Learning Irish: In the name of the fada

My curiosity for the Irish Gaelic language sometimes leads me to strange places on the internet. A month or two ago, for instance, I came across an RTE series called In the Name of the Fada, which ran for six episodes from 13 March to 17 April 2008.

No, that’s not a mis-spelling of “In the Name of the Father”, the excellent albeit disturbing 1993 movie directed by Jim Sheridan, which was based on the lives of the Guildford Four, four people falsely accused of and imprisoned for the IRA’s Guildford pub bombing.

A “fada” is that little accent sign (‘), which you place on the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) in Irish Gaelic to make a different sound (i.e. á, é, í, ó and ú).

The program documents the experiences of Irish-American comedian Des Bishop, a native of New York, who decided to spend a year living in Tír an Fhia in the Connemara Gaeltacht (an Irish language speaking area in Ireland). He immersed himself completely in the community and in learning the language, with the ultimate goal of being able to do a one-hour stand-up comedy gig entirely as Gaeilge (in Irish) at the end of the year.

I tried to watch some of the episodes on line, and managed to see a fair bit – except that my internet connection was sometimes so slow that the clips didn’t run properly. And unfortunately RTE doesn’t make shows available online for very long, so now my link no longer works! If you ever get a chance to see it, though, DO!

Despite the fact that Des peppers his speech with copious expletives, it was a very funny show, and I’m sorry I didn’t manage to see it all. He now has his own online Irish language learning course, which you can find on his website.

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