Oisín Ó Doinn has been teaching in Gaelchultúr since September 2018. When he is not teaching, he can be found gardening, reading or cooking. Nuachtlitir Ghaelchultúir spoke to him recently to find out more about him.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Dublin and I was raised in the north of the city in Raheny. You can say that I am a true Dubliner. Both my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents are all from Dublin. The family tree goes back like that for another couple of generations. I have one brother and one sister, and I am the eldest in the family.
Before I was born my parents decided that their children would speak Irish and they sent all of us to all-Irish primary and secondary schools. I will always be very grateful to them for making this decision (as well as many others of course). My education through the medium of Irish did not come to an end when I completed the Leaving Certificate. When I left secondary school, I studied business through the medium of Irish as well as the language itself with Fiontar in Dublin City University. After my undergraduate degree I undertook a master’s in Scríobh agus Cumarsáid na Gaeilge with University College Dublin. On completion of the master’s in 2013 I started my doctorate in Blended Learning with Fiontar. I completed my doctorate in August of last year.
How did you start teaching Irish to adults?
I did not come to teaching via the usual path. I started teaching Irish to adults when I was 21 having completed a certificate in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). I undertook this certificate while on work experience during the third year of my undergraduate degree. I decided to do a TEFL certificate because I was not under the same pressure regarding study that year and because I also wanted to travel on completion of my undergraduate degree. During this year I secured a position as a student on work experience with Fiontar’s research team. I worked on the following research projects; logainm.ie, ainm.ie, and tearma.ie (or focal.ie as it used to be called). I managed to learn an incredible amount from Fiontar’s multitalented team during my time with them. When this work experience came to an end, I secured a teaching contract with a European institution called Eurofound for the summer. It occurred to me that it was a little bit ironic that the first job I secured thanks to my TEFL qualification was a job teaching Irish. I have been teaching Irish to adults mostly since then.
When I returned to university for my final year I applied for the Fulbright award to teach Irish in an American university as a teaching assistant. These awards are usually in great demand and fortunately, even though I was very young at the time, I was successful in securing a place on the programme. This was my first fulltime teaching position and I spent a year teaching Irish in the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities in Minnesota from 2011 to 2012. This was not the last time that I taught Irish in America however. As a part of my doctoral research I went to the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to teach Irish and to conduct research. I have spent time teaching in UCD, DCU and most recently in Maynooth University as well.
What do you do when you are not teaching Irish classes?
Currently when I am not teaching Irish classes with Gaelchultúr I am usually doing corrections or trying to get used to the different systems that we have here in the college. I have only been working here a short time and I feel like I still have a lot to learn about the college’s procedures.
What do you do when you have free time?
When I have free time I like to cook, read, play videogames and garden. Food is the thing that gives me the biggest satisfaction in life. In my opinion there's nothing better than enjoying a tasty meal in the company of friends. I'm very interested in food from different cultures and I love to research a dish that I haven't tried before and make it from scratch. Barbecue is my favourite style of cooking and I'm not talking about American barbecue or barbecued meat only . I really love barbecued vegetables such as courgette or aubergine crisps. That said it's hard to beat barbecued spareribs that have been prepared correctly. I don't think that there's a better taste or texture a food can have than food that has been barbecued.
I suppose my interest in gardening stems from my interest in cooking. I've been growing vegetables since I was 18 and I have a small plot in Saint Anne’s Park in north Dublin. I take great pleasure from growing vegetables and fruits, and for me they're the best-tasting vegetables and fruits around. I grow every sort of thing on the plot, from strawberries, to Jerusalem artichokes, to kale. The things I most like to grow on the plot are raspberries. I was given raspberry canes five years ago by a student of mine who was a botanist and I still have them on the plot. They taste far better than the raspberries you get in the shops.
What are your plans for the coming months?
In the coming months I intend to prepare the plot for the spring. I also want to do a bit of travelling around Europe to visit some friends that I haven't seen in a while.