The Donegal Gaeltacht is a place where Irish, the most ancient written language in Western Europe, is still the everyday language. It is truly a unique experience to hear this ancient language being spoken by the locals as they go about their daily lives.
Last week, local enterprise CAIRDE Teo, in conjunction with Go Visit Donegal, offered a group of Irish language learners from Armagh the opportunity to savour some of the scenic delights of the Gaeltacht, to practice their spoken Irish and to experience the traditions of song, dance and folklore that permeate the mountain and coastal air in the north west.
The Gaeltacht [Irish speaking region] is comprised of a number of towns, villages and islands – the heart of which can be found near the mystical mountains of the Derryveagh range – including the highest peak in the county, the majestic and iconic Earrigal. It was there that the Orchard County contingent commenced their journey into the Gaeltacht Experience. Gathering for a meet and greet at Glenveagh National Park, the visitors were treated to a tour of the refined comfort of the beautiful Glenveagh Castle, a 19th century castellated mansion perched on the banks of Loch Bheatha, with its charming courtyards, Walled Garden, Pleasure Grounds and Woodland Gardens.
After a gourmet lunch in the foothills of the mountains, the intrepid touring party were then taken by luxury coach into the heart of Gaoth Dobhair – one of the strongest Irish speaking areas in Ireland – where they were enthralled by the spectacular scenery of Dún Lúiche, the Poisoned Glen, Cloich Cheann Fhaola and Bloody Foreland.
Donegal’s islands, including Gabhla, Inis Bó Finne and Toraigh shone proudly in the Atlantic Ocean as the visitors travelled along the Wild Atlantic Way. The islands are the jewels of the Gaeltacht and the Armachians learned much about their history, topography and folklore, that they found both inspiring and engaging.
No visit to the Gaeltacht is complete without a visit to the internationally famous ‘Teach Tabhairne Leo’, home of the famous Brennan family, that gave musical superstars Clannad and Enya to the world. The lively tavern was the scene of much merriment for the visiting Armagh contingent as they relaxed into the ambience provided by their hosts. Following a great afternoon session of music, dancing and ‘refreshments’, the weary visitors were ready for the homeward journey.
Buoyed by the ‘Gaeltacht Experience’, many of the participating group have already signed up for the next in the series of trips for adult Irish learners organised by CAIRDE Teo. The organisers are extremely grateful for the generous cooperation of ‘Go Visit Donegal’, Glenveagh National Park, Leo’s Tavern and Grange Bus Hire all of whom helped creating a lasting and memorable experience for their guests.
If you’d like to know more about the work of CAIRDE Teo, please sign up for more information at www.cairdeteo.com .