This article first appeared on iIrish.us
Maggie is ainm dom. Is as Scranton, Pennsylvania mé. Tá mé fiche bliain d’aois. (My name is Maggie. I am from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I am twenty years old.) I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry, Latin, and Gaeilge. My favorite part of my journey as a Pitt student has been studying Gaeilge. Growing up, my cousins in Ireland studied Gaeilge in school, as did my mother and her siblings before them, and I always wanted to learn.
I never thought that I would have the opportunity, so I was shocked when I came to Pitt and learned about the Irish minor offered here. I am now in my fifth semester of Gaeilge at Pitt, and although my Irish family thinks I am a bit mad, I have loved every second.
At Pitt, I am an t-uachtarán of the Irish Culture Club. We meet monthly to share in our love of all things Irish. It is a way for us to feel more connected to our roots. As a club, we try to hold a pop-up Gaeltacht once a semester for na Gaeilgeoirí (Irish speakers) and the students of Gaeilge in the Pittsburgh community.
I always leave the pop-ups having learned new phrases and words to add to mo fhoclóir. I also am on the board for the Irish dance club at Pitt. Our official club’s name is Rince na gCathrach Cruach (Steel City Dance). I have tried to incorporate as much Gaeilge into our activities and promotions as possible to strengthen the dance club’s connection to Ireland and Irish culture.
When I began to write this poem at the height of the pandemic, I was missing my family in Ireland desperately. I longed for that feeling of home. With my mother being the only member of her family in the States, it has been difficult seeing life go on over there through our phone screens. Missing out on big events like new babies, baptisms, and weddings, things that we would not dream of missing before, only strengthens this longing.
Ní féidir liom a fhanacht ar an lá go mbeidh muid uile le chéile arís. (I can’t wait for the day that we will all be together again)
Go dtí sin, sláinte agus fad saoil! (Until then, health and longevity!)
Go raibh míle maith agaibh! (Thank you!)
An Seomra Suí
By Margaret Gralinski
I wish to stare
at the weeping willow
out the wide front window
with its long, slender branches sweeping the ground
as it sighs and sways
in the wind that could cut you,
in the somehow sunny rain.
Warm cupán tae in hand,
feeling the coolness of the pale tile
through the soles of my bare feet
whispering all the way up my spine.
I can just see Mickey hurling a pair of thick socks at me
from the hidden cabinet behind the sofa
and rumbling on about me catching my death.
It is his own aggressive, grandfatherly way of showing affection.
I long to hear the stove whirring to life
after its soot and ash have been stirred
and last night’s rubbish has been thrown in and ignited.
The two beaten, brown leather couches
have this reddish hue in the sunlight.
The permanent imprint of many arses gone by
only adds to their character.
I could lay down for hours,
dead to the world.
Here exists a comfortable contradiction,
for it is both rough and warm,
like the wool of the Aran sweater
that Granny knitted
in the height of summer
on those nights when it was still bright out at nine
in her burgundy Queen’s chair by the stove.
The air always smells of fresh bread,
but also cigarettes,
Marlboro’s to be exact,
the gold kind,
though Granny banned smoking in the house years ago.
The scent clings deeper than the tacky floral wallpaper
that has been replaced more than once with even tackier versions.
It digs in, and it feels homely.
Sometimes I’ll catch the smell
as I pass someone on the street
or while riding in an elevator.
I inhale it deeply,
and I am pulled right back
go dtí an seomra suí.
By Maggie Gralinski for iIrish news magazine, www.iirish.us