more on Babylon school in Long Island! some facts wrong but anyway we forgive them!!
Beyond fleet feet, ancient Irish tongue thrives http://www.newsday.com/
BY JIM MERRITT. March 6, 2005
Patrick Clifford's class is learning a bit of Gaelic vocabulary
some handy phrases for getting around in the Irish countryside.
"An bhfuil sé fuar?" Clifford says, writing the Irish Gaelic words,
mean, "Is it cold?" on a portable blackboard at the front of a
classroom inside the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall in Babylon.
Justine Napodano, one of 15 students taking Clifford's beginning Irish
class, repeats the Gaelic tongue twister, then the correct answer on
"Tá sé fuar: It is cold."
"I'm really into languages," explains Napodano, 17, a Seaford
resident and a
senior at Island Trees High School. Though only a tiny bit Irish
mostly Sicilian-American), Napodano is enjoying the lessons, during
Clifford, an Irish immigrant who lives in Lindenhurst, also holds up
flashcards with Irish vocabulary words. "It doesn't sound like any
language I've ever heard before."
For Maureen and Bill Crowley of Kings Park, married accountants
returned from a trip to the Emerald Isle, it's more of an essential
The fourth-generation Irish-Americans have been promised a return
Ireland if they can master the Irish tongue.
Keeping Irish alive for the Irish, the Irish-American and the merely
is the object of the Gerry Tobin Irish Language School, which
includes between 50 and 120 students, and attracts some 70 students
classes each Thursday.
Founded in 1988, the school offers the most extensive Irish language
instructional program in North America, according to an Irish Voice
published last fall.
A thriving Irish language school is "a testament to the long history
Irish Americans on Long Island," said Anne O'Byrne, an assistant
of philosophy at Hofstra University who grew up in Ireland.
Students say they're drawn in because of interest in their own Irish
heritage as well as the language's music and intellectual challenges.
"I want to learn every language known to man," said Lauren Soule, 15,
West Babylon, whose ethnic background includes Norwegian, Polish and
ancestors, but no Irish.
"Irish Gaelic in particular is undergoing a tremendous renaissance
near-extinction in the mid 20th century," according to Jerry Kelly,
one of the 10 instructors at the school.
Kelly said that English speakers had suppressed Gaelic in its homeland
during centuries of British rule. In the schools, "they would beat
you spoke Irish," he said. Kelly teaches a "Mommy, Daddy & Me"
kids 2-9; other sections cover advanced conversation, literature,
and creative writing.
Irish - taught now in Republic of Ireland's public schools, a central
for its comeback - is spoken as a "first" language there by about 40
of the republic's close to 4 million inhabitants; a few hundred
also speak it in Northern Ireland, according to Kelly. Music with
Gaelic lyrics is also having a resurgence, especially among young
But what's the use of studying a language heard only on one little, if
"We've got the greatest epic literature [in Irish Gaelic] that
Indo-European culture," said Kelly, 53, a financial consultant who
Seaford and raised his two children to speak Irish at home.
A branch of Celtic which originated in central Europe in the 12th to
centuries B.C., Irish is the source of words such as "puck"
as in we had a "smashing" time, say the Tobin school instructors.
The Tobin school is part of a larger Irish-language scene nationwide,
Thomas Ihde, director of the CUNY Institute for Irish American
Lehman College in The Bronx. Irish Gaelic courses are taught at about
colleges and universities nationwide, including New York University
CUNY, and in high school and university adult education programs. Ihde
estimates that about 80 percent of students studying are either
Irish-American or married to one.
The other 20 percent include Brian V. Sukhoo, 15, of North Babylon,
background is Puerto Rican and Guyanese. Each Thursday he accompanies
his girlfriend, to class.
A student of languages, Sukhoo said he's also studying Japanese,
Korean. He enjoys the school's warm learning environment and hopes to
Irish one day in its native land.
Says Sukhoo: "I think it's only right to learn the language of the
you're going to visit."