Bhí muintir agam nuair ag tosaithe a foghlaim Gaeilge fadó. Dúirt Séamus Ó Dearáin againn go measaionn na foghar na Gaeilge is cosúil le dhá Sualannach ag rá as Eabhrais. Bhuel, d'eist mé le triu uair lena liom leis abairtí as Breatnais an seachtaine seo caite.
Bhí mé go raibh ag eiste Breatnais go nádúrtha ar an triu uair arú inné. Tosaíonn mé téip "Foghlaim Cainte Breatnaise ag tusa féin." Thug mé é ar an leabharlann.
Fuair mise féin ag cloisteáil Breatnais ar an dara uair i Toronto an samhraidh seo caite. Nígh mé mo lamha ina seomra folctha ina ollscoil ann. Chruinnigh ollunaí ar an comhdháil oideachas faoi leanntaí Breatnaigh. Bhí macalla Ceilteach ina shruth agus ina stad thart timpeall orm ann. Ní raibh mé ábalta aithint na agallamh sin ar feadh tamaill. Bhí ag tagtha gan fhíos orm.
Cad foghair cainte siadsan? Samhlaím go raibh dhá písciní ag cainteach as Breatnaise! Chuala mé focail beagán i dtosach nuair chuir cuairt go Abergwaun ina samhraidh na 1979. Bhí mé ocht mbliana d'aois deag faoi níos deireanach.
Bhuaigh mé i measc ocht mac leinn eile i gCalifoirnea iomaíocht. Scríobh mé aiste faoi Uasal Proinsias Bardal. Bhí ceathairceadbliain i ndiadh a ag dulta airsean féin go i dtír ansuid. D'imigh mé go Londain ar am gearr. D'fhan mé leis óstachaigh agam, an teaghlach Mhic Eoin i sraidbhaile Shír Eabhrac Theas níos fada.
D'fhág mé leis iníon Ráichéal go Bhreatain Bheag ar feadh leathanta deireadh. Chaith a athair a bheith i láthair ag cruinniu ann. Bhi ionad inar táirgeadh Learpholl air. Tháinig a chlann a bunaithe leis fréamhachaí Breatnaigh ann.
Chuaigh Ráichéal agus mé go dtí an port na Abergwaun. Rugamar orainn ag dul sall thar caladh go Calafort Ros Láir-- agus ar ais go díreach go tapaidh an oiche céann sin! Cheannaigh muid iasc agus scalleógaí prataí riamh ag fáighte an bád farantóireachta orainn.
Fhiafraigh dhá fír óg uirthi féin amháin: "Cá raibh cheannaigh sí iasc agus scalleógaí prataí?" Ach, d'iarr Ráichéal as Breatnais níos teagmhacasach. Cén fáth? Ceapaim mar sin dhearc sí fior-Breatnach orthu.
Ar ndóigh, ní raibh sí ábalta freagairt. Athdúirt beirt as Béarla ina dhiadh sin. Fhreagrair sí orthu. Mar sin féin, bhí iontach ormsa féin níos mo faoi an comhrá seo ar an straid. Bhí fhíos agamsa go tuigeann teangacha Ceilteach rionnt leathanta seo chugainn. Anois, tá an lá seo anseo agamsa féin.
Kittens Chatting in Welsh?
I had a teacher when beginning to learn Irish long ago. Jim Duran said to us that he thought the (linguistic) sounds of Irish are like two Swedes speaking Hebrew. Well, I listened for the third time in my life to sentences in Welsh this past week.
I was listening to Welsh naturally for the third time the day before yesterday. I started a tape "Teach Yourself Welsh Conversation." I brought it from the library.
I found myself hearing Welsh for the second time in Toronto last summer. I washed my hands in the bathroom at the university there. Professors gathered for an educational conference concerning Welsh Studies. An echo of Celtic in a flow and a halt all around me was there. I was not able to identify those conversations for a while. The knowledge was not coming to me.
What sounds of speech were they? I imagine that there's two kittens chatting in Welsh! I heard a few words first when I paid a visit to Abergwaun (Fishguard) in the summer of 1979. I was eighteen years old very recently.
I had won among eight other students in California a competition. I wrote an essay about Sir Francis Drake. It was the quadricentennial after he himself had gone to the land over there. I went off to London for a short time. I stayed longer with my hosts, the Johnson family in a village of South Yorkshire.
I left with daughter Rachel to Wales during a weekend. Her father had to attend a meeting there. His original family location was in Liverpool. His family came there beginning from Welsh roots.
Rachel and I went to the port of Abergwaun. We caught a ferry crossing over to Rosslare Harbor-- and straight back quickly that night! We bought fish and chips before we got the ferry boat.
Two young men asked only her: "Where did she buy the fish and chips?" But, they appealed in Welsh very casually. Why? I think that she looked true Welsh to them.
Of course, she could not respond. They next repeated the question in English. She answered them. Nevertheless, I was very much surprised about this conversation on the street. I knew myself that I would understand some share of Celtic languages in the future. Now, this day is here for myself.
Griangraf/Photo: Fishguard/ Abergwaun.