LEARNING THE IRISH LANGUAGE
Seattle Irish Heritage Club takes a special interest in promoting the Irish language and encouraging its study. Because we are 4,490 miles away from Ireland itself, studying Irish from afar is a challenge. Here is a selection of resources for distance learning.
italki.com has a roster of Irish teachers around the world. Take a sample lesson.
Sean Williams, Ph.D. She teaches at The Evergreen State College in Olympia WA. (Classes may be on hiatus during the pandemic, but ask her about current status.)
Having the structure of an online class can be helpful. Find an organization that suits your own learning style:
“Irish In An Hour” Native Irish speaker Johnny Gallogly from Seattle offers 8 week courses teaching basic Irish conversations and greetings, Irish customs, Irish blessing and curses, food and drink, folklore, customs, and superstitions. Small weekly classes. Contact Johnny at SeattleIrishCourse@gmail.com
Daltaí.com Search for teachers in your area, links to classes and resources.
Friends of Irish Studies in the West The Friends of Irish Studies supports the Irish Studies program at the University of Montana and promotes Irish culture in the community by organizing and sponsoring online courses in the Irish language and sean-nós singing, Irish language immersion courses, music and singing camps, cultural activities that celebrate Irish music and dance, and the game of hurling.
Glossika Choose a very structured practice, or listening-only mode.
Ranganna The online learning site from Gaelchultúr, noted above. Subtle differences between sites, so take a look at each of them.
Let’s Learn Irish A community with blogs, courses, practice conversations.
Pimsleur Short Irish course, but presented in a proven format to accelerate learning.
Michel Thomas “Stress-free” method of learning Irish. Offering classes via Zoom.
Free Online Resources
Duolingo is helpful in increasing your vocabulary, as well as making study a daily habit.
Teanglann This site is available in English. To start, concentrate on using the tab called English-Irish Dictionary (de Bhaldraithe, 1959) Teanglann is not forgiving of missing accents (the fada) but will suggest correct ways to spell. The next tab to the right, “Grammar” will be important to you as you progress. The tab on the far right will give you pronunciations in various dialects. Don’t fret over dialects in the beginning. As you get the opportunity to practice with Irish speakers, you will hear different dialects. After you have some experience under your belt, you will know which dialect you gravitate towards.
Abair Another source for pronunciation.
Irish for Beginners Éanna Freeney grew up in an Irish speaking household. An inspirational teacher with a lot of patience for beginners.
Twitter Irish served in 280 character chunks. Some suggested starting points are @gaelchultúr, @gaago (sports), @Motherfocloir, @failteonline, @theirishfor. Follow a few of these, and they will lead you to many other accounts for you to follow.
Celtic Life and Heritage Foundation “Just a toe in the proverbial water.” Kieran O’Mahoney, native Irish speaker, introduces some basic concepts about the language. Do explore the entire site’s trove of educational material.
Books and teaching materials
An Síopa Leabhar Literally, The Book Shop. Excellent source of Irish language learning materials.
Motherfocloir Proving that Irish is still a living, breathing language after 2,000 years or more. Mostly presented in English, with random sentences in Irish, but stick with it. After a few episodes, you learn the cast of characters, their abiding interests, and their common love for the language. Often NSFW. It may become the highlight of your week.
The Irish Passport Not strictly dedicated to the language alone, but wide-ranging news and commentary on Irish culture and politics. Naomi O’Leary, formerly of Reuters, now with the Irish Times, does the podcast with Tim Mc Inerney. Try the episode, “The Irish Language.”
TG4 is the official Irish language channel of RTÉ, Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Stream the news in Irish, watch children’s programs, follow the famous soap opera Ros na Rún. Click Bearla to get the site in English.
Practice conversation with others
Let’s Learn Irish offers free conversation (comhrá) once a week for both beginners and fluent speakers.
Permanent North American Gaeltacht offers a chance to immerse yourself in the language while staying home on your continent. In 2020 the classes moved online and were well received.
Advice from The Mezzofanti Guild Donovan Nagel shares his own hard-won experience learning Irish at a distance. He includes an exhaustive archive of online resources for you.