A three-week stint at 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 will be full of memorable first-time experiences. Here are 5 Teenage Firsts You Experience at The Gaeltacht:
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The Gaeltacht is usually an entirely new concept for most people, especially those who have grown up in the city. Seeing sheep roam the country roads and having to walk miles to the local shop, which doubles up as the village’s post office takes a bit of getting used to.
However, once you settle into your new surroundings the three weeks in the Gaeltacht will fly by and you will end up wanting 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 your teen will experience in the Gaeltacht.
#1. First Time Away from Home
For many a visit to the Gaeltacht is the first time you will be away from the comforts home (and your mammy’s dinners!). For three weeks you will move in with your assigned Bean an Tí, who is usually a jolly, local woman who makes homemade apple tarts and roast dinners every evening. Living in your Bean an Tí’s house will greatly differ to living at home.
For starters, you get to share a room with your friends, which is extremely exciting. On the other hand, you now have to queue alongside 8 of your new housemates to use the shower.
Sometimes, when Mary is taking too long in the shower or Sarah takes the last potato at dinnertime – you will miss the comforts of home terribly. However, the Bean an Tí and your new friends will usually find a way to cheer you up.
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#2. First Time Having to Speak as Gaeilge
You know going to the Gaeltacht will involve speaking some Irish, but you probably didn’t realise just how much. The Irish college has a pretty strict policy on speaking as Gaeilge at all times. This will the first time that you have to talk in your native tongue outside of Irish class at school..
Your mornings consist of Irish class, where you learn everything from the Modh Coinniollach to acting out scenes in the local siopa. However, after Irish class is over, the Irish speaking doesn’t finish.
To begin with, it will feel strange to have conversations with your buddies as Gaeilge, but after the three weeks it does become 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 sees you partaking in activities for the first time, things that you never thought you’d do.
You may suddenly find 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 will only have winning on your mind as you compete to take home the ‘Teach is fearr’ title!
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#4. First Time at a Céilí
Ah – the Céilí, everyone’s favourite part of Irish College. Most people have never Irish danced a day in their lives before visiting the Gaeltacht. However, they find themselves swiftly dancing their h-aon, do, trís across the local parish hall’s floor.
The Céilí usually takes place every evening and gives you the chance to have some fun and dance with the buachaill or cailín you’ve been keeping an eye on in Irish class.
The memories you make 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 will give you the opportunity to make friends from other parts of Ireland for the first time. There is something about spending time in the rural Irish countryside that really bonds people together.
Whether you bond over the Bean an Tí’s terrible food, or on your Sunday commute to mass, you quickly form inseparable connections.
By the end of the three weeks your friendship group has doubled, and you will have made friends for life.
Over to you now. Any other particular memories of the Gaeltacht? Share them with us in the comments box below.