Tongue of my father
Tongue of my father

(from Fortnight,

By Liam Carson

Do Liam, atá ag claoi lena dhúchas. For Liam, who is cleaving to his tradition. Do Liam, nach bhfuil eagla air nios mo. For Liam, who is no longer afraid. These are the book dedications that Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill writes for me after a recent reading. I have been talking to her in Irish for the first time, having spoken English at our previous encounters. I tell her what my fears were - that I might not understand her, that I lacked confidence in Irish. Shortly after, Nuala sends me an e-mail. Molaim go mór an t-athrú teangan. Na biodh aon lag-mhisneach ort, ta se agat, fiu i ngan fios diot féin. She is delighted that I have switched languages, tells me not to lack courage; I have the language, even if I don't know it myself.

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