So there’s a fairly new institution in town – The Irish Heritage Center!, or sometimes written as the Irish American Heritage Center. At the old McKinley School in Columbia Tusculum, on Eastern Avenue. It’s been busy growing – with plays, musical performances, jam sessions, play readings, discussions and lectures. And right now an Irish language class.
Naturally I got a family membership for Brian and Patrick and I, while I was signing up for the class. The teacher is Professor Michael Simonton, who heads the Celtic Studies program at NKU (who knew?). He is a terrific teacher, taught himself the language by listening to the Irish talking while he lived there. And he knows the history of that blessed isle, as well as the prehistory and global wanderings of the Celtic peoples. Plus all of the old stories.
I have several decks of Celtic Tarot cards – the Merlin deck, the Celtic Dragons , The Druids, and the Celtic Faery Wicca ( I have more than 50 decks, and that’s with having given away a great many!). The Faery Wicca deck, which is really the best, from the point of view of including all the old stories / legends / myths / spiritual teachings, also has the names of most of the cards written in Irish. Which I couldn’t pronounce. The only thing I knew for sure was that those words are not pronounced the way they are spelled. I know the stories, but can’t say the words. This has been incredibly frustrating for me – like looking at a door, and hot having a key to open it.
Now, thanks to Professor Simonton, I can pronounce a great many of them. Whenever we have a tiny break during the class, I whip out one of those cards and we puzzle it out. Some are puzzling to him – because Irish also has many spelling variations (and sometimes pronunciation variations) and meaning variations for the same word. Sean (pronounced shawn), for instance, can mean John, old and grass.
Learning Irish has been on my 200-year-agenda for a long time. And now I’m doing it. Aaaahhhh.