Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde an Irish-speaking native of the beautiful Gaoth Dobhair, owns and runs Éabhlóid – a publishing business dedicated to creating high-quality Irish language content for both adults and children.

Ící Pící

Eoghan’s partner Linda Keating, who assists with the business marketing and advertising, shares the fascinating story behind Ící Pící, the book that kickstarted Eoghan’s business journey.

“Eoghan’s mother, Nellie, was a primary school teacher. And over the course of her career she had amassed this incredible collection of stories, songs and poems that she had written for her students.

“Doimnic, Eoghan’s brother, is a musician and wanted to put music to his mother’s work and celebrate her retirement. Eoghan then decided he would take on the task of publishing the stories in a book called Ící Pící. People loved it and wanted more. So Eoghan started working with other Irish language writers and poets to publish more of these stories.”

Up until very recently, publicity for Éabhlóid has been through Eoghan’s native tongue only. It was just before Christmas 2020 that Linda suggested they reach out to English speakers who may want to learn Irish, or simply gift an Irish language book. And doing so has proven very successful; opening up a whole new market of people, who aren’t necessarily fluent Irish speakers.

Dialect and business

Linda – who did not grow up speaking fluent Irish – has since learned a lot about the Irish language publishing business, which she claims is different in many ways to other enterprises,

“If you looked at the market numbers as an Irish language publisher, it would be easy to say, ‘There is no market for this’. It would be a very disheartening thing to do. I think market research has to be done differently for Irish language publishers; you have to just go with a product if you believe in it and then once it comes to life go find the audience or readership for it.

“When books are published by Éabhlóid, you sometimes see a rush of orders coming in, because somebody has decided to use it in a writers group in Minnesota. You could never have foreseen that. The normal business school rules do not always work in the Irish language world.”

People get hung up on the different Irish language dialects

Vocabulary and pronunciation are not the concern of most business owners across the country. When you are producing an Irish language book, however, dialect and voice can become a huge ordeal; a factor that is often over analysed, Linda says.

“People get hung up on the different Irish language dialects.

“I can hear from speaking to someone in English that they have a different accent and way of speaking to me, yet we can communicate freely and easily. It doesn’t get in the way of our conversation. But for some reason in Irish, people are afraid of different dialects and they shouldn’t be, because ultimately it is the same language.”

Linda’s top picks for Irish language learners:

For the grown ups: An Prionsa Beag (The Little Prince) translated by Eoghan.

For the little ones: Báidín Fheidhlimidh.

Visit www.eabhloid.com to view or purchase some Irish language books.

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