Tá Seachtain na Gaeilge buailte linn! The next two weeks, on the run up to St. Patrick's Day, are when we, in Ireland, get the chance to celebrate our national language - Gaeilge.
The Irish language hasn't always been viewed as a thing to celebrate. In a country where a hideous school curriculum killed any interest in it for much of the population, for far too many years there is still quite a lot of animosity towards it. My parents, despite being subjected to dull literature and painful grammar lessons during their school years, still somehow managed to recognise the cultural and educational value of Gaeilge. Thanks to them my siblings and I are all fluent Irish speakers and - as we learned through immersion education - it never had a negative connotation for us. Except, perhaps, for the painful grammar lessons.
Gaeilge has turned out to be one of the most important gifts my parents have ever given me. It has brought employment, friendships, opportunities and a connection to my culture I never would have had without it. I feel proud and lucky to have it.
This week, I'm doing my bit to promote my beloved second language amongst the next generation. I am helping the writer/publisher/musician and all-round creative cool-dude, Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, with his road show 'Féile Futa Fata'. We're visiting schools where Tadhg performs some of the children's songs from his extensive catalogue and I get to try and calm the kids down again by reading them stories from Futa Fata's fabulous book collection.
|Story Writing Workshop with the Big Kids|
It's been a lot of fun so far and so lovely to hear the children singing their hearts out 'as Gaeilge'.
Tadhg's company, Futa Fata produce the most gorgeous books for children. The quality is always top-notch with beautiful illustrations and wonderful story lines. One of the books I'm reading this week is Neilín agus an Cat, which absolutely fits that description.
It is a story about a family of elephants with a theme that is common to so many of us. The Mammy and Daddy Elephant have to go back to work and leave their baby, Neilín, with a childminder. Mammy Elephant isn't quite sure about the choice they have made and when Neilín starts exhibiting some strange behaviour all of the elephants in the community begin to worry.
It is funny, charming, very sweet and was well received by all the children I've read it to so far - including Lile and Sábha.
Futa Fata have generously given me two copies to share with my readers. If you'd like to win a copy to read to your own baby elephants and maybe inspire a bit of Grá don Ghaeilge (Love for Irish) in them, please feel free to enter using the gadget below. I'll announce the winner on St. Patrick's Day!
For more nice things 'as Gaeilge' you can check out the following:
- For Irish language greeting cards - check out this company I once owned: Cártaí Rúbaí
- For 5 easy ways to use Irish with your children - have a look at this post I wrote for Wholesome Ireland last year.
- To help your children develop their spoken Irish you might find Smarty Cat Games useful.
- Here's my review of a story book that also has a smattering of Irish throughout: Oisín the Brave Moon Adventure.