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Galway graduate suggests greater use of sport to promote daily use of the language

A young Galway man with a passion for sport and the Irish language has told a Dáil committee that the Gaelic Games should be used to foster more use of Irish – and not just the token gestures that are made today.

Oisín Ó Conaill from Athenry, who works as the Social Media Co-ordinator for Spórt TG4, was one of a number of interns from the station who took centre stage in Leinster House to address members of the Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Irish-Speaking Community on their views and aspirations about the future of the Irish language.

The Committee is dedicated to promoting the use of Irish as a vernacular language in every aspect of Irish life.

Oisín outlined his passion for sport having played underage hurling and soccer for Athenry, as well as golf from a young age – growing up as he did beside Athenry Golf Club.

The past pupil of Coláiste an Eachréidh in Athenry and Gaelscoil Dara in Renmore is a graduate of University of Galway where he studied Irish and Psychology – and through this experience he started to lean towards a career through the medium of Irish.

“In my own area, the GAA is very strong like many areas across the country,” Óisín told members of the committee.

“Having said that, the Irish language does not receive the same amount of interest even though they are both intertwined in Irish culture.

“The history of the GAA is embedded in Irish. Sports played by Irish heroes, such as Cú Chulainn and Na Fianna.

“Now the Irish language is only seen on the back of jerseys, or you might hear a sentence or two from a captain when they are accepting a cup,” he said.

The Athenry man believes that it is our language that helps to define us.

“At the end of the day we are all Irish and to this day, it is the Irish language that gives us meaning in terms of our surnames, our heritage, our place names and our sports.

“I would say that everyone has heard someone say before that they were not interested in Irish because of the way it was taught at school.

“Well in that case why don’t we teach Irish in our sports sessions. A fresh, fun way to learn the language. Clubs such as Gaeil na Gaillimhe and Na Gaeil Óga use Irish as their main means of communication.

“People have a lot of interest in the sporting side of the culture, but our duty is to foster that interest so that the most important aspect of the culture, our language, will flourish,” he added.

Oisín told the committee – which included Galway Deputies Catherine Connolly, Éamon Ó Cuív and Mairéad Farrell and Senators Ronan Mullen and Seán Kyne – that, when the opportunity to work with Spórt TG4 arose, he grabbed it with both hands.

And this was because he believed it was his ideal job, combining two of his biggest interests – sport and the Irish language.

His responsibilities with the station include scheduling posts, conducting interviews and covering live sporting events through the various social media channels of Spórt TG4.

Pictured: Oisín Ó Conaill….integrate Irish language more firmly into sport.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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