Marc’s story: My first success at Irish language conversation

Runway in Ireland
Coonagh strip near Limerick city, Ireland. This is certainly not Ramona Airport where Marc is based.

Marc told me this story, and it put a smile on my face. He graciously agreed to share his story about learning and practicing Irish (Gaelic).

I work at Ramona Airport, northeast of San Diego, California. My occupation is a commercial pilot and a licensed A&P (airframe and powerplant) mechanic with an Inspection Authorization. That, mostly so you know the surroundings of what follows.

I have a customer’s airplane in the hangar for an inspection and some other work. Last Wednesday, that customer stopped by to check out how his airplane was progressing. He is a flight instructor; his student was with him as they visited. They looked at work being accomplished for a few minutes, then said they had to leave to return the airplane they had flown in.

As they turned to leave, I looked at the instructor and said “Slan”, then turned to the student who was right behind the instructor, who had turned away from me and stepped away. I said to him, “Slan guh foill!”

Now, as it happens, I’ve been using the Bitesize sampler MP3 you sent me a couple weeks ago and have been practicing on the drive to/from work, my boss, his secretary and the others who work here, even some customers who, fortunately, don’t mind my doing so. They, of course, can’t respond in the Irish but they put up with it. One replies in French. It’s been good times to do so.

Imagine my surprise when the student stopped in his tracks, turned to me and said “What did you just say? Was that Irish?” Answering it was indeed Irish, he told me he hadn’t heard that language since he moved from Ireland to here years ago. He was caught off-guard hearing Irish in, of all places, a remote spot of San Diego, so far from home. We introduced ourselves in Irish, and after that he left with a big grin and said he’d be back another day. We both were walking on air after that, me in particular for the remainder of the day.

I thought you would appreciate that day as I do.

I’ve signed up for the monthly online course.

Go raibh maith agat. Marc B.

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