Dia Duit

Well it’s been five weeks since I relocated from Dundee to Belfast and in my quest to make friends/acquaint myself with local culture/stop binging on rubbish BBC shows, I enrolled on an Irish Language course for complete bunranas.

I never learned any Scots Gaelic when I lived in Scotland and I never felt an urge to.  I have vague memories of visiting my great auntie as a child, on the Isle of Skye, and feeling suspicious of people speaking in Gaelic; I can also remember feeling bored out of my mind as I was made to watch Machair, a Scottish Gaelic soap opera that would have been at its peak over the years that I holidayed on the island.  I don’t know if the show tied in with some form of punishment, eg I had been fighting with a sibling and made to stay inside while they got to torment the sheep outside, or if it aired at the same time as we were forced to eat dinner (a welcome break for the sheep) but I seemed to harbour a surly intolerance for the show and subsequently the language.  On one hand, I feel really bad admitting that; on the other, the video below makes me want to groan!


Thankfully I’ve grown up and realised that there are a lot of benefits to learning a new language: as well as cultural engagement, studies have shown that it improves our memory; also, data indicates that due to increased professional opportunities, bilinguals are more likely to have a higher income.  Most importantly for a self-respecting PR student, though, is that learning a new language helps to improve communication skills and spark creativity.

Finding a class in Belfast was very easy; for many reasons, there is a huge demand for learning the language in the city.  I chose An Drocheid, a welcoming cultural centre off Ormeau Road and found that approximately sixty others had decided to do the same.  Our tutor,  Clíodhna, was very informative and encouraged us to repeat aloud the greetings and phrases we were learning.  Once upon a time, I would have felt too shy to say it loud and proud but the beauty of moving to a new place and looking for a job, a room to rent, and like-minded individuals that make a habit of drinking gin (not an exhaustive list), is that you learn not to sweat the small stuff.  So, I called out the phrases with intent, trying as hard as I could to perfect my pronunciation and the two hours sailed in – I can safely say it’s one of the best things that I’ve done with my time since moving here.  Very reasonable too, at £50.00 a semester (10 weeks).

For more information on learning Irish with An Drocheid, go to:


Alternatively, if you would rather be schooled from the privacy of your own home, there’s an abundance of free tutorials on YouTube. I tried this one but found the instructors quite hard to take seriously:

I don’t know that I’ll ever become fluent in Irish Gaelic but I’m looking forward to learning more.  For now, I’ve mastered basic greetings and can talk about the weather – I guess whether in English or Gaelic, the same primal human need to comment on the weather applies.

Go raibh maith agat.

Fay Costello is an MSc in Communication & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @fay_costello. 

Public Relations and the GAA – The Relationship

Public Relations and the GAA – The Relationship

Although I may not be a fitness fanatic nor play any sports (I once did, trust me), I am a huge follower of the GAA, both in my local club and county. In most recent years it has come to my attention the tremendous effects and benefits Public Relations has had on GAA and it is of course something I feel is worth mentioning. For those who do not know, GAA is an Irish Sporting Association consisting of Gaelic Football, Hurling and Handball, all at amateur level. That’s right, it is not a professional paid sport. Why you ask? Because of the strong Irish heritage that dates back hundreds of years and simply doing it for the love of it.


From social media to traditional advertising to brand marketing, it has undoubtedly opened up so many doors for both young talented players and organisations. With many sporting social media sites such as Joe.ie, Ulster GAA and Humans of the GAA, not only do they acknowledge young affluent GAA players, but it also creates brand awareness and revenue for that particular site as they put up analysis of games as well as stats and top scorers – it is of course the best of both worlds. Popular, renowned players are seen as god-like figures in this part of the world and someone most sporting nuts aspire to be, which is why many businesses seize the opportunity to liaise with such players to help promote their merchandises whether it may on Facebook, Instagram or good old fashioned advertising. This can be anything from Puma football boots to Murphy’s gloves. We all want the next best thing our sporting heroes have so it is certainly a great way of promoting the company as well as boosting sales. Moreover, seeing TV adverts such as Lidl sponsoring ladies football to Electric Ireland constructing their TV advert on the GAA Minor Championships, it highlights that the our beloved GAA is in the heart of every home in Ireland and Northern Ireland.


With GAA becoming not only huge in Ireland itself, it has broken into the US as well as many other prosperous countries including Australia and Dubai which is of course pumping not only extortionate money into the organisation but letting other cultures become aware of the sport! Not to mention, with many people getting sponsorships from across the water in places such as Canada, it goes without saying, that with GAA enthusiasm on the rise, it sure does open up a whole new window of opportunities for eager young people with Public Relations playing a huge part in this expansion.

Irish people take pride in their own people especially when it comes to playing the sport and it is fair to say we do all we can to ensure their talents and commitments do not go unnoticed! With many extravagant and formal awards nights including the Teamtalk Awards and the Irish News All Star Awards, Public Relations is at the centre of every function, big or small. It is enough to inflate anyone’s ego but is of course a fundamental way of highlighting the important place GAA holds in our community and that hard work really does play off. With special guests including sporting legend AP McCoy at this year’s Irish News All Star Awards, it is enough to get any typical PR agent jumping out of their boots!


Public Relations and its close knit relationship with the GAA has had many positive successes in the past when it comes to raising money for campaigns or charities making it a go-to when looking for a strategy that is simple yet effective! One that stands out from the rest in my opinion is the most recent charity match hosted in Galway in September. The Galway team of 2017 (winners of the Hurling All-Ireland Championship) competed against the Galway team of 1988. The charity match was put together in an attempt to raise funds for the family of the recently deceased Tony Keady, who was named hurler of the year as Galway claimed the 1988 All Ireland Title. Not only is GAA a fun loving amateur sport, it is about helping a fellow comrade when you can and exploiting your skills to do so. This of course gained the attention from the media with many news reporters and journalists making their way to the scene as well as many press releases and social media sites giving it some attention!

What I love most about the GAA is that the amateur sport has been imbedded in us since toddlers and helps bring each and every community closer together. It is not played for money or fame, but for the love of it. It is your local plumber, primary school teacher, your uncle or dad, and that’s what makes it all the more special!

Shannon Grogan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-grogan-09712510b/