The history behind the Irish POWs in Frongoch can be described as both awful and heart-warming – from the poor treatment of Irish prisoners by their British captors, to the Welsh locals handing out extra bread and cigarettes to their Celtic cousins.
Today the site is remembered in the sleepy Welsh village by a trilingual plaque commemorating the camp.
Seeing this was the first time I encountered Irish in Wales since my course in the University of Aberystwyth. Learning Irish though the medium of Welsh was both challenging and eye-opening but I forever wondered where I’d get a chance to use my newly acquired language skills. I guess it was a shame that the chance would arise following such a sad occurrence on Welsh soil.
It wasn’t until some years later that I encountered the wonders of Duolingo. A free-to-use application available on most smartphones, Duolingo teaches languages using, in my view, highly effective techniques.
Since joining nearly 1.5 million other users learning Irish alone on the language-learning site my Irish has improved drastically. I can’t wait to visit some of the Irish language’s heartlands very soon to test it out – as well as attempting the odd phrase on the streets of Dublin etc.
With so much of my Irish language success coming through Duolingo, I was extremely keen to ensure the same opportunities were afforded to those learning Welsh. Since Christmas of 2015, I’ve had the pleasure and honour of being part of a group of around 8 other Welsh enthusiasts to create a course for my own language. With a bit of luck, by the time you read this the course will be available worldwide for people to pick up some more Cymraeg.
May I also encourage speakers of Welsh to try out the course and to give feedback on any mistakes you might find? Hopefully all bases and dialects are covered but we need the help of others to ensure the course is right for all.
Since completing the Irish course on Duolingo and being part of the team that produced the Welsh version, I’ve been enthused to continue ensuring that more of our wonderful Celtic languages are available to be learned using the site. I hope to have Cornish, Manx, Gaelic and Breton accepted very soon and should anyone wish to help me with any of these projects, please contact me via Twitter; @SteCymru14. Alternatively, send any correspondence to the Welsh Branch Secretary of the Celtic League.