Russian man tasked with saving Irish language in rural county
Dr. Victor Bayda, a native of Moscow, has been named as an Irish language officer in the Kerry Gaeltacht (a primarily Irish-speaking region) by the Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh, a local community organization in the area which is tasked with reviving the language.
Bayda has been teaching Irish or Gaeilge at Moscow State University for the past fifteen years. He began learning Irish after he first mastered Scots Gaelic (in addition to speaking Dutch, Welsh, Swedish, French, German and Icelandic… and Russian and English), and holds a PhD for a thesis relating to certain aspects of the Irish language. So he certainly has the gift of the gab.
“Irish is such a beautiful language and is well worth learning. It’s a different way of thinking and the language allows you to express yourself in creative ways not possible in most major European languages. It’s certainly a language worth saving and holding on to,” Bayda told Irish state broadcaster RTE.
Bayda is tasked with stopping the rather precipitous decline of the native language in the Ireland’s rural south. According to a 2016 census, just seven percent of the local Gaeltacht population speak Irish on a daily basis, outside of the education system.
“Victor is one of the finest Irish speakers you’ll ever meet. Completely fluent. He is highly qualified and possesses tremendous expertise in the whole area of language planning,” Mícheál Ó Leidhin of Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh told RTE.
“We are confident that we have found the right man.”
Bayda’s appointment has been met with widespread approval in Ireland and his TV and radio appearances have unleashed a deluge of positive comments. He is being heaped with praise for his excellent command of the language, his faultless accent and his abundant enthusiasm.
Many have noted that his mastery and love of the language is making them feel ashamed of their own ability to speak their native tongue.
A Russian has just been appointed as an Irish language officer in the Kerry Gaeltacht. Victor Bayda, from Moscow, is fluent in Irish and will implement a language plan for @ComhchoisteUR funded by @UdarasnaG on the Uíbh Ráthach peninsula. pic.twitter.com/xMGoR17Fom— Seán Mac an tSíthigh (@Buailtin) February 20, 2019
In Éirinn, roghnaímid an fear ceart don phost. Ní roghnaimid fear na hÉireann as an bpost! In Ireland, we choose the right man for the job and not the Irish man for the job! En Irlande, on choisit le meilleur candidat pour le poste & non l’irlandais pour le poste! блестящий pic.twitter.com/2YBPGs4kXo— Joseph Noone (@noone_joseph) February 21, 2019
He sounds more Irish than I do when I speak as Gaeilge that's ridiculous— Pillowcase (@toloyol) February 20, 2019
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