Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
I’ve just returned from several weeks spent in the Donegal Gaeltacht in Ireland, where I was studying Modern Irish (contrary to popular belief, the language should not be called ‘Gaelic’ when speaking English). I was in the area last year, undertaking the same course, which is intensive and immersive. Students travel to an Irish-speaking area, where, for a week, they attend classes and live with an Irish-speaking family. The participants tend to be a mix of university students like myself, people wanting to be teachers in Ireland (which requires passing a very difficult series of Irish-language proficiency exams) and older, retired people learning the language out of interest.
It’s not all work, though. Each night, students on the course participate in a variety of cultural activities, ranging from Irish dancing to poetry sessions. This year, I was struck by the importance of Irish as a medium of storytelling, and, most importantly, a medium through which early Irish legends and culture is kept alive.
Whether it is sung in traditional music sessions at the pub, recited in poetry or spoken in legendary stories about the local area, Irish preserves the continually evolving history and mythology of Ireland. A highlight of the trip was a walk around the village of Gleann Cholm Cille, where we were staying, led by a local resident, who told us stories (in Irish) about the history of the area, including legendary stories about St Colum Cille (Columba), who supposedly fled to the region in penance for instigating a battle, and whose penitential exile formed the basis of a pilgrimage route that still exists in the village today.