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Learn the language where it is spoken

Interview: Mary Fitzpatrick, Berlitz Language Center Director Dublin

Mary Fitzpatrick has been working for Berlitz for 27 years. She began her career as an English teacher in Mannheim, Germany. She lived in Germany for 10 years before returning back to Ireland. Berlitz Dublin specializes in individual, tailored programmes and welcomes approximately 250 students per year. The students come from Germany, France, Russia, Poland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Japan. The Berlitz Study Abroad® programme includes a full-day excursion and participation in "Meet N Mingle" - the weekly social events.

In which district of Dublin is the Berlitz Center situated?
Now located in the heart of Dublin's beautiful Georgian quarter, Berlitz Dublin sits on the fringes of Ireland's finest university, Trinity College, providing a scholarly environment and placing students a mere ten minutes from the Grafton Street shopping district at the absolute heart of the city. Berlitz Language Centre, Dublin is located just around the corner from Sweny's Chemists, immortalized in James Joyce's Ulysses. You may well ask what the Joycean connection is. Well, between 1905 and 1914, Joyce taught English at the Berlitz Schools in Trieste, which was then an Austrian city, but is now in Italy, and Pula, which was also part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but is now the fifth largest city in Croatia.

How would you describe "the Irish"? 
The Irish are known worldwide for their friendly, laid-back approach to life and warm welcomes. In the Irish language, we say "Céad Míle Fáilte Romhat" - a hundred thousand welcomes to you!

What are the top sightseeing spots in Dublin?
Dublin offers many sights and cultural experiences. Dublin's pubs are the stuff of literary legend, home to private ‘snugs', traditional music and some of Ireland's most famous exports: Guinness, Jameson Whiskey and Bailey's Irish Cream, though the experience can be enjoyed with coffee or an orange juice, too. A city centre trip isn't complete without exploring Dublin's two beautiful cathedrals, Christchurch and St Patrick's, or dropping in on our cobbled entertainment hub, Temple Bar. The city's revolutionary history and deep-seated love of all things musical offer plenty of enjoyable outings, too.

If you plan to venture outside the city, beautiful Howth peninsula - a village that also acts as an Irish seafood hub - comes highly recommended, while a true glance at the greenery of the Emerald Isle through Dublin's ‘back garden', County Wicklow, makes for wonderful, accessible day trips.

Why stay with a host family in Dublin?
A stay with a host family enables students to experience Irish hospitality at its best. Sunday morning's ‘full Irish breakfast' - a fried selection of eggs, bacon, sausages and toast - might only turn up once a week, but the Irish love affair with tea is ever-present. Expect evenings of fun and laughter where you become part of the family, and are absorbed in a genuine social English experience.

Our students come to Ireland to develop their English. That will certainly progress, but many leave talking of so much more.

In your view, who invented whisky: an Irishman or a Scotsman?
I guess the best answer to this question is: does it matter? Regardless of who invented it, we can all enjoy this excellent drink now and again! It's actually a difficult question because there are many answers to it. Some people say that neither the Scots nor the Irish invented whisky - it was the Babylonians, ancient Greeks and medieval Arabs and Romans, who developed the process of distillation. Monks brought these techniques back to Ireland and from there to Scotland and other parts of Europe. The first written reference to whisky is in the Annals of Clonmacnoise, an old Irish Chronicle, and the date was 1405. In Scotland, the first written reference was in 1494 in the Exchequer Rolls. Nobody disputes the fact that the first licence to produce whisky (legally!) was awarded to the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland in 1608.

Gaelic is spoken in Scotland and in Ireland. What is the difference between Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic?
This is a question that people devote their academic lives to so it's rather difficult to answer it in a couple of sentences. But I will try: basically, there are 2 sub-divisions of the Celtic family of languages, and Scots Gaelic and Irish belong to the same sub-division. So, in fact, the two languages are closely related. There are lexical differences, orthographical differences, and some structural variations, but Irish speakers can understand 80% or more of Scots Gaelic and vice versa. The Irish spoken in the North West of the country, Donegal Irish, is closest to Scots Gaelic, and specifically, to Islay and Argyll Gaelic. By the way, the language spoken in Ireland is referred to as Irish, not Gaelic.

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