How I’m Managing to Stay Sane (For Now)

It has been a long while since I’ve had the energy or desire to blog. Not because I didn’t have anything to say (my Twitter can probably attest to that) but rather that there has been a guiding voice in my mind this year that reassures me that I didn’t need to burn myself out – especially this year.

That got me thinking a little to do a blog post that harks back to blogging of long ago, before the age of sponsored posts and influencers telling you which amazing brands are paying them to recommend products you never needed. I remember when blogs were barely a twinkle in a digital marketer’s eye, and we used Blogger and Live Journal to open our innermost thoughts, stories, and nerdiness to anyone who might stumble across it. Still, enough of me showing my age.

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English, Gaeilge

Gay Gaeldom Returns: Poetry and Plans

Last weekend, my partner & I travelled to Edinburgh from Cork to take part in an event organised by Scottish Gaelic poet, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, and the University of Edinburgh’s Highland Society as part of the Scottish capital’s festival for Gaelic language and culture, Seachdain na Gàidhlig.

The theme of the event was LGBT poetry in two of the three Gaelic languages, Gaeilge and Gàidhlig. Being gay, of course, is only one part of me, but being a gay writer in a minority language means that I’m part of not just one minority community, but two. The same goes for Marcas, although we are by no means the first LGBT writers in either Gaelic language. Regardless, Na Balaich Aighearach | Na Buachaillí Aeracha (literally, ‘the gay boys‘) saw Marcas and I read our poetry in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and English, with a few songs by Marcas and my good friend, Alison Ní Dhorchaidhe.

As Alison and I were a little late to the event (“typical Irish timing”, as Marcas aptly put it!) we had little time to prepare or compare our chosen poems, and yet common themes clearly appeared during our performance. I read two separate poems, Oíche ar an gCé and Mångata (a poem in English, despite its Swedish title), in which I touched on showing affection to a love interest away from broad daylight or public eye. This theme was reflected in some of Marcas’ poetry also, showing common experiences and subtle inequalities still experienced by LGBT people. We also read poems that touched on Armistice Day and soldiers, with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One taking place the following day, as well as national identities and relationships – all part of an overall expression of identity and finding oneself, but told through the eyes of gay writers.

Aside from the poetry, it was wonderful to take part in a Gaelic-language event, and to see the language alive and well in Scotland’s capital. I studied Scottish Gaelic for a semester while doing my undergrad at UCD, and while I didn’t pay much attention to it then, I’ve since travelled to the gorgeous Scottish Highlands, as well as visiting Edinburgh a handful of times, to see the language ‘in action’. The state of the language and its community of speakers are in a different situation to Irish, and yet there is an energy to its younger and urban speakers, which gives me hope for a’ Ghàidhlig. At one particular point near the end of the event, Marcas sang the Gaelic song, Canan nan Gaidheal, which even my partner noted brought a warm atmosphere to the event, giving the impression that both Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers were one community.

I must admit also, that Marcas himself was something of an inspiration to me. His passion for Gaelic, poetry, and pushing his writing ‘out there’ through various publications and competitions is something that I’ve done at times, but not with his seemingly consistent effort. While I do take part in the occasional literary event, and have two books published, I consider my writing as a creative outlet which is – first and foremost – for myself. I use writing as a form of releasing built-up thoughts and emotions, and sometimes as a form of self-therapy. Still, Marcas’ enthusiasm has encouraged me to write more, and with renewed purpose. We discussed the idea of a publishing a literary pamphlet in Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and English, and hopefully this will be a good project for 2019.

Finally, I’d like to say “Mòran taing” or many thanks to Marcas, Drew MacNaughton, and the rest of the organisers for inviting me to read in Edinburgh and be part of the Edinburgh Gaelic Festival. I returned to Ireland with a re-energised sense of being part of the wider Gaelic (or even Celtic) community, and hope to take part a little more in future. Míle buíochas daoibh go léir.

Featured image by Comann Ceilteach Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann


Editor’s Letter: A Date with Castro’s History

EILE Magazine

castro_flagEILE’s Founder and Editor-at-Large, Scott De Buitléir, writes from San Francisco, where a trip to the popular Castro District revealed a deep-rooted and valuable history lesson worth cherishing. 

The Californian Sun shone brightly upon the colourful streets of Castro as my partner and I walked along Market Street towards the famous gay neighbourhood.

Truth be told, I knew little about San Francisco before I arrived there as part of our annual two-week ‘big holiday’, where we’d usually spend a week each in two different locations. The previous week was spent in British Columbia; exploring beautiful Vancouver and spending Canadian Thanksgiving with my father’s cousins in Victoria, the province’s capital on Vancouver Island. For San Francisco, I knew little more than about Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and Castro; the world-renowned gay village that was once home to Harvey Milk. 

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