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New program facilitates Irish language course at Memorial

By Janet Harron

Memorial students who are interested in Gaeilge a fhoghlaim are in luck, thanks to a new program funded by the Irish government and administered by the Ireland Canada University Foundation.

The new program funds the position of Irish language teaching assistant with the Faculty of Arts for the academic year 2009-10, and was initiated thanks to funding from Ireland’s National Lottery and their Department of Community, Rural and Gailtacht Affairs. Other Canadian universities participating in the program include St. Mary’s, Concordia, St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, St. Francis Xavier and Ottawa University.

The program was developed in order to address a growing interest in the Irish language abroad.
“In Canada, as in the USA and some European countries, there is a growing academic interest in the Irish language and our government has supported this development by funding scholars to teach it in their universities,” said Dr. John Kelly of University College Dublin, the executive director of the Ireland Canada University Foundation.

Brid Falconer, a fluent Irish speaker currently working in Belfast for Ulster’s department of education, will be teaching Linguistics 2700 Introduction to Irish Gaelic 1 in the Fall 2009 semester.

Ms. Falconer is thrilled at the prospect of spending a year in Newfoundland and says that friends and family have been inundating her with questions since hearing her news – especially as to whether she likes the cold.
“I cannot wait to share the beautiful language of Irish with those who take my class, and I also am eager to experience the Newfoundland way of life,” she said.

“There are such strong historical links between Ireland and Newfoundland that I know I will feel right at home. So come and say hello to me in September and pick up a ‘cúpla focal’, help make the Newfoundland-Ireland link that little bit stronger and fill me in on the best point to spot the icebergs.”

Dr. Peter Ayres, associate dean of undergraduate studies, confirms that this is the first time in several years that a course in Irish language has been offered.
“Needless to say, the Faculty of Arts is thrilled to be able to offer students the opportunity to learn Irish from a native speaker.”

Ms. Falconer can be contacted through the Dean of Arts office after Sept. 1, 2009. The program also offers scholarships for Canadian university students to attend Irish language courses for credit in the Gailtacht environment. For further details see

The Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) was established in 1993 by the late Dr. Craig Dobbin O.C., and former President of Ireland, the late Dr. Patrick Hillery, to encourage and facilitate scholarship links between Ireland and Canada.