Tomorrow I’m off to Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille in Donegal in the north west of Ireland to do a course in harp playing. This will be the tenth time I’ve been there, though the first time I’ve done the harp course. Normally I go for a summer school in Irish language and culture where I do Irish language classes in the mornings and sean-nós singing in the afternoons.
The Irish language classes, at least the advanced level ones I do, tend to focus on using Irish to learn about and discuss things such as culture, politics, religion, and so on, which is interesting, though as my main interest is Irish music and songs, I’d prefer to concentrate on the singing, or singing and making music. Unfortunately they don’t offer sean-nós courses on their own, so I thought I’d do the harp course this year.
At the summer school last year a number of people mentioned the harp course and said how good it was, or that they were planning to take it, and this got me thinking about trying it myself. I’ve wanted to learn the harp for a long time, and earlier this year I bought myself a small harp from Pedran Harps (pictured top right), which I really enjoy playing.
Each time I go to Ireland my Irish (Gaelic) gets a bit better. I rarely get to speak it at other times, but keep it ticking over by listening to Irish language radio and reading Irish books and other material. I think the harp course will be taught in English, unless all the participants speak Irish, so I won’t use much Irish in class. Outside class I’ll speak Irish as much as possible. I’ll probably get to speak a few other languages as people from all over the world do the courses in Gleann Cholm Cille.