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Column: Get back on the capall - we should be proud to use the Irish language

The plan is simple: we want to start a revolution and get 100,000 people to use their chuid gaeilge in their daily lives, write Bernard Dunne.

Bernard Dunne

SIX WEEKS AGO, Bernard Dunne’s Bród Club was launched. The plan was simple: we wanted to start a revolution. By the end of the campaign we wanted 100,000 people who spoke little or no Irish in their daily lives to be using their chuid gaeilge again. That was and remains the grand ambition of this project.

We have no big axe to grind, no big statement to make about the Irish language. We just believe that there are people with a latent sense of pride in the language and we want to awaken that.

We’re always keen to point out that Bernard Dunne’s Bród Club is not a learning series. It’s a motivational, inspirational series that seeks to talk to the “Gael” in each of us.

It seeks to rekindle a sense of pride in the language and to turn that pride into something tangible whereby we will be inspired to speak the language again. This appeal to our pride – our bród – is at the very heart of the campaign.

We set ourselves the incredibly ambitious target of getting 100,000 people signed up to the club. We had no idea if we’d even manage to get 1,000 but so far almost 23,000 people have made the commitment. And what have they committed to? It’s very simple really, all we ask people to do is to use the Irish they have.

And we have solid evidence that the campaign is working. Its there in the thousands of tweets, Facebook posts and emails that we have received. We may not have created a revolution – at least not yet – but we have created a new and very lively online community. People are really keen to tell us that they are using their Irish and indeed how they are using their Irish.

Greg Dunne on Facebook:

Spent an hour with the kids playing and TRYING to use as much Irish as possible , we had great fun and was surprised at how many Irish words I remembered , going to make an extra effort to learn more and look into getting into a class, Thanks Brod Club

Lisa Benton (@NecroVamp) March 19th 2012:

@rtebrodclub Nuair a bhí mé ag féachaint ar #brodclub anocht bhí mé ag labhairt as Gaeilge le mo iníon,tá sí 8 mí d’aois,&bhí sí ag gáire!:)

Coláiste na Mumhan (@ColaisteGaeilge) March 19th 2012:

@rtebrodclub Katie Taylor ag troid ar son na Gaeilge. Wouldn’t wanna mess with Katie…..labhair an cúpla focal.

Aine Wimpenny via email:

Dia Dhuit Bernard, Your bród club is certainly ag obair liomsa anyhow, mar bhí brionglóid as Gaeilge agam aréir.

Leo Lalor on Facebook:

Go raibh maith agat Bernard, taim ag abairt cupla focal ar mo FB page agus ta some of my chairde answering as Gaeilge (ex pats!)…I’m starting to remember words I learned over 40 years ago!!

kellysmith (@kellysmith_93):

Is rud amháin é bheith i d’éireannach ach is rud eile bheith I do gheal! @rtebrodclub

Margaret McCarthy (@maggie_may):

Wow! @rtebrodclub @declanorourke sounds even better as gaeilge- Iontach ar fad!

Teresa McCusker (@t_mc_cusker):

Loving the idea behind @rtebrodclub it’s definitely made me think more about the Irish I have

Shannon Grimes:

An-ghleoite ar fad.. thosaigh mé ag muinteoireacht gaeilge do mo neacht Molly, tá sí 19 mí agus anois when I tell her to sit on her “cathaoir” she toddles over to her little cathaoir and sits down.. táim an- bhródúil as an achievement sin!

These are all simple comments and stories really but they are just a tiny sample of what we have received and taken together we believe there’s something special going on. And people have got the message, use what you have, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don’t be intimidated by the language.

The campaign has been a mix of guerilla tactics, charm, celebrity endorsement, publicity stunts, peer pressure, emotional blackmail, local advocacy and digital and social media tools – all to ignite the spark in people to use the language.

We’ve had fantastic artists like the Dublin Gospel Choir, the Republic of Loose, Ryan Sheridan, The Delerentos and Declan O’Rourke – all showing their pride in the language by performing as gaeilge.

We’ve had flashmobs, laser graffiti, bród bingo and singles parties – silly things but all to show people that they have some Irish, even if its only a few words.


(Bród Club flashmob with the Dublin Gospel Choir on Dublin’s Grafton Street. Video: RTE)

We’ve had great support from the corporate community with companies like Irish Pride, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus, Bank Of Ireland, Bus Éireann, Truly Irish, Toni and Guy, Barry’s Tea and Bravo Advertising all coming on board.

We had a range of celebrity contributors, from Paul McGrath to PJ Gallagher to Ray Foley. And it was Fiona Looney who gave us the most enduring catchphrase of the series – get back on the capall – which not only became a slogan, the fantastic Hairy Baby Company in Cork designed a T Shirt around it and sold it at cost price to Bród Club Supporters.

Apart from Twitter and Facebook and the website we also developed some personalised video apps – based on the traditional bete noirs of the Irish language experience – Peig and the stereotypical Mean Múinteoir. These have really caught the imagination of a certain generation of irish people.

All of these things combined have resulted in 23,000 Bród Club supporters and an amazing level of goodwill around Gaeilge.

So we’re heading into the final television programme. But the campaign doesn’t end with the TV series. It will continue online and we will continue to man Twitter, Facebook and the site. So there’s still time to sign up.

Get back on the capall – go to www.rte.ie/brodclub and sign up.

Beir Bua.

About the author:

Bernard Dunne

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