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Over the sea to Skye

Deasun Ó Seanáin
Written by: Deasun Ó Seanáin


My name is Deasun Ó Seanáin, 'Des' for short, and I am the facilitator of the Ciorcal Comhrá (Irish Language Group) which meets on the last Friday of each month at 1pm in the Galway office of Age Action. 

Coláisde Sabhal Mór Ostaig

The members have various levels of fluency in the language and we have wide ranging discussions as Gaeilge at the meetings.

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting The Gaidhlig College(SMO) on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Along with a group of other Irish speakers I received a scholarship from Foras na Gaeilge to go on a Scottish Gaelic language course. The group included a number of retired people who wanted to try out a new language, in this case one very similar to Irish.

Coláisde Sabhal Mór Ostaig (SMO) is the largest employer in this remote island where jobs are few and is six hours by train from Glasgow.

Hundreds of adult learners of all ages and backgrounds come here every year to learn the ancient language, traditional music and dances of Scotland. I met with people from Canada, Australia and various European countries during my week there.

Back to school!!

It was a great experience to be back in the classroom as an adult learner as I had left school in 1962 at the age of fourteen. There were ten of us from Ireland in our class and I was not the oldest!

Lifelong learning was at the heart of their approach and I felt much more energetic and motivated to tackling a different language, playing music, dancing and drinking with students of all ages.

Studying with young people can be a very rewarding experience for people of my age and I also felt that the younger students benefitted from being with the more mature ones.

Gaidhlig is very close to Irish and has the same origin. For instance 'when I was young' in Irish is ‘Nuair a bhí mé óg’ and this becomes ‘Nuair a bha mí óg’ in Gaidhlig. Of course there are grammatical differences that are challenging to the Gaeilgeoir. 

Deasun playing music with teachers Marcello and Coinnich in the college bar
Deasun playing music with teachers Marcello and Coinnich in the college bar

Pressure from authorities

As in the case of the Irish language, for hundreds of years Gaidhlig suffered greatly at the hands of the authorities.

From the Highland clearances after the defeat of the Jacobites to the belief that Gaidhlig was a useless language and not much good for the thousands of migrants heading for London, New York or Canada, the language has always been under pressure.

Leaving the Isle of Skye was an emotional experience for me as the ferry headed for Mallaig to the skirl of the bagpipes and the dark blue peaks of the Island fading in the mist.

The experience of studying a language with students, some in their twenties, gave a driving impetus to senior learners like myself. What a better way to bridge the generation gap.

The college run regular courses and can be contacted at

Details of the scholarship from



Iontach, maith an fear!

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Top tips for staying cool

  • Keep out of the heat. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out, wear a hat and keep to the shade as much as possible. It’s very important to use sun screen of at least factor 15.
  • If you are travelling by car or public transport always take a bottle of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and limit activities like housework and gardening to the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • When inside, try to stay in the coolest parts of your home. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun. Remember that lights generate heat. Keep windows shut while it’s cooler inside than out and open them when it gets hotter inside. If it’s safe, you could leave a window open at night when it’s cooler. Fans can help sweat evaporate but do not cool the air itself.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured cotton clothing.
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  • Splash your face with cold water or place a damp cloth or scarf on the back of your neck to help you cool off.
  • Drink lots of fluid – even if you’re not thirsty. Limit drinks with caffeine (like coffee and cola) and avoid alcohol as it can increase dehydration.
  • Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruit as they contain a lot of water.

Dehydration and overheating

Extreme heat and humidity can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat. Watch out for certain signs: particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, pale skin, heavy sweating and a high temperature.

If you have any of these symptoms you must:

  • find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
  • drink plenty of water or fruit juice
  • sponge yourself with cold water or have a cool shower.

If you’re having difficulty, or your symptoms persist for several hours, seek medical advice. Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated - but it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heatstroke include hot and red skin, headaches, nausea, intense thirst, raised temperature, confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.

So if you or someone else shows symptoms:

  • call 999 immediately or 112 if you are in the European Union (you can call 112 from a mobile for free). If you have a community or personal alarm press the button on your pendant to call for help.
  • while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given above for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.

Further information

If you live alone consider asking a relative or friend to visit or phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.

  • If you know a neighbour who lives alone, check they are ok.
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  • For further advice about heat-related illness contact your GP.

Summer Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Summer Raffle. We're so grateful to everyone who participated and who raised more than 18,000 euro to support older people in Ireland.

This year's winners were:

1st Prize winner €1,500

S Deegan, Dublin

2nd Prize winner €1,000

A Parks, Dublin

3rd Prize winner €500

M Dangerfield, Dublin

And the winner of our Sellers Prize was:

Sellers Prize €100

M Kane, Galway, €100

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference.


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Over the sea to Skye | Age Action


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