Tag Archives: Glasgow

Farpais Ceist – Gaelic Pub Quiz

18 May

I’ve been learning Gaelic since January and that whole time I’ve been aware of the monthly Gaelic pub quiz in the Park Bar in Glasgow.  I’ve often thought that it would be a great thing to take part in – or at the very least to be there at the same time as others were taking part in it and let the Gaelic wash over me.  I love listening to people speaking fast, fluent Gaelic to a room of people and the rest of the room suddenly bursting into laughter.  Yes, I have no idea what has been said but it makes me want to be able to understand it even more.  However, as I’m a very new Gaelic learner, I figured it would be a long time before I reached the point where I was able to attend.  My Saturday Club tutor, (the fabulous) Josie, clearly disagreed and she invited my tutorial group to go along on Wednesday night this week and have a go.

Of course, organising a group of adults is like catching a fly in a matchbox.  Emails flew about all week and someone was missed because of a .com rather than a .co.uk but finally we had names and a (wet) concrete arrangement to meet.  Of course, it wasn’t straight forward.  The quiz starts at 8pm but I should be clear that it technically starts at 7.30pm to give you half an hour to get your answer sheet etc all sorted with questions from 8 o’clock.  One of us had said they would be there from 8pm and (because Josie couldn’t get there till after 9pm) he was given the name of someone who would help us with translations.  The next person would be there from 8.15pm, I’d be there around 8.30, and two more were coming around 9pm, plus Josie.  Confused?  So were we – and that was before we started on the questions!

Our first team members didn’t arrive until 8.30 in the end, and by this point they were on question 7 of round 3.  Our knowledge of Gaelic was therefore not an issue – there was no chance we were going to win regardless.  Thank goodness that wasn’t the point (though I’m fiercely competitive so maybe it was the point a little)…  I was quickly filled in on the 3 questions I’d missed when I turned up and was excited that I knew one of the answers!  (Mind you, I think everyone knows that the Spice Girls first number one was Wannabe.)  I should point out here that despite being fiercely competitive I have the general knowledge of a potato so am as much use as a chocolate teapot in quizzes.  We did go on to get the next 5 questions correct in a row but our run of good luck pretty much ended there.  In the end, we got 8 points out of 50 (when doing the questions and answers later we did realise that we would have got an extra 6 if we’d been there on time to hear the questions) so we were very much the losers, and yet we had such a good night that it really didn’t feel that way.

It was great to realise that we’d translated a couple of the questions correctly by ourselves and each of us was able to hear a variety of words we recognised.  It also helped increase our vocabulary because a lot of the questions followed the same structure and used similar vocabulary so we were able to get some good practice.  We all felt that even though we couldn’t have done it without our translators, Josie and Coinneach Combe, we’d had a really good time, we learnt a lot and we’ve already pencilled in next month’s quiz.  Maybe by the time we go to that quiz we’ll have learned how to translate all the jokes that were made at our expense…

We have chosen GME for our family for a number of reasons, but one of those was the opportunity to be a part of a community.  Our lives are becoming more insular – we know the names of so few of our neighbours and don’t get as involved as we once did.  The community aspect of Gaelic does appeal to me. Being able to join in this week was a great first step.

If you’re a newbie Gaelic learner like me and are encouraged to give it a go next time, I’d recommend befriending Gaelic Glasgow on Facebook because most months they give event notifications.  Otherwise the details are as follows:

  • The Gaelic Pub Quiz takes place on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 7.30pm at a cost of £2 per participant, and is in the Park Bar on Argyle St in Glasgow (the West End part of the street).
  • The next pub quiz should therefore be on Wed 20th June 2012.

Will we be seeing you there?

