Apply Now

Current Students

Interview With Niamh Murray

In this episode of the Learning Conversations podcast, Trudy and I sat down and chatted with Niamh Murray. Niamh is a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant here at Davidson-Davie Community College. Among the many topics we talked about was Irish culture and music (She’s a musician with her own Spotify channel), her cross-cultural experiences here in North Carolina and classes she is teaching this academic year.  Enjoy!

BTW: Do you have a teaching experience you would like to share on the podcast? Then let me know by clicking the Interview Request form link in the blog post of this episode

Show Notes:

Video Transcript:

Phil Tietjen:    00:00:04    Okay. Welcome to the next episode of Learning Conversations podcast. This is a podcast where we’re featuring people involved with the, with, uh, teaching and learning here at Davidson-Davie Community College. And today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of our newest Fulbright foreign language teaching assistants, Niamh Murray. Welcome,  

Niamh Murray:    00:00:21    Hi. Thanks for having me here.  

Phil Tietjen    00:00:24    Sure. Glad you could join us. Okay. Uh, and then also joining us remotely is, uh, my colleague in instructional design, uh, Trudy, go ahead and say  

Trudy Brown:    00:00:35    Glad to be here. Yeah, thanks for, uh, inviting me along for the ride on this one.  

Phil Tietjen    00:00:39    Alright. Cool. Cool. Uh, so Niamh again, uh, glad you could join us. Uh, so I thought what we’d do is we’d start by having you share a little bit about, uh, you know, where you’re from in Ireland. So maybe you could tell us a little about, uh, you know, your hometown and the city where you’re from, uh, for example. Uh, what are some things that you really like to do? Uh, what do you like about that city? Especially if you have people visiting, uh, for the first time.  

Niamh Murray    00:01:02    Yeah. Um, so I’m from a town called Maynooth. It’s in county Kildare. Um, so it’s about 35 minutes from Dublin. I feel like Dublin is the place that people know in Ireland to reference. Um, so yeah, I’m from there. It’s a really lovely town. Um, it’s quite small, but we have a university there, um, that kind of brings in the population, which is great. Um, and I’ve lived, I lived there until I was in college, so I studied in, um, St. Patrick’s College in Dublin. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then I lived in Dublin since then. So I’ve been living in Dublin for about seven years. Um, so yeah, I think I, you know, Ireland is great and there’s so many things to do. I love music there. Um, it’s a huge part of our culture and definitely a huge part of my life now because of that.  

Niamh Murray    00:01:48    Um, so that’s, that’s mostly what I would do in my spare time. I would, I, like last year I was gigging the whole time in Dublin. There’s a great music scene there for traditional Irish music as well as contemporary. And so yeah, that’s, that’s what I would do in my spare time, um, if I were to bring someone to Ireland, um, and to my hometown in Maynooth. It’s a really nice place for going for coffees. There’s, um, lovely parks and nice scenery in Maynooth. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, lovely pubs with Irish music playing all the time there, which is great. Um, and then Dublin as well is a great city, so I loved living there, and I’ll probably go back there next year to live there. So yeah, there’s lots to do in Ireland and yeah,  

Phil Tietjen    00:02:29    <laugh>. Great. Great. About how big is the population wise, your hometown?  

Niamh Murray    00:02:33    Um, so I think without the students from the university, it’s about 15,000 people. Okay. Um, and then that doubles then with the, the university students. So during the year, during the academic year, it’s about 30,000.  

Phil Tietjen    00:02:47    Okay. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Cool. Uh, is the university like famous for anything? Like in terms of like specific disciplines as like really well known?  

Niamh Murray    00:02:54    Yeah, so it was actually one of the first, um, universities in Ireland. Um, it was originally just for Catholic priests, so it was, um, for, it was one of the main hubs in Europe for Catholic priests to study. Um, so that was for years. And then they opened it up, I think in the fifties or sixties. They opened it up to the general public and made it into a university for all types of academia, so, okay.  

Phil Tietjen    00:03:18    Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Great. Great. And, uh, well, we were, before we kind of, uh, hit the record button, uh, you were sharing a little about, uh, your music and the kinds of recordings you did. And I think you mentioned you, it’s like mostly like in terms of genres, like indie folk type  

Niamh Murray    00:03:31    Of music. Yeah, so I would say probably, uh, indie folk. Um, I take a lot of inspiration from Irish traditional music. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so my dad is an Irish tradi traditional player. He plays all types of Irish instruments. Um, and so I grew up like just hearing that music all the time. So it definitely comes out in my own music now mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but yeah, I’d say indie folk would be the, the style of, of music that I, that comes out <laugh>.  

Phil Tietjen    00:03:56    Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And do you and your dad play the same instruments or do you guys play different  

Niamh Murray    00:04:00    Instruments? So I play the tin whistle, um, I dunno if you know it, it’s an Irish traditional, um, instrument. It’s kinda like the flute, but like a small version of it. Okay. Um, and then I play piano as well. Um, my dad will play piano, but he plays almost every instrument under this one, so <laugh>. Wow. Yeah, he plays a lot. Yeah. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:04:17    Great. Great. And is he a musician by profession? Is that the way he makes his money or?  

