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From West to East

Meet HSS’s Irish language teaching assistant

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

Eoin Mac Gearailt is the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Irish language teaching assistant for the 2016-17 academic year.

Hailing from Europe’s most westerly point in County Kerry, the heart of the Gaeltach, Mr. Mac Gearailt wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived in Newfoundland back in August.

Living in the place of the fish

“I had no real knowledge of the place except for its Irish name (Talmh an éisc or place of the fish). I was expecting a fishing town but it’s so much more,” he said. “Everyone has been amazing.”

Within a week he had been brought around to see the sights and had played a game with the Swilers rugby team.

“The rugby was a great way to get to know the local people. I even have a few club members signed up for my class next semester!”

“It’s great teaching people who are interested in their Irish heritage,” — Eoin Mac Gearailt

Mr. Mac Gearilt is thoroughly enjoying teaching his first class, Introduction to Irish Culture (Lang 1200), and says it is making him conscious of his own Irishness.

“It’s great teaching people who are interested in their Irish heritage. It sometimes makes me think if only people back home had this much interest in the language and culture. As a country, we sometimes forget about the positives to having our own language and unfortunately focus on the negatives.”

In the winter semester, Mr. Mac Gearailt will be teaching Introduction to Irish Writing and Cultural Connections (Lang 1201). This course explores Irish connections with Newfoundland and Labrador, such as places, personal names and cultural practices. There are no prerequisites for this course. Those interested in registering can contact Mr. Mac Gearailt by email, emacgearailt@mun.ca.

‘Like a United Nations meeting’

The Irish courses are now housed in the new Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures and Mr. Mac Gearilt is enjoying his own housing in Memorial’s Battery facility.

“I’m living at the Battery with over 70 graduate students. The range of cultures is quite amazing,” he says. “The first day I arrived I went hiking with people from Poland, Italy, Spain, the United States, Trinidad and Tobago and three Canadians. It was like a United Nations meeting.”

In addition to his teaching duties, Mr. Mac Gearilt is organizing a variety of events that are being promoted on Twitter (@talamhaneisc) and Facebook (Gaelgeoirí I dtalamh an Éisc).

Upcoming events include a ceili on Nov. 18 in the UC from 2-4 p.m., with lessons in Irish dancing on the agenda. Mr. Mac Gearilt is also recruiting players for Irish sports like hurling and Gaelic football.

Originally a primary school teacher, Mr. Mac Gearilt has a masters degree in immersion education and learning of a second language. He was teaching adult Irish over the summer before leaving for Canada.

“And now I’m here teaching at Memorial and loving it. Until the winter comes, that is,” he laughed.

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