The Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Joe McHugh, has admitted he had had some hilarious moments as he gets to grips with the Irish language.
The Donegal man was appointed to his post last July to some outcry, as he admitted he had very little Irish. However, he won over public opinion after attending a number of courses in his native county.
The father of three said he has had some amusing moments as he struggled with his cúpla focal.
“I threw myself into the language because I knew that I had to try and use the small bit of language I had if I was to improve it.
“In the early days of my appointment, I was in a hotel in Galway and I needed to go to the toilet.
“I was quite confident and I went up to a member of staff and I asked them where the football was. That was quite amusing.”
Mr McHugh, who is married to former Fine Gael TD Olwyn Enright, also revealed there is a struggle between Galway and Donegal Irish at his home.
“Olwyn would have been taught Galway Irish but I have Ulster Irish so that’s a little be different.
“We have three children under five years and we are trying to speak as much Irish as possible in the house.
“But our Irish is very different and it’s a battle to get the children to speak our Irish.”
He admitted that one of his secrets is an Irish/English dictionary which he learns one word from each day.
Mr McHugh said that he is actively seeking ways to continue to promote the language, including bringing down the cost of learning the language.
He also plans to bring in a new symbol or technique which he hopes will help the public to recognise that people are open to speaking the language in everyday situations.
“I appreciate that you have the ‘Fainne’ but I would like to introduce something be that a phrase or a symbol that would allow other people to recognize that you are willing and keen to speak the Irish language.
“I also appreciate that not everyone can afford to do courses in Irish so I am continually looking at ways of making learning Irish as cost neutral as possible.”
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