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Irish Language Class

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

The Irish Language Class was largely instigated by Hugh Neary who cajoled Dr Dick Wall into being our muinteoir. Leveraging Dick’s credentials as a Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at U of C we arranged to offer an Irish Language Class through the Calgary Board of Education as part of its continuing education program. Classes began on January 21, 1986 at Western Canada High School. Registration for ten classes cost $45.00 to cover the room rental and class materials. The course was based on a book and audio cassette tape Anois is Aris produced by Telefis Eireann and Gael Linn. We had an enrolment of twenty enthusiastic scholars. Dick’s easy style and good-humoured approach made for a informative and enjoyable experience

First Irish Class. Betty Neary, Claire Regent, Anne Cowman, Rose Persram, Brenda Crothers, Philomena Morrow, Dick Wall, Dan Bolger, Kevin Donegan, Hugh Neary, Helen Bolger

Theresa Geoghegan took on the class leader role for the second year and Gerry O’Reilly also became involved before becoming the next leader. Theresa, a University of Galway graduate and trained teacher, kept a high level of interest and enthusiasm going throughout the course and her patience and good humour were much appreciated.

Brenda Crothers remembers – ‘Growing up in a small village in County Down surrounded by Townlands with intriguing names like Aghandunvarren and Backnamullagh I became interested in their Irish origins, however as Irish history or language was not taught in the local school, I did not have the opportunity to pursue It. When I heard the I.C.S. was starting Irish language classes in Western Canada High School I was very happy to attend along with other familiar faces from the I.C.S. Dick Wall made us all feel welcome. I left that first class with a confused mix of new sounds and pronunciations to digest. Classes moved to the I.C.S. with múinteoir Gerry O’Reilly where I learned that ‘cúpla focal’ really did mean ‘a couple of words’ even though I felt I was swearing! Irish language continued to be taught over the years by Joe Massey. There was great camaraderie in the classes and many friendships were formed; John and Mary Rose O’Callaghan, Paul Flanagan and Harold Kenny who rode his bike to classes whatever the weather, are a few who come to mind. Go raibh mile maith agaibh do na múineori go léir agus an ICS’

Irish Class 1987. Front Row: Ann McCullagh, Claire Regent, Mary Rose O’Callaghan, Theresa Geoghegan, Mary Kane, Dan Bolger. Back Row: Erin Flanagan, Brenda Crothers, Gerry O’Reilly, Sean McComish, Dick Wall

By 1989 we had added a children’s Irish language class, Rang Ghaeilge Na Leana, run by Brenda and Gerry O’Reilly.

Ina sui o chle: Aisling ni Dhubhail, Caitlin ni Raghallaigh, Sinead ni Chaba, Hailary ni Dhubhail. Ina Seasamh o Chle: Cristin Ni Raghallaig, Aine ni Dhubail, Ceallaigh ni Chaba, Pol Tucker, Caomhtn Mac Alein, Seamus Tucker, agus Gearoid O Raghallaigh. Na Muinreoiri Gearoidin O Raghallaigh agus Brenda ni Raghallaigh

Aisling Doyle writes: “As a young child and first generation Canadian, I often bridged two cultures, that of my parents - immigrants from Dublin, Ireland, and Canada with its multicultural mosaic. It was equally likely for me to have classmates and friends from another country to those who had generational roots in Canada. Understanding that my Irish culture, with its language and history, and attempting to learn at a young age, provided me with an excellent foundation to understand that many of my friends and classmates may also have a culture, language, religion, etc. that would be different from my own, and that uniqueness was foundational to the Canadian experience. Moreover, being introduced to the Irish language also gave me an appreciation for the origins of my traditional Irish Name (Aisling) and its meaning (Dream or Vision). Having a bit of the language understanding and knowing that most Irish names come with their unique meaning has often opened the door to connecting with other people who are of Irish origin, roots, or just an affinity through the culture. While it has been many, many years since the classes, and I’d likely struggle to converse much more than introducing myself (Aisling is aimn dom) and a limited pleasantry (Conas tá tú), I’m thankful for the opportunity the classes at the Irish Cultural Society provided myself and others…. It might be something I’ll have to pick back up”

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