There are no more excuses for not practicing your cúpla focal as a “Pop-Up Gaeltacht” will kick off the party season in New York next Tuesday, December 6. Happening in Murphy’s Pub in Manhattan from 7pm onwards, the event hopes to gather as many of the city and surrounding area’s Irish speakers together as possible, simply to sit down and have a chat. Many Irish learners living abroad bemoan the lack of opportunities available for them to speak the language in an informal non-classroom environment and a trip to the pub is about as informal as you can get!
The Gaeltacht areas in Ireland are regions of the country where Irish is the main language spoken and the language of day-to-day life. By transforming Murphy’s into a “pop-up” Gaeltacht for the evening, lovers and learners of the language will be able to return to that immersive environment if only for a few hours. Speakers can also show off one of the greatest parts of the Irish culture to a New York bar, where you often meet people who don’t know that Ireland has its own native language.
The idea of the pop-ups first emerged in Dublin where a gathering was held last week on November 24, receiving a great reception and a packed-out venue. With anti-Irish sentiment often heard in the mainstream media in Ireland, along with complaints that nobody speaks the language anymore, organizers felt it was high time to show off the number of people speaking Irish in the capital, taking the language out of the normal Irish-speaker realms to places where it may not always be heard.
The original organizers, Peadar Ó Caomhánaigh and Osgur Ó Ciardha, had spoken of hopes that the concept would spread to other parts of Ireland and to other parts of the world and before the first pop-up event even took place in Bar Rua in Dublin, plans were underway to attempt the idea in New York, a stand-out city in the promotion of the language and a place where all minority language speakers can find a place and a people with whom to converse.
“For me, Irish is a living, breathing, working and tweeting language,” said Siobhán Ní Chiobhán, one of the New York event’s organizers.
“I moved to New York over a year ago and I love meeting people who speak and who are learning the language. For months, I have been thinking about organizing an informal Irish language event, where people can meet up and speak in Irish.
“When the Pop Up Gaeltacht was advertised in Dublin, I felt it was the perfect vehicle to bring people together, out of the classroom, into an informal setting to converse through Irish.”
Supported by the Brooklyn branch of Conradh na Gaeilge [the Gaelic League], Cumann Uí Cléirigh, named after the 1916 revolutionary Thomas Clarke who began an Irish club in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, Murphy’s in Midtown Manhattan was fortunate enough to have an Irish speaker behind the bar and so attendees won’t even have to code switch to English while ordering a drink!
“It's a night out with no agenda, no cost, no grammar lessons just new and old friends meeting up speaking a language that we love,” added Ní Chiobháin.
“And of course being able to order your drinks 'As Gaeilge' with Danny our native Irish-speaking barman from Gaoth Dobhair behind the bar.”
The Dublin pop-ups are to be a monthly event, held at a different bar each time, with hopes to continue the tradition in New York also throughout 2017.
Beatha teanga í a labhairt! (A language’s life comes from speaking it.)