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Cuairt ar scoil inniu i gCúl Aodha

January 17, 2013

Several projects going on here in Muskerry, the cultural region where I’be been for roughly a week and a half now. Yesterday, I made a visit to the local naíonra (daycare center) in Béal Átha ‘n Ghaorthaidh to play music for the children and to seek out the possibility of returning to collect poems, sayings and songs that they utilize in their curriculum. I brought my button accordion, which is colored much like a red bowling ball and they absolutely loved it. A change of pace for them so while I played they clapped along and then lunch was brought out and they continued to listen while I played loudly then softly, slowly then quickly. We sang happy birthday to one lucky kid and then continued with the music. They were fascinated with the instrument and loved pushing the buttons and hearing the mess they made of my music! 😉

These children have very little Irish or haven’t had much practice speaking it out to others, so talking with them was the same as talking with my young students at home. I had to follow each sentence in Irish with one in English. I was told that that’s the focus on this particular naíonra and the walls were covered with instructional pictures of colors, numbers, shapes, etc. Here are a few pictures of them:




Today, I traveled from BÁG to Baile Bhuirne to meet again with my friend Eilís, who teaches songs to school children throughout the area. We traveled to the primary school in Cúil Aodha and sang songs with children in the area ranging from 3rd grade to 6th grade. All of these songs were in Irish and light-hearted. I’ve the lyrics to all of them and will be recording them later on this weekend. You won’t be disappointed with the topics, which range from taking a trip to Tralee to making fun of a leprechaun. Having a visitor to the classroom, apparently, improved their performance and many of them were captivated by the fact that I had Irish. Several commented on my hat and haircut (one girl said it looked like the haircut Jack had in film Titanic). 😉

I’ve been talking a lot about various places in this region so I thought I’d include a map that one of the teachers at the primary school gave to me. I believe it’s a sort of ordnance survey map so if you look close you can see fences, standing stones, rivers, streams, hills, etc. One of my first observations was that the majority of place names are anglicized from the Irish, which to me is more confusing because they anglicized names mask the meaning of the original name.


I’ll be in Baile Bhuirne for a few more days with Eilís before I return to BÁG. There’s a session on tonight, concert tomorrow and plenty of opportunities to get songs off of Eilís.

One last RANDOM piece of information…in the car on the way to Baile Bhuirne, Síle mentioned that it’s customary to name one’s daughters after women on the father’s side of the family and boys after the mother’s side of the family. This seems to clarify the peculiar way that names are formed within a community. You can just imagine how many Murphys or Kellys there could be in a community so clarifying that with supporting names located them within a community is a necessity. Eilís’ full name is Eilís Ní Shúilleabháin but her name within her community is Eilís Madhicí Dan because her father was Madhicí and her grandfather was Dan. In the village herself and her siblings are known as the Madhicís (Mikeys). So there you go!


From → Teanga/Language

  1. Jim Flanagan permalink

    Go raibh maith agat, Brian, for the up-date. I completely agree with you that the Anglicization of Irish place names masks meaning and is unfortunate. I guess we jhqave the British Ordnance Survey to thank for most.

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