireland from appreciating what Bitesize Irish does. “Gaelic” or “Irish Gaelic” is seen as a touristy or foreign word by people in Ireland, generally. So we’ve renamed back to Bitesize Irish, true to the name we launched with in 2010.
As you may recall, we recently asked our community a few questions with the help of the Bitesize Irish 2018 survey. We were already discussing going back to the simpler, easier to remember name “Bitesize Irish” and after going over your answers it was clear to us that you valued authenticity and that allows us to help you connect to your Irish heritage.
What does this mean for the Irish learning community
Having a simpler, but authentic name shows our commitment to do our utmost to keep the Irish language alive. As a member of the Irish learning community, this won’t affect your learning journey or the online courses you’ve signed-up for.
2018 brought a lot of new tools for people wanting to learn the Irish language, such as: video lessons, learning-enhancement quizzes, live practice calls, new audio & video resources and more. We’re excited to let you know that we’ll be launching new products in early 2019.
What do you think about the name change? Please use the comments section below and share your feedback. Do you think “Bitesize Irish” is better than “Bitesize Irish Gaelic” for us?
A small cultural practice gives us insight into underlying culture in Ireland: that is that a good number of people in Ireland use the Irish language of their name on Facebook, even though the Irish language is not part of their everyday lives.
But that still gives us an insight into the culture, and people’s identities.
For my own name, Eoin Ó Conchúir, people often ask me “So what’s that in English?”. I always play along, but I do say to myself, “But I didn’t ask you what your name is in Irish”.
Kids are named with Irish language names a lot in Ireland. It depends on the family and their values. A good number of people use Irish language names for their kids. (Also see: Irish language baby names).
While we’re on names, I usually leave out the fadaí (accent marks) if someone is asking me how to spell my name out.
And while we’re at it, this is indeed now the Bitesize Irish Podcast, and not the Bitesize Irish Gaelic podcast. Names for the Irish language matter. By using “Irish Gaelic”, that label was excluding people in Ireland from appreciating what Bitesize Irish does. “Gaelic” or “Irish Gaelic” is seen as a touristy or foreign word by people in Ireland, generally. So we’ve renamed back to Bitesize Irish, true to the name we launched with in 2010.
Shout out to listener EJ Kennedy:
I just finished listening to all 77 episodes in a month, now I’m just waiting for the next one. Glad to have caught up
Do you have an Irish language question?
We need your questions for the podcast! Please record your podcast question on the podcast page.
We’re always trying to help the Bitesize Irish community members with good feedback, advice and tactics to use when learning the Irish language. Often than not, that advice comes from the community itself.
If you want to discover some solid tactics of learning the Irish language, please read the following interview. Val is a Bitesize Irish community member from California, USA.
Fueled by his Scottish-Irish heritage he started learning the language and shares his experience with us, in this blog post. Also check the final of his interview for some really interesting pictures!
Bitesize: Where abouts in the world do you live?
Val: I live in an area we locals call the “East Bay” in California, USA. This is a region near, east, and inland from, San Francisco. However “near” in the US might be farther than what other people think. It’s about 30 miles / 48 kilometers to that city. Other locations you might have heard of, which are within about an hour and a half by road, are “Silicon Valley” and the Napa Valley wine growing region. The physical geography of the area includes a ridge of hills about 1,200 feet (400 m) high between the bay and the valley where I live, which can block the flow of cool air and fog coming inland from the ocean.
There can be a wide range of weather over that 30-mile span. In the summer, it might be 39 degrees C where I live, and at the same moment on the coast in San Francisco, it is 18 degrees. I also live near the foot of a “lonely mountain” which stands by itself, separate from the other ranges: Mount Diablo, with a height of 3,849 feet (1,179 m).
Bitesize: What brought you to wanting to learn the Irish language?
Val: My first answer to that question is “Is amadán mé”. I feel I must be a fool for starting to learn a new language at nearly 60 years old!
But more seriously – I have visited Ireland three times so far on holiday, and I very much like what I have seen of the country, culture, history, and the people I have met. I think learning the language will help me better understand the culture, both historically and current-day. It is important for me to know where words came from, and what is the literal meaning of a word or phrase along side of how it is used today. Also, I enjoy Trad music, especially the songs and ballads. I would like to sing in Irish, but I think it is important to truly understand the lyrics rather than merely parroting the sounds like I have heard some Americans do.
I also try occasionally to take up some completely new project simply to see what I learn in the process. While I am not as devoted to learning as Faust, I do hope to keep finding new knowledge as I go through life.
Bitesize: Do you have Irish ancestry? If so, can you tell us a little more about it
Val: Like most Americans, my cultural heritage is very mixed and I have not done much detailed genealogical research. However I know my father’s mother’s family name was McCrary and I’m told that family was “Scots-Irish”.
I have seen some references that many people named McCrary came from Co. Tyrone. Unfortunately, tracing that branch of my ancestry leads into the backwoods of the Ozark mountains in Arkansas – yes, part of my family were “hillbillies” – and it will require a bit more research to connect the line all the way back to Ireland.
Bitesize: How do you use Bitesize Irish?
