It may seem strange to people outside of Ireland but most native Irish people cannot speak their own language, even though we’re taught it from the age of seven. I hate to admit that I’m one of those that never got to grips with the language. I learned more Spanish in one year than I did in twelve years of Irish.
Over the last five weeks I’ve been watching an RTE series called ‘In the name of the Fada’. It’s a documentary style programme that follows the Comedian, Des Bishop as he spends twelve months in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) of Connemara to learn Irish with the aim of doing a stand up gig all as Gaeilge (in Irish) by the end. What makes this a truly unique experience is that Des has never learned Irish before. He’s an Irish-American who came to live in Ireland when he was fifteen and he could never understand why students doing Irish classes every day for twelve years came out of school without a word.
While it was a pretty intensive learning experience for him, I’m still amazed at how much he’s managed to learn. In fact, he’s fluent! It’s really rather bizarre listening to him hold a full conversation in Irish. For the first time in my life it’s actually made me feel embarrassed about how little of the language I know. Maybe it’s time to get some night classes?
Anyway, one of the funniest things Des did over the year was learn the words to song “Jump Around” by the House of Pains and it’s become a feature of his stand up routine. It’s a weird and wonderful thing to hear and see. Here’s him performing the tune at ‘Oireachtas na Samhna 2007’. You’ll also find some other versions on youtube including the original video for the song with Des singing in Irish.