A strong partnership with Elms College and the Irish Language Fulbright Program served as the foundation for a great 2020/2021 academic year for Irish language learners at our Irish Cultural Center. Registrations for classes increased and new activities were introduced resulting in more local visibility for the language.
Gita Gallagher, our eleventh Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA), was an incredibly positive ambassador for the language, her culture, county, and Ireland itself. She played an instrumental role in establishing a local branch of Conradh na Gaeilge enabling students and others the chance to use their spoken Irish. In addition, she contacted writers and musicians to participate in Zoom presentations and our annual language Day. Gita has many new friends in western Massachusetts and her influence will continue to be felt.
We offered five classes at various learning levels last year on Zoom, necessitated by the pandemic. As usual, Kathleen Gilhooly provided great help by teaching two classes. Zoom has enabled us to attract some students from outside our immediate area including eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Our annual Lá na Gaeilge (Irish language day) held on Zoom had over one hundred registrations. The theme for the day was “Voices of Cork.” UCC professors Aidan Doyle and Ríona Ní Churtáin presented on poet Seán Ó Ríordáin, while another poet, Greg Delanty, offered commentary on his newly published translations of Ó Ríordáin’s poetry. Bilingual poet Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill also presented readings of her selected works, and traditional musicians Clíona Halley and Darragh Carey-Kennedy joined us live from Ireland.
As the fall 2021 semester approaches, we are very blessed to welcome our twelfth Fulbright, Réaltín Nic Giolla Chainnigh (Mc Elhinney), from Inis Eoghan, Donegal. Réaltín attended the University of Ulster. In addition to her love of the Irish language, she has a keen interest in Gaelic football. She is an accomplished athlete who has played on her local club, school, and university teams. She is looking forward to sharing her knowledge of the Irish language and Gaelic football with us. By the way, she likes her Lyons Tea.
As you can see, the Irish language is alive in our area. Join us this semester and make some new friends. Language learning is more fun and effective as a social event. Classes this fall will again be taught on Zoom – click for more info on class schedules and to enroll.
– written by Irish language instructor Gerald Costello