Speaking Irish in Ireland.
Hi Guys, I am new to learning Irish. I am writing because I would be very keen to hear any interesting stories of experiences speaking Irish in Ireland. I would love to hear stories such as what it was like to order at a bar in Irish, etc.
I am planning a trip to Ireland and I really do not know what to expect. I am looking for places where Irish is spoken so that I can get a chance to experience the language in an everyday real-life setting.
Do many people speak the language outside the Gaeltacht area? How would people react if I said a few Irish words in a regular pub/restaurant outside the Gaeltacht areas?
Dia duit, conas atá tú? Speaking Irish in the Gaeltacht regions would be your best bet, people there would love it if you spoke a cúpla focail, the big Gealtacht regions would be along the west coast Kerry, Galway, Donegal. Most Irish though outside these areas are not fluent in the language even though is mandatory to learn in school and most have forgotten or only have the very basics, so ordering a pint as Gaeilge in some places, well most, might seem really odd to the Irish people and chances are you'll have to speak english, i would suggest only using common Irish words outside the Gaeltacht, dia duit (hello) Go raibh maith agat (Thank you) Slán (bye) Sláinte ( good health), basic words but much appreciated
A lot of the people living in the various Gaeltacht regions aren't fluent either - and the people dealing with tourists are probably less likely than average to be Irish speakers, so don't assume that your server will speak Irish, unless the pub/restaurant advertises itself as Irish speaking.
(The 2011 Census showed approximately 100,000 people living in the various Gaeltacht regions, of whom 66,000 were Irish speakers, but of that 66,000, less than 24,000 spoke Irish daily outside the education system (including 5,500 that speak Irish daily in school as well), and another 14,000 spoke Irish daily, but only within the education system - they spoke English at home, just like 90% of people under the age of 18 in Ireland. The remaining 30,000 or so spoke Irish weekly, or less often. (Plus the 33,000 who aren't Irish speakers).
An awful lot of Irish people haven't used whatever Irish they learned in school since they left school - some will respond positively, some will respond negatively, some won't understand you, some will laugh and try to engage with you. Some people might have pretty decent Irish, and will be happy to talk to you in Irish, some people won't be bothered, some people will be embarrassed, and some people will be aggressively opposed to anything to do with the Irish language. And some people didn't grow up in Ireland, and have no experience with the language at all.
There is no single likely response.
A lot of people might not know what you are saying. But you might get lucky. There are fluent speakers around, but there aren't huge amounts of them.
Bear in mind that half of Galway city is technically a gealtacht.
It might be your best bet is to plan around a gaeltacht immersion course. Where you go and spend like a week learning the language from locals of a particular gaeltacht. There are a few.
There is the "Pop Up Gaeltachts" movement to look for. They are gatherings happening across Ireland (and the world) of Irish speakers of all levels, trying to encourage people to start using the language in a social setting rather than academic. Its focus is failte agus craic, so us people are welcome. There have been pop ups in NYC, Paris, Shanghai, London, etc. If you're in or near a larger town perhaps set one up yourself?
Maith an fear! The next one is 31st Aug in a new pub in Dublin city center, "Pipers' Corner" near to the Abbey Theater.
Thanks for the reply. It looks like the best bet is to book a special course where I can have a local take me around as part of an immersion program.
I've never heard of anyone getting a local to take them around, but the shops and pubs and restaurants and BBs in the environs of the various schools that provide immersion courses know that some of their business relies on language learners, so they usually cater for them. In other parts of the Gaeltacht, the vast majority of the tourists are not there for the language, so business that depend on tourists don't necessarily put a premium on the language (these are just generalizations - there are exceptions in both directions), though you're obviously much more likely to get some sort of response to an attempt to use Irish in the Gaeltacht than outside. Just be aware that, even in the Gaeltacht, there are more fluent English speakers than Irish speakers (all of the Irish speakers are also fluent English speakers, whereas many of the fluent English speakers are not Irish speakers), and, in most cases, English will be the default language used with outsiders, and also be aware that people who aren't used to dealing with language learners may speak Irish at a pace, and in an accent that you will have difficulty dealing with.