Conradh Na Gaeilge Review
January 31, 2010
A pub is a terrible thing to waste, an all to regular occurrence in this nation of drunks. Be it fabulous structures brimming with conventional bores to poorly executed stabs at originality you might not be able to swing a dick in this town without getting it pissed in the process but finding one that is a genuine pleasure over an affable convenience is a rare treat. Conradh Na Gaielge is a genuine joy but it’s also a genuine disappointment, a wasted opportunity that could so easily be corrected.
A brightly lit warren of nooks and crannies under the actual Conradh, an organisation whose purpose is to keep the Irish language spoken in Ireland, this whimsical establishment was once a home away from home for Gaelgors who sold their soul to the Jackeen pound. Officially opened in the 1970s, after years of flouting the licensing law, the Conradh is a linguistic Lourdes, a Meca in these internationalistic times. Where once the barmen were like the Gestapo, cracking down on those who flout our adoptive tongue, now they’re more liberal and many of the people who drink there are beginners who have dripped down from the Irish classes upstairs. You’ll get away with talking in English but it’s a bit like wiping your arse on hosts bed sheet. It’s simply not done.
Many people I know are too afraid to go to the Conradh because they lack confidence in their abilities but once the staff sees you are making an effort they are as warm and as courteous as they come. It’s not your typical night out and the challenge of speaking in a second language opens some wonderful doors of discourse that usually lie dormant. Once you get into the swing of things the chatter flows as freely as the cheap as chips booze and you find yourself getting off on how much you can recall from those bygone days of “pog mo thoin” agus “leigh anois go curamach na ceisteanna agus treoracha a bhaineann le chuid A”.
If only the management capitalised on the rich tradition and culture that seeps out of the walls. With so many people desperate to connect with their inner Seoige’s it’s a shame that the place isn’t hopping night after night with traditional Irish songs and dance. This being the only place where you can natter in your native tongue you’d think they’d use the same stone to take out a few more traditional birds.
That’s not to say that this never happens it’s just so hit and miss that you never know if you are walking into a morgue or a mardis gras. Term time is more predictable with Trinity’s trad soc taking over Tuesday nights. If the management followed this lead and organized a more regular and thought through series of events this place could easily be one of the cities best.
It so very nearly is.
Conradh Na Gaeilge
6 Hardcourt St