Ever since I was little, I was interested in unusual things. And when I was young, I used to be interested in ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, the Celts, and in every kind of archaology and history. I heard Polish and German, and my father knew some French and German. A dear friend of ours, Adelaide Hallden, knew German very well. I only had 2 years of bad German before going to college, but I used to be interested in languages. There is only one person in my family tree that I know where he specifically came from, and he was from Clare in Ireland. I have Irish and German and French ancestors, and maybe from other places too.
I heard a record one time in Irish, when I was a teenager. I said (seriously) that it didn't sound like English at all. I didn't know that Irish was its own language, and thought that it was just an Irish dialect of English!
When I started college, I took a class called"Medieval Celtic Literature." We read everything in English. I was taught that Irish was a real language, but that it was dead, and there were only a couple of farmers who would talk to their cows in it (I'm not kidding, my teacher said this)! I have since met this teacher again, and we now speak Irish together!
Eighteen years later, I got to know someone from Ulster, Will McConnell, and I asked him, "have you ever heard Irish?" He answered me that he certainly had, and that there is an Irish language radio program to be heard every Saturday morning on WFUV here in New York! And he told me that it was a living language! it was like I had found a Latimeria chalumnae (Coelacanth)! Barra O'Donnovan (may he rest in peace) was a friend of his, and he told me that there is an article in Irish to be had in The Irish Echoby Barra, every week! I could hardly believe it!
Well, by gosh, wasn't the program 'Míle Fáilte' with Seamas Blake wonderful, of course, and I have listened to it ever since. I got information about an Irish book shop, in New York, and there were a lot of books in Irish to be had there. Unfortunately, it's gone now, and that's a great sorrow to me. Angela Carter was the owner, and we are all greatful to her. I heard my first live person speak Irish there. I bought "Teach Yourself Irish," and one day in 1996 I started to learn Irish.
I bought a computer around 1996, too, and the internet was a new thing to me. It had a 'yellow pages' in it, and my wife and I were looking at it. I had the thought, "are there other languages there?" and after that, "Is Irish there?" I found Gaelic-L. I was a member of Gaelic-L until Gaeilge-B started. I was a Gaeilge-B member from the beginning. I am a Gaeilge-A nowadays. Listserve and the lists
I have the greatest fun all the time learning Irish, especially at the Jerry Tobin Irish Language School. And when I learned the history of Ireland, my respect and love for my heritage grew. I love the Catholic faith, and have great respect for those people who stood their ground. And I am a musician. The Irish songs were like a revelation to me.
It's a terrific language. I like it better every day. It seems taht my mind was made, from of old, to think in Irish. But maybe a couple of wires are crossed! ;-}
I have found the treasure that was lost by my ancestors, and there is joy in my heart on that account!