Caitlín Nic Íomhair has been working with Gaelchultúr for the past six months. She teaches evening classes and on the Teastas sa Ghaeilge Ghairmiúil course, as well as working as an examiner for the company. When Caitlín is not working with Gaelchultúr, she pursues her interest in Irish language literature. Nuachtlitir Ghaelchultúir spoke to her recently to find out more about her.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an Ulsterwoman, originally from Bangor in County Down, but I’ve been living in Dublin for the past seven years. I have a degree from Trinity College in Irish Studies, and I’ve recently completed a doctoral dissertation on the works of Biddy Jenkinson, an outstanding contemporary poet. These days, I make my living mostly as a teacher and a writer. I love teaching, literature and scholarship.
How did you start teaching Irish to adults?
I was initially working as an English teacher, in my teens in Belfast, and strangely enough it was through teaching English that I came to the Irish language. I felt jealous of my students, who were immigrants, because they had their own language and I therefore decided to learn Irish. It was difficult to find classes in my part of County Down but I managed to do so in the end.
I gradually got really hooked on Irish and I moved to Dublin to undertake a degree in the language. As a teacher and an adult learner myself, I took an interest in the various pedagogical methods used by the teachers. I learnt a lot during those years, not only about the language but also about teaching itself. I always felt that I had a talent for teaching, and a greater affinity with adults than with teenagers, therefore when the opportunity arose to teach with Gaelchultúr, I gladly grabbed at it!
What do you do in your free time?
I have a great love for poetry and for literature in general. I write myself but I’m a better reviewer than writer, alas! I’m really interested in cooking and in food matters in general. I adore animals, especially cats, and I’m very taken with rock music and comedy programmes. But I have three teaching jobs at the moment, so when I have “free time” I often end up correcting essays!
What other work do you do when you’re not teaching with Gaelchultúr?
I teach in Trinity College and also in Dublin City University (or St Patrick’s College, as it was formerly known), and I regularly write academic articles and reviews about literature. At the moment I’m on writing leave in sunny Donegal, aiming to tidy up a few pieces of writing and to relax after a busy term of teaching.
What do you like most about teaching adults?
You get an enthusiasm and crack with adults that you don’t find in school classrooms. Adult learners are mature and confident, and as a result it’s not difficult to get them to talk – quite the opposite! – and they understand the value of education. They are polite and inquisitive and, personally, I love the fact that they’re becoming re-acquainted with the language. As an adult learner myself, I understand the challenge involved in the language journey but I also understand how beneficial it is. It’s a privilege to help people on that journey and it makes me very happy to see see my students continually improving.