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The Gaeltacht: What you need to know

The Gaeltacht: What you need to know

Rachael Dunphy

Ahh the Gaeltacht. It’s become a rite of passage for Irish teens to pack up and say goodbye to their home comforts and head off to rural Ireland to practise their cúpla focal.

Whether it’s your first time heading off or if you’re a seasoned Gaeltacht veteran, we’ve compiled a list of need to knows before you reach the land of céilís agus Bean an Tí’s. From our own experiences, what students have told us, and some secrets from a Ceannaire, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s be honest, Ireland is no Mediterranean country, so you’ll need to pack for all weathers. We’d recommend bringing a coat with a hood (yes, we know, it’s summer) that will roll up into your bag so you’re never caught out!

On the other hand, packing sun cream is also a good shout. With a lot of Gaeltacht colleges being near the coast, you’ll probably be spending some time on the beach. And the last thing anyone wants is painful sunburn!

What to bring

With enough Céilí’s to last a lifetime, you’ll need to pack some night time outfits. Themed nights are all the rage in the Gaeltacht, so we definitely recommend a jersey of some sort. Whether it’s your county colours, your local club or even a football jersey you’ve ‘borrowed’ from your cousin, one jersey should do you, but if you really want to represent your club and county, there’ll definitely be time to wear both. 

Snacks from home will be a lifesaver for your time in the Gaeltacht. Even if your Bean an Tí’s cooking is top tier, some home comforts will put you at ease for the first few nights away from home.

Ceannaire Top Tip: Strepsils and a Towel, (a very random pair in our eyes). We spoke to a former Ceannaire turned Múinteoir who told us you should always pack a towel and some throat soothes when heading to the Gaeltacht.

As we all know, wearing fake tan can major;y stain our bed sheets, which mighn’t go down too well with a Bean an Tí. Bringing a towel to put on your bed means the tan can easily wash off your towel, and keep you on the good side of your Bean an Tí. 

They also recommend bringing some throat soothers, like Strepsils or Soothers. We’re imagining it’s in case you feel under the weather someday, but it may also be a lifesaver after a hectic night at the Céilí….

Making friends

If you’re heading to the Gaeltacht on your own, it might be a little nerve wracking to think about making friends, but you have one massive thing in your corner…

In the Gaeltacht, there’ll be at least two or three other people your age in your room. That is a perfect opportunity to make friends right from the start. There’s even a chance your new roommates will have some friends in the college, so it’s the perfect way to meet some new friends.

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If for some reason your new roommates aren’t for you, there’ll be plenty of time in the classroom and during activities to meet new people. Whether it be through sports, céilís or over a cup of tea back at your Bean an Tí’s house, there’ll be plenty of time to make some new friends. 

Ceannaire Top Tip: The Gaeltacht is normally only for 2-3 weeks. It’s easier said than done, but it’s the perfect opportunity to step outside your comfort zone to make some new friends. And if things don’t work out, remember that after your few weeks at Irish college, you can always go back home. There’s a strong chance you may never see these people again!

So go n-éirí an t-áth libh, and we hope you make the most of your time as gaeilge! x

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