Colin Murphy, a Dublin-based writer whose publishing history has reached bestseller charts in New York, sits across the counter alongside a copy of his book. Having attended the launch of his second historical novel only recently, it's safe to say that it will be the first of many, having already generated a successful response across the literary field.
His fictional novel, titled Boycott, follows two brothers in a desperate struggle to survive famine-torn Ireland. Murphy (54) is co-author of the bestselling gift-book series, the Feckin Collection; a series full of anecdotes and colloquialisms that are both hilariously accurate and endlessly entertaining. He is also the author of Famous Irish People You've Never Heard Of, a compelling mix of historical backgrounds on a diverse group of Irish emigrants.
If anyone knows freelance writing, lucrative or otherwise, or what it is to be an Irish writer today, it is Colin.
Hello Colin, as an established author, was writing in your blood from a young age?
I’d written short stories and even a (crap) book (unpublished) when I was in school, but it was useful in terms of learning the basics of story or sentence construction, etc. As a teenager, my ability to write fluctuated because I just didn't think any of it was any good, but during college I started taking a little more pride in whatever I wrote.
Did your chosen field in college have anything to do with writing?
I actually studied physics in college, and then worked in that field for six years, which is about as far as you can get from creative writing. I decided to leave the physics field and enter the world of advertising as a copywriter. I was asked to do a ‘copy test’ where you develop 4 or 5 ads to a deadline. Anyway, mine were good enough to get me in the door for a trial in an advertising agency.
Do you think the advertising business was beneficial when it came to the writer side to you?
I worked in the business for 25 years and got to write ads for all sorts, some of it interesting, most of it routine. About ten years ago, my then Art Director, Donal O’Dea and I, conceived The Feckin’ Collection. In a way, I couldn't have been the writer I am now without the advertising chapter of my life. The Feckin’ Collection couldn't exist without Donal, and I'd gladly co-write another 400 of them, but my own work is very important to me.
So do you think life as a writer is as fruitful financially as it is personally?
In Ireland, as a first time author, once the initial happiness passes, it's time for negotiation with the publisher. With your first piece, you can expect to get a contract that offers anything from 7-10%. Hopefully, after much haggling, they offer 10%. Once published, if the book retails at €10, and you sell all your print run in a year, the total take will be €50k. The publishers themselves will probably receive half, €25k, of which you will receive 10%, €2,500.
So bye bye yacht and annual trips to the Bahamas?
(Laughs) Not necessarily. As I said, that’s as a first time author. If you’re an asset, that figure will have to be higher or else you’ll go to another publisher, and they want to avoid that. In Ireland especially, getting published never really means substantial income the first time, which even includes the likes of Joseph O'Connor or Sebastian Barry.
And finally, if there was one piece of advice you could give to the young writers of Ireland, what would it be?
Be prepared to accept criticism, and rejection, but keep going. Never quit, ever! Be prepared to give up a lot too as writing is time-intensive. The route is attainable if you put the work in. Plus, the hobby itself always remains attractive and harbors a liberation about it, at least to those of us who think we might have a book or two in us.
It’s important for everyone to look after their mental health but perhaps even more important for people in marginalised groups to look after theirs. One such group is the trans (formally known as transgender) population of Ireland.
A new report has been released in association with the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland (TENI) which looked at a sample of trans people from across the country with regard to their mental health and wellbeing. It is the largest study of its kind to be carried out in Ireland, with 164 participants. The report had bittersweet findings for trans people.
Despite these sobering statistics, the study showed significant improvements post-transition.
So, the report has shown that mental health is a major issue for trans people in Ireland. It also found that the health services in Ireland are not up to scratch with regards to trans people. Almost 800 health and social care professionals responded to a separate survey about working with trans people.
What the report has shown is that trans people are in the unfortunate position of being one of society’s most vulnerable groups with regards to mental health; yet they have very few services they can access to get through these issues. The majority of participants found that being trans has both positive and negative effects on their life satisfaction.
