Seamus Blake

Lynda Shenkman Curtis

For Dr. Seamus Blake, the roots of Irish culture are embedded in the long history and unfortunate repression of the Irish Gaelic language. It is a fascinating story. He should know - he's been promoting Irish Gaelic for 33 years and broadcasting about it since 1978. A New Yorker by birth, Seamus was inspired by both parents to learn the language as a child. "My father used to get a local county paper with a column in Irish, and sit me on his lap and read the Irish to me," says Seamus. Seamus started off by joining voluntary Irish language groups in the city. Later, he traveled to Ireland, where he practiced Gaelic while living on the Aran Islands with a host family for the summer. Then, as a Fulbright scholar, Seamus studied Ireland's language and literature for two years at Dublin's Trinity College. One of his professors there was Máirtín Ó Cadhain, the major prose writer in Irish of the 20 century and author of the highly acclaimed novel, Cré na Cille.

In his effort to cultivate awareness of the richness, utility and cultural value of the Irish language, Seamus has taught classes in Irish Gaelic at Queens College, NYU, John Jay College and The Gaelic Society of New York. In fact, at the present moment, Seamus has been invited to teach a credit-bearing course in "Irish Language Literature in Translation" at Glucksman Ireland House at New York University for the Fall 2010 semester. Also, his article on contemporary Irish language literature will appear in the forthcoming issue of NYU’s journal, Radharc. Blake also serves on the Editorial Board and was previously the Irish Language Editor of the quarterly academic journal, New Hibernia Review, is a consulting editor for The Journal for Celtic Language Learning, and was the senior bibliographer of the Celtic section for the annual Modern Language Association bibliography.

Blake has hosted Míle Fáilte, a program devoted to the modern Irish language, since 1989. Originally a 10-minute lesson-focused segment, Míle Fáilte has since been extended to become a one hour entertainment program every Saturday morning. This expanded edition brings listeners a more comprehensive sampling of Ireland's culture, past and present.

Stories from Seamus Blake