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26 Things That'll Give Irish People Gaeltacht Flashbacks

It was a rite of passage.

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1. The awkward bus journey down.

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You boarded a bus full of strangers before you set off for three weeks in the wilderness. Hardly anyone spoke, it took an eternity to get there, and you only stopped once for a toilet break.

2. Meeting your housemates.

From day one, your 14 housemates and you were a team. Collectively, you were known as Tigh Bhreatnach (the House of Walsh) or Tigh Noirín (Noirín's house), depending on the name of your Bean or Fear an Tí.

3. Getting to hang out with interesting people from distant places.

Like Portlaoise or Mallow. So exotic!

4. Being absolutely terrified of your Bean an Tí.

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Unlike summer camps, most Irish colleges housed their students in family homes in the area. The Bean an Tí (the woman of the house) fed you, while the Fear an Tí (the man of the house) was a silent figure.


5. And being even more scared of the Leabhar Béarla.

If you were caught speaking English by a múinteor (teacher), the Bean an Tí, or a cinnire, your name was put in the Leabhar Béarla, (the English Book). If your name was put in once, you got a warning. Twice, you got a phone call home. Three times, you were sent on the long, lonely road home.

7. Learning new dances for the ceilí.

Which happened every single night. Everybody now! Isteach dó trí, amach dó trí, isteach dó trí, amach dó trí, luascadh!

8. Dressing up almost every night of the week.

Almost every ceilí had a theme and the more ridiculous your outfit, the better.


9. Loathing your cinnire.

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Your cinnire (camp leader) was in charge of everyone in your house. They were normally 16, and had a massive power trip every time they blew their whistle.

10. Going on long walks along stone walls.

Unless you were one of the bus kids, you walked everywhere. No matter what the weather.

11. Going to the shop being the most exciting thing ever.

In the evenings, you had some free time between tae and the ceilí and you'd spend this time ag an siopa (at the shop). For some reason, this was ridiculously exciting.

12. The radio on the school bus being your only connection to the outside world.

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If your house was far away, you'd get the bus every day. This is where you listened to the Top 40 and caught up on real world gossip.


13. Feeling like you were in paradise when the weather was nice.

The Gaeltacht areas in Ireland are some of the most beautiful places to visit.

14. Having parties on the beach if it didn't rain.

Welcome to Conamara, bitch.

16. Feeling homesick.

In a moment of weakness, you'd really, really miss home and you'd look forward to Sunday, when your family could visit you.


17. The heartbreak of someone being sent home.

There was always one. Someone had to go and repeatedly break the number one rule of the Gaeltacht: No speaking English. And nothing was the same since.

18. Having your first kiss.

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Ah, your first kiss in the Gaeltacht. Or if you hadn't kissed anyone yet, you'd say you kissed a boy or girl when you went to the Gaeltacht alone. No one would ever know.

19. Sneaking out after lights out.

Sneaking out was an offence that you could be sent home for, but it was another fantastic opportunity to kiss someone so you didn't care.

20. This song. THIS SONG.

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Niamh Chinn Óir (sea!),
As Tír na nÓg,
B'í an bhean ab áille gné, a chas ar Oisín Óg (cad a rinne sí?),
Mheall sí é le breáthacht (níos measa),
Is mheall sí é le póg (lean ar aghaidh),
Is mheall sí é, gan aon agó
Go Tír na nÓg.


21. Roaring the one line of the national anthem that you knew.

At the end of every ceilí, you had to line up and sing the national anthem. The verses are a little tricky so you'd mumble them but when you got to the final and most powerful line, you'd scream it until your ears bled.

22. Fancying the local kids.

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The local kids were the object of your desires. They had an air of mystery because their accents were so difficult to understand, and they were normally called Seán Pól (Sean Paul). That's why Irish people find Sean Paul so funny.

23. Signing everyone's notebook.

On the last day, emotions are high and everyone writes heartfelt notes to each other saying that they'll never, ever, ever, ever forget them.

24. Getting emotional at the Ceilí Mór.

AKA: the Big Ceilí; your last chance to go isteach dó trí, amach dó trí and kiss the face off of some hunk of a lad from Tramore, Co. Waterford.

25. Going home and feeling so alone...

For three solid weeks, you were surrounded by people. And now, there's just nothing.

26. ...until you arranged a reunion every week until you went back to school.

And by that stage, you were ready to get back to the real world. Slán go foill, Gaeltacht. Bhí sé dochreidte.