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Trip Report The Irish Language from the Experiences of Two Travelers

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Prior to taking our recent four-week trip it was my goal to learn some basic words and phrases in the Irish language in keeping with our belief that it is a sign of respect and interest to do so. We have, over the years, learned some rudimentary phrases in a variety of languages ranging from Mandarin to Hungarian to Tagalog to Russian. We can greet people and order food, drink, and lodging in French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Portugese. But, doggone it, Irish is not something I added to my linguistic toolkit. Although we were in a number of Irish-speaking regions (An Gaeltacht) we just about never heard anyone even speaking Gaelic. We were never greeted, thanked, or asked a thing in Irish. I’ve no doubt that we would have received warm greetings had we done so, but it just was so very difficult for me to even get my tongue around a good many of the phrases which I had in my little Irish phrase books and sources (I had three including one from Appletree Press).

Actually, I had more use for my Tagalog as we ran into Filipino employees in our hotels in Cashel and Dublin to name just two and for Russian with the receptionist at Kilruddery. At Powerscourt Gardens I said, “Gesundheit” to a young man who sneezed as he was passing me and, without missing a beat, he said, “Danke,” to which I replied, “Bitte” and moved on.

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