Over 25 years ago, the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies asked me to document the spoken Irish of Inis Mór in the Aran Islands. No serious study of Inis Mór Irish had been done there since the Danish scholar Holger Pedersen and the German scholar Franz Nikolaus Finck had investigated the dialect in the years 1894-1895, nearly 100 years before. Since my father’s parents both came from Inis Mór, I was a logical choice for the work.
In a way, though, I was an odd choice. I was a Californian whose previous field experience in linguistics was a sociolinguistic study of the spread of the Swahili language in western Kenya.
When I began my work, I knew that the dialect of Irish on Inis Mór and on Inis Meáin was very similar to the dialect of Irish spoken in the Cois Fharraige area on the Connemara mainland. I also knew that the Irish spoken on Inis Oírr was quite different, with traits that tied the dialect to the Irish spoken in eastern mainland areas – in the Burren and even in distant Kinvara.
I thought that my work would be simple, that I might discover a half-dozen differences in speech that might distinguish the Irish of the west end of Inis Mór from the Irish of the east end. Then I would discover a few more speech differences that would distinguish the Irish of Inis Meáin and of Inis Oírr.
I soon discovered, however, that on Inis Mór itself, the speech differences were far complex than I would ever have believed. Even little groups of townlands on Inis Mór could be distinguished from each other by their speech. The island could be divided into three or four subdialect areas separating the townlands on an island hardly 9 miles long!
And of course there were other speech differences separating the other two islands from one another.
Still, I thought that I could sort out all these complex differences with three or four years of hard work. As it turned out, the work occupied 25 years of my life!
The result is a 1,000 page research work on the speech differences in the Irish of all three islands, with special attention given to Inis Mór. A PDF of this work can be downloaded at no charge from the website http://aranirish.nuigalway.ie/en/.
In addition to the downloadable PDF, you will find three pages with links at the website which will summarize the most important points about this research work. Accompanying this website is the Facebook page www.facebook.com/aranislandsirish/. And for yet more information relating to the rich history and culture of the Aran Islands, be sure to visit the bilingual website www.aransongs.blogspot.ie.
Séamas Ó Direáin / James Duran, Ph.D.
It is that time of the year after the storms when the local farmers start to collect the seaweed for their fields . Looking at this abundant resource that nature provides one is constantly amazed by the painterly richness, color, tones, and textures. Through the decades Aran has inspired many visual artists to create a great diversity of work. To capture the REAL Aran one really needs to spend more than a day to discover the subtle differences between wall styles and the constant play of light. Looking at the body of work created by the Victorian photographer Jane Shackleton on the Aran Islands one realizes that not that much has changed
For more about Jane Shackleton’s photographs see Jane W. Shackleton’s Ireland
On Aran that sense of beauty is evident due to the ongoing management of fields, walls, etc by those who live here and continue to preserve those traditions. For those of you planning your first visit or returning on your annual pilgrimage it is worth remembering one night is not enough.
Checkout Aran Life
How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
I have always had a love of writing , but of verses and would write verses about all kinds of things, Love, Life, Friendship and aspects of the world, mainly in English and one or two (Aran Related) in Irish. This however is my first Story.
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I love reading and I use it as an escape from the “real world”. I love Cathy Kelly , Marian Keys and Claudia Carroll. I did read 50 Shades of Grey , I admire EL James , the book may not be everyone’s cup of tea.. but she took a chance and has sold 70 million copies worldwide. If that is not success, then nothing is.
Tell us some more about your book.
My Book is call “Fate, Hope & Love” it is based in Galway city and the Aran Islands. It is a modern day fiction, romantic story that follows life , love and everything in between.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
My main character is a single girl called Jessica, She works and lives in Galway City but is originally from Kilronan in the Aran Islands. Jessica has been hurt in a previous relationship and is slow to trust anyone again. The book follows her story where she meets Sam Casey a stranger who’s act of kindness , might just be the start of happiness for Jessica.
Who do you see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I could definitely see Kiera Knightley playing Jessica and possibly Channing Tatum as Sam Casey
Why do you write?
I write as relaxation, I work in the Emergency Services and I have a young family , so reading and writing are my “down time”.
Who inspires you?
I get inspiration from lots of places in life , of course the people who surround me , from situations and everyday living. I also get inspiration from the beautiful country we live in and love photography. I also am a hopeless romantic and love music… so my inspiration is a combination of everything put together.
Describe your writing style:
I have a quirky sense of humour.. I don’t take myself too serious and know for a fact that I am clumsy , quite self critical but with a heart as big as anything, so I write from my own experiences too. I think it comes across as light hearted, and quirky .. like me I guess.
What is your favourite place on the Aran Islands?
It would really be impossible to pick one – But if you really force me – I will narrow it down to two. If you had to find me in Aran, you would find me either sitting on the wall overlooking the pier in Kilronan , watching life go by or I will be at the top of Dun Aengus, crawling as close to the edge without falling over !.. camera in my hand and wonder at the utter beauty of the place in my mind.
Why did you go to the Aran Islands in the first place?
My first ever trip to the Aran Islands was on a school tour , I went back after that to find summer work in a Bed and Breakfast. While I physically left to work in Galway .. my heart never did.