The New Irish/Na Nua-Éireannaigh: Mature student Nikki’s positive journey with the Irish language
2018-12-01 13:41:59 -


By Jessica Ní Mháirtín


After setting up and running an award-winning society, Nikki Murphy challenged and outdone her own expectations again by taking a trip to the Gaeltacht.

Nikki has always been strong-minded and very determined and it’s ultimately proven in her recent works and achievements, considering she returned to college (via the Dublin Institute of Technology’s Access Programme) while tipping on to her forties. On completion of this, she then moved on to study a degree in journalism.

After her first year she had a great understanding of the college atmosphere and knew that there was something lacking from her own experience. There was no active society across any DIT campus for mature students. It didn’t take her long to resolve this.

Nikki is a mother of five and a grandmother of two. She has a heart of gold and is always dedicated and devoted to any project she pursues. When she took it upon herself to return to education, she definitely surprised her peers and even more so when she realised she was quite good at both the academic and social side of college.

But what surprised people the most was when Nikki decided during the summer that she was going to take a trip to the Gaeltacht.

“The most important thing to me is to be able to help my grandkids. Unfortunately both of my grandkids’ parents have very bad dyslexia and that’s where the nanny duties kick in,” Nikki says.

“Along with that, I felt extremely embarrassed and ashamed of myself as I’m very well travelled, and to have Aborigines speak fluent Irish to such a high standard that I couldn’t understand it was definitely embarrassing for me.

“I think it’s fantastic that other nationalities are getting involved and are interested in learning the language. It’s a great little country we live in and for those that wish to learn the language it can only benefit you. I’m a very patriotic person and to have other people speak my own language to me abroad — even though I didn’t understand it at the time — gave me a sense of pride at the same time.”

It’s evident that Nikki is not scared of a challenge. It was in her early teenage years that she last sat in a classroom before going back to college over twenty years later, but she did describe the Gaeltacht as a very encouraging way to learn Irish and she can relate to anyone who doesn’t want to revert to the old method of learning.

One critique Nikki did have about the language is that during her own education, there were many different teachers from many dialects and it was hard to grasp, also making it uninteresting. Her advice to those wanting to learn Irish would be to pick a dialect and focus on it until you are confident enough to move on to another.

“I’ve signed up for the Gaeltacht again next summer and in the New Year I’ll be tackling Irish classes in college. I’m still nervous, but I know a lot more than I thought I did and now I don’t want to lose that. All I can do is improve.

“I love all things Irish and I hope that I can be an inspiration to my grandkids to love their language as much as I do.”


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