Friday, October 19, 2007

As mo dhialann Gaeilge--14 Lúnasa, 2007

Right, so táim i gCaife na Cille ag ól cupán caife agus bhí Tomás Ó M. i m'aice le haghaidh an dinnéir. Níl mórán le rá agam inniu. fuaireas síob go dtí an Daingean chun airgid a fháil, agus stampaí...chuireas cúpla carta poist sa bosca agus sin a bhfuil. ach amháin gur usáideas ríomhaire ag an caife idirlíon.

anois a sé a chloig. níl faic le déanamh agam go dtí go bhfuil a hocht ann.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

14 Lúnasa, 2007—an dara lá den chúrsa

Well, today I went to my first session of this trip, but i'll tell of that later....

I wish I could remember what we studied in class or what have you, maybe i can go look through my notes and figure that out. But for now let's just say that day 2 of the course was a lot like day 1, only less unfamiliar. I did forget to mention the activities that were planned for the evenings--the reason we had a “break” from half three to eight is because it wouldn't be a break without something required to do on either side of it! At eight each evening there were various activities planned—lectures, trivia games, performances, that sort of thing. On the first day of the course, i forgot to mention, there was a trivia game called “Tráth na gCeist” in Irish, meaning “The Question Period.” It was sort of a contest to see who knew the most about various pop culture things, only most of the references were to Irish TV and politicians and sports figures and such, so i was at a distinct disadvantage. I wish I could remember what the activity was the second night. I believe it was a lecture by a man named Ferriter from the area, obviously, who introduced us to some of the features of the peninsula using stories and maps and the like. It was all done in Irish as well, as was everything having to do with the course at all.

The notable events of the day—hmmm, let's see—I got a ride with Fergal into town to get some more cash. (where did i spend what i had before???) and i put a couple postcards in the mail. I may have mentioned that the Ballyferriter Oifig an Phoist was closed due to the death of the poor postman! Small town excitement. I used the computer at the internet café as well.

I was approached by Máire Uí Shíthigh at some point during the day about whether or not i would mind being interviewed on the local radio station. She said that Raidió na Gaeltachta usually did this sort of thing when the course was runing, and were especially interested in speaking to people who are living in other countries and learning Irish. The program is called “An saol ó Dheas” (life in the south.) I said yes, naturally.

I finally managed to spend a little time with my friend Tom Moriarty, who lives in the next town over from me here in America, and who is a retired professor of history. I was surprised that it took me a couple days to track him down in such a small town! But i ran into him in a place called Caife na Cille, which in my opinion had the best food in Ballyferriter and the cheapest to boot. Nice wraps and salads and tasty tasty good stuff. And good coffee as well. I highly recommend the place if you find yourself in Ballyferriter.

Tom and i had dinner and then he went off to take a nap before the evening's events. I wrote in my journal and was generally bored. I don't think i did more than ride back to the B+B to hang out, maybe i didn't. But after the lecture at 8 we all went to Tigh Ó Murchú for a session. It was an open session, but the guests of honor were “Na Fraincigh”--a group of French musicians who go to Ballyferriter annually and play for a couple of nights at Murphy's pub there in the village. They were great. Some people who were taking the course got up and sang songs as well. I like that in Ireland it's ok to just get up and tell a story or sing a song if you want to. Seems that's what pubs are for. The craic, they call it. No it's not a drug. Craic means fun. Simple as that.

This is the group "an Francaigh" playing at th pub, along with other local musicians. It was beyond loud in there!

This is the same pub. I thought i'd be funny and take video of my friends on the down-low. brilliant stuff, really. move over, Geraldo.

I didn't write much in my diary today, and I only took about 4 pictures and as many videos. I must have been too busy! I did see these cute old ladies dancing together as the band played a waltz.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

As mo dhialann Ghaeilge--13 Lúnasa, 2007

ócé so bhíos ar tí ruda a scríobh ach tháinig cúpla seanbhean chugam chun cainte a dhéanamh liom. sin ag leathuair tar éis a seacht. anois tá leathuair tar éis meán oíche ann agus mé tar éis teacht abhaile ón pub. bhíos i dteannta Feargal as Corcaigh thiar é, agus Sinéad, agus Tomás (Ó Muirtheartaigh) agus duine eile a ndéarna mé dearúd ar a ainm.

bhí an-lá againn insna ranganna. ar dtús bhíos i rang a raibh bean darbh ainm Bríd i gceannas air ach d'aistrios go dtí ranga níos airde níos déanaí ar maidin. bhí an rang nua sin...em..ceart go leor. ní raibh mórán comhrá déanta againn. táim ag smaoineamh ar athrú eile a dhéanamh—dul thar n-ais go dtí an chéad rang, b'fhéidir...

in a dhiaidh sin bhí am lóin again, agus i ndiaidh an lóin bhí léacht le Phádraig Fitréar mar gheall ar an cheantar seo—Corca Dhuibhne—agus i ndiaidh sin, sos fada ó leath a trí go dtí a hocht. bhí dinnéar agam le Robeard agus Máirtín agus Liam. Ansin—Tráth na gCeist.

níor bhuamar aon dúiseanna.

is cuma.

réitigh cúpla piúnt sa phub an fadhb sin.