For more information on trans mental health, check out the support section on TENI’s website, www.teni.ie.
Tuesday 25th February saw the Children's Rights Alliance launch the sixth edition of their annual Report Card, which assesses whether the government has kept its promises to children and young people on a number of issues. Although the government received an overall ‘C’ grade, there were some stark examples of much-needed improvement.
Perhaps unexpectedly, given the government’s commitments to protecting it, mental health did not fare well, receiving an ‘E’ grade (an even worse performance than last year). Waiting lists for initial appointments increased in 2013. In fact, from September 2012 to September 2013, 413 young people had been waiting over a year to see a mental health professional. Early intervention in any health problem is essential.
Unfortunately though, mental health conditions can often slip under the radar, and the entrenchment into one’s disorder can go unnoticed. There are some truly heart-breaking stories of individuals who slipped through the cracks as children or teenagers, and are now sadly resigned to their condition.
Equally disturbing is the incidence of young people being placed in adult facilities. Anyone who has set foot in an adult psychiatric facility can testify that they are pretty daunting places; certainly not somewhere for those under 18 to be resident. Yet 68 children spent time in these services from January to September 2013. This was above the government’s target of 50 – but, as was pointed out at the launch, why is this target not zero? Why should any young people in a vulnerable situation be subject to untargeted, inappropriate care? Mental health conditions have a horrible habit of marking people as ‘outsiders’. Child and adolescent facilities provide a space where young people can receive the treatment they deserve without being cut off from their peers.
It does not – and should not – have to be like this. The provision of more focused resources, for example in the form of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (currently over-worked and under-staffed) and more logical planning (currently beds in adolescent units remain vacant whilst children sleep in adult units) would be positive – and achievable - moves toward a real vision for change.
Whilst the reasons behind mental health conditions are considerably varied, one consistent risk factor is substance abuse. Unfortunately for Irish young people, the area of alcohol and drugs did not fare too well in the Report Card either, receiving a ‘D+’. Although this is a slight step up from last year’s ‘D’ grade, it still indicates significant room for improvement. Not only is our culture of binge drinking bad news for mental health, it’s also the harbinger of physical complications, violence and public order offences. Not to mention being a constant source of peer pressure for those who wish not to engage in alcohol-fuelled recreation.
Minimum pricing has been deemed a significant factor in reducing alcohol consumption, so it’s good news that the government intends to develop legislation to introduce this. Yet, the markets clearly win out when it comes to the proposed ban on alcohol-centred advertising, which has been deemed ‘unrealistic’ by the powers that be. However, with the rise of social media, it’s easier than ever for these companies to target people of all ages with tempting (yet potentially damaging) material.
It’s not only alcohol that people are turning to when they need a pick-me-up; drug use is becoming increasingly normalised in modern culture, with illicit drugs becoming more and more available online. What’s all the fuss? Well, it’s a slippery slope, with one substance often leading onto another – with drug addiction a not unthinkable occurrence. Even more troubling is the phenomenon of young people being coerced into drug-dealing gangs, with many witnessing, or being victim of, gang-related fatalities. There is no doubt that a range of measures –from government down – must be put in place to educate and inform people of the dangers they face, and impose strict sanctions on those responsible.
Last year, a group of 23 teenagers made a film in conjunction with the Alliance which focused on some of the most pertinent issues affecting Irish young people today. A key theme that emerged was the lack of recreational spaces currently on offer. It’s hard to stay away from bars and clubs when there are little or no alternatives. The Report Card has taken this up, and has called for sustained investment in alcohol and drug-free spaces for young people.
A sense of belonging (physical and emotional) is integral to a strong sense of self. Both mental health and substance use have, in 2013, been areas where young people – be it through poor intervention, inaction, inadequate facilities or lack of protection – may have been given the impression that they don’t belong. Let’s hope that 2014 brings with it cause for them to change their minds.
