Manchán Magan


No Béarla 2 is a follow up to Manchán Magan's initial No Béarla series, in which he looks more deeply at why it was so difficult for  him to survive using only Irish and why the reactions to his efforts were so complex, intense and multilayered.

In a humorous exploration of the Irish language, Manchán sets out to find out WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF:

  • ·        You submitted the Gaeltacht people to a lie detector test to find out how they actually treated learners of Irish.

  • ·        You hypnotised people to find the hidden Irish inside.

  • ·        You subjected Donegal speakers to a sustained  assault of heavy Munster Irish for prolonged periods. Would it effect their IQ? Make them cleverer or dimmer?


NO BÉARLA 2 -  4 part TG4 series, (2008)
  • ·        You taught the same Irish lesson to a group of Poles and a group of Irish people who had studied 10 years of Irish at school. Who would fair best in an exam?
  • ·        You challenged the students of an Irish University to differentiate between Irish and Kling-on (the alien language from Star Trek). Could they tell them apart?
  • ·        You examined Leaving Cert Honours Irish students on their knowledge of Irish versus the Simpsons. Which would they know more about?
  • ·        You submitted members of the Gaeltacht to a vocabulary test to  find words for basic things like snot, batteries, dandelions, daddy-long-legs.
  • ·        You set about writing a pop song in Irish that was as good, if not better, than English songs. Could it be done?
  • ·        You sought to bring revolutionary fervour back to the language struggle, mounting a series of campaigns, including getting celebrities to start using their síneadh fadas.


Extract on Gaelscoileanna from David McWilliams’ The Pope’s Children

"Gaelscoileanna were once seen as too Catholic, too nationalist and too old-fashioned. Today, they are the school of choice for the sophisticated elite . . ." Read


Interesting article on Irish Language article by John Waters, Irish Times June 2006.  "The surely unsurprising news that the standard of spoken Irish is, as one newspaper headline puts it, “in freefall” may represent the most critical moment for generations in the story of the “first official language”. . . .Read

 'The Sound Within' an article by Kate Fennell. "When I was uprooted from Conamara, the world of sounds that I knew vanished almost completely. I started to make new sounds . . ." Read

No Béarla, was a 4-part series in which Manchán Magan attempted to live his life (eat, travel, socialise, find accommodation, shop, etc) through Irish. It was a journey to find out whether the 1.6 million people who claim they can speak Irish in the national census really can .... and whether one can survive in Ireland today without speaking a word of English.

In the course of his travels Manchán gets kicked out of bars, served the wrong food, given the wrong directions, the wrong clothes, the wrong haircut. He gets abused, insulted, treated as an imbecile. When his car breaks down he finds he can’t get a mechanic - directory enquiries simply laugh at him. Likewise, he gets jeered at trying to chat up girls in a nightclub in Donegal. On the Shankill rd, he is warned that he’ll end up in hospital if he continues  speaking the language. In Galway he tries busking, singing the filthiest, most debauched lyrics he can think of to see if anyone will understand - old ladies smile and tap their feet merrily as he serenades them with filth. In Killarney he stands outside a bank, promising passers-by huge sums of money if they help him rob it, but again no one understands. He may as well be speaking Kling-on.

 In short, No Béarla was a thousand mile road trip around Ireland involving a lot of pointing, miming and desperate gesticulation. It cast a cold eye on the state of Ireland’s first official language - watch it and weep, or laugh . . .

Dearg Films production for RTÉ/TG4

NO BÉARLA - a 4-part TG4 series (2007)