I'm going to Ireland, and thank you Duolingo!
Duolingo is such an amazing way to learn languages! I have been trying to learn Irish for a couple of months, but it was so hard before I discovered this site. Now I feel like I'm going somewhere and I just want to thank everyone for their fantastic effort.
Anyway, I booked my trip to Ireland and Gaeltacht! I'll be there for two weeks in March, mainly in Connemara. Oh, I can't want. I really hope I get to practice the language a little, and also learn a lot more before then so I will feel confident. I'm so excited!
Have any of you been to Ireland and actually met someone with whom you could speak Irish? How was it?
If you stay in a Gaeltacht and make time to just hang out with the locals, you'll have no problem getting a chance to speak Irish with people. Don't give up if they immediately switch to English. Be persistent (which can be hard if you're not feeling confident). Most of the native speakers I've had contact with will switch back to Irish when they see that you're not just being polite but that you actually want to converse in their language. A good phrase to practice is: "Labhair liom as Gaeilge, le do thoil."
I've gotten out of the Irish game on here, but I still wanted to chime in, anyway.
I went to Ireland as an exchange student when I was seventeen and met a gal who went to gaelscoil in Carlow. (Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach, to be specific, since I think there's more than one in Carlow.) She was going to graduate the following school year so she was (and may still be) quite fluent. Her brother and sister attended GC after her, so they were able to have private conversations without whispering!
Twelve years too early for me to know anything (except for whatever stray words I'd picked up from Gabriel Byrne and Enya, ha ha); but I thought I'd share my story. :)
You do get people who speak Irish (in the Gaeltacht and outside it) but it can be hard to get a response from people as most feel embarrassed about their level of Irish. Dá labhrófá as Ghaeilge b'féidir nach gheobhfá Gaeilge ar ais ach lean ort agus beidh comhrá Gaeilge ort ar dheireadh!
This is what I've heard. I've been to Dublin before and met a few Irish people in my hometown, but most of them claim to not know any Irish (some do, some don't). A woman from Connemara once came up to me in a pub here to Oslo and we talked a bit in Irish and that was lovely! I do home to meet more people who are willing to talk now that I'm going to the Gaeltacht, but we'll see. It will be wonderful anyway :)
If you keep talking in Irish people will eventually talk back. I only realised this in the last few years when I'm out talking to my young daughter in Irish. People will try, especially with her - a small child doesn't tend to correct your grammar!!! - so people feel very comfortable talking to her no matter what their level of Irish is. Good luck and keep at it and you will get a conversation or two as Gaeilge. Is áit álainn í Connemara so beidh saoire iontach agat ar aon nós.