Newsletter #41: March 2018

Postgraduate Diploma in Translation: Interviews with former students

Are you thinking about doing the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation this autumn? Or maybe you’re still between two minds? Well, there’s plenty of information about the course to be found on, but sometimes it’s better to get a student’s perspective on a course.

Nuachtlitir Ghaelchultúir recently spoke to Róisín Ní Bhaoill, who undertook the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation in 2015-2016, and to Eoghan Mac Gearailt, who finished the Diploma last year, and they told us about their experience of the course and how it benefited them.

Róisín Ní Bhaoill

Róisín Ní Bhaoill is working as a language editor in the Publications Office of the European Union in Luxembourg. She proofreads EU documents and prepares them for publication. She is the only person working in the Irish language unit.

Tell us about your educational background.
I did an undergraduate degree in primary school teaching and after that I did a masters and a doctorate in international development. I then completed diplomas in translation. Firstly, I did the diploma in legal translation at King’s Inns before continuing on to Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation.

Were you raised through Irish? What experience of Irish did you have before you started the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation?
I was raised through Irish. I’m from Gweedore and my education, both primary and secondary, was through Irish. Many of my lectures at Marino Institute of Education, where I did my undergraduate degree, were conducted through Irish as well.

How did you hear about the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation? Why did you decide to do the course?
When I did the course at King’s Inns, we had a teacher called Helen Hegarty, who also happened to be working with Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr at the time. A new course was starting there and she spoke to us about it, knowing that some of us were interested in doing further study in Irish. I had been abroad for many years and I think I was losing some of my Irish, especially the nice phrases I had previously, and I wanted to improve my Irish again. If I hadn’t done the course at King’s Inns, it would have been difficult for me to get a place on Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr’s course.

What did you like most about the course?
On a practical level, we learned a lot about grammar and terminology. It was really interesting and there was a huge range of topics. For example, we learned about Béarlachas and online resources. There was a lovely atmosphere too and the teachers were really kind. They were knowledgeable and you were never afraid to ask questions. The other people in the class were great too. There were people of all ages looking for a new experience. I learned so much there.

Are you using the skills you learned now?
Definitely. I wasn’t working with Irish before the course and now I have a job with the European Commission’s Publications Office in Luxembourg. If I hadn’t done the course, I wouldn’t have been able to do this work. On the course you develop more confidence and it prepared me for the exam I had to do to get this job. Before I started in my current role, I did a traineeship in the Commission in Brussels too. The course prepared me well for these things.

Would you recommend the course to other people?
I would – it was brilliant, I have to say. I would have preferred for it to be longer because it helped me so much – it was excellent. It was challenging but I learned a lot. It’s a shame that there isn’t another course like it. I’d love if there were workshops available at least or something similar.

Eoghan Mac Gearailt

Eoghan Mac Gearailt is working with the Courts Service and is also involved in a few translation projects.

Tell us about your educational background.
I have a wide educational background, with an undergraduate degree in sociology and archaeology and a masters in sociology. I’ve also completed a higher diploma relating to administration in the public service and a diploma in legal studies. And now I have a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation!

What experience of Irish did you have before you started the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation?
I didn’t have any formal or professional experience in Irish and I never attended an Irish-medium school. I did short courses every few years from when I did my Leaving Certificate onwards and there was Irish at home, but I never did any formal study in Irish. That’s why I was really able to benefit from the diploma; I hadn’t written much in Irish since I did the Leaving Certificate in 1998.

Why did you decide to do the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation?
There were a few reasons. Firstly, I always had an interest in Irish and I did short courses every couple of years. At the same time, however, I wasn’t happy that I was getting older and my Irish was gradually getting worse. I realised that I was never going to reach a high level in the language without putting in a large amount of effort. In professional terms, I would love to have a career with Irish too. I’d love to do translation and maybe get a job with one of the European Union institutions.

What did you learn during the course?
I learned a few new habits such as “Don’t ever guess when you’re writing in Irish!”. When I was at school, I thought that I shouldn’t use a dictionary too much, but now, even if I’m writing in English, I make sure to always use a good dictionary. I understand the importance of accuracy and using correct resources, especially given the excellent resources that are available online. I have a better understanding of Irish grammar and I have more confidence using it. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% certain of all the grammar rules, of course, but I’m confident that I know 99% of them and that nobody is perfect. If I have a problem with it, I just go to the Official Standard for the Irish Language. I don’t guess anymore.

During the course, there were two exercises relating to Vicipéid (the Irish language version of Wikipedia) and another relating to dú By doing these exercises, I realised that if you want to practise your written Irish or your translation, there is no limit to the amount you can translate. Go to Vicipéid and translate it! The course showed me that anyone with a certain level of Irish can do that.

How have you been able to use the skills you learned on the course?
I only finished the course two months ago but while I was on the course I started doing a lot of work on the website at my job, translating it into Irish. A few days ago I had to deal with a complaint that came in from the Language Commissioner by translating it and sending it on to the relevant official. I was then required to translate the official’s response and send it back to the Commissioner. I often deal with emails that come in in Irish.

I’m also making an effort to continue the habit of translating and I translate things on Vicipéid as it’s a good opportunity to practise. I’m working on some Irish-English translations as well so I have a few things on the go at the moment.

Would you like to do more Irish study?
That’s a tough one. I’d love to do the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation again but I can’t, unfortunately! I don’t have much interest in literature and I don’t know what else would be available to me but it would be great to do a PhD relating to grammar or something similar. I hope that I don’t get out of the habit of writing in Irish regularly anyway. For that reason, there’s a good chance that I’ll have to do a few night classes with Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr again. Right now, the most important thing for me is to be doing things on Vicipéid, translating other items and to get a job as a translator. Here’s hoping!