Scholarships for Adult Learners of Irish at Oideas Gael

Oideas Gael is pleased to announce scholarship opportunities, supported by Foras na Gaeilge, for adult learners attending Irish language courses in Gleann Cholm Cille and An Coimín, Gleann Fhinne, Co. Donegal. Courses are held weekly from now until the end of August at all levels from absolute beginner to fluent speaker.

Persons awarded scholarships are required to register beforehand with the LÍOFA 2015 scheme, which can be done simply here.

Priority in the selection process will be accorded to those who have not previously had the opportunity to study Irish while at school, or lack the means of attending courses without scholarship assistance.

Applications are invited by telephoning Oideas Gael at +353 74 97 30248 or by contacting the office via e-mail at

Course details can be found at
Oideas Gael wishes to thank Foras na Gaeilge for scholarship funding.

foras logo daite


Step into Columcille’s Sacred Glen: Archaeology Summer School 2014

We’re very excited to bring you this year’s Fr. James McDyer Archaeology Summer School, Saturday, 2 August 2014 — Saturday, 9 August 2014. Here’s why:

1. Location

Earlier this year National Geographic named Gleann Cholm Cille as one of its Top 10 Historical Sites on the island of Ireland.

This remote village in County Donegal is home to numerous megalithic tombs and early Christian sites, as well as the Folk Village Museum depicting furnished thatched cottages from different eras. The best way to learn about the 5,000 years of history here is to attend the weeklong archaeology school offered in August by Oideas Gael and led by eminent archaeologist Michael Herity.

2. Teachers

This year’s school is directed by Emeritus Professor Michael Herity, MRIA, with Dr. Brian Lacey and Dr David MacGuinness. For the first time, we will have three major course contributors who will offer their respective insights as to the Early Christian history of Gleann Cholm Cille.

Last year, the Summer School was a finalist in the National Heritage Week Event Awards.

3. Theme: Columcille’s Sacred Glen

This year’s School is concerned with the life and traditions of Columcille, and the ascetic lives and the mission of early Christian hermits in remote places and on the lonely offshore islands of Ireland and Scotland, from Clear Island and Sceilg Mhichíl in Cork and Kerry to Rathlin O’Birne and Tory and on to Iona, the Papa Isles and the Faeroes.

This course is devised for adults with an interest in field studies. No previous knowledge is required, merely a serious interest in the theme and a desire to participate actively in sessions in the field observing the evidence of the monuments and their context. Over the past 29 years, thoughtful, observant students have experienced the pleasure of discovering new insights for themselves.

You can find the full course details here. Remember you can always e-mail us or contact us via Facebook or Twitter.

Fancy a tune?

Saturday, 19 July — Saturday, 26 July is Oideas Gael’s flagship week for music courses this summer. Following our successful Bodhrán course earlier this year, you now have the chance to get to grips with Irish traditional music through the tin whistle and flute, or the Irish harp. Expert musicians, who also make for understanding teachers, lead these courses:

Flute and Whistle Playing

A leading traditional musician presents an ‘Exploration of Irish Music’ through the flute and whistle, with tuition for beginners and improvers. Workshops will also explain the development and progress of Irish music up to modern times.

The courses, taught by leading Irish musician Maureen McGrattan, aims to focus on the following aspects of Irish Music:

  • Music tuition: A number of daily practical sessions learning simple tunes and dances on the tin whistle and flute.
  • Regional Styles: A musical tour of the country which will focus on the different styles of each region.


Irish Harp

This course is aimed at beginners and improvers, who are interested in acquiring a basic introduction into the origins of the Irish harp tradition while enjoying the group sessions, learning Irish melodies and accompanying some Irish songs.

Beginners will be involved in an enjoyable way of acquiring an introduction into the playing of this traditional Irish instrument while having an opportunity to learn and perform Irish Melodies with other musicians. Improvers will increase and share their musical repertoire, enjoy playing with other harpers while improving their technique.

Oideas Gael will have a limited number of harps available for participants, providing that we have received prior notice.

