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Foghlaim Gaeilge at the Irish Language Weekend

Ever wonder where the lyrics of the Queen's Oil Thigh song come from, or what they mean? The last weekend of April features a crash course in Irish language, dancing, and music.

[Ruth Wehlau (English Language and Literature)]
Ruth Wehlau (English Language and Literature) continues two decades of Irish language teaching in Kingston, connecting the Queen’s community to Irish culture.

The Irish Language Weekend is an opportunity for the Queen’s community to dive into the Celtic language and culture that has a long history at the university. Newcomers can dabble in Irish phrases and experienced speakers can stretch out their vocabulary in an immersive environment.

The weekend includes classes (in four levels from beginner to advanced), meals, workshops on music and dancing, lectures, and a ceili (dance).

Ruth Wehlau (English Language and Literature), the lead organizer for the event, has a passion for teaching Irish and wants to spread the word on the yearly event, now in its 21st year.

“Kingston has a big hidden Irish history, and a very active Irish community,” says Dr. Wehlau. “It’s a nice feeling to connect with this language and community that isn’t gone, despite the previous years of colonization of Ireland that has endangered the language.”

The Harp of Tara society has shared Irish language and culture through annual workshops for over two decades in Kingston. Queen’s is hosting the immersion weekend this year from Dé hAoine (Friday), April 27 to Dé Domhnaigh (Sunday), April 29.

“Any time that you learn a new language, you’re learning a new way to experience the world,” says Dr. Wehlau. “The Irish language has lots of proverbs, curses, and interesting turns of phases that are less cut and dry than English.”

Irish, also known as Gaelic or Irish Gaelic, is one of four surviving Celtic languages still spoken around the world.

“The spelling is different from English, but it follows rules,” says Dr. Wehlau. “Celtic languages are famous, or notorious, for initial sound changes. This can be a challenge if you’re listening for cues and the beginning of a word doesn’t sound the same, but it’s actually natural to change certain words when speaking. For example, if I want to say that I live in Kingston, I have to change the K to a G, and say 'í gKingston'. The sound changes are embedded in the language. It really isn’t like English, but I think that’s part of the appeal.”

The weekend costs $165 for the full package or $70 for a student one day (Saturday) pass.

To learn more about the weekend or to purchase your ticket, contact Dr. Wehlau at wehlaur@queensu.ca or visit the Harp of Tara website.