Niamh Murray    00:04:21    No, he’s, um, so he was a teacher. He now works for the inspectors in Ireland. So they’re the people who go around, I’m not sure if it’s the same in the us but they have like an inspector that goes around and checks if the teachers are teaching pretty much like jacking on the curriculum. And so he’s doing that now at the moment. But when we were younger, he would use that, like he would be gigging as well. So he kind of had two jobs teaching and then mm-hmm. <affirmative> gigging in the evening, or he used to go abroad as well, and do lots of gigs like in different countries. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So yeah, it was kind of teaching and music.  

Phil Tietjen    00:04:53    All right, cool. So he got his, like both his, like education gene as well as his creativity gene, and  

Niamh Murray    00:04:59    He  

Phil Tietjen    00:05:00    Actually Right. Obviously a teacher at the college, but before you came to Davidson-Davie, you were teaching, uh,  

Niamh Murray    00:05:07    Yeah, elementary school, I think. Yeah, that’s correct. So yeah, I was doing that. So yeah, similar to my dad, I was doing that during the day, and then in the uni times, then I would go out and gig in Dublin. So yeah, very similar to my dad. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:05:19    Great. Um, why don’t I hand it off next to, uh, my colleague, uh, Trudy. Go ahead, Trudy.  

Trudy Brown    00:05:25    I love listening to you, uh, talk about Ireland. Niamh, that’s, uh, I, I went once to Ireland and I visited Dublin and, uh, have good memories from there. I, I, I even visited, uh, the campus there at St. Patrick’s. Uh, we were still pretty, um, tired from our travels, and I remember there, all the students were laying down on the lawn. They had their blankets out, and so we spread out a lawn and a blanket on the lawn and took a nap there on the lawn with all the students at St. Patrick’s. So, but it’s a lovely city, so That’s awesome. Yeah,  

Niamh Murray    00:05:55    It’s really vibrant. Lots of music and young people and yeah, it’s cool. It’s a cool city. That’s  

Trudy Brown    00:06:00    Great. So I wanna ask you kind of moving on from Ireland, moving to, you know, where you are now, what has your experience been like so far at, um, Davidson-Davie, and in North Carolina?  

Niamh Murray    00:06:12    Um, well, I absolutely love it here. Um, I think it’s completely different to, um, Ireland, but similar in some ways. Um, the people, like everyone here is so welcoming and friendly, um, which is a really nice thing for someone when they’re coming over not knowing anyone else. Um, so I found that really, really helpful. Um, Davidson-Davie is brilliant as well. Like all the staff have been great. And yeah, it’s, it’s just fascinates me that, you know, in Ireland at the moment, um, the Irish language or Gaelic is, um, it’s, um, like, it, it’s not a language that everyone speaks, and we’re trying to encourage more people to learn it and, and to keep it going when they’re in their in adulthood. Whereas here, like, I think that there’s more of a positive attitude towards Irish from what I’m getting. Um, people are really enthusiastic about Irish language and Irish culture, and that’s really taken me by surprise because it just amazes me that people in a completely different country are passionate about a language that’s only spoken really in Ireland and only in some parts. So that’s what’s, um, really cool. But yeah, the, I love the, the area I love, um, the countryside and there’s great hikes here. So yeah, I’m really enjoying my, my time here.  

Trudy Brown    00:07:25    Great, great. I, I think a lot of us claim roots, especially in the South. We claim roots from Ireland. Um, I have, I have my red hair, you know, from my, my great great grandfather who was, who was Irish, you know, so I, I got all the Irish genes, uh, in my family. So I think we all kind of claim those roots in Ireland. So it’s interesting that there’s so many people that are, that are interested in the language and the culture and wanting to learn more about it. Um, have there been any places that you visited or, you know, events that you’ve gone to while you’re here that kind of stand out to you, that really kind of impressed you or impacted  

Niamh Murray    00:07:58    You? Um, well, I went to, so I’ve been to Charlotte and, um, Asheville. I absolutely loved Asheville for the music there. And, um, that was the first time that I heard Live Bluegrass, which was really interesting to hear because it’s very similar to Irish music. Um, and I know that’s, I think it’s where it comes from, is the, when the Scotts and the Irish came over here, they kind of mixed with the music here and, and, and Bluegrass was created. So that was really cool to see. Um, events, uh, we went to, um, a monster or rally two weeks ago, <laugh>, which was really interesting. We have nothing like that in Ireland, and I think, uh, we really wanted something different, so that was very different, but, uh, it was very entertaining. Um, but yeah, I, I think that there’s so many cool places to go and see here, and the fact that as well, you know, this, the US is so vast, like you don’t really ha you don’t have to leave the country to see a completely different place. And, um, so, so I’ve gotten to go to like, Nashville and Memphis, been to New York, I got to go to Atlanta, so I’ve got to do a good bit of traveling. So hopefully, hopefully I’ll be able to do a little bit more before I go home in May. That’s  

Trudy Brown    00:09:06    Great. I love that connection, uh, with the Bluegrass music and, um, everything. And again, just kind of going back to that historical connection and that’s, um, that’s really interesting to see that coming out, um, in the music. Um, alright. Thank you so much for, uh, sharing about that, and I wanna pass it back to, uh, to Phil.  

