The Power of Individual Action

– A Conversation with Derek Hollingsworth

Episode #23

In this episode, we delve into the captivating journey of Derek Hollingsworth, a man who transformed from having no Irish language in his life to becoming a cornerstone of the Irish language community in Dublin 15. Derek’s story is a powerful testament to the impact of individual action and the profound role of the Irish language in shaping personal and community identity. Through his experiences, we explore the challenges, successes, and the undeniable passion that drives the revival and promotion of our cherished language. Join us for an inspiring conversation that reaffirms the importance of reconnecting with our heritage and the difference one person can make in the vibrant tapestry of the Irish language and culture.

Podcast Notes

A Journey of Rediscovery

Derek takes us through his personal journey back to the Irish language—a path that began in the most unlikely of circumstances. With no Irish in his life growing up and a disconnection from the language in school, Derek’s story is one that many of us can relate to. Yet, it’s his encounter with a pivotal figure and a subsequent trip that reignited his passion for the language, showcasing the unpredictable nature of our connections to our heritage.

Building a Community from Scratch

One of the most compelling parts of our conversation revolves around Derek’s initiative to start an Irish language group in his area, despite his self-professed lack of proficiency at the time. His account of organising the first event, the challenges faced, and the eventual creation of Pobal Gaeilge 15 is a testament to the impact that individual action can have on community and culture.

The Role of Irish in Personal and Community Identity

Derek eloquently discusses the complex feelings of respect, embarrassment, and shame associated with the Irish language. His reflections on the impact of his grandfather’s proficiency in Irish and how it sowed the seeds of his connection to the language offer a deep dive into the intertwining of language and identity.

The Importance of Taking Action

Through Derek’s narrative, we’re reminded of the power of taking action and the role each of us can play in preserving and promoting our language. His engagement in various initiatives and the establishment of an Irish-speaking community in Dublin 15 highlight how individual efforts can lead to significant cultural contributions.

Looking Forward

Our conversation also touches on the challenges and opportunities facing the Irish language today. Derek shares his insights on the importance of inclusivity, the potential of technology in language learning, and the need for a collective effort to secure the future of Irish.

More on Derek Hollingsworth

Derek Hollingsworth

With a background marked by a minimal engagement with Irish during his school years, Derek’s encounter with a Gaeltacht native sparked a profound realization of his personal responsibility towards the language’s survival. This pivotal moment led him to embrace the language, inspired by figures like Manchán Magan and initiatives such as Bernard Dunne’s Bród Club, igniting a stop-start journey of learning that persists to this day.

Embodying the ‘DIY’ spirit, Derek’s founding of ‘Muintir na Gaeilge Ongar’ aimed to promote Irish in his local area, despite initial challenges that showcased his commitment and resilience. The eventual formation of ‘Pobal Gaeilge 15’ under his leadership has seen the organization of numerous community and language events, making a significant impact on the Irish language landscape in Dublin 15.

Beyond community work, Derek is also a writer and the mind behind the Irish Language Matters blog. Currently working on a book exploring the attitudes and psychology impacting the use of the Irish language, Derek’s insights are grounded in his experiences as a learner, not a native speaker, making his perspective uniquely relatable to many on their Irish language journey.

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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.