Monday, April 23, 2007

Irish-Language Podcasts for Learners & An Líonra Sóisealta

I've been wanting to download to my iPod some Irish-language blog at a learner's pace. Kay Uí Chinnéide's "Gaeilge na Seachtaine" has five small entries perfect for my level of (or lack of) skill, and I heard them in Ulster-accented sweetly spoken form as I followed the two that so far I had earlier printed out and annotated with vocabulary notes to study on my commute. (Don't worry: I take the bus & train, even before yesterday's Earth Day.) But, no way to copy the audio unless Save Target As appears, no?

Fearghal Mag Uiginn's chipper and very Norn Iron "Giota Beag" series accompanied hours of my listening and rehearing the "wee bit" past few weeks once I finally figured out how this set-up embedded on my PC (oh for a Mac if it was not for the wife) of damned Windows Media Player plus iTunes plus a damned Music Match that won't go away file set-up works in wretched practice. Dissociation of sensibility, out of Coleridge and T.S. Eliot when you find yourself mumbling the phrases beamed out earlier to Ballymoney and Ballymurphy, Islandmagee and Tandragee to be learnt while this learner's instead walking about the subway station beneath downtown LA, earbuds (I mean IEMs) in place, surrounded by Spanish ads for mushroom McD burgers, pugilists, and Dos Equis.

The BBC-NI site is full of help for learners and speakers both big and small, far better in being practical than the more summarizing at Foras na Gaeilge ( across the border. Well, at least FnG's linked from the An Líonra blog below. By the way, FnG shines next to Gael Linn's awful web presence with sadly but a "giota beag" of value. I go to Gaeilge na Ghreasan (smo.uhi site below) for its meta-links but even here so many links float abandoned. [By the way, I spent considerable time putting in the hyperlinks in html to these boldfaced links only to have them all evaporate on this latest edit. Sorry. See for yourself.

My social networking and Horslips interests are being mulled over for a paper to IASIL at UCD in July. Come Back Horslips and HorsLit: The Literary Roots of Horslips Lyrics have the advantage of a media-savvy organizer and one who keeps the focus more or less on target. By contrast and due to the fluid subject, perhaps, the whole infrastructure of material for fluent and struggling Irish-language learners resembles what the author of the piece below finds: no organization! Like this blog and the blogosphere. Which is doubtless why host Google has ownership in its attempt to control all information retrieval on the Net. Well, they assure us of their credo to "do no evil."

I have earlier critiqued RTÉ'sTuras Teanga, and found a similar reaction to TT on a breac-Ghaeilge mostly Béarla site An Spailpin Fanach one Dub (but really a Mayoman) and his own efforts to blog, linked in turn to the An tImeall (on the edge) podcasting and blogging site in turn to the straight outta Béal Feirste Letter to America blog's promotion the effort in the Sept. 25, 2006 press release below. The show ended last December.

I will road test the site's suitability for those of us with the big red L on our backs, but I wanted to post this notice first. The more web coverage such media gain, the better for all of us learners, gaeilgoirí, and the far-flung curious. Happy to note in the release an acknowledgement of we such the last.


Long-time listeners of that Ireland Podcast Letter to America know what huge fans we are here of Conn O Muineachain and his podcast An tImeall. Well he's got a new project up and running, An Líonra Sóisialta, here's the press release:]

Ground-Breaking New Radio Show To Teach Internet
“As Gaeilge”

Radio listeners across Ireland will join internet users worldwide next Monday, as they tune in to the first episode of a new series focusing on the social aspects of the internet.

It’s the first time an Irish radio series has been devoted exclusively to the phenomenon of “online social networking”, of which the best known example in recent months has been Bebo. What’s more: all 59 episodes of the show will be in Irish.

The programme is called An Líonra Sóisialta, which translates to The Social Network. It will broadcast a 12 minute episode each day for 12 weeks.

So far, 7 Irish radio stations have confirmed that they will broadcast the show and its producer believes several more will join over the next few weeks as the series gathers steam.

