Getting to shoot a Dublin couples session was so incredibly special. Not only was it my first time visiting Ireland, but it was also my first time shooting two people who met like these two did.
These two met on an dating show.
Grá Ar An Trá (Love On The Beach) is sort of a Love Island meets Duolingo 😆 which might sound confusing (especially if you don’t know the context of language in Ireland) but is rather quite simple. The reality show pairs off couples, but instead of being voted off by the public or other contestants, they are eliminated based on whose Gaeilge improved the least that week. In each pair there being one native speaker and one not, the former who helps the latter along.
The Irish Language (and no – this doesn’t just mean English in an Irish accent…) – or Gaelic – is the language the nation was founded upon. And while it was the majority spoken language for over 1500 years, in more recent times it has fallen to the vast minority.
As a Canadian, its hard not to see some similarities between the decrease in Irish to the loss of Indigenous languages in North America (at the hands of many of the same parties – England and the Church). Children being punished for speaking the languages in Church-run schools. Laws put in place that prohibited any Irish Catholics (who largely spoke Gaelic) from being employed in higher offices and professions and thus making the language inhibiting to upward mobility. Famine and disease primarily then killing members of those poorer, disenfranchised populations (largely Irish speaking) – with it being estimated that more than 1 million died during and more than 1 million left the country during this time.
Despite all of this however, it’s a language on its way back.
It has become codified in law, and recognised as a working language by the EU. There is a rise in children attending bilingual and immersion schools. The census indicates that young people are more likely to be able to speak the language well. And then there is the rise of media featuring it.
Language is an expression of culture. There are many elements of languages that can’t be directly translated, and come as a product of its people and their identities and values. And it’s so important that it stays alive.
Getting to visit Ireland was so special, and I can’t wait to be back to learn more about it. 🥰🥰