The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2003 (January-June) » Conversation groups in Northern California? « Previous Next »

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Greg ( -
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 03:07 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Friends -

I'd be most interested in finding an informal Irish Gaelic conversation group that meets in Northern California.

I would love to just take courses in the language but as a full-time student I just don't have the time and have to learn on my own in my spare time. I imagine I'm not the only one in this situation.

At this point I'm an absolute beginner in what will be a long pursuit. I don't know enough right now to be of much use in a conversation group. But maybe in a couple of months I'd feel able to participate in a group that would meet every so often over coffee to compare notes and practice, or perhaps even to gradually work through the O'Siadhail book together.

I'd be curious if anyone knew of any such informal conversation groups in Northern California, and if so, how do I get in touch and how much background in the language is required to get involved? If not, would anyone be interested in starting one up?

Thanks -


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Oliver Grennan ( -
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 04:03 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi Greg,

There was an article in about a lady called Nikki Ragsdale who organises courses and groups in your area. Seems like you're not alone in California. Anyone, contact these people, they could probably point you in the right direction. Quite a subculture goin' on!

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James ( -
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 04:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Greg, A Chara:

I know exactly from whence you come. I have been studying on my own, between a full-time job, a Master's Degree program and a call to active duty. It's tough, but it is definitely do-able. If you have no luck with the resource Oliver provided, start your own group! I did it and it is exactly what you describe--a group of people that get together about 2 times per week to discuss the language over a cup of coffee. (Literally--we meet in a coffee shop that has agreed to let us use a back room for our meetings!) We aren't discussing "in" the language yet, but we're getting there. Once you get a group off the ground the momentum will carry you.

Don't worry about how little you know, focus on how much you DO know and strive to build on that. As we "speak" I'm listening to Radio Na Gaeltachta and am comprehending only bits and pieces. I can't understand a single complete sentence but I'm getting words here and there which is a far cry from where I was less than a year ago. I credit this to several things.

First and foremost--this website and the amazing people that contribute to it are indispensable. The advanced students, the native speakers and others struggling like you and I are an amazing source of support and information. I would have quit long ago without this site. Visit it often.

Secondly, a dogged determination to learn this language is mandatory. Not a day goes by that I don't put at least an hour into exposing myself to it in some way. Some days it's just reviewing REALLY basic stuff and other days it's opening a whole new "can" of stuff and others it's just listening to my tapes over and over and over and over..... you get the picture.

Lastly, I absolutely refuse to believe that this is a "dead" language. Sadly, I've had native Irishmen tell me I was wasting my time, that the language "serves no purpose" and that it was "pointless." It is far from any of these things. Gaeilge is alive, it is growing and it is fully, wholly and tremendously worthwhile to study it. I refuse to listen to the nay-sayers and continue to march to my own Bodhran. You do the same and you'll surprise yourself!

Ádh mór ort!

Le meas,


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Greg ( -
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 11:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A Jhames - go raigh maith agat for your post above and on the other thread.

I've been doing this seriously for about three weeks now (after O'Siadhail's book sat on my bookshelf for four years) and even I was surprised at how much I could say in Irish to a friend of mine when I was telling him what I did for the winter break.

You're right - this website is incredible. I'll be back around a lot.

Good luck this semester-

Slán -


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