Learning Irish from Michigan, USA

after learning Irish from Michigan went to Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher

My experience with the Irish culture began while visiting my grandmother’s house in the Bronx, NY.  Her house in the Bronx was a very lively place and served as a gathering place for the local Irish people. The house was filled with Irish music, singing and conversation long into the night. Back home in Michigan, my mother carried on some of the Irish traditions she grew up with, such as opening the front door to welcome in the New Year, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by dressing us in green and wearing our “Erin Go Braugh” pins to school, and the most important: never, ever placing shoes on any table! However, there was little exposure to the Irish language.

taking a break from learning Irish from Michigan to go to Howth
Howth, Dublin

It wasn’t until my doctoral studies that I had the opportunity to visit Ireland. Beginning with my visit to Dublin in 2009, I instantly felt at home and discovered a desire to learn more about my Irish heritage, the Irish language, and culture. I embarked on a study of Irish history, mythology, and research into my Irish heritage. Yet, learning Irish from Michigan, I quickly encountered a lack of resources to learn the Irish language. This is especially challenging as I live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). At one time, the UP was home to many Irish laborers who immigrated to the area to work the copper mines in the mid-to-late 1800s. Today, very few Irish people remain in the UP, outside of a few families.

I began learning Irish using multiple on-line platforms. As an adult learner, I realized the need to find an Irish language resource that supported and encourage practical application of the language. It was by happen stance that I found the Let’s Learn Irish website. Discovering Let’s Learn Irish was timely given my frustration with a perceived lack of progress and no interaction while learning Irish from Michigan. The Let’s Learn Irish courses and teachers have introduced me to a whole new level of learning in terms of grammar and facilitating practical conservation in a supportive manner. It is also good to know there are other adults interested in learning Irish and willing to engage others in this pursuit.

Guinness Brewery

My wife and I have made many visits to Dublin and the surrounding areas, including two visits when my daughter was able to join us. This past summer, I was also able to visit the west of Ireland. Although it was a tour, we stopped at the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and the Wild Atlantic Coast. The countryside of Ireland is beautiful and reflected a very different way of life versus that of Dublin. It was also my first visit to An Gaeltacht. I definitely plan to visit and stay in An Gaeltacht in the future, especially the counties Mayo and Sligo, where my mother’s family originated. I look forward to taking my daughter back to Ireland, especially to experience the western regions. My continued learning ‘an Ghaeilge’ through Let’s Learn Irish is part of my preparation for my next adventure to Ireland.

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

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