Interview with Redwolf
Redwolf, the forum's top poster with 25,000+ posts, talks about how she got into learning Irish through her love of Irish tradiational music, of her path of learning, and tips for beginners. 5th September 2006.
Who is Redwolf?
My real first name is Audrey, and I'm 45 years old. I'm a full-time mom at the moment, but my background is as a writer and editor in newsletter publishing and advertising. I'm an American…I grew up in Spokane, Washington, (cowboy country!), but now live in the middle of a gorgeous redwood forest in the mountains outside of Santa Cruz, California, with my husband, my teenage daughter, and a black cat who thinks he is a golden retriever.
So what's your connection to the Irish language? Are you involved with other Irish language groups, apart from IrishGaelicTranslator.com?
I first became interested in learning Irish when I was a teenager. I fell passionately in love with Irish traditional music when I was 13, and I still vividly remember the first song I ever heard sung in Irish (it was The Clancy Brothers singing "Oró, ‘Sé Do Bheatha 'Bhaile" on the old Irish Rovers TV show), and me wanting desperately to learn it! A passion for any kind of traditional music naturally leads to a fascination with the culture and language from which it arose, but it wasn't until the internet came along that I was able to find the resources necessary to start learning seriously.
In addition to IrishGaelicTranslator.com Forum (IGTF), I'm involved locally with the Santa Cruz branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
What has been your path of learning Irish?
I started seriously studying Irish around the same time I joined the forum, in January, 2004. Because I haven't had a teacher for most of that time, my progress has been a bit spotty. Other than the forum, my primary resource has been Teach Yourself Irish by Diarmuid Ó Sé and Joseph Sheils, though I've also used TeachMe Irish and, as I've progressed, Turas Teanga (also: product reviews). My quick-reference dictionary is the Collins Pocket Irish Dictionary, though I use Foclóir Gaeilge Béarla by Ó Dónaill and De Bhaldraithe's English-Irish Dictionary for more involved work, and the on-line Foclóir Beag (also: dictionary reviews) for checking my conjugations and declensions. I would say that I'm at an intermediate level with reading Irish, an advanced-beginner level when it comes to writing Irish and comprehending the spoken word, and still at a beginner level when it comes to speaking.
Do you see your Irish skills improving in the future?
Definitely! I've found a teacher locally, which is a big help, particularly in the areas in which I'm weakest (conversational skills). I'm also planning to attend an Irish immersion weekend in San Francisco at the end of this month. My dream is to do a course at Oideas Gael someday. In the meantime, I'll keep working at it, however slow or fast the progress.
I want to start learning Irish. Where do I begin??
I would start by trying to find a teacher or class in your area. Without a doubt, that's the best, fastest way to learn. Failing that, I suggest getting a hold of a good book method, such as Teach Yourself Irish (I generally recommend that to American learners because of its ready availability in the U.S. In other parts of the world, other methods may be more easily available) and working your way through it…supplementing it by participating on IGTF and by taking any opportunity you can find to use or to hear the language.
Do you have any tips for people interested in learning Irish?
Listen to it as much as you possibly can. Watch TV shows on TG4's WebTV site, listen to Raidió na Gaeltachta, get a hold of the Turas Teanga DVDs (product reviews) and listen to them over and over, with and without subtitles. Mainly, though, just keep working at it, and don't get discouraged if some days it seems like you're making no progress at all. Those "aha!" moments when something you've been struggling with suddenly clicks into place make it all worth it.
What other interests/hobbies do you have?
When I'm not studying Irish, playing mom or editing various newsletters (to keep my hand in), I spend most of my time making music on the tin whistle, with my voice, or with my latest love, a 26-string lever harp. I also love choral music, and will be putting that interest together with my interest in Irish by participating in an Irish-language Christmas Chorus (directed by Mary McLaughlin), set to begin rehearsals this month, with a performance scheduled for mid-December in Santa Cruz.