Fear na bhfocal - The Wordman

– A Conversation with Gary Bannister

Episode #16

In this episode of The Language Question, I sit down with the esteemed linguist Gary Bannister to explore the depths of the Irish language, its historical significance, and its role in our identity. From the transformative impact of the de Bhaldraithe dictionary to Gary’s unexpected passion for Russian during the Cold War era, join us for a captivating journey that intertwines history, culture, and linguistics. Dive in and discover the rich tapestry of the Irish language and its promising future.

Podcast Notes

Journey with the Irish Language

Gary takes us on a nostalgic trip, recounting his initial encounters with the Irish language during his school days. He speaks of what ignited his passion and how the de Bhaldraithe dictionary became a beacon in his linguistic journey.

The Legacy of de Bhaldraithe

On that, this episode sheds light on the monumental work of de Bhaldraithe and his pioneering English-Irish dictionary. Gary provides an in-depth look into how this dictionary not only transformed the way Irish was perceived but also laid the foundation for the modern Irish we know today.

An Unexpected Love for Russian

Gary’s linguistic pursuits didn’t stop at Irish. He shares intriguing tales from his time studying Russian in Trinity College, offering a unique perspective on learning the language during the tense Cold War era. His anecdotes from his time in Moscow are not to be missed!

Vision for a Bilingual Ireland

Our conversation takes a hopeful turn as Gary and I discuss the resurgence of interest in the Irish language. We touch upon the increasing popularity of Gaelscoileanna (Irish-language schools) and express our shared dream of seeing a truly bilingual Ireland in the near future.

This episode is a testament to the beauty and resilience of the Irish language. I have no doubt that by listening to Gary, it will inspire listeners to appreciate, explore, and perhaps even embark on their own linguistic journey. Whether you’re a seasoned linguist, a history buff, or someone curious about the Irish language’s rich tapestry, this episode promises a captivating exploration.

And don’t forget, to celebrate our enlightening discussion, Gary and his publisher, New Island Books, have generously offered a copy of his latest works, the Teasáras Gaeilge-Béarla, the Irish-English Thesaurus. Listen in to discover how you can get your hands on this invaluable resource!

More on Gary Bannister

Gary Bannister

A distinguished linguist and scholar, Dr. Garry Bannister’s expertise spans both the Irish and Russian languages and literatures. Educated at Trinity College Dublin, Garry’s academic journey took him to Moscow on a scholarship in 1977, where he not only earned a degree in Russian language and literature but also completed a PhD in comparative linguistics.

His pioneering spirit led him to establish the first Department of Modern Irish at Moscow State University in the early 1980s. Upon returning to Ireland, he dedicated nearly three decades to St. Columba’s College in Dublin, heading their Irish Department and also serving as a visiting lecturer on modern Irish literature at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.

Garry’s literary contributions are vast and varied. He has collaborated on translations of Irish literary classics such as An tOileánach and Cré na Cille. He’s the brain behind the much-acclaimed Foclóir an Fhoghlaimeora, Labhair Rúisis Liom, and Essential Irish. His most recent masterpiece, Teasáras Gaeilge-Béarla, the Irish-English Thesaurus, stands as a testament to his lifelong dedication to the Irish language.

Additionally, his works like Proverbs in Irish, What’s That as Gaeilge? An English-Irish Phrasebook, and the groundbreaking translation of classical Zen koans in A Path Home – Conair Siar have been celebrated by readers and scholars alike.

Learn more about Gary here:

Free Irish Learning Resources Guide

Whether you are just starting out or have already begun your language learning journey, I have compiled a collection of resources that should help you along the way.