Irish and NUIG
Did you know that NUIG is the only bilingual university in the country? This fact alone has brought so many of us here to spend time around people who speak and care about Irish, just like we do. It’s something we should be proud of!
The special connection that we have with Irish here in Galway is deep-rooted in the culture. Irish makes such a difference to everyone’s lives in Galway. It’s everywhere, and it’s permeation into society here is definitely something to be proud of. International students notice it, tourists notice it, and I even noticed it when I moved from Wicklow!
We are also the only university to have three fabulous campuses in the Gaeltacht and offer entire semesters to immerse our students in Irish. The time that I spent in Ceathrú Rua was such an eye-opener to the parts of Irish traditional culture that I had missed.
This is why the role of Irish Officer is such a huge role to take on. This is, essentially, a full-time job that is currently being done on a part-time basis. All you need to do is look at my officer report to see how much work is involved, and how wide the remit is. Irish is in every single aspect of university life, from the disability services to Campus Living, from a research masters student who wants to submit their thesis in their first language, to a first year that wants a ciorcal comhrá and to improve their cúpla focal. Can you imagine the disappointment when barriers are raised to such simple requests?
Galway has so much to offer people that care about Irish. This attachment to Irish goes far beyond the university grounds. The entire city is vibrantly multicultural. Áras na nGael offers an amazing social space, where people can learn, practice, and embrace our national language. It’s truly normalised in a way that I just haven’t seen in other cities.
We should celebrate that attachment by allowing the Irish Officer for the Union the time and space to do the best job they can. The best way to do this is to make the position full time. I have heard some pushback about the financials, and I can understand why people may be worried. The levy referendum, though controversial, allowed us to set aside a specific budget for Gaeilge in the Union. This full-time person’s salary would come from this budget and will not affect any other area of funding.
The Irish language and culture can show us and teach us so much. As someone who isn’t a native speaker, it’s offered me a community and friendships that I never could have thought possible before I learned how to speak it. It’s given me the confidence to try and make a difference.
What makes Irish so unique for me, is that it goes beyond a language. It’s our past, our present, and our future. But it can also be funny, and informal, and messy. It’s just a language, but it’s also so much more than that. Vote yes on the 3rd of March to make a difference to Irish in NUIG.