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Three things an Irish teen thinks you should know before you visit Ireland–an interview with Thea Kelly

In my second book, The Celtic Captive, my protagonist Cáel Moore’s first language is Irish, having grown up in a Gaeltacht (an Irish speaking community). Though fluent at both Irish and English, whenever he is disoriented, feeling ill, or is in the, um, romantic way, Irish is his go-to language. When Molly Evans first meets him, he is feeling all three of those things.

The only two Irish phrases my mom, an Irish girl from County Mayo, by way of Maltby, England, taught me are “go raibh maith agat” which means “thank you,” and another phrase I can’t mention here. 🙂 So, I needed an expert to help me ensure Cáel’s language was correct.

That person is Thea Ní Cheallaigh (Kelly) from Oileán Chléire or Cape Clear Island in the southwest corner of Ireland. Thea, and Thea’s mother Dorothee Uí Cheallaigh, have a translation business called Ionad Foghlama Chléire. “Cape” as Thea calls it, is a Gaeltacht. It is also a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland.

Thea Kelly and her friends, Síle and Lucy

Thea Kelly and her friends, Síle and Lucy

Thea was kind enough to answer my many questions regarding her life as an Irish teen, and her view of Americans, in particular.

Here is part one of the interview. Part two will be posted next week, on July 8th.

So what’s it like to grow up in a Gaeltacht?

Growing up in a Gaeltacht isn’t much different from growing up anywhere else in Ireland to be honest. I think the real special aspect about where I live however is that fact that it is an island! One really has to adjust to coping with this certain lifestyle, I was born into it so I know nothing else. Continue reading

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