Irish – a minority language in its own country

In this article I will tell you about my trip to Ireland. When hearing the world ‘Ireland’ you will have many different associations coming on your mind. Some of you will think of green and misty landscapes. Some of you will think of entertaining nights in the pub. And many of you will think of this misterious language appearing on the signs everywhere along with English. I’m speaking of Irish or Gaelic how it’s actually called. There are two kinds of Gaelic, namely Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic. Both are Celtic languages along with Welsh, Breton, Cornish in the Cornwall and Manx on the Isle of Man. When travelling to Ireland people usually go to places like Dublin or Cork. I went to the Dingle Peninsula to a so called gaeltacht a place where the inhabitants speak irish as first language. In the rest of the country people study it at school but don’t use the language almost at all. Remember that Ireland joined the European Union in 1973 but Irish became an official EU language not earlier than in 2007. It’s definitely not one of the easiest languages to learn. I had the comfort that there were Irish courses at my university organized by a Swiss English couple who has been living in Ireland a few years and writing guide books. And I can guarantee you that there’s a lot to write that I wonder where to start. My journey started as usually at the airport where I was siting in the sunshine in early September enjoying the last rays waiting for my flight to Ireland. Landing at Kerry airport I felt like landing at the other end of the world. It was rainy, windy and wet. Our taxi driver who collected us from the airport was a native speaker of Irish by the way. Driving through Ireland I saw splendid landscapes. Green meadows, flocks of sheep and misty clouds on the rocks as far you can look. On the Dingle peninsula you will even find palms which  are able to grow there thanks to the golf strom. Even Marie Antoinette the last queen of France used to spend her summer Holidays on the Dingle peninsula in Ireland. I started my trip with some Cheddar, Irish Stew and a pint of Guinness in the pub. Apart from the famous dark Irish beer I recommend you an evening in the pub for another reason. And as you already know me that’s the music! Every week once each pub organizes a folk music evening. Traditional Irish instruments are the tin whistle, the bodhrán a small drum and the harp that you can also find both at Trinity College in Dublin and on the Irish Euro coins. Listening to the songs you will get a look into Irish history and hence a sad chapter of it the Grand Fame when many Irish families were forced to leave their lovely fatherland due to poverty. Songs like the traditional Gaelic Trasna na dtonnta which means over the sea waves speak about these stories. The Irish emigrated to the Unite States of America and brought there their traditions and Musical influences. Other sad chapters like the Northern Ireland conflict back in 1969 followed while Ireland became famous for Mary Robinson and music acts like U2, Boyzone, Sinéad O’Connor or River Dance in the 1990s. Ireland has so many great things to offer and I even forgive them for their rainy wheather. Oh yes, apart from the guide book and the phrase book please don’t forget your umbrella and your rain coat! I really hope that they will keep all these great things they offered us as well as their Celtic languages which needs some enthusiasts to keep it alive. I am one of them!

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