Writer and broadcaster, Siún Ní Dhuinn writes about learning Irish and becoming part of a community which has allowed her to express herself as she sees fit.

Most of my life, I've found myself explaining myself. My name causes the first frisson of tension, especially when I meet a stranger who has never come across the name Siún. I explain that yes, it is indeed my first name, and it is variant of Siobhán and no, I won't be translating it into English for them. Why? Because my name is who I am, part of me and my identity as a person who was brought up in Dundalk, in an English- speaking household, who went on to live their life bilingually.

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Neither of my parents are fluent speakers but both have a positive attitude towards languages; my mother was a French and English teacher. Being exposed to another language from a young age is a very normal thing around the world but I have found there is still some deeply ingrained hesitancy in Ireland around language immersion. I attended a Gaelscoil in Dundalk which was run out of prefabs in the yard of another school until I was in 5th class. I will never forget feeling what heat in a classroom was like for the first time. That school, despite the cold, brought out the best in many of its students and put me on course to speaking a language that would enrich my life.

I did my Leaving Cert through Irish, in an Irish immersion stream of an English school. After leaving school relatively unscathed, I went on to study English and Irish as part of my Arts Degree in UCD. I did a postgraduate course in Irish language journalism and took the scenic route before taking on my current role as Digital Coordinator for Irish language content in RTÉ.

I have had countless opportunities I don't believe would've been afforded to me without my Irish. I have written for many publications, contributed to debates, television shows and radio programmes. I have travelled to many places to talk, teach or take part in events. All of these opportunities have been wonderful, but nothing compares to being part of a community in which creativity and self-expression are at its core.

The podcast I cohost with two of my best friends and two talented broadcasters, Áine Ní Bhreisleáin and Sinéad Ní Uallacháin has become many learners and native speakers go-to podcast for good conversation and great craic. I enjoy explaining that one to people.

Here are some things I've learned along the way.

1. I will never be as fluent, as perfect an Irish speaker as a native speaker and that is okay, I like learning.

2. Most people who speak Irish (like most people in life) are helpful and encouraging, but you will get the odd amadán who doesn't appreciate you taking up space. Ignore.

3. If you're to succeed, you need to put the work in, just like everything else, and as Kim K says, you gotta get up off your tóin and work for it (it's worth it, believe me)

Siún is part of Creidim Ionat, an innovative and collaborative online initiative aimed at nurturing widespread awareness and everyday use of Irish. Find out more here