Loretta Ní Ghabháin is a strong advocate of the Irish language, both personally, and through her work in the media. Here, she tells us what her hopes for the Irish language are, and why she’s proud to call Galway home.
Galway is home. I love it. It has a real draw for me; it’s just this big cultural melting pot. I love the diversity of Galway – it keeps people like me here, but it also draws a certain type of person. The water that surrounds us here is really special – it gives a certain energy to the city.
One of the great things about Galway is that speaking the Irish language is pretty normal here. When travel writers write about Galway, they talk about hearing the vernacular on the streets, and hearing the language mixed in with English. Because it is the biggest Gaeltacht in the country – we have nearly 50,000 people living in Galway in the Gaeltacht – it’s such a huge part of who we are. With that comes a richness of culture, of dance, of music, of song, of poetry.
The Irish language is fun, it’s energetic. I’d love to see Irish just becoming ‘normal’, for want of a better word, that we forget about that bagged down culture of how we learnt it at school, and realise that it’s a part of our identity – it’s in us and it is us.
“It’s time for us now to come together as a tribe, as a community, as a people, and to embrace the cultural diversity that we have in Galway.”
I love the fact that we have all these festivals in the city, but we also have some great festivals in the county like Féile Mhic Dara – so many old rituals that still exist. When people come from other countries, and they ask me, “What’s there to see in Galway?“, I always try to nod them a little bit towards the West, to remember our county festivals, to remember the heritage that we have on our islands.
There’s a real energy in our county – we like to create things, we like to be part of things. We like to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and I think that lends itself to just being happy.
I’ll never forget the day we found out about winning the bid, down on Mainguard Street; it was amazing. That feeling was just unreal – we were there in hope for something that’s going to be really positive, to bring us all together as the tribe we are. That’s the legacy that I’d love for Galway 2020 to leave, and I believe that we really can. It’s that feeling of positivity, and to show ourselves off, not just to Ireland, do mhuintir na hÉireann, don Eoraip agus don domhan mór.
It’s time for us now to come together as a tribe, as a community, as a people, and to embrace the cultural diversity that we have in Galway. I think we really have an opportunity here with Galway 2020 to sell Galway to the world.