We are Jonathan Hohl Kennedy and Amanda Bernhard, a married couple from Western Massachusetts. We are two Gaeilgeoirí who have recently moved to Ireland in pursuit of a dream to become fluent in the Irish language, and find some way to use it in our everyday lives.
In the months of July and August, we will be doing immersion programs in the Donegal Gaeltacht (for which we have a particular affinity), leading up to a qualifying exam that we must take to secure our place at the National University of Ireland in Galway, on the MA program in Modern Irish. If we pass this exam and get unconditionally accepted, Amanda will be the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to get this degree, and Jonathan will also do the degree (but take out Federal loans to pay for it).
We know it is a bit unorthodox to devote so much time and money to learning Irish, but it is a very important aspect of our lives and we decided that it was time we gave it its due attention and study. We don’t know exactly in what capacity it will fit into our lives back in MA, but we want to do all we can to learn, use, and promote this beautiful language. As we are learning, and will continue to discuss in our blogs, the sociological aspects of the use of the language are incredibly complex, and while its decline is mourned by most Irish citizens (and many others around the world), steps are not really being taken to help this language’s number of speakers increase or to change the language’s appearance to its audience. It has been viewed as a language of the poor, the oppressed, and the ill-educated for centuries. More recently, young Irish students have come to hate it as a subject forced down their throats by teachers who, if possible, dislike it more than their students because it is a mandatory subject in all schools. We seek to study this cultural phenomenon and, if two Yanks CAN do anything to help, to help in any way we can.