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Decolonizing Our Language

On Friday, March 18th, 2022 we hosted our special St. Patrick's Day event celebrating the ongoing efforts to decolonize the Irish language. We were joined by three terrific panelists, Ola Majekodunmi, Hugh Carr, and Seán Mac an tSíthigh. 7000 Language's president, Bill Rivers, hosted the event.

Our panelists and host dove head first into a thought provoking and meaningful conversation surrounding the differences in their journey's to becoming bilingual and how speaking Irish played a role in forming their personality's and experiences. They also discussed the local and global efforts to decolonize people's minds and languages. If you would like to watch or re-watch the event, there is recording below:

Ola Majekodunmi was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised in Dublin, Ireland. She is a broadcaster, freelance journalist, Gaeilgeoir, public speaker, creator, co-founder of Beyond Representation and Board of Directors member on Foras na Gaeilge, Dublin Film Festival and a member of Galway Film Centre’s National Talent Academy Steering Committee. She grew up in Dublin, Ireland since she was 7 months old and has lived there her whole life. She found a passion for the Irish language at a young age as she went to all-Irish schools. She first became a radio presenter with Raidió na Life 106.4FM 7 years ago, presenting the show ‘Seinnliosta an tSathairn’ and then more recently presenting the popular African Irish show, ‘Afra-Éire’. Ola graduated from my undergraduate at IADT last year in BA (hons) English, Media, and Cultural studies in 2018. She did her final year thesis on the ‘Politics of Black Women’s Hair’, which inspired her to start writing poetry.

If you would like to continue supporting Ola's work, follow her on Twitter @olamajekodunmi1 and on Instagram @ola.majekodunmi.

Hugh Carr is a journalist and comedian from Ranafast, an area in the Donegal Gaeltacht. As a native speaker, Irish has played a major role in Hugh's life and career. In college, Hugh served simultaneously as auditor / chairperson of An Cumann Gaelach in UCD, and as Irish Language Editor for campus paper, the University Observer. Hugh has worked in radio for years, hosting shows on Belfield FM and Raidió Rí Rá, and continues to feature as a regular guest on a number of programs on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. Hugh has regularly created viral social media content in both Irish and English on his personal platforms. One such viral video led to a fundraising campaign, where Hugh raised over €2,000 in aid of MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers, Ireland). The success of this content provided opportunities for Hugh, who worked as the Social Media Coordinator for BLOC TG4, a platform designed for young adults, and continues to create content for them regularly.

If you would like to continue supporting Hugh's work, follow him on Twitter @hughcarrhere and on Instagram @hughcarrhere. You can also listen to Hugh's podcast Na Seansálaithe on all podcast platforms and follow on Instagram @naseansalaithe and Twitter @NaSeansalaithe.

Seán Mac an tSíthigh is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster. Based on the Dingle peninsula in Co. Kerry, and working alone as a video journalist, he covers the more remote parts of the Cork/Kerry region for both RTÉ and TG4. Seán provides both English and Irish language content for tv, radio and online platforms. Much of his work has a rural emphasis, with a focus on community issues, paying particular attention to Gaeltacht areas in the southwest. Farming, fishing, wildlife and cultural stories form the core of his work, while his style is defined by rich character-centred storytelling. His academic background is in the area of Irish language and folklore. He has edited a number of books and published numerous articles on various aspects of Irish folklore and local history of his native Kerry. Of particular interest to him is the relationship between landscape, lore, placenames and community.

If you would like to continue supporting Seán's work, follow him on Twitter @Buailtin and on Instagram @buailtin.

Dr. William Rivers is the President of 7000 Languages, and serves as a Permanent Observer to the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages. Bill grew up in mixed language households, hearing Québécois French from one grandfather, and Irish from his mother’s parents. Dr. Rivers’ day job is as Principal of WP Rivers & Associates, an advocacy and consulting firm focused on the language industry and on dual language education in the United States. He has more than 30 years’ experience in language advocacy and capacity at the national level, with significant experience in culture and language for economic development and national security, and publications in second and third language acquisition research, proficiency assessment, program evaluation, and language policy development and advocacy.

You can follow Dr. Bill Rivers on Twitter @drbrivers.

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