Most of the Cumann Na Gaeilge teachers are native speakers and all have a keen interest in teaching to all student levels. They are experts at presenting the Irish language as a second language to learners of all ages and abilities. Whether you have taken a class before long ago, want to brush up because you infrequently get to converse with it, or want to explore this part of the Irish culture for the first time, the Cumann Na Gaeilge has a class for you! Read about our teachers here and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Patrick Clifford was born and bred in Enniscorthy Co. Wexford. He joined Aer Lingus in 1964 and his work saw him spending long stretches of time all across the USA, Chicago in 1971, New York in 1980 and finally Boston in 2011. While in New York, Patrick taught Irish with Scoil Gearóid Tóibín in Babylon Long Island for nearly 25 years. He has been teaching with CnaG Boston since his arrival to the area and was elected President of the Cumann in 2016.
A skilled musician, Patrick predominantly plays the Flute and Tin Whistle, but has a proficiency in many instruments, including the Bodhrán, Accordian, and Uileann Pipes. He can be found most Friday nights playing with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann at the ICC in Canton.
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Máire Concannon has been able to use her background to teach the Irish language at Cumann na Gaeilge-run classes in the Boston metropolitan area and beyond for three decades. Máire’s father and mother migrated (as many did) in the late 40’s/early 50’s from Cois Fharraige (which translates as “Leg of the Sea”), between Spiddal and Carroroe in Connemara, Co. Galway.
Máire made the return journey to study at University College Galway completing her entire undergraduate degree there while she lived with her aunt and family in Connemara and studied for her BA in history and Spanish. When she returned to America, she threw herself into Irish-language activities.
In her role as a teacher at Catholic Memorial School in West Roxbury, Concannon has helped introduce Irish studies, which includes a language component, into the curriculum. School officials believe the course, which requires students to pass exams to go to the next level, is the first of its type in the country. It has won praise from visitors from overseas, like Irish government TD Éamon Ó Cuív. “He was very complimentary about the start we’ve made,” Concannon said.
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Brian Frykenberg learned the Irish tongue in Boston, Lochán Beag Co. Galway, and at Harvard University, where he earned his Celtic doctorate specializing in early Irish language, culture, and history. He’s especially fond of the tale of “Mad Sweeney,” a flighty character whose story is enjoyed widely well beyond the dissertation-loaded shelves of academe thanks to modern Irish writers. A professional librarian and freelance scholar interested in the history of books and in book arts, Brian has a background in music and naturally enjoys learning songs in Irish. He has frequently taught for Cumann na Gaeilge’s “Lá Gaeilge,” as well as for an occasional workshop at Elms College in Chicopee, Mass. He and his wife are raising three boys, ages 20, 17, and 11.
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Mike Newell is a native Irish speaker who was born in Rosmuc, Conamara, County Galway. He graduated from St. Enda’s College, Salthill Galway in 1976 and came to the US in 1979. After serving in the Marines (1981-85), he was discharged with the rank of sergeant. From there, he graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a BA in English and Spanish. He currently works for the US Postal Service and has one daughter.
Mike is a fitness fanatic (recently receiving a boxing award in Ireland) with a keen interest in literature, linguistics and language acquisition. He has taught Irish with CnaG i mBoston for 5 years and Ár dTeanga Féin in Worcester for 3 years.
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Bernadette Ridge (Nic Con Iomaire) is a native irish speaker from Costelloe (Casla) in Conamara, Co. Galway. She graduated from Mary Immaculate College of Education in Limerick with a B.Ed degree in 1985 and, following in her parents’ footsteps, she taught at primary school level in a ‘scoil lán-ghaelach’ in Tallaght, Co. Dublin for 3 years, before moving to the UK and transitioning into the world of software solution sales. Today, Bernadette works for the 20th largest software company globally, selling workforce optimization software and services. In 2007, at her company’s invitation, Bernadette re-located to the Boston area, which she loves, and sells to organizations on the east coast and Canada.
As the eldest of 7 siblings and part of a large extended family, Bernadette is passionate about connecting with people and enjoying life to the full! She brings these qualities into her classroom, along with intentionality about learning conversational irish. Her hobbies include dining out, reading, travel, movies and music. Being irish, energetic and sociable, she has been known to frequent Boston’s best irish bars for “ceol, craic agus comhluadar,” believing that a little immersion in irish culture makes the language learning process easier and more enjoyable!
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Aoife Nic Dhonnacha is a native Irish speaker from Trábháin, Leitirmóir in Conamara, Co. Galway. She arrived in Boston in June 2014 and has been enjoying the experience ever since. In 2013 she graduated from the National University of Ireland in Galway with a degree in Irish and Geography. Afterwards she did a postgraduate program in Education (DGO) to become a fully qualified secondary school teacher, the DGO program was taught through the medium of Irish at NUI Galway. Aoife also taught on traditional Irish Gaeltacht courses during the summer months, which are available throughout Ireland. She has been teaching a class with Cumann na Gaeilge since April 2015, although she began teaching in the fall semester in 2014 as a substitute teacher.
Aoife has great passion for the Irish language as it’s her first language and enjoys learning new things about the Irish language and culture here in Massachusetts. She strongly believes that learning the Irish language can be fun and enjoyable when there are different teaching strategies used during class. Her hobbies include walking, reading, shopping and traveling. She is committed to helping students at all levels progress in both written and spoken Irish.
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Karen Conneely, a native of County Galway has taught Irish from elementary to post-graduate level. She attributes her near-native fluency and her love of Irish grammar to a succession of inspirational educators, living in the native speaking Conamara Gaeltacht and her honors degree in Irish and Translation Studies.
Outside of teaching, her work in the Irish language has seen her wear many caps. She has translated, secured state funding for Gaeltacht development, organized and promoted Gaeltacht events, assisted in the administration of Gaeltacht summer camps for children, acted on both stage and screen, published, presented a weekly radio show on contemporary Irish language culture, and set up local Irish language conversation groups.
She has tutored Irish to post-graduate students at the Law Society of Ireland for 6 years, and many school-age pupils over the years, but since her move from Ireland to Massachusetts in 2015 she has been sharing her love of the language through her classes with Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston. She enjoys incorporating Irish culture, literature and history into her classes, which also feature core emphasis on grammatical rules and encouraging students themselves to speak.
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