Phil Tietjen    00:09:25    Yeah, I really like that you mentioned Asheville. I’ve only been there once. Mm-hmm. Uh, but man, the experience that I had there was really good.  

Niamh Murray    00:09:32    Yeah. It’s so nice to really good atmosphere and it’s kind of relaxed and chilled. Yeah. It’s very cool. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:09:37    Right, right, right. Yeah, I mean, what kind of really impressed me about that town or city is that it has this nice balance between kind of offering quite a bit in terms of cultural amenities and restaurants and that kind of thing, but also not being this like massively oversized city. Yeah. You know, that’s like, it’s easy to go from, you know, one end of the city to another. It’s easy to kind of like do a lot of things.  

Niamh Murray    00:09:59    Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of like, um, it’s in Ireland, we have Galway, so that would be one of our main cities. And I find that it kind of reminded me of that, like, it’s a city mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but it still feels almost like a town or like a community, kind of a vibe to it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so yeah, I really enjoyed it there.  

Phil Tietjen    00:10:15    Yeah. Yeah. And I’m really glad to hear that you’ve had a chance to like, you know, travel some other cities, you know, like Atlanta and you said New York and Yeah. And, uh, and then where in Tennessee, was it Nashville or Memphis?  

Niamh Murray    00:10:25    Yeah, so me and Sandra, the, um, German Exchange student. Oh, yeah. Uh, during the October break we got to go to, so we did a road trip down to Knoxville. First we went to Dollywood, and then we pitch was great, and then we went to Nashville for a few nights, and then Memphis and then drove back then,  

Phil Tietjen    00:10:43    Yeah. Memphis home of the Blues.  

Niamh Murray    00:10:44    Yeah. We got to go see, um, Graceland. Oh. So yeah, that was very cool to see. Yeah. Nice,  

Phil Tietjen    00:10:49    Nice. You’re, you’re one up on me. I, I’ve Niamhr been.  

Niamh Murray    00:10:52    Yeah. It’s very cool. Yeah. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:10:54    So was this your first time to the us?  

Niamh Murray    00:10:57    Um, no. So I came here when I was about 10 on a family trip. Um, and we did the West Coast and then we moved, we did Chicago and, uh, Michigan as well. And then a couple years ago, I, for just for a summer, I worked in a jazz club in New York. Oh. For three months.  

Phil Tietjen    00:11:13    Yeah. All right. So you’ve definitely been around. Yeah. Okay. Got familiarity with  

Niamh Murray    00:11:17    The us Yeah. But I love coming here because I wouldn’t have, like, this place is a completely different place to come to mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I’ve Niamhr experienced this, this, um, side of, of the US I’ve only seen kind of cities, um, and things like that. So it was cool to come to an area like this. No,  

Phil Tietjen    00:11:31    Glad The experience has been good. Mm-hmm. It’s great. Um, okay, so what else we have here? Um, so when we think about like, uh, your time here in North Carolina and your previous times here in the us, um, and then your hometown of Ireland and you know, your life in Dublin, what are some of the, kind of the differences that kind of stand out to you between living in Ireland and living, living here, uh, in the States?  

Niamh Murray    00:11:55    Um, the weather, first of all, <laugh>. Um, I’m much further weather here. Um, so it’s very rainy in Ireland, I suppose. Um, in terms of like, is it like with how we live in Ireland, how we live,  

Phil Tietjen    00:12:09    Anything that you feel comfortable talking about? It could be like culture, it could be cuisine, it could be, um, the people. Any,  

Niamh Murray    00:12:16    Any, yeah. Well, the, I think the, especially here in North Carolina, I maybe not so much in New York, but in, in North Carolina, definitely the people remind me of people from home. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And maybe that, that is from, you know, I know there was an, a huge influx of Irish that came over here mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, years ago. So maybe that’s it. Um, I love breakfast here, so breakfast is really good. Um, bacon is great. Um, yeah, I don’t know. Um, I suppose I’m living quite a similar life, um, in many ways with, with teaching and education, but that’s what I’m finding interesting is, um, the way that, um, education is done here. Like, I’m learning a lot about that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and, and about, you know, the, the courses that you do here that can bring you on to and help you, I think make your university degree a little bit shorter. The, the credits go on to a university  

Phil Tietjen    00:13:05    Degree. Yeah. We have like, uh, the early high school programs. Yeah. So where if a student wanted to, uh, earn credits, they could apply towards their college degree. Yeah. Uh, yeah. They can come to a place like Davidson-Davie and start to, uh, earn credits.  