Val: Most days on my lunch break at work I will plug in my earbuds and work through a lesson or two using my phone. I will also occasionally come back to some lessons to review. I actually first discovered Bitesize Irish through the podcast, and I’m happy to find the Blog to read and watch/listen to.
Bitesize: What advice would you have for a total beginner of Irish Gaelic?
Val: First, try to have fun. For many people, this is not something you MUST do, but something you WANT to do.
Next, have realistic expectations and don’t be hard on yourself if your progress is not as rapid as you might like. Unless you have a deadline to apply for a job that requires a level of fluency, it will probably not be a catastrophe if you take a few extra months or years to become comfortable with the language.
Fortunately for those of us who might visit Ireland, almost everyone who speaks Irish also speaks English so you’ll be able to communicate even in a Gaeltacht region. If you have to know where the toilet is and can’t remember “Ca bhfuil an leithreas?”, you can ask in English before disaster strikes! (If you do not speak English, you probably are not reading this note so my comment is not useful to you.) Learn as best you can, but remember it’s not the end of the world if you learn a bit more slowly.
Measure your progress against a baby. How well can a child speak his/her native language after 1 year? After 2 years? Remember that is a person who is surrounded by that language all the time, and has adults constantly working to teach the child. Trying to learn by studying just a few minutes a day, or even a longer class a few times a week, is going to be a much slower process than someone who is completely immersed in the language.
Take time to listen to the language outside of lessons, the way it’s spoken in everyday life. RTE’s Raidió na Gaeltachta is available on-line, and you can listen to short news stories or interviews at your convenience. You may only catch a word or two out of every hundred, but you’ll get the sound of the language in your ears. It’s a good reminder that this is a living language rather than merely a subject to be studied. You’ll hear some different dialects as well. Also, some of the people being interviewed struggle a bit with Irish – it can be encouraging to know that you don’t have to be perfect before you say something in public.
Listen to recordings of people singing in Irish. Fortunately, Irish language music has become quite popular in recent years thanks to Riverdance, Celtic Woman, and the like. You’ll hear the flow, the rhythm, the poetry of the language more than you will from just hearing conversation. Do be careful, though – some performers may mix Irish, Scots, and other Gaelic languages on one recording. Just because something is labeled “Celtic” does not automatically mean “Irish”. And not all Irish singers are Irish speakers, so these might not be the best reference for pronunciation. (There is also room to debate whether some of the current fad of “Celtic” music has any connection to any historically “Celtic” cultures. But that argument is best saved for another time over a few pints in the pub.)
Get a dictionary and/or bookmark on-line translation resources on your computer and your mobile device, so you can translate words or whole sentences whenever you need. (Caution: “Google Translate” is not always the best reference!)
On your phone or computer keyboard, learn how to easily insert the fada mark. Maybe that goes without saying, but for a while I was cut-and-pasting the special characters until I memorized the keyboard shortcut. (I’m a slow learner).
Think of various phrases or sentences you might want to say in conversation, find the correct translation, and write them down somewhere handy. I keep them in the “notepad” application on my phone. The exercise of finding the correct words & writing them helps to remember, and it also gives you something to easily check if you forget exactly how to say or spell something such as “Is amadán mé”.
Talk to yourself. Hold conversations in your head, and – when you are alone – speak out loud. It is not a sign of insanity – it is studying! In your practice conversations you will come upon things that you don’t know how to say in Irish – that’s when it is good to be able to look up a word or a phrase.
November was a great month for Bitesize Irish. At the beginning of the month we had our first live team meeting in Limerick, Ireland.
As you may know, the Bitesize Irish team consists of passionate individuals from different parts of Ireland, but also from other countries. If you listened to the latest Podcast episode, then you probably already met Cătălin who is based in Romania but is an important part of the Bitesize Irish team since 2014.
There was a lot of discussion, planning, and changes were scheduled to happen. We also recorded several video lessons for our Enthusiast plan members.
The video was filmed after our live team meeting (that lasted for several hours after the agreed stopping time – but that shouldn’t surprise anyone because we’re a team of passionate, skilled individuals who has big plans for Bitesize Irish.
Get a sneak peek behind the scenes at Bitesize Irish and meet the team by watching the video. We were taking a walk on the streets of Limerick, Ireland.
A few weeks ago we had a Podcast listener question where a member of the Irish learning community wanted to know more about the Bitesize Irish team.
Coincidence or not, we recently had our first live team meeting in Limerick, Ireland a few weeks ago. Over the next weeks you’ll get a chance to meet the people working at Bitesize Irish with the help of our Podcast and YouTube channel.
In the Bitesize Irish Podcast episode 80, Eoin talks to Cătălin who works at Bitesize since 2014.
Listen to this Podcast episode to learn more about the Bitesize Irish team, starting with Cătălin who has a variety of tasks at Bitesize including the delivery of the weekly newsletter, social media accounts, developing new products, research and much more.
Eoin and Cătălin talk about what’s next for Bitesize Irish, pronunciation and learning Romanian, the live meeting in Limerick, travelling from Romania and more.
Listen to this Bitesize Irish Gaelic Podcast – episode 80 and maybe record your own question? You can ask anything about learning Irish or about Bitesize Irish Gaelic.