By Sophie Vondung and Joe Costigan
‘Seachtain na Gaeilge’ is attracting international attention on the UL campus as Erasmus students get involved with the two-week long festival which runs until St. Patrick’s Day.
One of the international students learning Irish is Ina Sollander from Sweden. She joined a course run by the Cumann Gaelach because she wanted to learn some simple phrases.
“After the first classes I started to understand signs that I saw better.” This encouraged her to learn more.
“Abi, our teacher, is the sweetest! She helps us with the pronunciation and makes us read conversations out loud.” Abaigéal Drummy herself speaks with great passion about her teaching.
“I cannot wait to see how much the students will have improved by the end of week 10. The course gives them an opportunity to talk with native speakers and it gives and insight into life in Ireland as well.”
She emphasises that Irish is a huge part of cultural identity and believes that the cultural aspect of learning Irish is vital to the international students in her course. “And most importantly these classes are meant to be fun. Learning in a fun setting is great for language continuity.”
UL Student Life Welfare Officer Seán Ó Maoilchiaráin also believes in “having an informal setting where you can come and there’s no pressure about your grammar or your pronunciation, you’re just there to speak it for the sake of speaking it and enjoy it.”
Seán is working with the Cumann Gaelach (Irish language society) to help run these events.
He described Seachtain na Gaeilge as a “celebration of the Irish language and culture” and emphasised that the festival is for anybody with an interest in our native language, not just fluent speakers.
He added that there are lots of Gaeilgeoirí (Irish speakers) and foghlameoraí (learners) on campus and believes that “a university should be a place where they can come together just like any other interest group.”