ó-rinne mé dearúd ar mo thuras go Trá an Fhíonna—Trá is ea é atá ana-ghar do Thigh bhric, agus bhí a lán daoine ann. Tá a lán grianghraifeanna glactha agam den áit, agus tá cloch ógham ann chomh maith.

Sa phub, bhí an-chomhrá againn.

sin é faoi láthair.

13 Lúnasa, 2007--an chéad lá den cúrsa agus Trá an Fhíonna

The first day of the course. I met Áine, who was staying in the room next to mine, in the dining room for breakfast. (that's her on the right in the photo, me on the left.) We sat together every day for breakfast, speaking Irish and eating our meals. She was very kind and offered me a ride almost every time. Even after i told her i had rented a bike she always asked when it was looking like rain! Very nice person.

Off on my bike with me after breakfast to the first class, or the first meeting or what have you which was held in the primary school in Ballyferriter. That's a strange building! But we got the general idea of what to expect from the week and we got our class assignments and were told how to find our classrooms. The classes were spread out all over the village, which isn't big. It was no more than a 2 minute walk to even the most remote class. Mine at first was in one of the boarding houses—a small room at the front of the house. Bríd Úna was my teacher. I liked her—she was a fast talker, very animated and it seemed like the class was going to be fun. She asked us at one point to say a few words about what we hoped to get from the course. When it was my turn i said something like “to push the limits of my fluency by engaging in conversation with people who are a bit more fluent than myself!” right. I think that’s pretty much what everyone wanted, i just put it in those really blunt terms. I mean, you don't learn much from people who are LESS fluent than yourself, so the remedy is obvious.

At lunchtime i was approached by the indefatigable Máire Uí Shíthigh, the queen bee of the program. She's the one who organized the whole affair. I'm sure she had lots of help, but frankly, without her it wouldn't have been nearly as good. Anyway she said she'd like to put me in a class one level higher because Bríd Úna mentioned to her what i said and she thought i'd benefit from going up a level. Wow. They really have it all together, these people from an Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne! They were really listening to what the students were saying, apparently! So i moved up to the next level for the afternoon and proceeded to flounder for the rest of the day. It was Tough! Very hard. The first day is always hard but i just sealed it by being a loudmouth!

The one thing that worried me was that there wasn't much conversation in that first class. My teacher's name was Róisín Ní Gairbhí, and she was super smart. I kept thinking how small her head was to hold all that knowledge! She had poems, songs, idioms coming out of her ears. So much wonderful knowledge. So in the end, actually, well before the end, i was enjoying the class immensely because her teaching style suited me quite well.

So my head was reeling by dinner time. But i had made a few friends—Fergal, Sinéad, and a couple people whose names I've forgotten, though i mention Máirtín in my diary. I forget who he was though. Anyway i think we went down to the pub at the hotel later on—Óstán an Bhuailtín i think was the name if it. Not really a traditional pub atmosphere, actually more for the folks who like a little tacky elegance. But the Guinness was good and we had a right nice time talking it up.

Earlier, though, i should mention, we had a break from about 3:30 on to about 8. this gave us a good chance to rest or in my case to head out on the bike to explore the immediate area a bit. Directly across the road from Tigh Bhric was a small road that led off to Trá an Fhíonna--Wine Strand they call it in English. It’s a very popular swimming and camping destination for a good number of folks. I rode over and took a few pictures. It’s a lovely beach, actually just one in a set of beaches that stretch for a few miles on Smerwick harbour. There's a lot of really thick tufty grass up higher above the beach, and that's where i found myself when i came across the first ogham stone i've ever seen. These stones were erected, they say, to mark territory, generally. I got a nice little book detailing the location and inscriptions of all the known ogham stones on the dingle peninsula. Anyway it was pretty nice, covered in yellow lichen and little yellowish snails. The writing was pretty worn, but still fairly visible. And the setting really gets your imagination going.

A bit later i saw some folks down on the beach, one of which was a topless little 11 or 12 year old girl playing with her equally topless brother. Hmmm, i thought. There was no one else around except a woman who was maybe 100 yards down the beach, slowly making her way toward them with her arms outstretched as if she were pretending to fly.

Well that was day one at the course—a very satisfying one overall. I was extremely glad that it had begun and that i had some structure to my days for awhile. It helped me familiarize myself with the area so later in the week when the course was over i knew better what i wanted to do with myself.