Niamh Murray    00:13:17    Yeah. So we don’t really have that at all, um, in Ireland. Oh, really? Yeah. It’s not, it’s not like that at all in Ireland. There’s no option for that. Um, another real difference as well, I think is the car culture here. Mm-hmm. That wouldn’t be in Ireland. And maybe it’s probably because of just how vast the area is compared to, you know, in Ireland, everything is so close. Like if you’re in a rural area in Ireland, you’re, you’re probably the furthest away from a city you’d be. Or a big town would be like 20 minutes, half an hour. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so maybe that’s it. That, you know, when I first came here, there wasn’t any, like, before I got the car, there wasn’t any way I could have gotten around. Like, there’s no footpaths where I’m living or, um, so I think that’s a bit different now. Obviously in towns, um, or towns and cities, um, there’s more of a, a walking culture, and I suppose that’s the same in Ireland. Um, which, uh, I suppose the scenery as well, um, here is absolutely amazing. Uh, got to go to the Smokey Mountains as well, and that was very cool. We don’t have that, that kind of incredible, well, we have beautiful scenery, but like, I haven’t seen anything like the Smokey Mountains before in my life, so mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that was a cool experience.  

Phil Tietjen    00:14:24    Nice. Did you like spend like a weekend there, or like, how long were you  

Niamh Murray    00:14:27    Down there? Um, so my sister came over to visit. We just went to Asheville for two nights, and then we just drove to the Smokey Mountains just for a day. Okay. So we did a hike there and then came back.  

Phil Tietjen    00:14:36    Okay, nice. Yeah. Yeah. One of, um, speaking of parks, uh, beautiful parks. One of my favorite parks in, uh, North Carolina is Pilot Mountain.  

Niamh Murray    00:14:44    Oh, I’ve been there. Yeah. Yeah. It’s very cool. Yeah. Yeah. I like that. It’s a really nice walk you can do all around the, the mountain. Yeah. Right, right. It’s  

Phil Tietjen    00:14:51    Really cool up at the summit there, you’ve got a pretty nice view.  

Niamh Murray    00:14:53    Yeah. Yeah. It’s really cool. Yeah. So there’s like, we, we have lovely hikes in Ireland. I I just think that they’re, um, the, the views are incredible here. Um, and especially in North Carolina, I know that it’s famous for it’s hikes and beautiful views. So yeah. It’s cool to be here and to be able to do that. I’m not a huge fan of hiking. My sister is, so when she was over, we did a lot. We did. Um, so we did Pilot Mountain, we did the, um, oh, I’m losing it now. It’s, uh, grandfather, the Grandfather Mountain.  

Phil Tietjen    00:15:26    I haven’t been to that  

Niamh Murray    00:15:27    One. Yeah, that’s amazing. There’s like ladders and everything that you have to do on that hike. So that was very cool. But think she kind of pushed me to do them. <laugh>. I’m not a really a hiker, but yeah, it was very cool to see the, the different scenery. And I think that in the Grandfather Mountain, it’s where they shot one of the scenes from Fire Gump. Oh, you’re kidding. Um, yeah. So that was cool to see as well.  

Phil Tietjen    00:15:47    Yeah. Yeah. Cause I’m relatively new here. I moved here from Philadelphia a couple years ago, and so I’m still kind up in the process of exploring like New Mountains State Park. Yeah. Yeah. I’m kinda like your sister. I’m, I’m definitely into hiking. Mm-hmm. So I’m glad she’s, uh, had an opportunity to come over and, uh, hang out with you and visit with you. Yeah. Yeah.  

Niamh Murray    00:16:02    Um, I think those are like, um, just because I’m here for a year, I suppose, I’m like, it’s kind of pushes me to, to do some of my stuff. Right. Like, I feel like I like a lot of the things in Ireland that people travel to Ireland for, I haven’t seen it all. I think it’s just like where you’re from or where you’re living, you don’t, you always think, ah, I’ll get to it, whatever. But when you have like a, a bit of, when you only have a bit of time in the country, then you, you end up doing more  

Phil Tietjen    00:16:28    <laugh>. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. If I travel to your town or Dublin, I’d be like, okay, if I’m only like there for a week, I wanna try and see as  

Niamh Murray    00:16:34    Much. Yeah, exactly.  

Phil Tietjen    00:16:35    Yeah. I’m like, ne okay, what are my top 10 places that I absolutely have to go see? Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, I totally hear you. Whereas like, if you live there, it’s like, yeah, sooner or later I’ll  

Niamh Murray    00:16:44    Get, I’ll get to it. Yeah. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:16:46    Okay. Uh, Trudy, you wanna take over the next question?  