People don't look unhappy on magazine covers. In full-page spreads of models like Cara Delevigne and Alexa Chung prancing around while wearing the latest pieces from Burberry and Madewell, there's usually a vaguely sultry glow emanating from their alabaster skin and piercing eyes. Eyes always make a statement, whether ice blue or hazel brown, while skin is perpetually unblemished and porcelain. These persistent ideals of beauty, never straying far from the image of slim, tall women with perfect skin and constantly youthful looks saturate the media. From fashion bible Vogue, to numerous TV presenters and actresses, it seems like the agenda has already been set. It's common knowledge that Photoshop is used to shape, contour and 'perfect' the appearances of both men and women in magazines, but we're only seeing one element of a full campaign.
We don't see the massive teams of make up artists, hair stylists and fashion stylists who create the look we've grown to associate with certain celebrities. We also don't see the personal trainers and strict dieting regimes. When Girls writer Lena Dunham appeared on the cover of Vogue's February 2014 issue there was a mixed response to the discovery that the photos of her shoot were Photoshopped. When talking to a reporter from French magazine Slate, Dunham defended the Photoshop usage. Dunham said: "A fashion magazine is like a beautiful fantasy. Vogue isn’t the place that we go to look at realistic women, Vogue is the place that we go to look at beautiful clothes and fancy places and escapism and so I feel like if the story reflects me and I happen to be wearing a beautiful Prada dress and surrounded by beautiful men and dogs, what’s the problem?"
A study by the Pediatrics Journal in the US found that almost 70 per cent of the female adolescents surveyed saw magazine pictures as an indication of the perfect body. Fashion photo shoots tend to be whimsical, creative and embrace a sense of fantasy and surrealism, but the pressure caused by the bombardment of the so-called perfect body shape and appearance still has an impact. We can all say we know about Photoshopping and make-up tricks, but there's a distance created between everyday consumers and the women looking back at us from magazine covers. Their lives seem so surreal, and so distant, that it can easily fool you into thinking that Rihanna has never had a bad hair day and that Kim Kardashian's skin has a magical gift for evading spots.
At a basic level we are all human. That's all we are, and that's a concrete fact that we have in common with the people who populate the pages of fashion magazines. We might not be able to get a mansion in the Hollywood Hills or go to the Oscars in a $2,000 Prada dress but we might be able to get a lipstick that matches the shade Dita VonTeese wears. Maybe we can emulate their body shape, maybe that's a way to forge a connection with a world that Dunham has described as a fantasy, but when this fantasy starts influencing reality it's time to assess the implications of what this theoretically fictional world creates. Contrary to the beliefs that advertisements and the media perpetuate, your ideal body shape or appearance will never be reached through methods of comparison.
Even Rihanna gets judged. When anyone in the public eye gains even a minuscule amount of weight, it inevitably gets mentioned on the front page of gossip magazines. When people aren't being ridiculed for having body shapes that surprisingly enough do change and are malleable (one of the strange facts of being a human), their image is edited because their natural appearance isn't deemed acceptable enough. The face with the perfectly clear and evenly toned skin staring back at you from the magazine stands is a myth. The number of people in the public eye who engage in plastic surgery shows that even those who grace magazine covers and photo shoots still feel insecure. We're fuelling unrealistic and impossible ideals of beauty that cannot be achieved because they're being created on computer screens.
With a front facing camera and a killer sense of humour, Cian Twomey is reaching hundreds of thousands of people via funny videos online. Since setting up the Mr Cian Twomey page in November 2013, he now has over 120,000 likes. Here’s a Q&A.
Q1. When and why did you get into comedy?
I'm not sure when, but my father was always a bit of a messer so you could say I got it from him. He is my inspiration, and I continue the videos in honour of him.
Q2. Could you tell us a bit about the first video you ever made?
My first video ever was myself covered in make-up, miming to the song "Call Me Maybe". It was mortifying but it paid off!
