What do the US Army, the Easter Rising and the Irish language have in common? One of Bitesize Irish’s newest members, Patrick! Born in America and currently living in Kentucky, Patrick attended school in Ireland, but it was a twist of fate when he enlisted in the US Army which led him to discover his passion for the Irish language and culture.
Here’s Patrick’s story so far:
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Patrick Séamus Connolly, I’m 27 and I was born in Maryville, TN in the United States to an Irish father and Irish American mother. When I was born, my Father decided he wanted to move back home so at three months of age my family made its way back to Ireland to Letterkenny, County Donegal where I was raised for a time. We moved to Blackrock, County Dublin not long after that, where I stayed until I was 16 years of age. I’ve now been in America for 11 years.
2. Where abouts in the world do you live?
I’ve lived in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and now I’ve made my home in Louisville, in the state of Kentucky.
3. What got you interested in speaking the Irish language? Do you have Irish ancestry?
When I enlisted in the United States Army, it flagged something that I didn’t know about my ancestry. As a child I didn’t much care who my ancestors or grandparents were. I didn’t do well in school, and didn’t pay attention to any of the Irish studies or history, but when I enlisted I found out I was a descendant of James Connolly of the Easter Rising. This meant I was no longer eligible for a top secret clearance in the military. It didn’t upset me, though.
Because of that bit of information I dived into Irish history and wanted to dig up everything about my family’s past, which led me to want to pay attention to culture and then moved onto the language. Most of my life I was told there was no point in learning a dying language, but I want to learn to preserve it.
4. What advice can you offer to someone considering learning Irish?
I would tell them to be persistent. What I do is count in Irish and as I’m having a regular conversation with someone I play it back over in my head and insert Irish instead of English into it. It’s difficult to learn but I think it’s well worth the effort to preserve the language.
Join Patrick and hundreds of others learning Irish – try Bitesize Irish for free for three weeks here: bitesize.irish/try