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Foreigners put a new accent on Cœpla focail



Date Published: {J}

by Judy Murpny

Australian born Ariel Killick didn’t study Irish at national or secondary school, nor did she do a primary university degree in the language. Despite that, she now works as a translator here in Ireland, mostly translating English documents into Irish.

But any observation that this self-taught Irish speaker would put us natives to shame with her fluency in our ‘mother tongue’ is met with a swift rejoinder.

“Don’t say that! It’s not my intention to put anyone to shame.”

Ariel, who is also an accomplished street performer, is featuring in a new 15-part series on Raidió na Gaeltachta entitled Ar an gCoigríoch (In Foreign Parts) which can be heard every Saturday morning at 10 am.

The series features interviews with 15 foreigners, from Hungary to Japan, from Australia to Wales to Germany, who have made Ireland their home, and who will be speaking about their experience of living here. Some have lived here for 40 years; others are relative newcomers but all share a passion for Ireland and our history and culture, and all speak fluent Irish.

Ariel’s interview is being broadcast this Saturday, March 13 and it promises to be a cracker. The straight-talking Australian observes that she has learned enough during her 10 years in Ireland “not to be bothered saying what I really think”, but she’s so direct that anybody listening to her will get the picture.

In reality, Ariel has a huge grá for Ireland and has immersed herself in the cultural life of her adopted country, as well as in the more prosaic world of translation.

At present, she’s completing a Masters degree in Legal and Legislative Translation at NUIG’s Acadamh Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in Carraroe. In addition, she’s moving her belongings from Dublin to Galway City as she prepares to move here permanently, having been temporarily based in Carraroe for the past few months. She’s learning how to drive and she’s busy preparing a group of fire-eating stilt-walkers for a street spectacle at Dingle’s Féile na Bealtaine in May.

She’s under pressure, she says honestly, but you sense that this is a woman who can handle pressure.

Her ancestry is a mix of Irish, Scottish and English and she grew up in a mixed race area of Sydney, so she was aware of multiculturalism and heritage from a very young age.

In the 1990s there was a lot of discussion about Aboriginal rights in Australia, while there was also talk about the country becoming a republic.

Ariel was very politically aware and the notion of being part of a republic drew her to her Irish rather than Scottish ancestry. In her final year at school, she decided to learn the language, joining a speaking group in Sydney. Within nine months she had sat the 1996 Leaving Cert Pass and Honours papers. An Irish friend, who was fluent in the language, corrected them for her and she excelled. She applied for a scholarship to study the language, but failed in that bid . . . even now, she can’t believe she had the temerity to apply for it. But, she adds, here she is 13 years later, studying for her MA in NUIG.

She spent a brief time in university in Sydney in the mid 1900s where she studied musical composition for a period, before moving to Ireland in 1998 where she worked on a current affairs programme for Dublin’s Raidió na Life – she had previously worked in Australia for state broadcaster SBS, researching and producing Irish language programmes.

Ariel returned to Australia after four months, but came back here in 2000. She enhanced her qualifications with a post-grad course in Irish and Applied Translation at GMIT in 2003 and became an Irish citizen last year, which, she says, was as much to do with practical as emotional reasons – as a non-Eu citizen she needed a permit to work here.


Her list of qualifications includes a post-graduate diploma in Community Arts from the National College of Art and design, and in addition to her translation work, she also has a career as a street performer. During a lean period in translation work, after she arrived here a friend told her she’d make money face painting on stilts.

Sounds mad, but it worked.

She did a course and worked at it, and then did some birthday party clowning around Dublin. The rest is history. She trained in fire eating, which she now combines with stilt-walking. She also ran an Irish language stilt-walking street performance troupe in 2000, which received a state grant and created high drama at festivals all over the country.

Involvement in the arts is vital for her, she says.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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