Monday, 24 May 2010

Erin Dudgeon, historian in the making

Ole Miss student Erin Dudgeon

Here is an interview with Erin Dudgeon who is a a history major at the University of Mississippi (better known as Ole Miss). Like many Ulster folk in the Diaspora, Erin is learning Irish now. She is doing so for dual reasons; she is studying Irish history and folklore and knows the language is very necessary for this, but she is also learning the language to enrich her links to the land of her ancestors.

The Dudgeon family lived in southwest County Donegal and like many Donegal families are now found in many corners of the world. Her maternal line includes the great family of Ó Neill.

(UH Magazine) Where did your family live in Ulster and could you tell us what you know about them?

My father’s family came to America from Ballyshannon, County Donegal in 1801. Thomas Dudgeon brought his family from Ireland to settle in Sydney New York. Shortly thereafter, Thomas’ son, Simon, of whom I am a descendant, set out for the plush farmland of the Ohio valley and settled in Knox County, Ohio. His descendants lived there until my father’s generation. The log cabin Simon Dudgeon built was still standing until the 1980’s. My grandfather, Guy Dudgeon, worked for the local railroad and maintained a small farm that was the primary source of food for his family.

Thomas Dudgeon’s marriage was recorded at the Diocese of Cogher and there are records of his membership at the Church of Ireland in Ballyshannon.

My mother’s family also came from Ulster. My great-great grandfather, Hugh Ó Neal, came to America with his brothers around the 1840’s. He also settled in Knox County, Ohio. His daughter Edith Ó Neal LaFever was my great grandmother and it was she who named me, Erin, after the island of her father’s birth. She was raised Catholic but became a Huguenot after marrying a Frenchman, Calvin LaFever. Edith LaFever died when I was a young girl, but it was through her traditional Irish story telling that I developed my love of Celtic folklore. When I was young, I could often be found sitting under our apple tree, sketching pictures of castles, and dreaming of a handsome warrior prince that would carry me away.

UH Magazine: What is your main motivation in learning Irish?

My main motivation in learning Irish was originally simple curiosity. Since then I’ve come up with some reasons to justify that curiosity. Firstly, I feel it is a way for me to explore my Irish heritage. Secondly, it is academically useful. I’m a history major at the University of Mississippi and I intend to get a PhD with an emphasis in Celtic history and mythology. A sound understanding of Celtic languages seems pertinent.

I recently came across Des Bishop’s 'In the Name of the Fada' comedy series and was both entertained and inspired by his adventures in Irish Gaeilge learning.

How long have you been learning Irish now?

I’ve been studying Irish for approximately two years now. But it is only almost a year since I found a teacher, Barra McCain, on the Daltaí na Gaeilge website ( I think, I’ve made more progress in Irish in the one year I’ve studied with a mentor than I would have made in five years on my own.

UH Magazine: What study course are you using?

On Barra’s recommendation, we began working through the Tús Maith course by Risteard MacGabhan. I’ve also worked in Irish on Your Own by Ó Donaill and Ní Churraighin. Both are very good courses focusing on the Donegal dialect. Learning Irish by Míchéal Ó Siadhail is another great resource focusing on the Connemara dialect. Of course, dictionaries are an absolute necessity for students of Gaeilge. I use Donaill’s Focláir Gaeilge-Bearla and De Bhadraithe’s English-Irish Dictionary at home and Foclóir Scoile for a more portable dictionary. Recently I discovered Leabhar Laghdaithe Bhriathra na Gaeilge which is a wonderful book of conjugated Irish verbs. I’ve also collected a variety of children’s books to practice my reading skills. I purchased all of these books online through the Irish bookstore, Litríocht (
). They have an excellent selection and very reasonable prices.

UH Magazine: What are some of the aspects of learning Irish you find most interesting?

While I was visiting Ireland in Spring of 2009, I spoke with a young man who was raised in the Gaeltacht. I had only just begun to study Irish at that time. When he spoke to me in Gaeilge, I didn’t understand him and I asked him to spell his words for me. He laughed and said “Ah lass, you don’t spell Irish , you say it.” Now that I have studied Irish a while longer, I understand what he meant. I’m continually amazed at how beginnings and endings of sentences in Irish are often dropped and the words in between are fused together, turning a five word sentence into a single three syllable word. I know this happens in English too, but I was raised in a part of the US where English is spoken very much as it is written, so this has been something of a learning curve for me.

UH Magazine: Will you be visiting the Gaeltacht in Ulster in the future? What are your plans for your Irish? Is your goal fluency?

I’m planning to spend the Spring semester of 2011 studying at the University of Ulster. While I’m there I hope to make several trips to the Ulster gaeltachtaí. I do hope to become fluent in Irish. I want to be able to read, write and speak in Irish. I have a cousin who lived in France for many years and speaks French fluently. She told me, you know you have truly mastered a language when you start dreaming in that language. Well, I did have a dream in which I was trying, unsuccessfully, to translate terms from my biology class into Irish, but I don’t think that counts. I’m a long way from fluency.

UH Magazine: Could you address the readers in Irish, tell them a little about yourself and your interest in Irish?

Rugadh agus tógadh in Ohio mé ach bhí mé i mo chonaí in Oklahoma thart fá cúig bliana agus i Florida thart fá deich mbliana. Tá mé i mo chonaí i Mississippi anois. Ba printéir mé cúig bliana deag ach is dalta coláiste mé anois. Tá mé ag staidéar stair ag an University of Mississippi. Níl mé pósta agus níl paistí ar bith agam. Is breá liom béaloideas na Éirinn, go hairithe scéalta de Fhionn Mac Cumhal. Chaith mé mo t-am saoire ag leamh nó ag éisteacht le ceol go hiondúil.