Trudy Brown    00:16:50    Sure. Um, so now we’re, uh, moving into, uh, talking about, uh, your teaching experiences and sounds like you’ve had, uh, teaching experiences on a lot of different levels. Um, what are, what courses or workshops are you currently teaching here at dcc? You mentioned a little bit earlier, you kind of touched on that you’re teaching some Irish language, language worship, <laugh> Irish language workshops. There we go. Um, could you, uh, yeah. Tell us a little bit about your, your courses that you’re  

Niamh Murray    00:17:20    Teaching. Yeah. Um, so there’s one, uh, two courses that have started in the first semester. And, and we’re carrying them through. Um, so one of them is my beginner’s class. Um, and that’s just focused on the Irish language or Gaelic language <unk> language. Um, so there’s five in that class. And yeah, it’s just teaching them, it, it, it was really cool. The, the classes I’ve taught Irish to before, they’ve kind of had some sort, even the beginner’s class have kind of had some sort of, um, background in Irish, or they’ve heard it before. Whereas this class, you know, they’re start, they started brand new. Um, they didn’t know anything about the language before, and it, it’s almost like better because you’re just starting completely from scratch. So they’re brilliant. They’re really good class. Um, and they’re taking it for the second semester, which is great. So we get to continue on with their learning.  

Niamh Murray    00:18:06    Um, and then the other class that I’m teaching, um, it’s just started now, is the, um, Irish language and Culture. And this class we’re working with, um, Dr. Nev Hamel. So she has a course online where she talks to the students, um, via video recording. And, um, she talks about different cultural aspects of Ireland. Um, and then we discuss that, and it’s called Global Perspectives through the narratives of Ireland. So the main focus of the course is kind of to learn about the Irish culture, but also to compare and contrast it with the, the culture in the US and, and in North Carolina. Um, so that’s really interesting. It’s interesting for me as well, because the students teach me a lot about the US that I wouldn’t have known, and there’s definitely a lot of connections between US history and Irish history. And, um, so that’s a really interesting course.  

Niamh Murray    00:18:55    And then they’re, they’re learning about, they’re learning the Irish language as well, um, as the culture. And then I have one more class, um, every Wednesday evening. And this is with, um, the students are from all over North Carolina. It’s on Zoom, so online, which kind of allows it to be more accessible, I suppose, to people all over, all over the state. And again, we’re just, they’re intermediate. So they’ve been learning the Irish language for the last seven years, I think. Oh, wow. Yeah, so, so they’re pretty advanced. Yeah, they’re, they’re really good. Um, certainly more than your beginning class. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So they have, um, a lot of them they would take, they’re taking the course because they have some connection to Ireland, like their grandparents or their ancestors, they found out were from Ireland. So it’s a way of them making more of a connection to, to Ireland. Um, so that’s on every Wednesday. And yeah, it’s just, it’s brilliant with the three classes I’m teaching at the moment, because they’re all so different. Um, the beginner’s class, obviously beginning like completely from scratch. Then I have the intermediate that have the background already, like I’m not starting from scratch with them. So that’s interesting. And then obviously the cultural one, which is great fun to learn about US culture and, and Irish culture and connecting them both. So yeah, they’re the three courses I’m teaching at the moment.  

Trudy Brown    00:20:12    Wow. Those do sound really exciting. And, uh, yeah, I’ve always been fascinated by languages and I, I like to pick up bits and pieces of languages and, you know, some languages it seems it’s a little easier. You know, I, I can usually pick up some, some French or, you know, some Spanish, uh, fairly easy because we have exposure to those languages somewhat. Um, I’ve also tried learning a little bit of, you know, Chinese and Chinese is just, it’s so different from the English language. And so, you know, how would you kind of compare, um, the Irish language? Is it, uh, would you say it’s, it’s similar to English in such a way that it’s, it maybe is a little bit easier to pick up? Or, you know, what, what would you say in terms of someone who’s starting fresh? Is it a really hard language to go from English to Irish?  

Niamh Murray    00:20:59    I, yeah, I think it is very different. <laugh>, maybe not as different as Chinese, but like, there are some similarities in, in words. Um, so, but it is, like, I know when people hear it for, at first, it probably sounds like complete gibberish to them. Um, it’s not a, it’s not close to anything like Spanish or to French. Like I know with, um, French and Spanish and even Italian, they have like, they’re very close languages and you can kind of compare and contrast them, whereas Irish kind of stands out in its own. Um, it would be very similar to Scott Gaelic and Welsh, and I think they speak, um, int as well in France. But it, it, yeah, it is very different. But what I would say is, and I, what I found with the students who are starting from scratches that because it’s so different, you know, they, they get, and, and the the grammar as well is, is quite difficult.  

Niamh Murray    00:21:50    But because they’re starting from scratch altogether, they’re all working through at the same time, and we can take our time with it. Um, so I think that’s one of the benefits, even though it is quite a difficult language, a lot of the same words as well come up, um, often. And once you get the structure of some of the basic phrases, you know, you can use them again and again. Um, but I think, yeah, that’s, that’s the main, um, one of the great things about when, when your students are all starting from the one point is that you can all move, you know, at the exact same time. Whereas I know, you know, with Spanish, like you said, or at French, we all have exposure to that already, so people are at different levels, even if they haven’t studied it before mm-hmm. Or learned the language. We’re all at different levels when we start a beginner class with those. Whereas with Irish, everyone really is at the very, like, you know, they own, they don’t know any of the foundations at the basics. So everyone is starting at the same pace and going on. So I think that’s what makes it a, an easy, well, not an easier language to study, but definitely easier in that aspect.  

