I LOVE the month of September.
Sure, I get sad at the thought of saying goodbye to summer and all its freedoms, but I just love it when the natural world around me begins to change.
The way the colours of flowers and the leaves on the trees deepen before they fade away for winter.
The way the sun hangs lower in the sky and casts a different quality of light over the sea.
I feel that the year takes a definitive turn in September and that my mindset and behaviour change along with it.
I can feel myself drawing inwards and turning towards home, towards comfort, and a more interior life. This feeling only intensifies as the dark evenings begin to draw in.
I turn towards books and learning too. I will always associate September with going back to school after the long summer holidays.
With brand-new schoolbooks, with blank copybooks that are yet to be filled with handwritten notes, and with the sense of there being so much to learn.
The very thought of September fills me with motivation to start all sorts of new projects.
Maybe you feel that same sense of motivation.
If you do, perhaps you’d like to start a new project in Irish. Maybe you’d like to improve on your level of Irish.
Or you might be searching for an opportunity to speak it more. Or perhaps to get to know some new voices in the language.
I have an unusual recommendation to make if so.
The Trailblazery are a unique movement here in Ireland.
They were founded in 2011, when the country, its economy, and its people were in low spirits. Three women came together because they wanted to start a new national conversation.
A conversation about the Irish people of today, what Irishness actually was, what constituted the spirit and culture of Ireland, and how we could be both citizens of Ireland and of a global world.
They have organised a host of interesting events and initiatives since then and one of those is taking place soon. It’s called a Hedge School.
Some of you may remember your primary school teachers talking about the hedge schools that used to exist in Ireland long ago.
These schools were set up in the 1700s when education was forbidden to Irish people.
The Irish of the day refused to accept such an injustice and they established their own secret schools outdoors and away from the authorities.
Now, this school won’t be taught outdoors.
It will be taught online and its teachers will teach Irish and Irish culture, as well as the indigenous creativity, heritage, folklore, and wisdom of the people of Ireland.
It will be utterly unlike any other Irish school or class you’ve ever attended. The teachers will be different too.
The writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker Manchán Magan is their ringleader.
He believes that “the Irish language allows for a more magical way of seeing the world. It reveals the underlying connections that our ancestors saw between all things: from fields and flowers to hawks and waves.”
He wants to share the language and its lore with others so that they can reconnect and strengthen their own connection with the land and with Ireland.
He is being joined by an inspiring group of educators.
They include singer, songwriter, and musician Eithne Ní Chatháin; the poet and director of the Centre for Irish Studies at the National University in Galway Louis de Paor; the director, producer and writer Paula Kehoe; the hip-hop trio known as Kneecap; the journalist and gamer Úna-Minh Kavanagh; the actor and writer Timmy Creed; the artistic director, producer, and writer Róise Goan; the American poet, Anishinaabemowin; language teacher and Professor of English and American Indian Studies Dr Margaret Ann Noodin; and the journalist and filmmaker Ola Majekodunmi.
Imagine just how much you could learn from these people.
Now for the bad news: there are very few spaces left on this course.
But they have already started a waiting list for the next one.
By putting your name on it, you’ll be taking the first step in what will definitely be an exciting new project.
Whatever happens this September, however the change in the seasons affects your mindset and your behaviour, I hope you take as much pleasure in it as I do.