Our blog serves as regular motivation for you to speak the Irish language. Find posts about culture, videos where you find how to say certain phrases, and member interviews to tell you about their experience of learning the language.


Do You Need Irish Ancestry To Learn Irish Gaelic?

Do You Need Irish Ancestry To Learn Irish Gaelic

We’re really happy how the Bitesize Irish Gaelic community has developed over the years. Whenever we’re creating new tools or courses, we’re always asking the community to find out what the Irish Gaelic learners need the most.

In the past 3 or 4 years we had the chance to really understand what the community wants and recently, we developed tools to help individuals to learn Irish Gaelic and to immerse themselves in the language.

If you take a look at the Irish language and the people who speak it, you might think that all of them have Irish ancestry and that’s needed to start learning Irish Gaelic. But if you’re going to spend 5 minutes to read the following story, you’ll see that there are many other reasons why people choose to learn Irish Gaelic and Irish ancestry isn’t necessarily one of them.

For example, Basya Cohen’s Irish learning story started with the beautiful songs of Enya. We encourage you to read her story below and discover her advice on learning Irish Gaelic.

Bitesize: Where abouts in the world do you live?

Basya: I live in the metro-Detroit area about 20 minutes away from Canada.

Bitesize: What got you wanting to speak Irish Gaelic?

Basya: It all started with the music. I’ve loved Celtic music for ages and always dreamed of going to Scotland. I actually considered learning Scottish Gaelic but decided to learn Irish because of Enya.

Her songs in Irish are so beautiful and I wanted to be able to understand them. Irish seemed so different from any other language I’d learnt before and I was fascinated by it. I also loved the idea of learning a minority language with a rich culture and helping to preserve it. It’s like being part of an exclusive club!

Bitesize: Do you have Irish ancestry? Tell us about it.

Basya: No Irish ancestry that I know of but I did have relatives living in Ireland until recently. I think only one elderly distant cousin is still there living in Dublin.

Bitesize: How do you use Bitesize Irish Gaelic?

Basya Cohen - Bitesize Community member
Basya Cohen – Bitesize community member

Basya: I have a meeting a few times a week with two of my sisters who are also learning Irish and we go through one or two lessons together. We role play to try to make the conversations as real as possible, and we test each other.

We try to balance vocabulary and grammar, alternating between them so we don’t start feeling overwhelmed by a lot of grammar, but there are more grammar lessons than vocab lessons so now we just have to tough it out.

It’s not bad at all because the lessons are broken down into manageable chunks and the concepts are explained very well. Sometimes we skip ahead but mostly we learn in the order of the lessons.

Bitesize: What advice would you have for a total beginner of Irish Gaelic?

1) Make it fun! Learning Irish should never be a chore. Combine Bitesize Irish Gaelic lessons with listening to Irish language radio (even music!) and watching shows on TG4.

2) Find an Irish teacher or fellow learner through italki and practice conversation. Read your favorite children’s book in Irish. Write a short story about yourself in Irish. Cut out pictures from magazines and make flash cards.

3) If you know someone else who’s learning Irish go with her to the mall or a coffee shop and talk about all the clothes/people you see in Irish! If you make learning fun and part of your everyday life you will stick to it and progress quickly.

Take Basya’s advice and make the first step of learning Irish Gaelic – singing up for a free trial. The Bitesize Irish Gaelic method of learning Irish doesn’t stop here, though!

Enjoy the experience, learn at your own pace, be confident, get in touch with your Irish heritage, and sign up for Bitesize Irish Gaelic.

* If you’d like to give Bitesize Irish a try too, start your own Irish language journey.

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4 thoughts on “Do You Need Irish Ancestry To Learn Irish Gaelic?”

  1. I have read your article. I also love Enya and also celtic music just like Basya. After I have less on my plate, I will pick up learning again and incorporate what you have suggested. Thank you for keeping me in the loop.

    1. Hi Steven,

      It’s great to find a fellow Enya and celtic music fan! I’m glad I could help with my suggestions for learning.

      Go n-éirí leat! Good luck!