It’s not everyone who would do Irish in the Leaving Cert twice. But driving instructor Dane Tyghe is one such person. He travels to Gorey Community School from Wexford two nights a week to learn more than the cúpla focail.
In June 2019, he will sit down to tackle the Leaving Cert Irish exams, slightly older than others in the room. At 39, he’s doing this for no other reason that to improve his own level of Irish.
“I want to improve my own fluency in Irish,” says Dane, who did Ordinary Level Irish first time round. Now, he’s got a YouTube channel to teach others how to Learn Irish! “I needed a structure to keep me disciplined – in fact, I’d have done five nights if I could have. But the two nights gives you the intensity and the breaks that you need and the tutors, Daniel and Lucy, were great. They’re very approachable and give great feedback.”
Whilst others in the class are redoing their Leaving Cert Irish in the hopes of qualifying to train as primary school teachers, Dane is on his own journey. “I really just want to improve on the language. It’s a personal goal for myself. I love the language and how poetic it is.”
He’s also been motivated by what he says is criticism of the language from people in the media or elsewhere. “Some people say they came through school without knowing any Irish, but I think they’re not prepared now to go and learn it.
“Others just insult the language – so I decided there must be something to it and I started to learn it myself. I watched TG4 and YouTube videos before I found this course in Gorey. I’d say my Irish was at an intermediate level but I’m well on the road to advanced now.”
His Irish has already been tested – during the Oral exam in March. “I went in feeling confident and we had been well prepared. I may have got one or two words mixed up, but I was delighted with the way it went and the examiner was very approachable.”
Being more mature has helped in the preparation as well. “If you prepare and take breaks in the study as well, you’ll be fine. At 39, I’m more mature and focused, so that’s good.”
He’s also able to surprise learner drivers with his Irish, particularly when teaching Leaving Cert teenagers how to drive!
In the meantime, he’s hitting the books in between the driving lessons. “I’m just so grateful that this course was available. If I’d been learning it myself, I wouldn’t have had the same experience.”
Next stop? Keep learning! “There’ll always be another phrase to learn,” says Dane.