Q3. Did you think your videos would get popular so quickly?
To be honest I don't know why anyone watches them! They don't deserve to be so popular but I can't complain!
Q4. How long does it take to make a video for the Facebook page?
As soon as I think of an idea: I video it. So from thinking about it, videoing it and uploading it: about 30-40 seconds.
Q5. Have you done any stand-up gigs yet? (Or do you think you'd be into trying it out)
As strange as it is, I have no confidence and I am an extremely shy person! It's something I need to overcome.
Q6. What do you do when you get hate online?
I either ignore it or respond. I usually just reply and make them feel ten times angrier; I get the last laugh.
Q7. Any unlikely fans?
Mary from Crystal Swing and Barry Keoghan (Wayne from Love/Hate)
Q8. Favourite comedian?
My favourite comedian would definitely have to be Jimmy Carr, the man is an absolute genius and he is beyond hilarious.
Q9. Why do you upload videos mainly to Facebook instead of YouTube?
Because it would destroy my Facebook fan base, plus there are billions of videos on YouTube - there are not too many on Facebook. Plus it's much easier to interact on Facebook.
Q10. Any tips for writing good comedy?
Be original, no one likes to hear a recycled joke! Go out of your comfort zone - you may as well be the person who can set the standards. And ignore all hate! If someone hates you but never met you, it's a sign of jealousy - so keep on smiling and continue on.
Unfortunately exams and study are an inevitable part of student life. It may not be much fun, but can be made a little easier with some thought and planning. With that in mind we’ve put together 10 study tips to help you ace that exam.
Check out some of our best articles with exam and study tips below.
Tips on prepping for your exams
Opinion: study tips
It’s not easy knuckling down to study. Andrew gives his tips for getting into good study habits.
Eat your way to exam success
Food blogger Avril gives her tips on nourishing your brain during exam time
Opinion: Exam time
Joanna gives her advice for surviving exams
Opinion: Staying healthy during exams
Avoid getting sick during exams
Staying calm on exam morning
Keeping it cool on exam morning
Tips on acing your exam paper
If you would like to share your study tips or advice with SpunOut.ie, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
As the only form of government that respects freedom of information and free speech, the media is dependent on democracy. Equally, democracy requires a mechanism for the flow of information so that the citizens may inform themselves and for public debate to ensue.
This interdependency or ‘social contract’ between democracy and the media in Ireland is somewhat unclear though. Have we ever really defined what we mean by democracy? There is a lot of anger being directed at RTÉ at the moment in its’ role as the State’s national broadcaster but it is worth remembering that while RTÉ may not be up to scratch in many people’s (and my own) eyes, the space that it occupies is worth protecting.
Democracy’s meaning is actually quite hard to find a common consensus or understanding on. It is different in theory to how it is in practice. We need to define unequivocally what we mean by democracy and find a way to embed that into the ethos of our public service broadcaster and the wider Irish media spectrum. With concentrated media ownership leading to abuse of political power and the under-representation of certain opinions, society suffers directly. So we have problems on both sides.
There are foundational problems in how Irish citizens interact with media. Germany’s Grundgesetz of 1949 essentially instilled a value and appreciation of public service media and it remains largely intact to this day. The attitude towards the BBC is very much the same and while they are not without the odd criticism, it’s hard not to view that institution and think that they are streets ahead of us.
Dev’s famous words on the birth of Irish television were words of cautiousness. We’ve never really embraced the notion of a public service broadcasting going hand in hand with a participatory democracy. The changes to the Broadcasting Act in 2009 to adhere more to EU Competition Law mean that there’s no time to lose. There are a number of factors shaping the future that aren’t spoken about a great deal.
Looking at the emerging technologies for example, RTÉ seem to be prevented from having any kind of presence on the web in terms of news, in comparison to that of the BBC. RTÉ has to be allowed to flourish, even in a situation where the economy is in difficulty. There are deep rooted problems on all fronts. Internally, our national broadcaster is in need of being stripped back to the bare bones.
