Dancing in streets as stars put in word for cupla focal
Famous Gaeilgeoirs doing their bit to make Irish sexy
Published 04/03/2010 | 05:00
TV presenter Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain credits the Seoige sisters as being among those who have made the Irish language 'sexy' -- but declines to include herself on the list.
But plenty of heads were turned as she jigged on Dublin's Millennium Bridge at the launch of the Seachtain na Gaeilge festival yesterday.
The qualified teacher and former Rose of Tralee said the rise in popularity of gaelscoileanna was remarkable for the change in attitude shown by educators.
"My granddad would have got a belt from the teacher if he had spoken in Irish during school, so it has definitely come full circle," she said.
"It's lovely to see that the gaelscoileanna are so popular, not only in primary school, but also in secondary school.
"I think it's a definite advantage for students to be bilingual because I think if you learn another language when you are small it makes you much more open to other European languages when you're older."
The 26-year-old name-checked TG4, Raidio na Life, weatherman Daithi O Se and the Seoiges as those who have helped increase the prominence of the language in recent years.
Last night, dozens of other famous faces joined the Seachtain na Gaeilge party at the official launch in Temple Bar's Button Factory.
And Ceol 10 provided musical entertainment for the 12-day celebration of the Irish language which kicks off tomorrow and goes until St Patrick's Day.
The festival includes everything from trad music, theatre and dance, to sport and food events, taking place at numerous venues across the country.
Ni Shuilleabhain said seeing the language used on the national and international stage had helped "bring it to the masses".
"It's not just in the west and pockets in Gaeltacht areas anymore, and I think that's brilliant," she said.
But she also looked back to her roots -- and said she was thankful she was raised in a bilingual household in Mayo.
"I was looking through a baby book recently and dad had written down my first 20 words and they were all as Gaeilge so that's cute," she said.
"We all have Irish in the house. It wasn't a choice but I'm certainly glad that my parents did bring us up in Irish."
And does her high-profile partner Ryan Tubridy come up to the mark in the Irish language stakes?
"Ryan has as much Irish as most people," she said simply.
Meanwhile, last year's All Ireland winning captains Darren O'Sullivan and Michael Fennelly joined with Cork hurler and noted gaeilgeoir Sean Og O hAilpin to welcome in the Seachtain na Gaeilge festival by visiting Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan, Co Dublin.