Trudy Brown    00:22:51    Yeah, that’s, uh, sounds like a little bit of a challenge, but yeah, it’s very interesting. I would, I’m gonna have to, uh, learn me a little bit of Irish language, so I might have to take one of your classes. Yeah, I do <laugh>. I would love that. Yeah, that would be great. Pick up some of that as well. Um, what, what kinds of, uh, learning activities do you like to use when you teach? You know, with language classes you can be more interactive and, uh, more active. So what are some of the, the, uh, learning activities that you like to use?  

Niamh Murray    00:23:21    Um, well, there’s great resources and websites online where they have, um, interactive games. Um, we have one with we that we use where you, you spin, um, I dunno what you call it, the, you know, you spin it and um, it picks the word for you and you have to say it. I dunno what you’d call that. Oh, like a roulette wheel? Yeah, like a roulette wheel. Yeah, a casino. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, <laugh>. So we have the phrases on each one of those and, and they spin it and they have to say the phrase, oh. Um, I have them working in groups a lot of the time, so any of the activities that we’re doing, they’re working in groups of two. So it’s all kind of focused on conversation and, and using the language that, um, you know, everyday language in normal conversation. So a lot of like, um, print out cards and things like that that encourages, um, like role play or, or, um, a discussion.  

Niamh Murray    00:24:07    Um, then I also use some videos and, and music. I do a lot of, um, listening activities as well. So, um, they’re exposed to not just my Irish accent, um, because in Ireland we have many different dialects. Um, so that kind of makes it a bit trickier. And even in Irish language, people say that there’s millions of dialects in the Irish language because, um, like say for example with me, I’m from the East coast and that’s, um, the Lester Irish, but then a lot of my teachers growing up would’ve been from the north, the west, the south. So I’ve learned all different types of dialects of Irish. So, um, yeah, it’s just trying to expose them to more, um, language and or more, um, accents and, and dialects for the language. So a lot of listening activities as well.  

Trudy Brown    00:24:50    That’s great. Um, I think the more you get to practice the, uh, the easier you’ll pick it  

Niamh Murray    00:24:56    Up. Yeah, definitely.  

Phil Tietjen    00:24:58    Yeah. And I like your point about when you’re talking about the learning process, you know, like when you have like the beginner class, it’s like just so much easier to start from scratch where you’re not, because like it’s, it’s not like a Latin-based language like you see with like Spanish or French where they could easily kind of try be somewhat confused if they were taking Spanish and they maybe were like taking Italian too, and they might try and, you know, kind of adopt, you know, some of the, you know, I don’t know, tips or wave learning the language, you know, from one to the other. But when you start from scratch, that’s a,  

Niamh Murray    00:25:28    Everyone’s like starting from the exact same point, so Exactly. Yeah. And they have no influences from other languages, you know, so, which is great. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:25:35    Right, right, right. And then when you were talking about the, um, how, how different the language is, you know, also, you know, when it comes to learning it, I was thinking about some of the TV shows and saying on Netflix where it’s either set in Ireland or they have some element of like, um, Irish characters in it and they’re actually speaking Irish. Yeah. And uh, I remember when I’d see the, you know, the captions underneath, I was like, wow, that definitely does look different. <laugh>. Yeah. Uh, and of course when they would say it, you know, and it’s pronounce it mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, then I could clearly, you know, definitely hear, um, that this is very different than what I might otherwise expect, especially if I had Niamhr heard it before. Yeah. Um, you know, I might, you know, maybe originally expect to have some kind of like Latin based influences such as with, you know, French or Spanish or something like that. But, uh, when I started, you know, hearing it, some of these shows, it’s like, wow, that is way different.  

Niamh Murray    00:26:24    Yeah. I think like that’s what a lot of my students would say is that, you know, you see it on, you see it when you’re reading it, and it doesn’t sound at all like what it looks like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, like for example, with my name, um, right. It’s N I A M H, so a lot of people would think that it would be Nim or Nim mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, where, but in the Irish language, IA will be an E Sound when they’re two together, and then m h is a V sound. Um, so that’s where Niamh comes from. But there’s a lot of, you know, words in, in the Irish language that, you know, they may look one way, but because the two two, uh, letters are together, it makes a completely different sound. Like, um, hate as v. So  

Phil Tietjen    00:27:03    Yeah, that’s a great example. Cause that completely threw me off when I first saw your name. In fact, I was, uh, telling this, uh, to Suzanne, uh, one time when we were chatting and I said, man, if, uh, if you, I said, Suzanne, if you hadn’t told me like how to pronounce Niamh’s name before she got here, I would’ve like completely butchered <laugh>. I’ve been way off. Yeah. Yeah. Because like you said, I would’ve think like meme or something like that. Yeah. I would Niamhr like thought to have that v  

