– By Seán Mór Daimhín
STRABANE recently hosted its first ever ‘Pop-Up Gaeltacht’ and with great success.
The pop-up gaeltacht idea took off last year in Dublin, and has now spread to other cities like Belfast and Derry and even as far away as France.
The idea is a simple one. It basically is an open invitation to Irish speakers and learners to meet up in the one place on social evenings and use as much Irish as possible, to get the language out there into the community, and to also make it a part of the lives of the next generation of speakers.
The event which took place in the Central Bar was organised by two of Strabane’s new generation of Irish speakers, Aoife Nig Loingsigh and Grian Ní Dhaimhín.
“I am at university in Belfast and I saw a number of very successful pop-up gaeltacht evenings there, with mostly young people in attendance,” explained Grian.
“Myself and Aoife felt that Strabane needed similar events for young people, former Gaelscoil pupils who are young adults now, and those whose Irish may be a bit rusty.”
Aoife, a former Gaelscoil pupil herself and now a student at Ulster University Derry also agreed.
“This is not about committees, classes, meetings, Irish language acts, fund-raising or anything like that. It’s just social, enjoyable, modern, and young, although the young at heart are also welcome no matter what age they are,” said Aoife.
“Grian herself works behind the bar, and not only were people able to meet and use their Irish with friends and strangers, but they were able to order their cocktails in Irish on the night. It was a fantastic experience.”
Grian added, “We had fun making up the new names for the cocktails, and had posters with the pronunciation for those who were learners.
“The Grá ar an Trá (sex on the beach) was very popular. As was the Daikiri gan Smál (virgin strawberry daiquiri).
“We also had modern music in the Irish language playing through the sound system. At one stage, I just looked around and was so pleased that this was happening in my own town of Strabane, and not Belfast.”
Delighted by the positive feedback from the event and the excellent attendance the girls hope this will be the start of many ‘pop-ups’ in the town and it is anticipated that another Pop-Up Gaeltacht will take place again in Strabane some time in August.