County Chairman speaks up for the Irish Language
Armagh GAA is at the forefront of the efforts to promote the Irish language. County chairman Pól Ó Dougáin is a proud Irish speaker and he recently shared his views with Seán Ó Maoilsté, member of the Armagh GAA Culture Committee and Irish language Development Officer with CAIRDE Teo.
When did you first learn Irish?
I was first introduced to Irish at the Christian Brother School in Armagh when I was 11 years old. Brother Reighill was my first Irish teacher and he was very good. I learned Irish from songs and poetry and we focused on conversation.
I did Irish at the school for three years and I went to St Mary’s Noviciate in Baldoyle, Dublin when I was 19 years old. There was plenty of Irish spoken in the house, but it was mostly Munster Irish. We went to Irish classes every morning and Brother Ó Dúda from County Kerry was the teacher. I really enjoyed those Irish classes.
Do you get a chance to use your Irish?
I try to speak Irish as often as possible. I have a good understanding of the language, but I would like to improve and learn more. I like to use Irish every time I speak in public. When I went to live and teach in New York, my Irish became a bit rusty but I am improving and learning more Irish as time goes on.
Is there much Irish in Armagh?
There is plenty of Irish in Armagh these days. There has been a big growth in the use of Irish in Armagh in recent years, especially with the work of the culture and language committee of the GAA.
I am delighted with the work of this committee. More and more people have a love of the Irish language due to the positive promotional work within Armagh GAA.
Is Irish important in the GAA?
It certainly is. I believe that the GAA doesn’t put enough emphasis on the Irish language, but I hope that soon changes. More importance should be placed on the language in the GAA.
The importance of Irish often depends on the county and of the people who are working within the county. We are duty bound under The Official Guide to preserve and promote the Irish language.
What can the GAA do to encourage people to learn Irish?
In our own county, there are many initiatives every year to encourage people to learn Irish. For example, students from St Catherine’s Irish medium unit brought Irish into the primary schools in Armagh.
This was a fantastic initiative and we won the GAA’s National Irish Language Award. We include Irish in our programmes to encourage people to learn and use Irish and we hold Irish classes in the Morgan Athletic Grounds too. That’s how we do things here in Armagh. Ard Mhacha abú.
If you would like to find out more about learning Irish in Armagh, you can contact Seán on 028 3751 5229 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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