Derry's Bid for UK City of Culture

The Derry-Londonderry bid for UK City of Culture 2013 is due to be delivered to Manchester on Friday and we need your help to get it over the line. Although the bid is currently winging its way to the judges we are gearing up for the final stage – a presentation to the judging panel on 17th June.

We will show the judges how everyone in Northern Ireland has got behind the bid and we still need as much support as possible.

The level of online engagement has been phenomenal and we'll be sharing all your wonderful stories at the presentation.

We'd ask you to keep the online momentum up and this Friday we're hoping for a massive peak in activity which we can use as part of our presentation.

Join us and say Yes for Derry 2013!

On Friday we’d ask you to do the following:

1. Retweet the hash tag #derry2013

2. "Like" us on Facebook » and leave your comments on our page

3. Send our template email to your database or network of friends/colleagues

4. Email us a photo or story of how you've been supporting the bid

Find out what else you can do to help here »

Register your support

Monday, 17 May 2010

County Tyrone Artist, Colm McCann

unique Irish chess set using Bronze Age and Medieval Irish art and architecture

Gaelic art has never really gone out of fashion and it is a design continuum that stretches back thousands of years. Colm McCann carries this uniquely Celtic tradition forward into the 21st Century from his home in County Tryone. Killyliss studio was established in 1991 by the Irish Artist Colm McCann and has grown over the years to produce a range of Celtic inspired gifts which include chess sets, clocks, slate plaques, wall plaques, mirrors, pendants and brooches.

Colm is greatly influenced by the artwork of the early Celts and this is reflected in the gifts that he designs and produces. Each item is unique, handmade to the highest standard from a range of materials including cold cast metals, slate and cast limestone.

Colm McCann is a registered member of the Crafts Council of Ireland.

Visit to see the current range of celtic gifts.

Friday, 14 May 2010

The News From Donegal

Welcome to the Donegal in Touch e-zine. This e-zine is part of the Donegal Diaspora Project. Through this project Donegal is reaching out and connecting with people in all parts of the world who have a connection to or interest in Donegal. This e-zine is sent to people in all parts of the world.

Please feel free to pass this e-zine on to others that you feel might be interested in it. Any views, comments or contributions to the e-zine are very welcome. The latest edition of the e-zine can be viewed or downloaded via the Donegal County Development Board website - using the following link:

Donegal - Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin, Sunday May 16th 2010

A one day showcase promotion event will take place on Sunday 16th May in Temple Bar Dublin to show what Donegal has got to offer its visitors. For more information visit:

For further information on Donegal or on the Donegal Diaspora Project, please contact Maria Ferguson at or Roisin McBride at

Fáilte go ríomhiris Dún na nGall i dTeagmháil. Tá an ríomhiris seo ina pháirt de Thionscnamh Diaspóra Dhún na nGall. Tá Dún na nGall ag síneadh amach agus ag nascú le daoine ar fud an domhain a bhfuil gaol nó suim acu leis an chondae. Cuirtear an ríomhiris seo chuig daoine i ngach cearn den domhan.

Seol an ríomhiris seo chuig duine ar bith a mbeadh suim acu ann, le do thoil. Beidh fáilte roimh thuairimí, ráitis nó eolas don ríomhiris. Tá an eagrán is deireannaí don e-iris le fáil le léamh nó íoslodáil ó suíomh idirlín Bord Forbartha Chontae Dhún na nGall - ag an nasc seo a leanas:

Chun tuilleadh eolais ar Chontae Dhún na nGall nó ar Tionscnamh Diaspóra Dhún na nGall, dean teagmháil le Maria Nic Fheargusa ag nó le Róisín Nic Giolla Bhríde ag

With kind regards

The Donegal - community in touch / Dún na nGall - pobail i d'teagmháil Publication Team

Roisin McBride

Research Officer
Strategic Policy Unit
Donegal County Council
Tel: +353 74 9172562
Fax: +353 74 9142130

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Atlantic Zone Celts

We have had many requests for a link to the Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies and information on their current project on the Atlantic Zone Celts. Link below:

Ancient Britain and the Atlantic Zone (Ireland, Armorica, and the Iberian Peninsula)

This fascinating project is the cutting-edge in what's what and the real story about the Celts along the Atlantic seaboard from Iberia along the French coast into the Celtic Isles. Professor Koch, the head of the team, already has out his book, Tartessian: Celtic in the South-west at the Dawn of History. His work is the very latest research upon early Celtic people and their migration and the beginning of the Gaels. Dr Koch uses multiple disciplines, including breakthrough DNA research to offer a factual history. The book is available on Amazon and is highly recommended.

Down From the Hills Festival, 14 & 15 May!

Down From the Hills Heritage Music and State Fiddling Festival is set May 14 & 15 in New Albany at the Union County Fairgrounds. This is the eighth year for the music festival and the second for the state bluegrass championships. More than $6,000 will be awarded to top musicians. A recent legislative resolution has santioned the state competition to be in New Albany for the next five years.

Battle of the Bluegrass Bands will take place Friday night with the state trophy and top cash prize of $1,000 being awarded to the first place winner. Second and third place cash prizes will also be awarded for a total of $1,500 given for the band competition and $5,000 will be given on Saturday for the individual competitions. Registration begins at 6 p.m. and competiton begins at 7.

State championships in fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo and dobro will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. For more information call 662-534-1916 or 662-538-0014 or go to for more information, rules of the competition. Mississippi Arts Commission, BNA Bank, City of New Albany, Union County Board of Supervisors, Union County Fair Association, Mississippi Extension Service, UNITE, Sims Metal Management, Union County Heritage Museum sponsor this event.