Oh, and I don’t think it was THAT funny that we thought that the island on which Ian Fleming wrote his first James Bond novel was the Isle of Skye.  I bet we’re not the only ones that didn’t know it was in Jamaica…

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Saturday Gaelic Club

16 May

Since the end of January we have been attending the Gaelic Club on a Saturday morning in the Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu and I can’t believe that summer (of a sort) is nearly here.  It seems strange to think that in a couple of weeks the club will be over for a few months.  I think it would be difficult to overstate what it has given us as a family – time together working towards a shared goal, learning Gaelic (us through proper lessons, my son through play), making new friends and dipping our toes into our local Gaelic community, and the chance to ride a bike without stabilisers (well, my son has, and perhaps “ride” is a little ambitious).  The club really is a fabulous resource.

I suppose that’s why I was saddened to hear that Glasgow City Council are making it difficult for the club to function to its fullest capacity.  Bear with me here because as I’m new my understanding of the present situation is limited but it appears that Glasgow Life aren’t sure that the club is worth their investment.  Words like “creche” are bandied about, and some staff have gone several months now without payment – yet they are devoted enough to continue to turn up whilst the situation is resolved.  It is no wonder that there is a feeling that the council hope to close the club by extinction methods if they can’t do it outright.  I do appreciate that running the club requires a lot of funding from the council but losing the club would, I believe, be a big mistake.  I wonder if they’ve thought about what they’d put in its place to further the learning of Gaelic by families in Glasgow.  I doubt it.

A group of parents hope to meet to look at the club and consider how to ensure it stays alive for a long time to come.  It’s easy to fear that this is the first nail in its coffin and yet I choose to look at such a discussion as positive.  I hope that the idea is to look at ways to build on the club’s current successes and make it clear to the council that it is still a vibrant, necessary part of Glasgow city life – whether that be by restructuring the organisation a little, making some additions or even coming to the conclusion that the club perfectly fits its purpose as it is at the moment and adding further support to the evidence the council have already been presented with.

I don’t know much about the behind-the-scenes running of the club, though it seems like the bulk of the grunt work falls at just one or maybe two people’s feet.  What I do see is that there could be more families there on a Saturday morning.  Getting families to attend anything is always challenging as you work around shift patterns, clubs & organisations, visiting friends & family, but that’s probably not the only reason.  It might be interesting to find out how people hear about the club – what brought them along in the first place?  I saw details about it on the school website but the language barrier coupled with the information given being old put me off for several months.

I didn’t know:

  • if the club was still running,
  • if you had to have a child in the school/nursery to attend,
  • if you could start at any point in the year or if you needed to start in August,
  • if there was a lower age limit for children, and
  • how much it cost.

Perhaps a first step to redressing this is to think about how the club communicates not only with existing families but also with those who would be interested in coming if only they knew more about it.  Could Facebook & Twitter be used to give more up to date information – maybe even a simple website with information for prospective families?  The second step I would take would be to make it easier to “drop in.”  Obviously this is less of a problem for those who already have a little Gaelic, but it’s harder for new-to-Gaelic families to come along mid term because there’s a sense that they’ll not catch up with the current intake of beginners so it’s better to just wait for the new term.  That does make sense but sometimes it’s more important to strike whilst the iron is hot – to get people through the door whilst they’re motivated and help them to see why it’s important to come back for a proper start in the new term.

Because it is important.  Yes, the children “play” whilst the adults “learn” but it only takes a quick look at the Curriculum for Excellence to realise that learning through play – learning by doing – is how children learn best.  Any parent who has no/little Gaelic and yet who has had to start playing “Dè ‘n uair a tha e, Maighstir Madadh-allaidh” (What’s the time, Mr Wolf) and “tunnag, tunnag, gèadh ” (duck, duck, goose) with their four year old son, or realised that their 24 month old daughter can count to ten in both English and Gaelic will tell you that there is real substance – real value – to the time spent there on a Saturday morning .  It is most definitely not a creche.  I only wish they had a Gaelic play group there for the under 3s (though it hasn’t stopped my daughter!) but then that’s why we need Glasgow City Council to continue supporting its constituents.

