The bitter cold weather could not stop a big crowd of sixty at least from taking over three rooms on two levels of NYU's Ireland House. They had come for Lá Gaeilge, a five hour session with four teachers rotating between three groups at different levels of fluency. It was so much fun to be with such a big group of Irish-lovers in the middle of Greenwich Village.
Pádraig Ó Cearúill's success in creating so popular an Irish language program at NYU has been fifteen years in the making, since he first began as a lecturer at the university in 1995. A native of Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal (Tír Chonaill), he's responsible for making Gaeilgeoirí of many an American who've come to his wonderful classes at Ireland House. He's so popular in fact, he's the recipient of a student-voted Golden Dozen Teaching Award. As a result it's hard to get a spot in one of his accredited or more informal classes, but he's very accommodating, so e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and get yourself going, or advance from where you're at. He's a New York City treasure.
The Hedge School - An Scoil Chois Claí is associated with Iona College in New Rochelle, and was founded by Hilary Mhic Suibhne, also a teacher at NYU since 1998. She is a central figure and scholar in the Irish language community of New York and a wonderful teacher. You can also check out her Irish language blog called Hilary NY. She's hosting another Lá Gaeilge at Iona (how perfect a college name!), and lots of people get very excited about it, for example the Irish Gaelic Circle of Connecticut, who've posted the attached notice about on their blog.
Another great addition to the NYU Gaeltacht is Fulbright scholar Dr. Art Hughes from Queen's University of Belfast and the Universite Rennes. His interests include Irish revival in Belfast in the 18th and 19th centuries, Irish place-names, the dialects of Ulster Irish, bardic poetry and the influence of the Irish language on Ulster English, and he is a publisher, author and translator of fascinating books. You can check out his Benmadigan Press, and pick up great resources for learning, or great works of genius from the canon of Gaelic Irish literature.
I didn't meet the fourth teacher, as the event was so big and we were all very busy, and I had to run to the Lillies seisiún afterwards. By the time I got there it was already full!
New York is host to so much in the world of Irish culture. Get with it yourself. Learn the language, support the music--be part of the renaissance.
The lógó Gaeilge above was made by Kevin Boyce who is happy to see it used by anyone who so wishes. The picture of Ó Cearúill with his students performing music was taken by Anderw Carey.