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Gearing up for Seachtain na Gaeilge

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Seachtain na Gaeilge starts this Friday, March 1, and runs officially until St Patrick’s Day on March 17. Some counties, like Mayo, host events throughout the year, especially Irish-language speaking classes and ‘circles’, thanks to the enthusiasm of several people, like Brídín Ní Cheallaigh from Togra Mhaigh Eo/Conradh na Gaeilge and Úna Ní Chuinn.  
Only in Ireland can you have a celebration week that lasts more than a fortnight. You get away with so much more through the medium of Irish! Ba cheart dom cúpla focail a scríobh mar sin. Ba mhaith liom an seanfhocal: ‘Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste’ (‘Broken Irish is better than clever English’).  
Most of us are experts in ‘broken’ Irish. The expression is not a slight on the English language but rather an encouragement to those of us who stumble to keep going. There are many of us with a deep love of the language and also a keen awareness that our linguistic skills are limited. We admire those who speak the language fluently and also encourage those of us who limp along.
Oonagh Ní Chéileachair, go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a h-anam, was a great inspiration to many of us. Oonagh was the Oifigeach Gaeilge with Mayo County Council up to her untimely death in 2017. Bean a bhí lán de ghrásta, lán de dhílseacht agus lán de dínit. Duine séimh í agus thar a bheith eifeachtach. Is mór an trua nach bhfuil sí linn fós.
Duine eile, Fiachra Mac Gabhann – go ndéana Dia trócaire air. Gach seachtain bím ag úsáid a leabhair luachmhar – Logainmneacha Mhaigh Eo: Muiriasc and Buiríos Umhaill – siad an péire is fearr mar úsáideann mé iad go minic.
Is seoid náisiúnta a bhí ann. Tá sé ráite go raibh Fiachra duine de na scóláirí is fearr sa tír. We miss him most now that he’s gone. Rinne sé ‘job’ an-tabhactach do mhuintir Maigh Eo and bhí an-tionchar aige ar fud an chondae agus an timpeallacht agus beidh, le fada an lá.
Fiachra made lecturing seem simple, the imparting of knowledge a joy, and it was always such a blessing to be in his presence. D’fhág sé oidhreacht an-luachmhar dúinn. And he was also a distinguished traditional musician. D’fhág a rian ar an gort seo, chomh maith.
And we cannot forget Seán Ó Héalaí – go ndéana Dia trócaire air. Nach trua an rud é nach bhfuil sé anseo inniu freisin. Bhéadh go leor le rá aige – ag tabhairt amach, ag caint ‘too loudly’ agus ag gáire. Bhí sé in ann ‘shoot from the hip’ agus go minic, ‘shoot from both hips – at the same time!’.
Ach, bhí croí an-mhór aige. Tá sé imithe ar shlí na Fírinne ach nuair a bhí sé anseo bhí suim aige ar ‘slí An fhírinne.’ Bhí an fhírinne – truth – an-tabhachtach do Sheáin.
Ach ná dean dearmad go deo ar Sheáin agus an tionchar a bhí aige ar an Ghaeilge sa chondae seo – ar an raidió, ag scríobh, Scoil Merriman, Conradh na Gaeilge agus na h-imeachtaí éagsúla a bhí ar siúl sa duiche seo.
Tamall ó shin bhí mé ag breathnach ar leabhair agus rudaí a bhí ag mo Mham, go ndéana Dia trócaire uirthi. Fuair mé cárta An Cumann Gaedhealach Cathair na Mart 1944. An táille íochta a bhí ann ná scilling amháin and is é P Ó Cionnaidh, an rúnaí. Agus Peigí Ní Oistín an t-ainm atá ar an cárta.
D’fhágadar a rian agus go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a n-anamneacha dílse. Everyone has some ability and some talent. The job of Irish language lovers is to share their talent – ag ceiliúradh fíor-oidhreacht ár teanga Ghaeilge agus an saol Éireannach.
The genuine message for Gaeilgeoirí is to bear with us who are slow and inept – encourage us, don’t admonish us. We love the language too – we just cannot express it as beautifully as Gaeilgeoirií – go fóill. Bíodh foighne agaibh.
There are several events worth attending and supporting over the next couple of weeks. Programmes are easily available.
The last word goes to Pádraig Pearse: ‘Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam’ – ‘A country without its language is a country without its soul’. Tá an ceart aige.