Friday, January 30, 2009

Imbolc on the Hill of Tara

The TaraWatch crew will be hosting an Imbolc gathering at Teamhair on Sunday, 1st of February.

The intention is to walk sunwards around the hill with lights or lanterns at dusk, pay homage to the festival and by doing so highlight the continued destruction of the Tara Complex due to the works of the M3 Motorway now reaching its end phase.

People are invited to gather in the Hill of Tara car park at 4.30.

Organiser, John Farrelly, said:

"This should also act as a reminder of the hubris style development which ran riot over our country for the last ten years, laying our environment, social system and economy low, something Tara protesters always warned about and which has now came true."

John Farrelly (087)127-6829

Vincent Salafia (087) 132-3365

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How to learn Gaelic (or any "small, local" language)

Tim from Mill a h-Uile Rud writes:
Learning a small, local language like Gaelic is fundamentally different from learning a massive, international language like French or Spanish. Most people come to grief when they try to learn Gaelic because they approach it like French or Spanish, and you just can't learn Gaelic that way.


Tim provides a number of online resources and has excellent suggestions that apply not only to Gaelic, but to any language spoken mostly by small, insular groups of people. Basically, you need to speak some every day, even when you only have a little bit of the language. The learner needs to shed their fear of making mistakes, and know that everyone knows mistakes are a part of learning. And if you can't find an immersive environment in person, you can get some of that effect via Gaelic radio on the Internet and (in some areas) Gaelic-language television.

It takes more persistence, and more effort to seek out the groups and networks of people who can help you practice. The learner also needs to understand a variety of cultural issues that can help or hinder the process. But with dedication and applied effort, it can be easier than you may think.

Gaelic speakers and learners are relatively lucky, compared to many of the endangered languages of the Americas: we have Internet radio stations, websites and good distance-learning programs, in addition to numerous courses in combined book and tape formats. While it's always easier to learn with others in a group, preferably with fluent, native speakers involved, it's possible to get a solid start on one's own.

Now back to increasing my skills anns a'Ghàidhlig ;-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Faclair Dwelly air Loidhne!

Students and speakers of Gaelic, as well as anyone interested in Gaelic culture, will be pleased to discover that Dwelly's Dictionary is now available online. Dwelly's is not only a language resource, but is brimming with folklore and cultural bits. Definitely an essential, and now in searchable form.

Anns a' Ghàidhlig: Am faclair mòr Gàidhlig - Beurla aig Dwelly air an lìon

and In English: The online version of Dwelly's great Scots Gaelic - English dictionary

Monday, January 12, 2009

Language Preservation: Scotland, Ireland, and America

To preserve the languages of our ancestors, to pray in their native language  - the language of the spirits - it is necessary for the passion for the language to be carried on by the next generations. Here are a few examples of younger people doing good work, from Alba (Gàidhlig), Éire (Gaeilge), and America (multiple Native tongues):

Scottish Gaelic

Ireland: Will the Irish Language Survive?

An award-winning documentary filmed and produced by the Norman High School Native American Club. It examines the endangered languages of Native Americans through the eyes of the Elders.

Norman OK students' film courtesy of

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Meath Motorway Ancestors to be Reburied...

... well, some of them. Reburial seems to only be planned for those who the staff of the National Museum believes died less than 100 years ago. So, your grandmother gets reburied, but Fionn mac Cumhaill stays in the museum.
Human remains removed from the Scaruppa burial site near Enfield during roadworks there, and in the possession of the National Museum of Ireland, will be returned for reinterment, a museum spokesman has said.
A team of archaeologists excavating on the site six years ago, on what was to become part of the M4 motorway, uncovered the remains of 461 bodies dating from the fourth century up to the early 1960s. The site included a 'cillin’, a burial site for stillborn and unbaptised babies.


But for the ancestors whose graves have been paved over by the NRA, what will they think of having their bones reburied in a new location? And though I strongly support and commend Bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith, for his activism and offers to perform the reburials, I also have to think of the ancestors who were not Christians. Still, if we can even get the bones of the older ancestors returned, I think it's far more respectful to bury them in Christian-consecrated ground than to leave them on display or in storage in a museum. I don't know much about Dr. Smith, but perhaps those participating in the reburial ceremony could aim for inclusion in this. There are many prayers from the Celtic Christian period that would serve well for both Christians and the Polytheists who proceeded them. Even if only the Christians get reburied, I would like to see any ceremony acknowledge all of those whose graves were violated.

Though this is definitely a step forward, so far the pre-Christian ancestors are still out of luck.