Niamh Murray    00:27:28    Pronunciation, but you wouldn’t know it other than if you knew the language, like, so. Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. Yeah. Right. Exactly. Yeah. I think as well with the Irish language, um, we like to stretch things out and, you know, teaching it, I, I see it all the time. Like, for example, like if you wanted to say, how are you? Or that’s not, if you wanted to say like, a lot of our phrases would be very long, like, for example, say, um, excuse me, really quick one in English, but ours would be <unk> so it makes <laugh> a lot longer. Yeah. Um, so yeah, there’s a lot, like, there’s a lot of more, lot more words used in the, in the Irish language to, to, um, to say what you want to say. I think. So that’s a bit tricky for our students as well.  

Phil Tietjen    00:28:10    Yeah. Yeah. Adds another layer of complexity. Yeah. You have to think about, you know, like to your point that you have to add in more words and to Yeah. Express whatever kind of phrase or thing that you’re, you’re wanting to express. Yeah,  

Niamh Murray    00:28:22    Exactly. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:28:23    Great. Yeah. Another name I was thinking of is, um, cause I saw this also like in a movie recently, Siobhan  

Niamh Murray    00:28:28    Shaban. Oh yeah, Siobhan. Yeah,  

Phil Tietjen    00:28:30    Yeah, yeah. If I, when I see it like written out mm-hmm. I like, because I like, I think it’s like S I O B A  

Niamh Murray    00:28:36    Likes  

Phil Tietjen    00:28:37    <laugh>. Yeah. Like something like that. Yeah. Yeah. And then when I hear it’s like, oh man, uh, I would Niamhr would’ve thought to pronounce it  

Niamh Murray    00:28:43    That. Yeah. But there’s another V sound, so M H M H is a V sound, but also BH in Irish is, um, a v sound as well, so. Oh, really? Yeah. It’s kind of confusing <laugh>. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:28:53    Yeah. It would take me a while just to kind of get down those patterns of letters or, you know, to really kind of get down the, you know, the  

Niamh Murray    00:29:00    Correct actions. Yeah. Yeah. Are there,  

Trudy Brown    00:29:02    Uh, sounds in the Irish language that we don’t have in the English language?  

Niamh Murray    00:29:07    Um, so some of our, like for example, D’s, you’d say them like, uh, the, like a T sound. Um, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else. Like, we don’t have the, we don’t actually have, like, when we have t like the sound, we Niamhr use it. That would just be a h sound like, huh. If you ct. Um, so there’s a lot of like letters that, you know, our chest sound. We don’t have a chest sound in, in Iris, so that would just be, yeah. So if you see c it’s either gonna be, or so they’re the two sounds for c h really. Um, yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:29:41    So I would Niamhr get, well throw me for a  

Niamh Murray    00:29:43    Loop. Yeah. So for example, if you wanna say the word, but it would be a, um, and that’s a c h, so if the chh is at the end of the word, it’s, but if it’s at the beginning of the word, it’s gonna be like that. Like, uh, comes from the back of the throat. Yes.  

Phil Tietjen    00:29:59    I think you’re kidding approach. And I would definitely need to have cue cards.  

Niamh Murray    00:30:04    <laugh>.  

Phil Tietjen    00:30:04    Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. Are they’re good. I mean, just one other thought on this. Um, can you, do you like, recommend like certain podcasts or certain kind of audio sources for your students to kind of go to, to, you know, kind of regularly kind of, um, help them out on the pronunciations?  

Niamh Murray    00:30:21    Yeah, so there’s, um, on ot, that’s our broadcasting station in Ireland. They have, um, OT Radita, which means the, the Gallup, um, radio. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the Geluk is basically where people, um, speak Irish in Ireland or, um, so that would be a great resource is also a T Cat Harris is another TV station in Ireland and they do all Irish programs. Hmm. Um, so I know some of my students in my intermediate class, they’re, they watch, um, some of the kids shows on that <laugh>. Cause they say the language is a bit, um, more basic, but there’s also like soap operas and Irish and everything that, uh, so they’re great resources to have, um, as well. But I know like, um, just there today I think the Oscars were announced and the, there’s a movie called on Colleen Kuhn, which means the Quiet Girl that was, um, nominated for best, um, I think international movie. Oh. And that’s all through Irish. So I’ll definitely, um, be telling my classes about that, uh, about that movie. Fantastic. Yeah, I think it’s one of the first, if not the first, um, movie all through Irish that’s been nominated for an Oscar, so that’s great. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:31:25    Yeah. Awesome.  

Niamh Murray    00:31:26    Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:31:27    Wonderful. Um, okay, so I don’t wanna take up too much of your time, but, um, there’s one other question I wanted to ask you is that, um, for someone who doesn’t know much about Ireland, um, is there like one book or movie or streaming show that you’d recommend say, Hey, this is definitely a good way to kind of introduce yourself to Ireland or become more knowledgeable about Ireland or Irish culture? Can  

Niamh Murray    00:31:50    Um, I know they’re,  

Phil Tietjen    00:31:51    Or feel free to recommend more too.  

