Member Profile: Kate Boswell

Kate Boswell, Foghlaimeoir na Gaeilge

Although born in New York, three of Kate Boswell’s four grandparents were of Irish and/or Scottish extraction. The grandmother to whom she was closest was from Belfast, with roots in Mayo. She sang old songs to Kate, and there was magic in her eyes and in the way she spoke. Kate’s mother told her that her face was “the map of Ireland”, and she decorated her outfits with claddagh brooches and the like. Kate had the unmatched privilege of being included on a number of family trips to Ireland and Scotland.

As an older kid, Kate discovered that she loved to study languages, and she was the only student in her school to pursue French, Spanish and Latin all at the same time. However, finding free learning resources was not as easy as it is today. One day, Kate found a copy of the 1972 edition of ‘Teach Yourself Gaelic’ in a used bookshop. No tapes or anything – nevertheless, a passion of rediscovery was born. She followed Gaelic all the way to the University of Glasgow a few years later.

Life intervened; Kate joined the US Navy and became a Russian translator. After her service, she found myself living in Northern Virginia, where all the defense contracting jobs are. Feeling unmoored, Kate went looking for a Scots Gaelic-speaking community in Washington DC: “I didn’t find it, but I did find Let’s Learn Irish! It was then an in-person operation. I started with a one-day intensive class. I remember I signed my name to the Líofa program, an endeavor of the government of the North, and Rónán said with a smile, “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.” He was right! I was hooked.”

Kate continues: “Let’s Learn Irish has been a blessing in my life. I’ve been taking classes consistently now for a year and a half, since returning from Ireland right before the pandemic hit, and I’m ever so grateful to Ronán, Caitríona, and my fellow students. I’m particularly excited about my new course, as I have a son now, and I’m bound and determined that he’ll have Irish too, so I can give back to the language all that it has given me.” Go n-éirí an bóthar leat, a Kate!

Cé Thusa?

Ainm/Name: Kate Boswell

Áit/Location: Richmond, Virginia, USA

B1 Intermediate

Ról sa Chomhphobal/Role in the Community:

Slí Beatha/Occupation:
Freelance translator

Fad ag foghlaim Gaeilge/Time learning Irish:
1.5 years

Caithimh Aimseartha/Hobbies:
Books, art, travel, anything to do with nature, aerial acrobatics

Cad is Fearr Leat?

Ceol/Music: Beatles, Runrig

Gradh Gheal Mo Chridhe

Bia/Food: Vegan macaroni and cheese

Caife le Jameson

Masculin Féminin

Podchraoladh/Podcast: The Thistle and Shamrock

Master and Margarita; Little, Big; Ulysses

Gach sórt cait

Laoch/Hero: Jesus of Nazareth; all working-class heroes

Áit in Éirinn/Place in Ireland: Ní féidir liom a roghnú! B’fhéidir Corca Dhuibhne

Frása Gaeilge/Irish phrase:
Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste

Miotaseolaíocht/Irish Mythology:
Deirdre an Bhróin

Don’t break your shin on a stool that is not in your way

Mana saoil/Life motto: I’ll tell you everything I know, and love is all.

Comhairle d’fhoghlaimeoirí nua/Advice for new learners of Irish:
Find the way into the language that suits you, whether it be grammar books or gamification, and stick with it! You must force yourself to speak, and immersion is king.

Join the online Irish community for cúrsaí, comhrá & ceardlanna, and follow along on social media @LetsLearnIrish – beidh fáilte romhat!

Related Articles

Irish and Scottish Gaelic: Similar yet Different

The two languages are similar enough that someone who can speak one of them comfortably may be able to comprehend the other, albeit with help from a dictionary at times. Irish and Scottish Gaelic sometimes draw comparisons to Spanish and Portuguese, which can be quite similar and share a high degree of mutual intelligibility in their written forms.