Broadcaster Sinéad Ní Uallacháin writes about her upbringing in the Kerry Gaeltacht and how her grasp of the Irish language is imperfectly perfect.

Bhí Gaeilge riamh i mo thimpeall. I was lucky to have had a wonderful upbringing in a beautiful Gaeltacht area in West Kerry. I have to check my privilege as I pen this piece and recognise how fortunate I was.

Nuair a bhíos ag éirí anois níor aithníos cé chomh luachmhar is a bhí an teanga dom. Nílim ag caint faoi airgead Chigire na Deich bPunt ná a leithéid, ach ó thaobh an chultúir agus oidhreachta de. Ar nós go leor rudaí eile sa tsaol, is anois agus na cúl fhiacla agam, a aithním sin.

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I never really thought much about the language growing up. It was when I moved to Dublin during my college days, that I started to appreciate it more and more. It was an 'in' for me. Tá cathracha in ann a bheith ana uaigneach, especially when you’re a nineteen-year-old trying to find your feet, trying to fit in. Bhí suim riamh agam san aisteoireacht agus cuireadh ar mo shúilibh dom go raibh cumann amaitéarach Gaeilge sa chathair, Aisteoirí Bulfin.

Sinéad Ní Uallacháin

I remember attending a table-read for one of their upcoming plays: Ag Claí na Muice Duibhe, a translation of the Vincent Woods play At the Black Pig’s Dyke. I was intimidated. I was surrounded by a group of people who all seemed to know each other and spoke dialects that I found hard to understand. I remember receiving a call from a group member afterwards, asking if I’d be interested in a part. Bhuel, dheineas gach iarracht gan glacadh leis, I told myself that I wouldn’t have the time and many other excuses. Ghéilleas sa deireadh tar éis pep-talk a thabhairt dom féin. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. It was one of the best decisions I made.

I found a community that welcomed me. It was through this group that I met others and continued on my aistear with the language. Murach iad tá seans ann nach mbeinn ag cur peann le pár inniu.

I’m often nervous about my grasp of the language. There are times when I’m writing as Gaeilge, and if unsure about where a séimhiú or urú should be placed, I’ll just rephrase. This happens when I speak also, which can lead to me embarrassingly trailing off, leaving sentences hanging…

My Irish is similar yet different to the Irish my parents have. I absolutely love that I can hear them in myself, when I speak. But from being in the company of others, tá mo chuid Gaeilge breac le canúintí eile. Ar uairibh cuirim béim ar an dara siolla, seachas an chéad siolla - and that’s a no no where I come from, (I gcanúint na Mumhan).

I used to be very aware of that. Now I’ve learnt to love it. Cloisim mo chairde i mo chuid cainte, cloisim canúintí na ndaoine a raibh tionchar acu orm. Cloisim forbairt.

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