So perhaps over the summer we need to take the time to raise awareness of the Saturday Gaelic Club and ensure that it lives to promote the Gaelic language for another year.  You can help with this by sharing the details of the club to spread the word that little bit further.

If you’re interested:

  • it meets on Saturday mornings from 10am till 12pm.
  • I know that several of the families in the same beginners’ class as me have no children in the school or, in some cases, even the nurseries yet (they’re starting young!) so I don’t think you need to feel you have to hold off until your child is five.
  • the last club of this school session is Saturday 26th May – (probably a more informal affair that day.)
  • It costs £5 for a family and £1.50 (I believe) for individual adults.

(I hope all that is correct but if it’s wrong maybe someone could let me know and I’ll update it.)

Who knows?!  Maybe I’ll see one Saturday in the not too distant future…

Gaelic for Toddlers: pàrant is pàisde

7 Feb

More and more, in the last few weeks, I have wished that there were a pàrant is pàisde AKA Gaelic parent and toddlers for my daughter to attend.  My son’s Gaelic nursery kindly gave me details of one in the west end of Glasgow but we can’t make it because we wouldn’t be able to drop off & pick up my son from nursery.  They also gave me details of a local playgroup but, though it may be a little handier, it’s still not practical.

I’m seriously tempted to set up something informal – just tea & biscuits at my house (for the adults, I’m sure I could drum up something more appropriate for a few wee kids) with some other mums I capture meet at my son’s nursery and at the Saturday Gaelic club, and just see how it pans out.  Yes, this means that I’d need to tidy up, a skill I still need to hone, but it would be much more flexible and relaxed than turning up as the new girl to yet another club.  I’ve joined a couple of clubs with my daughter recently and been feeling so out of my depth that I really don’t need to add to it, so maybe that would be the solution.

The difficult question to answer is: what do I actually want out of a pàrant is pàisde?  Whilst an abundance of toys and activities for my daughter would be lovely, I don’t think that’s a crucial part of what I’m looking for (though a few would be good).  In essence, I’m looking for a simple place to go with my daughter where she can play with other children who may one day be in her class and where we can practise some simple songs and phrases to use about the house. I want a place to chat with people who perhaps already have children in the school – not just about school issues, but to know that I could would be great.   I want somewhere to try out this new, alien vocabulary with people who are in the same boat. I want to make some friends who understand this journey we are on.

A quick look on Netmums flagged up a Pàrant ‘s Pàisde in Kilmarnock.  It sounds right up my street, except that sadly, it is nowhere near my street so I can’t pop along.  It describes itself like this:

“The toddlers group is a relaxed, informal group where parents can chat over a cup of tea/coffee and find out more about benefits of a bilingual education and the children can play, take part in craft activities and learn some Gaelic songs and nursery rhymes.  Why not come along and find out more about this fantastic opportunity?”

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it!?

But at the end of the day, none of this matters if I’m the only one who feels a need for something like this.  It would be a very lonely (though tasty) biscuit if I’m the only one sitting eating.  I suppose I should put my feelers out and try to guage interest.  Or maybe just stick with the original plan to capture people at the gates.  Wait, did I just say that out loud…….?

If you (or anyone you know) would be interested in a pàrant is pàisde (or anything like it) then I’d love to hear from you – I’ve got my fingers crossed.

The Boy and the Bunnet

31 Jan The Boy and the Bunnet

The Boy and the Bunnet

What a wonderful story the Boy and the Bunnet is, with its slaverin’, snochterin’ scary Urisk and beautiful Scottish music.

