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Learning Irish is Learning the History, Culture, and Values of the Irish People

Learning Irish is Learning the History, Culture, and Values of the Irish People

Most people who start learning Irish Gaelic with the help of Bitesize soon discover they got more that what they bargained for. We’re not talking about the great tools that Bitesize provides to Irish-learning people, but what does “learning Irish Gaelic” really means – if you look at the bigger picture.

When you start learning Irish Gaelic, you’re actually learning the history, culture, and values of the Irish people. Why? Well, learning Irish isn’t as simple as learning other languages – you need to immerse yourself in the language by using text, audio and video tools, and by doing this you get in touch with “everything Irish”. One thing leads to another and you’re soon learning about Ireland’s history, traditions and values.

Learning Irish Gaelic with the help of Bitesize gives you much more that you though you’d receive. Don’t believe us? Then why don’t you read the following Bitesize community interview where Rob Shepherd shares his thoughts about learning Irish Gaelic, his trip to Ireland and meeting Eoin – founder of Bitesize Irish Gaelic.

Bitesize: Where abouts in the world do you live?

Rob: My name is Rob Shepherd. I live in the far Eastern area of Maricopa County, Arizona, in the U.S. We are right below the Superstition Mountains, in the town of Apace Junction. We’re famous for Hollywood Movie locations for Westerns, and the Lost Dutchman Gold mine. A real “Cow Town”! I’ve lived here in Arizona for 40 years. I grew up in the Rural forests of Connecticut, where OUR Revolutionary War was fought. We were known as the “Minute Men”! Ready for combat in 3 MINUTES! Two more different places, one could NEVER find!

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

Rob: I am, to my great fortune, an “Americanadian”. My father was American National, my Mother a Canadian National. I am first generation American on my mothers side. I have Citizenship in both countries. She was first generation Canadian, as my Grandmother was born in Dublin. She immigrated to the Canadian Maritimes with her parents, my Great Granny & Great Grandpa Roche, from County Cork, out of Cobh in 1910. They settled in Hamilton Ontario.

They spoke Irish and had the most beautiful brogue! I remember, as a boy, hearing my Great Granny Roche speaking Irish to her immigrant companions at family reunions! Alas, my Grandma, and my great aunts and uncles lost their Irish from non-use in Canada. However, they had the most interesting accent! From what I have gathered, being a unique mixture of Waterford Gaelic and Canadian! Lol! Still heard in Cape Breton, NS today! I am proudly Irish. I want to restore my family heritage and legacy, and once again speak their native Irish.

Rob Shepherd - Bitesize Irish Gaelic community
Rob Shepherd – Bitesize Irish Gaelic community – Bright, Sunny Day in Daingean Ui Chuis, Co. Chiarrai, Eire. ☘️

After having my genomic examination done, I found out that we are really Irish! Lol! 38% IRISH, 37% SCOTCH-IRISH (Dads side, the Hillbillies, I’m conflicted!) and 22% SCANDINAVIAN! We were not only represented by the Norman migration, (Richard Fitzgodbert de la Roche-1167 ad), but were, no doubt unwilling recipients of the VIKING mischief in the 8th century as well! My Great Granny Roche’s name was Ormond, from County Ormond.

Bitesize: How was your trip to Ireland and meeting with Eoin, founder of Bitesize Irish?

Rob: I had the good fortune to be able to travel to Ireland for two weeks in September. Knowing it would be emotional my first time there, I chose, uncharacteristically, to limit my wandering to the Dingle Peninsula, and get to know that area well. I flew into Shannon, visited Limerick, and stayed in Dingle. I took a journey to Limerick to meet Eoin! We met at Myles Breen’s on Roche’s Street (apropos!) in downtown Limerick.

Meeting Eoin and his family was a high point of both my trip, and my Irish language studies.. I am endeavoring to learn Ireland’s past, experience and understand its present, and develop a vision of its future. Through my interaction with Eoin and his family I got to do all three! Eoin shared with me some details about his family history in Kerry. I was able to visit the very places that his family had been, and with his renditions in mind, feel the closeness of history surrounding me, and feel my OWN history there more intimately.

I had the good fortune to meet Eoin’s family. They are fresh, young, progressive, enlightened, enthusiastic, joyful, educated, and engaged! All of the qualities I see in Ireland and the Irish today! And through his children, all of the qualities I KNOW she will reflect in the future! My first trip to Ireland could not have been better! All were delightful, open, helpful, engaging, knowledgeable, and patient! We had SEVEN days of sunshine! Lol! The busses were AWESOME! As were the drivers!

Ireland is deep in its history, its heritage, and its language! I will be frank, learning the Irish language has many different and varied components.

Rob: My experience is that the language is an identity, protected and treasured, as much as a means of communication!

Those who speak the Irish language in Dingle deeply identify with it. There is a whole life of this language! Factors that must be considered are history, dialect, accent, urban/rural, local affectations/contractions, jeez!! I don’t want to over complicate that, but these are considerations. It brings to life, in my mind, the phrase; “Tir gan teanga, Tir gan anam!” (“A country without a language, a country without a soul.”) Irish Gaelic is a deeply Irish possession.

It has evolved over the centuries! It also, ultimately, requires an understanding of the Irish people, and what they, as a people, have endured and survived. So, I guess what I’m saying is, that learning the “Language”, ultimately requires one’s learning the history, culture, sensitivities, and values of the Irish people. I think this makes acquisition of the ability to communicate in this beautiful Irish language all the more fulfilling and meaningful. To one who was just beginning this adventure, I would suggest having a partner in order to enjoy and practice dialogue! Also, travel to rural Ireland, learn who the Irish are! Learn how they feel, and what they value. My experience is that speaking Irish, in the rural Dingle Peninsula anyway, is an intimate form of sharing. It’s difficult to engage in an intimate dialogue with a stranger, and I came to understand and accept that. This was as important a lesson in speaking Irish Gaelic as learning “Dia Dhuit!”. Be patient and comprehensive in your studies of Ireland, and all things Irish.

Bitesize: How do you use Bitesize Irish Gaelic?

Rob: Bitesize Irish was my first exposure to Irish Gaelic. It remains my primary tool for learning! Now every time I hear him speak, I can see Eoin laughing! Lol! It’s ALIVE for me now. I strongly suggest including the audio component in order to learn the rhythm and proper pronunciation of words and phrases! It’s really important for tuning your ears to the lyrical nature of the language.

Remember, we are learning “formal ‘school’ Irish”! When you get to Ireland’s Rural areas, they will let you KNOW that! Lol!

No more beautiful, friendly, peaceful, hard working, literate, humble and noble culture exists anywhere on Earth! Ireland and the Irish people have been recognized as such for millennia! I have never been more proud and grateful for the legacy of my heritage as I am upon my return from Ireland! Learning the language is my homage, and my attempt to contribute to my Irish heritage and the survival of the beautiful Irish language.

Thank you Eoin, and thank you to the people of Bitesize Irish for the tools, the inspiration, and the encouragement to continue my adventure! I look forward to a long and fruitful association with you all! Eire go brach! Slan go foill! ☘️

Want to strengthen the connection to your Irish heritage? Make the first step and sign up for a Bitesize Irish Gaelic membership.

If you want to start slow, that’s also fine – you can always sign up for our free trial!

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

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