Glenfin

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Oideas Gael organises Irish courses for adults and thousands of students attend these every year: they come from all over the world from Dublin to Tokyo.

Oideas Gael organises Irish courses for adults and thousands of students attend these every year: they come from all over the world from Dublin to Tokyo.

Most of the courses are held in Gleann Cholm Cille, but in August there are two special courses in Glenfin, a small Gaeltacht area, a few miles from Ballybofey.

I attended a course in Glenfin many years ago, when all the world was young. The course tutor was Dr. Seosamh Watson: he was later appointed Professor of Modern Irish in University College, Dublin. He was a great teacher: he could explain complicated grammatical points and give good examples as quick as a flash.

He has written numerous books and articles, including ‘Scian a caitheadh le toinn‘, folklore from the last native speakers in Inis Eoghain, collected by Cosslett Ó Cuinn and edited by Seosamh and Aodh Ó Canainn.

Those who saw the documentary ‘Ar bhealach na Gaeltachta ‘ on BBC2 last week will know why Oideas Gael chooses Glenfin as a teaching centre. The landscape, with the Blue Stacks in the background, is absolutely stunning. Once a well-known Gaeltacht, the Blue Stacks are now deserted.

The native speakers from Glenfin on the programme spoke beautiful, clear Irish. Like all other Gaeltacht areas, Glenfin is under pressure from English, but it is thought that Irish is still the language of the home in half of the houses.

There is a very good description of Glenfin by Áine Ní Dhíoraí on beo.ie. (Go to ‘Archive’ on the home page.) Although we have lost the internet magazine ‘beo’, the archive is still available. It is a first rate resource for teachers and students.