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U of O to participate in “Cyber-Gaeltacht,” support Irish heritage

Eric Davison, The Fulcrum
January 22, 2018

Trasna na dTonnta seeks to connect Gaelic speakers across the world

The University of Ottawa’s Celtic studies program is taking part in a global online campaign beginning Jan. 22 to support the world’s Irish-speaking populations. Literally translated as “Across the Waves,” Trasna na dTonnta is described by its organizers as a  “Cyber-Gaeltacht,” a reference to traditional Irish-speaking communities in the west of Ireland.

Classic Gaeltachts serve as a place for Irish populations to reconnect with a heritage and culture left in tatters after centuries of English subjugation. Trasna na dTonnta was created for a similar purpose—to reconnect Irish populations across the world to their language and history.

The U of O’s participation in the project is spearheaded by Síle Concannon, a professor of Irish language at the university on an exchange through the Ireland-Canada University Foundation as part of her doctoral program.

Crossing the waves to return to the homeland is a recurring theme in Irish literature and forms the chorus of a traditional Irish folk song of the same name. The modern movement focuses on a similar idea, inviting individuals from across the world to explore their heritage.

“We are reaching out to people all across the world, from people with just a few words of Irish to fluent speakers to tweet out something,” said Concannon. “Whatever they can speak, whatever the fluency they have.”

Concannon has turned the initiative into a project for her Irish language classes and the Celtic studies program in general, where students will contribute a variety of poetry, art, and spoken Irish pieces until Friday, Jan. 26.

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