Thanks to the internet, however, the show will be available to anyone who wants to hear it, anywhere in the world. An Líonra Sóisialta will also be a “podcast” – a downloadable MP3 sound file that users can listen to on their PC, or copy to a mobile device to enjoy at their convenience.

The new series is the brainchild of independent producer Conn Ó Muíneacháin from Ennis, County Clare. After a successful career in local radio, he gave up broadcasting for the computer industry. 10 years later, he sees the two fields converging as technology has put the media into the hands of anyone who has access to the internet.

“Anyone can publish. Anyone can speak. Like a letters page, or a phone-in show, the internet gives the public a voice. The difference is that there are no editors or programme controllers.”

To some this sounds like a recipe for anarchy. How is all this self-published material organised? How can the consumer be helped to find information which is useful and interesting to them?

“That’s the most exciting thing about it”, says Conn. “Nobody knows for sure!
The tools and rules are being developed as we speak. New services and business models are launched every week. Some fail. Some develop and grow. All of them help us to understand how this new kind of media is supposed to work.”

These kinds of ideas are discussed daily in the “blogosphere” – the global community of self-published websites: weblogs, or simply “blogs”. They are familiar to people who collect the “feeds” from scores of such sites for easy reading in “aggregators”. They are debated in interviews and panel discussions on podcasts.

Conn Ó Muíneacháin wants to bring this discussion to a wider audience. “An Líonra Sóisialta is designed for non-technical people. It’s for people who are interested in media, but not necessarily in technology. It will introduce new ideas gently with short daily episodes over 12 weeks.”

But why do it in Irish? “Irish is why I became interested in citizen media in the first place. People employed in Irish language media do a wonderful job with limited resources. But the choice isn’t there. And what is there may be broadcast at a time, or published in a way, that does not suit someone who would otherwise be interested. But if you look at the web, you see that there is a global community of Irish speakers and learners who are contributing their own efforts to media in the Irish language.”
As an experiment, last year Conn launched An tImeall, the first podcast in the Irish language. The project has been extremely successful, reaching a global audience. In March, the site was honoured for it’s use of Irish at the inaugural Irish Blog Awards.

In addition to the radio show and podcast, An Líonra Sóisialta will also have a daily feature in the Irish language newspaper Lá. There’s also a website: Over the next few weeks the site will grow and develop as it becomes the focus for audience participation.

And participation, Conn says, is the key. “These new forms of media make much less distinction between producer and consumer. An Líonra Sóisialta will encourage audience participation in every way possible: by phone, by text, by mail or by leaving a comment on the website.” The series has been planned to appeal to people with a wide range of abilities in Irish, and in particular, it has been designed to be suitable for use as discussion material for Irish classes at Transition Year level in Irish schools.

Conn will co-present the show with Fiona Ní Chéirín, a native of An Spidéal, Co. Galway, and a recent graduate of the multimedia degree programme at Tipperary Institute.

The series has been provisionally approved for funding under the “Sound and Vision” scheme operated by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.

The 7 radio stations which have confirmed their participation in An Líonra Sóisialta are: Flirt FM in Galway, Raidio na Life in Dublin, Ocean FM (Sligo, North Leitrim, South Donegal), Clare FM, KCLR (Kilkenny and Carlow), Wired FM in Limerick, and Raidio Fáilte, Belfast’s new Irish language station which launched last week.

Now, I don't speak Irish - but I'll probably listen just to hear Conn's oh-so-soothing dulcet tones. If you do speak Irish and are interested in this new world of media production and distribution we find ourselves in you could do a lot worse than listen.

Posted by Letter to America on September 25, 2006 at 05:49 PM in Blogs.

[It's me again: URLs boldfaced by me above are here below. Please visit my unwitting sponsors-- well, maybe the Come Back Horslips site already knows me. Happy hunting!]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps of Interest:
A comic adaptation of 'An Tain' set in Limerick... Episode 3 of five.