Family life is full of firsts and Vodafone wants to help you create and remember family firsts this summer. A three-week stint in the Gaeltacht is a rite of passage and a teenage first amongst Irish teenagers nationwide. Whether you ventured to the southern peninsula of An Daingean or headed west to Connemara, your first visit to the Gaeltacht was one full of memorable first-time experiences.
The Gaeltacht was an entirely new concept for most people, especially those who had grown up in the city. Seeing sheep roam the country roads and having to walk miles to the local shop, which doubled up as the village’s post office took a bit of getting used to.
However, once you settled into your new surroundings the three weeks in the Gaeltacht flew by and you never wanted your time in the Irish-speaking oasis to end. To take you back to those blissful weeks of living as Gaeilge, we have compiled a list of our top five firsts you experienced in the Gaeltacht.
#1. First Time Away from Home
For many a visit to the Gaeltacht was the first time you were away from home and your mammy’s dinners. For three weeks you moved in with your assigned Bean an Tí, who was usually a jolly, local woman who made homemade apple tarts and roast dinners every evening. Living in your Bean an Tí’s house greatly differed to living at home.
For starters, you got to share a room with your friends, which was extremely exciting. On the other hand, you now had to queue alongside 8 of your new housemates to use the shower. Sometimes, when Mary was taking too long in the shower or Sarah took the last potato at dinnertime – you missed the comforts of home terribly. However, the Bean an Tí and your new friends would always find a way to cheer you up.
#2. First Time Having to Speak as Gaeilge
You knew going to the Gaeltacht would involve speaking some Irish, but you didn’t realise just how much. The Irish college had a pretty strict policy on speaking as Gaeilge at all times. This was the first time that you had to talk in your native tongue outside of Mr Fitzgerald’s Irish class and to say it was difficult would be an understatement.
Your mornings consisted of Irish class, where you learnt everything from the Modh Coinniollach to acting out scenes in the local siopa. However, after Irish class was over, the Irish speaking didn’t finish. To begin with, it felt strange to have conversations with your buddies as Gaeilge, but after the three weeks it became second nature (looks like the concept of Irish College really does work!).
#3. First Time Activities
Most Irish Colleges run a tournament between the different houses for the duration of your time there. This competition saw you partaking in activities for the first time, that you never thought you’d do. You suddenly found yourself immersed in a world of fancy dress competitions, playing volleyball on the beach, singing in talent shows and playing badminton (everyone’s least favourite activity).
Even if you weren’t the competitive type before the Gaeltacht, by the end of your time there you only had winning on your mind as you competed to take home the ‘Teach is fearr’ title!
#4. First Time at a Céilí
Ah – the Céilí, everyone’s favourite part of Irish College. Most people had never Irish danced a day in their lives before visiting the Gaeltacht. However, they found themselves swiftly dancing their h-aon, do, trís across the local parish hall’s floor.
The Céilí took place every evening and gave you the chance to have some fun and dance with the buachaill or cailín you’d been spotting in Irish class. The memories you made having the craic and dancing ‘The Walls of Limerick’ with your new friends every night stay with you for a lifetime.
#5. First Cross Country Friendships
The Gaeltacht gave you the opportunity to make friends from other parts of Ireland for the first time. There was something about spending time in the rural Irish countryside that really bonded people together.
Whether you bonded over the Bean an Tí’s terrible food, or on your Sunday commute to mass, you quickly formed inseparable connections. By the end of the three weeks your friendship group had doubled, and you had made friends for life.
Over to you now. Share your teenage firsts memories of the Gaeltacht with us in the comments box below.