From curry fries to ceilis

Nov 6th, 2015

Janet Harron

From curry fries to ceilis

Sinéad Ní Mheallaigh is the Faculty of Arts’ Irish language teaching assistant for the 2015-16 academic year.

Hailing from Donegal by way of Galway, Ms. Ní Mheallaigh was teaching primary school by day and holding adult Irish language classes at night when she heard about the opportunity at Memorial from Muireann Ni Chíobháin (who held the position from 2011-12).

Although she knew nothing about Newfoundland and Labrador, the native Irish speaker decided to take a leap and apply.

“I really wanted to take a career break,” said Ms. Ní Mheallaigh. “I didn’t want to look back in 10 years time and regret not doing it.”     

Her impressions to date of St. John’s?

“It’s a very friendly city and very artistic," she said. "My first impression was that there are more art galleries than corner stores!”

Ms. Ní Mheallaigh has got a lot on the go in the month of November.

She recently launched Irish Movie Mondays at Bridie Molloy’s, screening Irish-language films each Monday at 8 p.m. throughout the month. Immediately prior to each screening, she is giving a mini Irish language lesson (although each film does have subtitles).  

Curry fries, the Irish version of poutine, will be available for sampling, courtesy of Bridie Molloy’s.

On Monday Nov. 9, she is involved in an international Irish language campaign entitled Gaeilge 24, a yearly event which aims to have people using as much Irish language as they can for 24 hours.

“We will have a stand in the University Centre between 1-3:30 p.m. where we will cook pancakes and for anyone to get one, they have to learn how to say 'thank you' (go raibh maith agat, phonetically gura mah agut) in Irish,” explained Ms. Ní Mheallaigh.

“My students will be the ones doing the teaching and it’s a great way for them to get practical use of the language. I will be encouraging them to use whatever words they can between themselves too. Irish is a useful, living language – there’s no point in just learning it in a book.“

Ms. Ní Mheallaigh believes this activity will raise the profile of the language on campus and awareness that Irish Gaelic is being taught here at Memorial as a subject.

Pancakes will be followed by a ceili in the Breezeway at 4 p.m. where participants can learn three Irish dances.