Test your Irish at Oideas Gael this summer

Make the most of your holiday in Oideas Gael this summer: for the second year running you have the opportunity to take an oral exam and earn Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge (TEG) certification. TEG is the first and only system of certification for adult learners of Irish. The TEG system has been in place since 2005 and exams have been taken by more than 2,500 adult learners of Irish both in Ireland and abroad.


TEG examiners will come to Gleann Cholm Cille on 12 July and 26 July 2014 to conduct oral exams. Students attending courses in the weeks preceding these dates will have the option of taking an exam. Students who pass the oral exam will be awarded TEG certification of their speaking skills.

Exams will be available at the following levels on both days:

  • Elementary 1 (A1)
  • Elementary 2 (A2)
  • Intermediate 1 (B1)
  • Intermediate 2 (B2)

Advice regarding the most suitable exam level for you will be available from Oideas Gael teachers and from the TEG team at NUI Maynooth. The exam fee of €50 can be paid in Oideas Gael on the examination day.

More information and a link to the registration form is available here.

It is necessary to register by 10 July for exams taking place on 12 July. Applications must be made by 24 July for the 26 July exam session.

Oideas Gael: One of the 50 Secrets of the Wild Atlantic Way

An Trá Geal / Silver Strand, Gleann Cholm Cille

An Trá Geal / Silver Strand, Gleann Cholm Cille

The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s spectacular coastal touring route, stretching for 1500 miles along Ireland’s dramatic western seaboard taking in some of the most enchanting scenery in the world. Oideas Gael was recently named one of the 50 Secrets of the Wild Atlantic Way. Here’s what Fáilte Ireland had to say…

Visit Oideas Gael, one of the hidden gems of Donegal’s Gaeltacht area and leave with Irish language phrases that will connect you with the people you meet on your wild Atlantic Way journey. Oideas Gael has attracted hundreds of participants annually to its highly acclaimed language courses and cultural programmes. Irish people, drawn from all backgrounds, constitute up to half of those attending, while the remainder travel, especially from numerous other parts of the world, to attend. The unique blend of expertly prepared courses, together with an attractive mix of cultural sessions, all located within Gaeltacht communities, enable learners to improve their fluency in Irish while, at the same time, enjoying our living culture. As an alternative to the graded language courses, a broad range of cultural activity programmes is offered to participants interested in experiencing a unique style of learning holiday.

Ag siúl sléibhe / Hill walking

Our experienced guides lead week-long and weekend hill walking courses that are suitable for novices and experienced walkers alike.

Why not start a trip along the Wild Atlantic Way with a visit to Oideas Gael and see all that Gleann Cholm Cille has to offer? Take a look at our website and download the full list of the 50 Secrets of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Ceann Ghlinne / Glen Head

Ceann Ghlinne / Glen Head

Pilgrim Paths Day 2014

This April 19th, to celebrate Pilgrim Paths Day 2014, you are welcome to come join us as we walk Turas Cholm Cille, a three hour pilgrimage walk and one of the oldest traditions in Gleann Cholm Cille. The stations of the Turas consist of megalithic tombs, natural landscape features and cross pillars. Our friend Howard Goldbaum has created a comprehensive guide to the Turas on his excellent Voices from the Dawn website.

According to the organisers:

National Pilgrim Paths Day is a new Easter Festival based on Ireland’s dense network of medieval pilgrim walking routes. This new heritage themed event is organised by the local communities adjacent to each of our principal penitential routes and is aimed at raising awareness of Ireland’s rich inheritance of pilgrim paths. It is targeted, not only at those who enjoy exploring ancient tracks imprinted with the footsteps of our penitents past, but also at the growing numbers seeking walkways with deeper spiritual significance. Easter Saturday, April 19th 2014, has been designated Ireland’s first National Pilgrim Paths Day with a nationwide series of walks planned along all of this country’s major medieval, penitential walkways.

Overview: A three hour penitential pilgrimage around the Glencolmcille valley, usually conducted barefoot around 15 stations/cross slabs, church and well.