I’d stumbled across the website for this Scots story a while ago whilst trying to soak up as much Gaelic information as possible but didn’t follow through on it until this weekend when a free CD of the story landed in my lap.  This story of a little boy who loses his bunnet (or did the bunnet lose him?) uses a variety of Scottish instruments to represent the characters including the fiddle, cello, harp and bagpipes, and covers a wide range of traditional Scottish music styles including the jig, reel, strathspey and waltz.  It’s a magical way to not only expose children (and to be frank, many adults) to the beautiful, traditional Scottish culture around us, but to let them hear and absorb spoken Scots in all its glory.  For one of the things that has really drawn me to this story is that it’s written in two versions.  One version is written in Scots by James Robertson and music by James Ross(the one we have) and one in Gaelic – Balach na Bonaid, translated by Aonghas MacNeacail.

I’m not particularly old (she says, desperately clinging to the belief that you’re not IN your 30s till you’re 31…) but when I grew up I was taught to speak “proper” English and to consider Scots as “slang.”  “Slang” AKA “not-to-be-spoken.”  Recently I’ve come to realise how wrong that was, and wish that I could sign up to learn Scots somewhere, much as I have signed up to learn Gaelic.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m from Falkirk, live in Glasgow and my Gran does speak Scots (rather than just being really slang as I grew up believing) so I can hear and understand a fair bit of the lingo – I certainly had no problem with The Boy in the Bunnet, but I’d struggle to speak it.  I hope to encourage my children to hear, understand and, most importantly, respect not just English and Gaelic but Scottish too.

So I played the CD in the car for the children and they were enthralled!  My little boy didn’t want to leave the car to race in and play with his Leappad when we arrived home until he’d found out if the Urisk was creeping up on the boy – a miracle!  He loved trying to work out what each creature was like based on the music we could hear.  For your information, the selkie is pretty because her music is lovely and is his favourite, the craw sounds naughty and the Urisk… well, we have had to reassure him that the Urisk doesn’t live under his bed, but such is the power of the music and vocabulary in this story.  There are simply no better words in English to describe the slaverin’, snochterin’, unknown creature than you can find in Scots.  We’ve only had it for a few days but he has already asked if we can get the book (not available till March but you can preorder) in Gaelic too.  I won’t be able to read it to him, but we can listen and absorb the rich language.

This story has really sparked my imagination – I wish I was back teaching again so that I could stage a fabulous production.  I can totally see how I would do it and am itching to try it out but I think, sadly, it’ll have to wait a few years.  It was so exciting to discover that the original Scots version is being shown at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre as part of Celtic Connections this weekend (3rd and 4th of February) but sadly, even if we all go wearing our bunnets, the £31 family ticket price is beyond our reach (£13 for a single ticket) so for now we’ll settle with listening in the car.

If anyone does go this weekend, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.  And if you have a copy of the free CD that you don’t need, I’d love a spare for when ours is eventually to scratched to play.

First Day Nerves

18 Jan

Sgoil Araich Lyoncross

This week was my son’s first week at his Gaelic nursery and, so far, he loves it.  In fact, I had to drag my screaming child from the room this afternoon because he wanted me to go away for longer and let him stay.  All the way to nursery yesterday he was practising how to tell them his name and then couldn’t resist telling every member of staff who passed him on the way into the room.  “Is mise…”  (Is misha….) the whole way there.  So sweet.  He asked them to remind him how to say good morning – though it was the afternoon – and he was desperate to find out how to say, “please.”  If only he were always so eager at home…

Today was the Chinese New Year themed day so they got Chinese food at snack (apparently the noodles were nippy but the rice was good) and I was able to peek in and see him painting his own Chinese fan.  He was very proud that he can now tell me two colours – dubh (doo) for black, and buidhe (booyuh) for yellow.  He tells me that he is going to be my teacher now.

As for me, so far I’ve chickened out of using the little Gaelic I know.  So, whilst my son gets an A+, I get a definite, “must try harder,” on my report card.

On the plus side, I heard back from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic medium college on the Isle of Skye, and I have got my place on An Cùrsa Inntrigidh – the entry level distance learning course.  Soon enough I’ll get all the information through and I can pick a suitable time to do my telephone tutorial.  I’m very excited!  Maybe then I’ll summon up the courage to speak in his nursery.

Watch this space!