Niamh Murray    00:31:52    Doesn’t, yeah. No, there’s, well, there’s some movies that I definitely wouldn’t recommend <laugh>. Uh, there’s a lot of movies that I think they take, you know, the kind of, um, leprechaun Irish kind of, um, image of Ireland, which I don’t really like. Um,  

Phil Tietjen    00:32:08    If you want we can start that. We can start there and work our <laugh>  

Niamh Murray    00:32:11    Positive. I won’t mention any of them, just in case people are curious. Thank you. Um, but yeah, there’s a good few movies and series. I know there’s a great famine, um, documentary. I can’t think of the name of it. Um, but Liam Neen, um, um, is the Commentates on it or, or just the narrative? So  

Phil Tietjen    00:32:29    It’s like more a documentary  

Niamh Murray    00:32:30    Yeah, documentary and Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it talks about, um, you know, the famine Ireland and, and how that affected, um, many people and how it affected our population and our culture. Um, and I’m trying to think if there’s any other shows that would, well, I know that now people are a bit, um, conflicted on this one. So there, there’s a new Irish movie I’d called the Banis of <inaudible>. Have you heard it?  

Phil Tietjen    00:32:55    I think I’ve heard of it, but I’m not familiar with.  

Niamh Murray    00:32:58    Yes. So in Ireland, I know that like, there’s half, everyone’s split down the middle, half the people are like, they love it and they think it’s great for Ireland. And, and then the other half think it’s a bizarre movie and it’s not good for Ireland because it’s set, um, during the Civil War in Ireland, um, so about like years ago, and it’s sat on an island where a really rural island. So people think that it’s kind of takes Ireland back and makes people maybe will give the image of that Ireland is still, you know, stuck in the past in an old style of, uh, country. But yeah, I think that’s a great movie to show. I dunno, Irish culture and, and, and, um, island life. Um, yeah, there’s a normal people is another great one. Um, so that Normal people. Normal people, yeah. It’s based on a book, um, by an Irish author called Sally Rooney. Okay. And that kind of shows, I suppose, um, life in Ireland is a young person, um, which is a kind of a new take that, that Irish people haven’t seen it in movie or in, in, um, TV series. So that’s an another one I would recommend. Normal people. Normal people. Um, yeah. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:01    So you, if you can get that like, on one of the streaming platforms,  

Niamh Murray    00:34:04    Uh, I’m not  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:05    The get the DVD from like the library or  

Niamh Murray    00:34:07    Something. It was definitely on bbc. I’m not sure which it was def maybe it was on Hulu over here. Um, yeah, I think it could have been on Hulu or H b, I’m not sure which one. Normal Jacob, normal people. Yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:20    <laugh> put in the show notes.  

Niamh Murray    00:34:21    Yeah. Yeah, exactly. <laugh>.  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:23    Okay. Anything else? Because you’re certainly not limited to one. You’re giving a,  

Niamh Murray    00:34:28    Um, let’s see, what else would be  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:31    Maybe a book good  

Niamh Murray    00:34:32    Example  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:33    For the Biblio files out there?  

Niamh Murray    00:34:35    A book? Um, I don’t know, actually, I suppose I, I mean radio is great as well. Like there’s a lot of, um, access to it now with, um, you know, you can just listen to radio wherever you want online. Um, so RT is a great one for that. If you want to listen to Irish music.  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:52    How do you spell that?  

Niamh Murray    00:34:53    Um, just r t  

Phil Tietjen    00:34:54    E Oh, just rt? Mm-hmm.  

Niamh Murray    00:34:55    <affirmative>. Okay. Gotcha. Yeah, it stands for Radio Tel. Nah, so that means Irish radio on tv.  

Phil Tietjen    00:35:01    Okay. So if people just Google RT, they’ll  

Niamh Murray    00:35:03    Yeah. Yeah, it’ll come up. So there’s lots of different TV shows that you can watch on that. Oh, cool. Radio, radio channels and, yeah.  

Phil Tietjen    00:35:10    Great, great, great. Well thanks so much e for coming in and talking with us. Uh, I think the, the Davidson-Davie community, we’d love to, you know, really appreciate hearing more about, you know, Ireland and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, your home and your experiences teaching and working here at the college. I know I really appreciate you, uh, coming here and, and, uh, you know, sharing your expertise and that kinda  

Niamh Murray    00:35:32    Thing. So yeah. Thank you so much for having me. Sure. Thank  

Phil Tietjen    00:35:35    You. Great. Well have a great rest of of your week. Thank you <laugh>. And a quick, uh, programming note for our listeners out there. If there, if you wanna share an experience, uh, that you have as a teacher or as a learner, by all means, feel free to, to reach out and, uh, contact either me or Trudy. So in the meantime, have every, have a great week, everybody out there. And again, thanks a lot. Thank you.