Doing a Des Bishop

DoingadesbishopA few weeks ago Eileen of made contact on the site about a particular topic. Through the course of a couple of emails she happened to mention that she was about to sit her Leaving Cert Irish. I thought this would make a good topic for a guest blog post and asked her would she be willing to do a guest post on le craic. She kindly agreed and it makes for great reading. Thanks Eileen.


So it all started a quiet day at work last summer. Feeling kind of frustrated having too much spare time on my hands I started thinking about my lack of Irish. I was born and raised in Ireland but I am one of the many Irish pupils who leave school after 14 years without a focal of Irish to string together. Granted, Dublin 18 isn’t exactly a Gaeltacht area but surely I could have picked up a bit more of a blás over the years!

gbayIt was after a move out West to glorious Galway that my interest in Irish was rekindled. I always thought that studying Irish was akin to studying the ancient sea scrolls but it turns out that Irish is pretty much alive and well in Galway. I wanted in on this secret teanga! So, with probably too much gusto I signed myself up to sit the Honours Leaving Cert paper in June. I had 9 months…an apt time to have a Gaeilge re-birth. I’m pretty goal focused so I thought having an end date in site would really help motivate. I got into the swing of things, signing myself up with the Galway Study Centre for a blast of the Irish course for an hour and a half every Friday. I went along to the class to be surrounded by 6th year school students getting extra help with their Irish. I was of course the oldest in the class by about 10 years, and that included the teacher! Having gotten over the slow-learner status that was attributed to me I knuckled down and bought the books, the study aids, the quick notes, the past papers…everything that was going!

The Irish course has definitely improved with age, Peig has been kicked off the course (the final injustice in her withered old life) but they’ve managed to keep a splattering of poets from the Blasket Islands. There are short stories, poems, a play and you’ve to write an essay. All this while trying to do the day job!

steephillThere was a very steep learning curve, I’d never bothered with things like verbs, grammar, vocabulary the first time round so there was a lot to do. I started learning some vocabulary and getting a bit of a handle on the whole verb side of things. It was hard to move from speaking English in Irish, to trying to master the phrasing of the Irish language (I still haven’t really got there) but slowly I was gaining a bit of confidence at least.

The biggest difference now was that I was choosing to learn this language and also I was using it, it’s amazing once you say you’re learning Irish how many people start speaking to you in Irish. I changed my answer phone to Irish and lots of people started leaving messages in Irish. Irish is like a virus, too little and it’s an immunization but enough and you just have to let yourself be taken by the language!

By the time the Oral came around in April I knew that I would be able to hold a 15 minute conversation, I went in a bag of nerves but the examiner was great and really helped me out asking me lots of leading questions and getting me to use every bit of vocab I’d racked up over the past few months.

It was then time to knuckle down and get some study done. I had to get the poems learnt, open those books with disturbingly un-creased spines and get the head down. The exams were now looming, I had to have my final fracas with the leaving cert students.

So it was on Monday and Tuesday this week that I joined the girls in my local secondary for Paper 1 and Paper 2 of Irish. The papers were challenging to say the least, but at the end of day two while reading back over my Irish paper, having written over 10 A4 sheets in somewhat comprehensive Irish I realised I’d done what I set out to achieve. I’m really thrilled to have reignited my Irish and I’m going to do my up most to keep speaking our teanga duchais!

About Eileen

Eileen Sweeney runs a website called a dinner party service for single people. Dine to Meet group together up to eight guests (four men, four women) and organise for them to go for a meal in a city centre retaurant for great food, great company and to widen their circle of friends.

After moving from Dublin to Galway, Eileen saw a gap in the market for an alternative to the current dating scene. After striking on the concept of Dine to Meet in conversation with her sister Catherine, Eileen set up the business in Galway and has since successfully brought the concept to Dublin and Cork.

Header Graphic photograph owned by ittybittiesforyou

Galway Bay photograph owned by stud

Steep Hill photograph owned by Auntie P

All adapted under a creative commons license.

Dine to Meet logo copyright by


  1. maith bhean, Eileen. chabhraigh mé le cairde liom amhlaidh a dhéanamh cheana agus níl sé éasca ar chor ar bith. tá éacht déanta agat.

  2. Pingback: Cad is ainm dom? « The Angry Hedgehog

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