Suitability: Rain gear & strong walking boots required. Some hill for 300 metres and soft ground in others. Otherwise along road and paths.

Getting there: Take R263 from Donegal Town through Killybegs, An Charraig, to Gleann Cholm Cille.

Time: 3 hours.

Distance: 7 km.

Contribution required from Participants: none

Walk Start time: 10am

Meetup: Meet at Oideas Gael 10am

Turas Cholm Cille

The second stop on the Turas Cholm Cille, one of Gleann Cholm Cille’s oldest pilgrimages.

Pilgram Paths Day 2014 will be officially launched by broadcaster Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, at 11:30 am on March 31st.

For more information see the Pilgrim Paths website, e-mail us at or call (074) 9730248.

Liam Ó Cuinneagáin: Donegal Person of the Year

We’re delighted that Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, Oideas Gael’s Educational Director, has been named Donegal Person of the Year for 2013. He recently received the award at a special gala dinner in the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra, Dublin. Liam took the opportunity to emphasise that Irish is a “good news story” with thousands of adults in Ireland and around the world eager to learn and to use the language.

The Donegal Association, Dublin, presents this accolade annually. Fr. James McDyer, another noted person associated with Gleann Cholm Cille, was the first person to receive the honour in 1978, and famed folklore collector Seán Ó hEochaidh, of Teileann, is among the other awardees. Jim McGuinness, manager of the Donegal Gaelic football team, was last year’s recipient.

Liam with Finín Mac a' Bhaird, Donegal Association Committee.

Liam with Finín Mac a’ Bhaird, Donegal Association Committee.

Liam spent over twenty years as a primary teacher and school principal in Dublin. Liam and his co-founder Prof. Seosamh Watson established Oideas Gael in 1984 with the aim of enabling adults to enjoy learning Irish in a natural and supportive environment while helping strengthen the Gaeltacht communities of Gleann Cholm Cille agus Gleann Fhinne through local enterprise.

Liam was chairperson of Oireachtas na Gaeilge (1991-1994) following the festival’s visit to Gleann Cholm Cille in 1989. He spent ten years (2002-2012) as chairperson of Údarás na Gaeltachta, and at present he is a member of the Donegal County Tourism Board and a board member at the Donegal Enterprise Fund.

Oideas Gael was awarded the Board Fáilte/AIB Rural Tourism Award 1997. Liam was named the Rehab/AIB Donegal Person of the Year in 1997 also. He is a recipient of the UCD Bord na Gaeilge Alumni Award (2008) as well as Gradam an Phiarsaigh (2010) for his contribution to Irish education and the promotion of the Irish language.

Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, Vivienne & Seosamh Watson

Liam Ó Cuinneagáin with Oideas Gael co-founder Seosamh Watson and his wife Vivienne at the announcement of the Donegal Person of the Year 2013 in the Mansion House, Dublin.

At the award ceremony, Liam said that the award of Pearsa Thír Chonaill was particularly special and that he was proud to receive it. He said that we would accept the honour on behalf of all those who are active in the promotion of the Irish language, especially those located in Gaeltacht communities around Ireland. He referred to the Irish diaspora around the world and the work they do to spread the language. Liam noted the large number of people who have been encouraged to learn Irish as a result of the positive attitude and commitment of these ambassadors. Half of the attendees at Oideas Gael each year come from countries outside of Ireland and Oideas Gael is committed to providing the best teachers and learning materials to empower these learners.

Liam paid special tribute to his friend and Oideas Gael’s co-founder, Prof. Seosamh Watson, to the communities of Gleann Cholm Cille and Gleann Fhinne, and to the friends and supporters of Oideas Gael around the world. We were very happy to welcome two long-time friends of Oideas Gael, Liam Guidry and Stiubhard Cassell, who travelled from the United States to be with us on the night.

Liam, Finín, Liam G & Stiubhard Cassell

Liam Guidry, Daltaí na Gaeilge, Finian McGrath, T.D., Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, and Stiubhard Cassell.

You can view photos from the award announcement here and from the award ceremony here.