Believe it or not, the Irish language has been alive for a long time. If we were to dig deeper into Ireland’s history, we’d find the first Ogham inscriptions dating from the 3rd or 4th century. The so-called Archaic Irish transformed into Old Irish after the conversion to Christianity, in the 5th century.
The Irish language’s transformation didn’t stop here but it continued to evolve into Early Modern Irish (also known as Classical Irish and it slowly moved to the 17th century when Irish writers started writing in vernacular dialects: Ulster Irish, Connacht Irish, Munster Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
Sadly, the number people who spoke Irish started to decline with the increase of English adoption. Starting with the 20th and 21 centuries, Irish survives in the Gaeltacht and has become an important part of Ireland’s culture and heritage. Next to other Irish language enthusiasts, Bitesize Irish Gaelic is here to keep Irish alive through the people who learn it.
If you want to learn more about the importance of the Irish language for the Irish history, we’d recommend you to read our blog posts on: Irish Dialects and the Must-see Gaeltacht regions when you get to Ireland.
Are you interested in discovering Ireland’s history and maybe getting in touch with your Irish heritage? If this is the case, there’s a good reason for you to learn how to speak Irish Gaelic with our help. While Irish history study materials are available in English, if you really want to understand what happened during Ireland’s history, you’ll have to dig deeper and discover the Irish language.
This is what Neil Desmond – Bitesize Irish Gaelic community member did. He understood that if he was to feed his love for Irish history he had to learn the Irish language so he could process Irish names, expressions or statements. With the help of Bitesize Irish Gaelic lessons, he was able to understand and pronounce what he sought so badly.
Here’s Neil’s interview, read it and share your feedback with us in the comments section!
Bitesize: Where abouts in the world do you live?
Neil: I live in Towson, Maryland, USA. Towson is adjacent to Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city. I have lived in this area for thirty-eight years.
Bitesize: What got you wanting to speak Irish Gaelic?
Neil: My desire to learn Irish Gaelic was twofold. The first is based upon my love of Irish history. I was a history major in college, then concentrated on 20th century European history in graduate school. Yet, in all of those years, I never had a course in Irish history. In fact, there was never even a passing reference.
About fifteen years ago I set out, in my spare time, to learn all I could about Irish history. In doing so I was constantly coming across Irish Gaelic names, expressions or statements. Not only could I not understand these – I couldn’t pronounce them. I could not consider myself an advanced student of Irish history if I could not pronounce names or places! My study also taught me how important the Irish language was to the Irish identity, to the Irish soul. This was my strongest motivation.
A secondary motivation was a desire to feel comfortable with the language the next time we return to Ireland. Unfortunately a brain injury has not allowed me to travel for the last few years. I have faith that we will find a way past this and I will fulfil promises to my adult children to go Ireland with them.
Bitesize: Do you have Irish ancestry? Tell us about it.
Neil: My paternal grandfather, Cornelius (Con) Desmond was born in Ballyvouney, Co. Cork in 1870. He was the 7th of 12. 5 emigrated to America, 3 to England. My grandfather emigrated to America in 1888. As late as 1998 we had cousins still living in the farmhouse where my Grandfather was born. My paternal Grandmother’s parents were both born in Ireland. My great-grandfather, Cornelius Moynihan, was born in Kilquane, County Kerry in 1839. My great-grandmother, Anna Lynch, was born in County Cork in 1838.
My maternal side has been a little harder to document. My maternal Grandmother, Nellie Lynch was all Irish. Her grandfather, John Lynch, was born in 1817 in County Cork, My Grandmother’s mother, Catherine Connor, was born in Dublin in 1848. My maternal Grandfather sneaks some Scot into us. His grandfather, John Malcom, was born in Scotland in 1808.His son, John P. Malcom was born in the United States but was smart enough to marry Margaret Monaghan who was born in Ireland in 1850.
I grew up with the family (my father was 1 of 13) gathering around the kitchen table in the house they had grown up in – one of aunts and her family lived there then – at least once a week. Storytelling and singing were always on tap, along with the keg that was on tap. Each aunt, uncle and older cousin had their party piece. I didn’t know that term until I delved into Irish history and customs many years later. In fact, it was then that learned how “Irish” we really had been raised.
Bitesize: How do you use Bitesize Irish Gaelic?
Neil: At this point my Irish Gaelic has enhanced my reading and studying about Ireland, past and present. It has made a tremendous difference to understand what I am reading. It has also allowed to read some works that I would have put aside in the past. I also answer my family when they ask me how to say something in Irish. That, of course, usually happens when most have a beer in their hand.
Bitesize: What advice would you have for a total beginner of Irish Gaelic?
Neil: Do not be intimidated. It looks like you will understand the language, the pronunciation looks impossible, but is not. The rules are much more consistent than the rules are in English.
Bitesize is the best system I have ever used. It brings along step by step, but suddenly you know much more than you realize.
Are you ready to start your Irish learning experience? Take 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!
Learn at your own pace, be confident, get in touch with your Irish heritage, and sign up for Bitesize Irish Gaelic.