Many Bitesize Irish Gaelic learners are of Irish heritage or have a strong connection with Ireland and this beautiful language. We often ask for your feedback to improve our services and today we’re taking it a step further by sharing with you the story of Jon Moran from Levittown, Philadeliphia, a man with Irish heritage who uses Bitesize Irish Gaelic to learn Irish, the language he is so drawn to thanks to his family’s history.
Read the following interview of Jon Moran, if you have any doubts of starting to learn Irish or just to discover an inspiring story.
Where abouts in the world do you live and what do you like about that place?
I live in the U.S., in the State of Pennsylvania in a suburb of Philadelphia called Levittown.
I was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey and I have lived all of my 61 years, on one bank or the other, in the Valley of the Delaware River. Almost all of my family and friends are still in the area, which is the most important reason for my loving it right here.
We have a lot of history and tradition in the Delaware Valley, and that’s another of reasons I love it here. William Penn founded Pennsylvania as a refuge for Quakers from religious persecution in England, but he insisted on freedom of conscience for all. He treated the Native Americans living in this area – the Lenape People – fairly. (But the fair treatment ended after he died and his sons took control of the colony.) Philadelphia, of course, is the place where our Founding Fathers gathered to begin our Revolution. It is the home of Independence Hall – the Birthplace of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. And it was the first Capital City of the United States. And my hometown, Trenton, played a key role in the War.
After Washington and the Continental Army were driven from New York in the Fall of 1776, they retreated across New Jersey and, taking every boat at every ferry they could find, they crossed the Delaware to take up Winter Quarters in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Morale was low, they were not equipped to endure the winter weather. Many of the volunteer militia men were drifting away. Others had enlistments that were set to expire at the end of the year.
But on Christmas Night, our troops crossed the River and marched to Trenton, where they surprised the garrison of Hessian mercenaries, who were holding the town and who had been up celebrating the feast until the wee hours that morning. It was a major turning point in our struggle for Independence. It gave our people hope in knowing that Washington’s Army was capable of meeting and beating the King’s forces.
We are lucky in that our area has not seen war since those years. And we are lucky to have some great restaurants and some top notch breweries all up and down the Valley. We have excellent hospitals, universities, museums and theaters and concert venues in Philadelphia. Great professional sports teams in the Phillies, the Eagles, the Flyers and the 76ers. And the very best in college basketball rivalries, with the Big 5.
And every so often, on a Sunday, I’ll take the early train into town and, after Mass, I’ll meet a friend or two at a pub called Tir na Nog, where they get the GAA sports via satellite. We, especially, love to watch the hurling.
What got you wanting to speak Irish Gaelic?
Growing up, we were taught to be proud of our Irish heritage. So I don’t even remember when I first thought about learning the language, but it was there in the back of my mind for a while. It was just something that I never got around to doing. Then, just two years ago, I saw a Youtube video that was posted by the Polish Embassy in Dublin. It was called, ”Thank you Ireland.” It was celebrating Poland’s 10th year in the EU. And in it, all the Poles were speaking Irish Gaelic.
I asked myself how I could justify not learning the language that my ancestors had spoken for generations, when the Poles in Dublin already knew it. I didn’t come up with a good answer. So I started looking for resources that could help.
Do you have Irish ancestry? Tell us about it.
Yes I do. My father was a Moran and my Mother was a Brennan. My Dad’s grandmother and grandfather were both from County Tipperary, and they met on the boat coming over in the 1870’s. My Mom’s people were from Cork.
Both of them were proud of the Irish heritage and they passed that on to us. They both had songs for us, and my Mom, especially, had stories that her grandmother had told to her when she was growing up. We’ve passed the same pride – along with many of the songs and stories – on to our kids, too.
How do you use Bitesize Irish Gaelic?
I’m glad I was told about Bitesize, just a few months back. I find it’s a great resource for an older learner, like myself. Much of the material is new to me, and that’s important. But it also provides strong reinforcement for some of the things I’ve learned elsewhere. And that, I think, is just as important.
How I’ll go through a week’s lessons depends on my schedule and my attention span. Sometimes, I’ll roll through the week’s lessons in one sitting. Sometimes not. I like to complete 3 or 4 weeks of lessons. Then go back over them again. And only then, will I move ahead with the lesson plans.
I like the way the lessons are organized and the way the material is presented.
And I can tell from his voice that Eoin is a friendly, calm and patient man. I hope some day, to meet him and to thank him, face to face, for helping to keep the language strong and growing.
Go raibh maith agat, a Eoin.
What advice would you have for a total beginner of Irish Gaelic?
Have fun and do your best! Use as much as you have as often as you can. Aim high, but be flexible with your timetable. Spend at least twenty minutes every day on your Irish Gaelic. And sign up for Bitesize.
You won’t regret it.
We thank Jon for his beautiful story and awesome advice for language learners. Don’t forget you too can learn to speak Irish Gaelic using the Bitesize method. If you still have some doubts about learning the Irish language, take a free trial.
Ready to get in touch with your Irish heritage and learn to speak Irish? Sign up for Bitesize Irish Gaelic.