How many of you have ever had an RTÉ complaint satisfactorily responded to? Very quickly, we need to take steps to consider our values and really examine what kind of democracy we’re talking about. Only then can we hammer out details of the ‘social contract’ that exists between society and the media. There clearly is a need for a definition of public service broadcasting.
The State needs a policy and a statement of what we want. In the broad, conversations on the role of the media in Irish society are few and far between. We need to tease out what RTÉ’s public service broadcasting obligations are. There’s probably not much point in criticising RTÉ or anything else until we do this.
Firstly, let’s be clear, there is only so much you can do to protect yourself from a naked picture or video of you getting into the wrong hands. Other than not send one at all, there is no guarantee you can prevent it from being shared with a wider audience than you initially intended.
For lots of people, sexting will be relatively incident-free and your messages will generally remain confined to the person you initially planned would see them.
But there are also many cases where something that may seem like a bit of harmless fun at the time ends with massive regret at having sent a photo or video in the first place.
Remember; you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, and should never feel pressured into it. No matter how much you fancy the other person or how much pressure they put on you. If they respect you, they will completely understand, and if they don’t understand then they’re probably not worth your while.
If you’re in a situation that makes you uncomfortable and the other person keeps sending you sext requests, and you’re not interested, don’t be afraid to block them.
Read our article on peer pressure here.
Pretty much what it says on the tin - the sending of sexy texts and/or images to another person for a textual turn on. Obviously it’s not restricted to the dinosaur medium of SMS, and spans WhatsApp, iMessage, FB Messenger, KIK, BBM, Snapchat and dating apps such as Tinder, Blendr & Grindr.
Intimate pix are one thing, but sexting can include videos, made easier by Instagram direct and SnapChat - either way - you don’t want photos or videos getting out there and going further than you intended.
Sexting can be with a partner you’re mad about, a pal for whom nothing is TMI or an acquaintance/stranger on a dating app.
It can make total sense in the heat of the moment.
Maybe you are mad about a guy or gal and think sending a sexy pic is a great idea and will cement your love for eternity(JK!).
Maybe you are both horny and far away from each other and therefore decide it’s the only option available to you at that moment in time.
Or maybe you’re using a dating app like Tinder, Grindr or Blendr and the person you’re sending a nude to is someone you’ve never met or chatted to before.
Not everyone is sexting, but if you do decide to do it , here are some things to consider and some ways to limit your exposure (literally!) if things go wrong…
Things to consider if you are thinking about pressing ‘send’
Sure, it’s meant to be a bit of fun, but what if an image or video were used in a way in which you didn’t want them to be? Having something as intimate as a nude shared without your permission can have a big impact on you psychologically. Be sure to think about the emotional stress of having pictures of yourself distributed to everyone you know by an ex or former friend.
OK, I’ve considered what can go wrong, now - how can I protect myself?
Keeping in mind nothing is totally secure, here are some ways to avoid the trauma of having a picture or video of you leaked;
So I got naked, and now it’s online. What do I do?
What you should do if you get sent a nude going viral?
TheSite - Safe Sexting // WebCam Sex Video:
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘troll’? Perhaps you think of the crusty old creatures from fairytales that manned bridges like in Billy Goats Gruff or the more modern LOTR style troll that are short and stocky with a thirst for their ale? Or maybe like me you think of the oddly cute toy sensation of the nineties with their neon hair, wrinkled faces and huge eyes? No? Chances are that many of you think of the new kind of troll that have embedded themselves in our technological devices and who have given our aforementioned trolls a very bad name.
According to Urban Dictionary, a troll can be defined as: “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.” Think about that for a minute. “One who posts a deliberately provocative message...with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.” When you look at it that way, it’s easy to say to yourself that you would never get involved with trolling or be a victim of it. The reality is however, it can happen to anyone at any stage involved in social media.
