Helen Aylward comes all the way from Maine, USA, but now lives in the Gaeltacht! Here’s her member interview with Bitesize Irish.
I am very lucky to be able to say I live in An Droim, South Connemara in County Galway. Originally, I am from Portland, Maine, USA.
How I started
I moved to Ireland specifically to study the Irish language and culture so that I could get a better understanding and appreciation of my Irish roots.
All of my grandparents were from Ireland. On my father’s side his father was from Recess and his mother from Connemara. On my mother’s side her family was from Tipperary and County Clare. I am still looking into their exact origins.
My learning journey
I started using Bitesize Irish over two years ago because there were not too many easily accessible opportunities to study the Irish language back in Maine. I recently returned to using Bitesize (after a break) in order to supplement informal classes I have attended here in Ireland. It has been difficult here where I live to locate “Beginning Irish for adults”.
I find this ironic because I live in a Gaeltacht! There are lots of classes here in the summertime for high school students. There are pockets of learning taking place …informally… with locals “teaching” Irish that I have sat in on and I discovered that my learning style requires more of an organized/systematic way of teaching/learning.
This is the first year that I have been able to access a “formal class” with an instructor. Class will begin next week in Carraroe. I also begin a “conversation group” next week that is facilitated by a trained instructor. So, I will continue to use Bitesize, along with these formal learning experiences to improve my Irish.
Advice for total beginners of the Irish language
The advice for the total beginner that I would give is to find some opportunity to be able to speak with another person in Irish who knows the language. You can learn to read Irish on your own eventually by studying but speaking the language really makes it your own.