The Radical Revolutionary

A Conversation with Caoimhín De Barra

Episode #7

In this episode, I am joined by Caoimhín De Barra, a professor of history at Gonzaga University in Washington and a native of Cork. Caoimhín shares his inspiring journey of learning Irish as a non-speaker and struggling student in national school, to now raising his own children through the language while residing in the United States. We delve into his motivation for learning the language, his thoughts on a potential revival of the Irish language, and how it compares to other revived languages. He also shares a radical idea for revolutionising the Irish language. If you’re interested in the Irish language or language revival, this episode is a definite must-listen.

Podcast Notes

From Struggling Student to Fluent Speaker

Caoimhín shares his experience of being a weak student of the Irish language in school, struggling through pass level Irish, and how it wasn’t until he immersed himself in the language while living in Galway that he began to understand it better. He also discusses how he came to appreciate the nuances of the language and how it’s connected to Irish culture.

The Why behind Learning the Language

Caoimhín talks about his personal motivation for learning the Irish language, which stems from a desire to connect with his heritage and to keep the language alive. He also shares his belief that the language is an essential part of Irish identity and culture, and how it has the power to bring people together.

Reviving the Irish Language

Caoimhín discusses the challenges of reviving the Irish language, and how it compares to other revived languages, such as Hebrew. He shares his thoughts on the importance of preserving the language and how it can be done by encouraging more people to learn it and use it in their daily lives.

A Radical Idea for Revolutionising the Language

Towards the end of the episode, Caoimhín shares his, self-proclaimed, radical idea for revolutionizing the Irish language, which involves a requirement for state employees to be Irish speakers, as well as establishing an Irish Language university, amongst other fascinating ideas.

Overall, this episode is a fascinating exploration of one person’s journey with the Irish language and the importance of preserving it for future generations. I would strongly encourage you to listen to the full episode and learn more about Caoimhín’s personal experiences and insights.

More on Caoimhín De Barra

Caomhín De Barra Headshot

Caoimhín De Barra is Associate professor of history at Gonzaga University in Washington State, originally from Blarney County Cork.

He’s a passionate supporter of the Irish language and advocate for its revival.

He’s the author of The Coming of the Celts, AD 1860: Celtic Nationalism in Wales and Ireland. And Gaeilge: A Radical Revolution.

Caoimhín’s main research interest is in the relationship between language and identity, as part of a broader focus on the history of nationalism. He has taught courses on British, Irish and European history, in addition to courses on imperialism and nationalism.

You will find Caoimhín’s book, Gaeilge: A Radical Revolution 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.