Galway Congress focuses on Esperanto as a Step towards Learning Another Language
The Irish Times ran an extensive report on the recent European Esperanto Union congress in Galway. Attracting over 130 speakers from 28 countries it was co-ordinated by a committee led by Irish diplomat Dr. Seán Ó Riain.
It coincided with Esperanto's 125th birthday. There was also a trip to the Aran Islands.
The Irish Times article explained that Dr. Ó Riain learned the language in three months as a dare, when based in the Irish Embassy in Australia. “An Esperanto conference was coming to Sydney and I was told I could learn it from a book . . . which I did,” he said.
Hungarian second-level students are the only EU citizens to have realised its many benefits, he pointed out, as Hungary’s education system recognises proficiency in Esperanto towards points for university entrance.
He suggested that Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn should consider a similar move, as Esperanto's simplicity gives students “confidence” in language learning, and that would be of particular benefit to potential early school leavers who might instead decide to continue their studies.
Irish Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáín told the Congress that parts of Peig, along with Ó Conaíre’s M’Asal Beag Dubh and the writings of Máirtín Ó Cadhain and Muiris Ó Suilleabháín are available in Esperanto.
Both conference patrons, President Michael D Higgins and Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton sent tri-lingual messages of support to the congress.
President Higgins observed in his message that “in a world where conflict is still all too pervasive, [Esperanto's] message of peace based on parity of esteem between different peoples remains as relevant and as valid as ever”.
Ms Creighton also entered into the spirit of the occasion with her message conveying “cent mil bonvenojn” or “céad míle fáílte”.