People reading this may have seen trolling before or they may themselves even be a troll. Either way, this is a situation which can range from minimal banter between friends to someone getting very upset over it so it does have to be taken seriously. Some trolls have a sense of humour though and in some online circumstances, can diffuse what could end up being a rather nasty situation. That being said, these trolls don’t appear to be half as frequent as the mean ones.
Trolls aren’t necessarily strangers to their targets and it is a form of cyber bullying too so it is important that if you are having a negative online experience, you should tell someone. You never know who is behind that computer screen or what their motivations are. They could be calling you every name under the sun and they could be laughing at the fact you are even replying.
This appears to be what motivates them – attention. So what should you do if you are subjected to the painfully exhausting art of trolling? Well you have tons of options from reporting them to the site administrator, deleting their posts, confuse them by complimenting them but the one I have found works the best is ignoring them.
Imagine a child throwing a tantrum in a public place. (Not an upset child, proper terrible twos tantrum) How does the parent or guardian usually diffuse the situation? By ignoring the tantrum and not giving the child the sort of attention they are looking for. Within no time at all, the situation will have resolved itself. If the parent/guardian continues to respond by pandering to the child or by getting angry, the stressful encounter will continue. The same can apply to the troll.
Often if you engage with a troll at all, you are taking the bait. It can be difficult to ignore too as if something negative is posted about you on a public forum, most people would feel vulnerable and go into defence mode. You are just adding fuel to the fire by doing this. It is best to let it burn out itself by not getting involved.
You have to be the bigger person. It may seem unfair as you haven’t done anything wrong and it’s extremely difficult not to react when you have been emotionally affected by something but the key to success is to stop, walk away and leave it. Think of the last time you were angry or upset about something.
Did it bother you as much the following hour or even the next day? Give yourself time to process it and let the trolls fight amongst themselves. By all means delete a trolls post but depending on the troll, they may just repost a moment later. If this is the case, leave their post there for awhile until it dies down.
You might wonder what all of this has to do with being safe on the Internet. Well, any situation online where people can post freely leaves everyone open to both being hurt and/or getting themselves into trouble by saying something that could be threatening or slanderous. It may seem fine but people have gotten into trouble with the law for defamatory posts they have made about others so be careful what you post.
As well as this, you must protect yourself on the Internet in many ways; including letting hurtful comments by others get you down. You are much better than that so don’t feed the trolls, feed your friends and family online instead and leave the trolls under the bridge where they belong.
I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a counsellor, nor am I someone with any professional qualifications in mental health. I'm just that guy on the radio who happens to be a human being with actual feelings and emotions. At 22, I feel I've enough experience of life to provide some tips and advice on keeping your head healthy but young enough to understand that I'm not an expert on the world, or the people who live in it.
I sometimes cringe when I see people like me who work on TV or radio saying they had a tough upbringing, that 'rags to riches' story that's been pretty exhausted whether its true or somewhat fabricated. I've had a good upbringing, tough certainly when I was in my pre-teens, but I am eternally grateful to my Mum and step Dad for being there, always.
My parents are pretty clued-in, something I think I refused to accept when I was 16. Parents are never ever cool when your 15 or 16, so don't worry you're not alone in thinking so too! Writing this now, I'm going through a tough time. I've lost indefinitely the person I've spent a solid chunk of my adult life with. It hurts, very badly at times and I struggle to see the light on occasion. But I'm dealing with it in the best way I know how, talking about it.
When you're feeling low, depressed, angry or confused, in my humble opinion, there are generally two types of people. Those who like to be alone and those who like to surround themselves with mates/boyfriends/girlfriends/parents. I'm the latter. When something crappy happens I NEED to be around the people who are closest, talk/bitch/cry about whatever is getting me down and although it may not feel like the problem is being completely solved right now, when you pick yourself up you'll realise it's instrumental.
