Receiving “An Fáinne” at the Irish Embassy

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Some of Sandwell Irish Society’s Club Eireann members and a group of Irish speakers who meet every week at the Emerald Club in Wolverhampton were very pleased to receive an invitation from the Irish Ambassador, Mr. Daniel Mulhall, to attend an event at the Irish Embassy in London recently.

They were each presented with a “fáinne” (Irish for circle or ring) and a certificate by the Ambassador to show that they are able and willing to speak the Irish language, no matter how little or how much. It symbolizes their link to Irish and also demonstrates their willingness to promote and keep our language alive by speaking even just a few words of Irish whenever possible.

Some members of the groups speak Irish fluently, some learnt it at school in Ireland but may not have spoken it for many years – and some are just beginners and only know a few words! It doesn’t matter what your level of ability is, anyone can enjoy a chat about many things Irish with like-minded folk!

At our Club Eireann Irish language sessions held every two weeks at our home, Kenrick Park Community Centre near the centre of West Bromwich, it’s not just about learning or improving our Irish but being comfortable and relaxed among a small group of people, sharing stories and enjoying refreshments. Nobody notices if you can’t remember how to pronounce a word as most of us are in the same boat but our confidence and our ability improves. We have fun, chat about many things and the craic is mighty every session!

This is why it was so exciting to go to the Embassy and get our “fáinne” for doing something that is great fun and that we all enjoy. We were offered tea and lovely refreshments (on beautiful Irish bone china crockery with the official symbol of the Irish government, a golden harp) and Mr. Mulhall, who spoke in Irish and English, said that he is proud to speak his native language whenever he can, sometimes even only a few words, and encouraged everyone to do the same when possible. It is great to greet someone in Irish “Dia dhuit” (literally “God to you”) or “Conas atá tú?” (how are you) and for them to answer “Dia is Muire duit” (God and Mary to you) or “Tá mé go maith” (I’m well) – you’ve already spoken in Irish!

Siobhan Gorman, Manager of the Society said “We stayed overnight at a hotel and really enjoyed our visit, especially to the Irish Embassy, where we met the Ambassador and some members of staff. We also met other speakers and learners of Irish from around the UK who were presented with their “fainne” and certificates too. We were very pleased once again to be able to use the minibus belonging to Erin go Bragh GAA club in Erdington, Birmingham, kindly arranged by Denis Neenan and driven by Laurence Dowd – our grateful thanks to both Denis and Laurence for your support on this occasion – your kindness and generosity is very much appreciated.”

For further information, contact Siobhan on 0121 553 4402 or by email: sandwellirishsociety@yahoo.co.uk