Saturday, 14 February 2015
Coffee and Craic - Gaelic Cafe Society
As I touched on in the entry 'We Need to Talk,' there are precious few opportunities for us learners to speak Gaelic face-to-face with other learners and fluent speakers.
'If only there was a coffee shop somewhere,' I used to think, '..where I could hear and speak Gaelic, somewhere the Gaelic community uses as a social hub, and I could experience living, breathing Gaelic.' I did a bit of research and found that such Utopia did not exist.
At least, it didn't exist until the tail end of 2014. Watching the news An Là one evening on BBC Alba, a feature caught my eye about Gaelic singing sessions organised by An Lòchran that took place in a new Gaelic coffee shop in Glasgow. I got terribly excited for two reasons. Yup, grab that damp flannel folks, I need dabbing down yet again:
- I had found out that An Lòchran, a Gaelic Arts Organisation, actually existed
- I had found out that my Utopian Gaelic Coffee Shop also existed
Before long I was making haste to 74 Eldersleigh Street in Glasgow to see what this Gaelic Coffee Shop 'Coffee and Craic' was all about.
You can visit Coffee & Craic's Facebook Page by clicking here.
First of all, I'll tell you what you won't find.
You won't find a Sabhal Mòr Ostaig-Esque 100% Gaelic policy where you're surrounded (and possibly intimidated) by fluent speakers gabbling away at 100mph.
You won't find bad coffee.
You won't find attitude or stuffy formality.
What you WILL find is:
A warm and friendly welcome even if the only Gaelic word you have is 'Slàinte'.
A 'safe place' to speak/practice your Gaelic WHATEVER YOUR LEVEL OR ABILITY
A child-friendly environment where scribbling on the blackboard is positively encouraged
A dog-friendly place as long as your pooch doesn't get in the way or upset others
Fabulous cakes (including Gluten-Free and Vegan), soups and sandwiches
A Variety of Gaelic classes and Kids Clubs throughout the week
Gillebrìde, the Coffee & Craic mascot
Did I mention the warm and friendly welcome? There's a small table near the window for 2/3 people, a sofa to flop down on opposite the counter, and everyone else sits around a large table, easing conversation if you want it but it's large enough to sit fairly quietly in the corner too. Oh, and there are power sockets and wifi... you know what I mean.
As I've hinted before, being an Englishman learning Gaelic can make me feel like a real 'outsider' which, to be fair, I am! Being born and bred in Dover hardly makes me a Gael. It can be a little scary at times to be in a big, big city like Glasgow and be looking for people to talk to - in English or in Gaelic. Yet already I have somewhere to go where I 'know' people, and a safe place to go to if I'm feelng a little bit wobbly or tired or just in need of somewhere quiet to sit and be me.
I've even done a couple of 'organised' conversation sessions here, and both times my Gaelic and my confidence has improved immeasurably.
Find out a little bit more about the setting up of the cafe in this Daily Record Article here.
If you need any further proof of what a great place this is, think on this: I last visited Coffee and Craic a couple of weeks ago when in Glasgow for Celtic Connections. The Coffee was great and the Craic brilliant. After getting back to Kent, I received a wee message from Sarah thanking me for returning to the cafe and hoping that I got back to Dover safe and sound. You don't get THAT with faceless tax-avoiding chain cafes.
Oh, and by the way, stop by for the porridge one morning. That alone is worth the trip from Dover.
How *do* you say 'Bon Apetit' in Gaelic?
***UPDATE 16TH JULY 2015: COFFEE AND CRAIC HAS SADLY CLOSED FOR THE TIME BEING. HOPEFULLY NEW PREMISES WILL BE FOUND SOON***