Christy Evans reports on the revival of the Irish language in Britain
MUSIC IN THE HILLS
The Malvern Hills in Worcestershire were alive with the sound of Irish music recently when a festival of dance, language and music descended on the area.
Pat Barrett, who lives in Hertfordshire, explained:
"S na G is a global festival of Irish culture and the Irish language. Over 400 events took place in Ireland, and there were events as far away as Canada and New Zealand."
Pat writes short stories in Irish for adult learners of the language, and he launched his new booklet at the gathering.
S na G, is short for 'Seachtain na Gaeilge, and the festival featured Irish films and Irish classes, as well as lectures and scenic walks.
Malvern was chosen as the keynote gathering in Britain because of its beauty and its many Irish connections. Indeed, the town's name derives from the Gaelic Maol Bheinn, or 'Bald Mountain.'
George Bernard Shaw was a regular visitor to the town and the surrounding hills. GBS cofounded the town's famous annual festival with his friend the composer Elgar. Even today, local people make much of their association with Ireland.
The keynote lecture was given by Alison Dalleywater entitled 'Irish culture and the Second Generation.' In it she said that many immigrant Irish in the 1950s struggled to make a living, and were too busy to reflect on their own rich culture.
Happily, Dalleywater claimed, a young, educated generation now seek a deeper, more authentic culture, which gives pride of place to the Irish language:
"We owe our parents' generation a huge debt of gratitude. Their hard work has allowed us so many more opportunities. However, many older people are baffled by the new interest in the Irish language. They're amazed that a growing number of young people in Britain see Irish as a fun language that they love to speak!"
There are now regularly Irish language events all over Britain, and absolute beginners are always welcome. To find out more, contact Dónal on 020 8348 5016, or donal.kelleher@yahoo. co.uk
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2006 Christy Evans