Our blog serves as regular motivation for you to speak the Irish language. Find posts about culture, videos where you find how to say certain phrases, and member interviews to tell you about their experience of learning the language.


Roots in Mid-Ulster – Interview with member Colleen

Colleen talks her Irish-American upbringing in the Appalachian mountains, her rare medical condition and how that led her to discover a genetic link with Niall’s home town.

She grew up with gigantism, a syndrome caused by the pituitary gland and which causes a lot of medical problems, and for a long time never met another person who shared her condition. But just a couple of years ago she made some discoveries about her condition and her family, that led her to visit County Tyrone and reconnect with her ancestry and culture.

Now she’s working on a book about the folklore and genetics relating to this condition, and especially to this region of mid-Ulster. It’s a fascinating story that also takes in the tragic tale of the real-life Irish giant who ended up against his wishes on display in a British museum.

Colleen also talks about how this all ties in with her rediscovery of the Irish language, how she now studies with people in the same community where her ancestors lived, and how Bitesize Irish’s flexible plans have allowed her to adjust her membership to suit her own busy lifestyle.

Colleen is a GROW member of Bitesize Irish. She’s an active member of Bitesize Pobal, our private online learners’ community. She regularly takes part in Bitesize Beo sessions for GROW members. These are weekly conversation practise sessions. The group video calls follow scripted conversation, allowing you to role-play with other learners.

* If you’d like to give Bitesize Irish a try too, sign up for our free Taster membership here.

1 thought on “Roots in Mid-Ulster – Interview with member Colleen”

  1. Tá aithne agam ar Colleen, tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge léi, is fíor-Gael í!
    My daughter has a much less rare genetic condition, Cystic Fibrosis, and again, there are very specific genetic mutations at work in causing that. As Colleen says, we can be carrying genes for all kinds of conditions and never know it, I am a CF carrier. Genetic scientists have identified several thousand mutations that cause CF and one is indeed specific to Northern Ireland. However, despite being born and raised here, I don’t have that gene! I have the very common DF508 gene and my husband has the much more rare R1162X gene. He is a white English guy but amazingly, that gene he has is most common in southern Italy and the Zuni Native American tribes of North America. Genes are incredible things, resonating throughout the millennia and popping up in all kinds of inconvenient ways!

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