The Self-Made Gaeilgeoir

A Conversation with Seaghan Mac an tSionnaigh

Episode #9

In this episode of “The Language Question,” I enjoy a captivating conversation with Seaghan Mac an tSionnaigh, a self-made Gaeilgeoir and passionate advocate for the Irish language. We delve into Seaghan’s personal journey with the language, touching on its significance to his own identity.

As someone who has travelled and lived in many countries, Seaghan also gives a fascinating insight into the thriving Irish language community abroad. Be sure to  tune in to this episode for an enlightening conversation on language, culture, and the profound impact of the Irish language on individuals and communities alike.

Podcast Notes

Discovering the Irish Language

Seaghan shares his remarkable journey from being a non-Irish speaker to fully immersing himself in the language and experiencing its vibrant culture and community. He reflects on his initial perception of Irish as a “dead language” and how this perspective has completely transformed over the years.

The Irish Language Community Abroad

Seaghan’s experience as a translator in Brussels, Belgium, highlights the vibrant Irish language community thriving outside of Ireland. He discusses the impact of Irish becoming an official language in the European Union, leading to an increase in Irish-speaking professionals abroad.

Struggles and Commitment

We discuss the struggles Seaghan faced during his language-learning journey. While he shares some valuable tips, he emphasises the value of perseverance and the joy of the learning process, while also acknowledging the available resources and online communities that provide support for Irish learners.

The Gaeltacht and Language Preservation

The conversation turns to the Gaeltacht, the traditional Irish-speaking regions, and the challenges they face in preserving the language and Seaghan shares his own insights into this challenge.

Identity and Language Ownership

The conversation touches upon the debate surrounding language ownership and the relationship between Irish speakers from different backgrounds and those considered native speakers from the Gaeltachtaí.

Seaghan’s story exemplifies the self-made Gaeilgeoir, driven by a profound love for the Irish language and a desire to be part of its preservation. His journey showcases the interconnectedness between language, identity, and community, both within the Gaeltacht and the growing Irish language community abroad.

This really is a fascinating conversation so be sure to listen in full above or download the transcript below.

More on Seaghan Mac an tSionnaigh

Seaghan Mac an tSionnaigh Majekodunmi

Seaghan Mac an tSionnaigh is a translator, musician, writer, and Irish language activist. He holds a PhD in Irish and has published numerous works of prose and poetry.

He has lived and lectured in Irish in Canada, the United States and Sweden. He’s a regular contributor to the Irish language media and is currently based in Brussels, where he works as a translator with one of the European institutions, translating legislation and other kinds of texts into Irish.

And, you can connect with Seaghan on social 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.