Looking after your mental health is as important as eating right and looking after your body. It seems cliche at times to say so but it's so important. I'll even go ahead and endorse some generic yoghurt product and say feeling good on the inside will make you look good on the outside. When I'm on a high inside, I actually look in the mirror sometimes and say "why the hell would anyone not want me!?". That sounds incredibly cocky and it is. But if it makes you feel great, do it! Just maybe not on a crowded bus or train, you may get a few confused faces looking at you!
Exercise. Just like keeping your mind healthy keeps you looking good, I find it's the same vice versa effect. I'm guilty of not being active enough at times with work commitments, but when I do I feel great. Try join a gym, even if you're not a sporty type person plus you never know what hot guy or girl you'll find in your local!
If you don't join a gym (they can be expensive) set some weekly goals for yourself like going for a run or doing some sit-ups in your bedroom before you go to school or college, that kind of thing. It will set you up for the day, mentally and physically. Again I'm starting to sound like a walking pharmaceutical marketing tag-line but it's true and it bloody works!
Whether you're 13 or 33, you'll sometimes feel alone and confused. It's completely normal and will happen to us all at some stage of our lives. Right now you may be struggling with your identity, sexuality or loneliness. I've ticked all three boxes, sometimes all at the same time. But I've overcome the obstacles and you will too, you just need to keep those who love you close and lose those who bring you down. It's not always easy but you'll realise very quickly who your true friends are.
It's okay to be down, it's okay to feel lonely, it's okay to be gay, bi, straight, transgender. It's okay to ask for help and advice, it's not a weakness rather a sign of strength. This isn't just a mantra for World Mental Health Day, it's for the other 364 days too.
Do you remember the first Irish word you learned? Probably something like dia dhuit, slán, or bainne! Do you remember when you learned it? I’m guessing it was when you were four or five and headed into primary school for the first time.
Do you remember the first French, German or Spanish word you learned? Probably bonjour or something simple like that. Do you remember when you learned it? I’m guessing some time around first year when you left the comforts of primary school and headed off into the big bad world of second level education.
Now, compare both experiences of learning these languages. Would it be a safe enough assumption to say that you have learned about as much of that foreign language as you have of Irish? Can you speak better French, German or Spanish than your native language?
Take into account how long you spent learning the foreign language versus Irish. About five or six years spent learning a European language, compared to 13 or 14 years spent learning Irish. Pretty shocking if you consider it!
You would think that after spending so many years studying Gaeilge we would all be fluent by now! There seems to be something SERIOUSLY wrong with the way Irish is taught, especially to little kids. Researchers say that when we are younger we are in a far better position to learn new things than when we are fully developed, so perhaps somewhere at the beginning of our learning experience things just aren’t getting done right.
Our lack of knowledge about our country’s language is made ever more apparent when we travel abroad or meet someone from another country. For instance, one of my best friends is originally from London and moved back here just before she started secondary school.
Due to her age she was exempt from learning Irish, (we get quite jealous when she heads off to her free classes and we’re left to study grammar) and she laughs at our feeble attempts to hold full conversations in our ‘native tongue.’
Des Bishop’s show, In the name of the Fada proves that Irish can be learnt without too much difficulty. Des is American born and a few years ago he had just about enough Irish to say hello and goodbye. So, off he went to Connemara for a year to learn the language.
He lived with a family in the Gaeltacht and totally immersed himself in ‘the Gaeilge’, customs and traditions of the area. A year later, his Irish is excellent and he even managed to pass a Leaving Cert Irish exam. Not too shabby if you ask me!
So let’s embrace our Gaeilge and start to think about how to improve our skills in our native language. After all, not every country is lucky enough to have an exclusive language and we didn’t fight for it for all those years just to let it slip away! Next time you are strolling down the road and you bump into some one you know, how about throwing them a ‘Dia dhuit’ and soon we’ll be speaking it like our ancestors!!