Feena Tóibín has been working with Gaelchultúr since October 2014. As well as teaching evening classes, Feena also teaches regularly on the Certificate in Professional Irish. When she’s not teaching Irish to adults she can be found reading, playing tennis studying the diaries of Douglas Hyde!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a Corkonian through and through. I’m from a small place five miles from the city and I went to school in the suburb of Bishopstown, first to my mam’s school and then on to the secondary school she attended years ago. I have two sisters and they both did the same.
I always loved the life in Cork and the time I spent in Kerry every summer. We weren’t raised through Irish but my father always had a great interest in the language and he spoke it to us quite a bit. He teaches courses with Gaelchultúr in Cork now! My parents are primary school teachers and were always well disposed to the language. That said, I received my secondary schooling through Irish and I didn’t appreciate the value of that contact we had with the language while growing up until much later on.
I went to college in Cork and did a degree in law. I attended the courses in spoken Irish offered to students in UCC at the time and I worked in the Gaeltacht one summer. I went on to the Acadamh in An Cheathrú Rua to do a course in broadcasting through Irish and, on completing that course, I spent three years working on television programmes in Belfast.
How did you begin teaching Irish to adults?
I moved back to Cork again to focus on Irish itself and started a postgrad in the subject. At the same time I was able to do the Diploma in Teaching Irish to Adults with NUI Maynooth. I started teaching evening classes with Gael-Taca in Cork city as part of the course and I really enjoyed that work.
Since moving to Dublin I’ve had a lot of opportunities to teach with colleges and with various companies and I must say I always love it. Gaelchultúr was the first organisation I dealt with and I’m very happy to be associated with the company and teaching various classes with them.
Do you have others things going on at the moment?
Almost three years ago, I started a doctorate in Irish with UCC. It’s on the diaries of Douglas Hyde, which are in the National Library on Kildare Street, so I needed to be here to undertake the research. I love it, but it’s nice to try and strike a balance between that and teaching as I love meeting people as much as I enjoy dealing with manuscripts!
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a member of the Dolce choir and I’m looking forward to returning to practice again soon. I often play tennis and there’s a lively friendly club near where I live. I’m always reading, both in Irish and in English, it really relaxes me. I live near the sea and I go walking in the area when I can.
A big advantage to living in Dublin is the wide variety of things to do. When I get the chance, I love going to new restaurants, to the theatre and to concerts and, of course, to Croke Park in the summer!
What do you like most about teaching adults?
I love it because I love the language and it’s a pleasure to deal with people who are interested in it. I like to inspire people and I enjoy the fun we have in the classes. There’s nothing better than seeing the learners making progress and meeting them again at Irish language events.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’ll be returning to my usual timetable after a very busy summer. I spent a month in Canada on a research visit at the beginning of the summer and went on holidays to Cuba after that. I was at a lot of weddings too, which was lovely but very tiring! And I taught in the Gaeltacht, in Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille, a few times as well. So, I’m looking forward to a more settled period with lots of classes and new learners to get to know.