Christine Murphy works in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, and first took an interest in the Irish language while still a secondary school student, although she never had many opportunities to use the Irish she learned after school-life.
When her son began attending a Gaelscoil a few years ago, her interest in the language was re-awakened and she began to learn again. Having tried various courses and night classes, the opportunity arose in her workplace to do Gaelchultúr’s Teastas Gairmiúil sa Ghaeilge.
Christine really liked the layout of the course, especially the way in which complex grammatical points were taught, and the homework that was do be done in addition to the classwork.
“I tried a few times over the years to learn Irish again, but I never got very far. I decided to do something a bit more challenging and took the opportunity with Gaelchultúr. The course was more intensive than the ones I had tried before, but without being too difficult.
“The weekly homework was a great motivator. It focussed me on my learning, it put a little bit of extra pressure on me and I used to go to the library to do extra study. I felt that I was learning the grammar correctly this time. I have to admit, the homework terrified me at first! I didn’t realise it would be a part of it and took me about a week or two to catch up with it,” she said.
Although she found the course challenging, as a person with a full-time job, Christine said she liked the teaching method a lot and that she felt that it was a great advantage that the course was a little more intense than the night-classes she had previously taken.
“The best thing about it, for me, was the group work we did when we had the chance to speak Irish together and to practise. That was great for boosting the confidence, and adding to the confidence I had already gotten from previous grammar lessons. I also liked the listening comprehension, even though I didn’t always understand every word!”
Christine said that she now has the confidence and interest to undertake other Irish course and achiever an even higher standard of Irish. Her written and reading ability have vastly improved and she wants to polish her oral and aural ability with further courses. In the course she did, there were exercises in translation from English to Irish, and an emphasis on reading comprehension, and she said she feels “very capable” in those aspects of the language.
“The teacher we had was very good, and he gave us lots of chances to speak Irish in the classroom, rather than speaking all the time himself. He would often go back over things we had covered during the course, especially if someone in the class had a difficulty. The discussion on grammar was very helpful and he would answer knowledgeably any question I had,” she said.
In her present role with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Christine doesn’t get many opportunities to use her Irish. That said, she is happy that she now has the ability to help with issues to do with the Irish language, when necessary and when possible, and she hopes to find new ways in the future to use what she’s learned with Gaelchultúr.
“I rarely get to speak Irish in my working life but I would like to speak it more often in my personal life. There are various groups around the area who speak Irish together. I’d like to seize opportunities like that to improve my spoken Irish even more, especially when I retire,” she says.