Éasca Péasca: Student Stories: An Irish Minor

Easca Peasca: Student Stories: An Irish Minor
By Kayleigh Phillips

Dia dhuit! Is mise Kayleigh. Táim sa rang Gaeilge 4 ag Pitt le mórán daoine iontacha!

If, three years ago, someone told me I would be working towards an Irish minor in college, I would have been extraordinarily confused. Now, I can’t imagine my college experience without the knowledge and community gained from the Irish language community at Pitt.

I first learned about the existence of the Irish language after the death of my grandfather, which deeply impacted me and my family. Among many amazing things, Pop-Pop was a first-generation Irish American. With his passing, my mom looked for ways to reconnect with our history and, by extension, Pop-Pop. She signed up for online Gaeilge classes during the pandemic and shared her enthusiasm with the family.

Mo mhathair inspired me to take an interest. I was unsure about learning a language at first (Is fuath liom mo rang Spáinneach san ardscoil), ach my senior capstone project that year was a short story based off on Irish mythology, in Pop-Pop’s honor. It’s title, Isteach sa Chéad Seomra Eile, being mo chéad focail Gaeilge. 

Nuair a chuaigh mé go Pitt, d’fhoghlaim mé go bhfuil clár Gaeilge ag Pitt. A saying I recently learned and have mixed feelings about, “an rud atá i ndán duit, ní rachaidh sé tharat” ironically describes my reaction. What is meant for you will come your way. Bhí éad an domhan ar mo mhathair! 

Tá mé an-sásta gur thosaigh mé Gaeilge a fhoghlaim. Bhuail mé le mo chairde sa rang: Kirsten (how dare you graduate), Maighread, Leah, Maddie, Peggy, Andrew, and Emalee. Tá gach duine sa rang speisialta agus cineálta. D’fhreastail muid ar féilte le chéile agus réitíonn muid go maith le chéile. Tá an rang craiceáilte agus spraoi!

I started to learn Gaeilge to connect with my family, ach fuair mé muintearas agus suim thar sin. Rinne mé cúrsa sa stair Thuaisceart Éireann le Tony Novosel agus chuaigh mé chuig club Cúla Búla (that directly translates to Irish Culture Club fyi). 

Every time my mom sends me little Gaeilge posts on instagram, or I run into my friends from class, or experience any of the little moments of connection and community that I’ve gained from my experiences, I know that I made the right choice by trying to learn a language again. The more I learn about Irish history and culture, I feel like I understand the context of my own life a little better. The more I spend time in the classroom and in the community, I feel like I’ve found another place I belong.

*Kayleigh Phillips is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. She is studying Environmental Science with minors in Irish and Chemistry.

Outside of the classroom, she works for the US Forest Service and the University of Pittsburgh’s climbing wall. 

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