Scéim na nOidí – The Tutors’ Scheme

Cad é a spreagann an duine chun peann a chur ar phár? Cé na tacaíochtaí atá dé dhíth air le linn an aistir seo? Tugann Mícheál Ó Ruairc léargas dúinn ar Scéim na nOidí atá á tairsicint ag Foras na Gaeilge don ghlúin nua scríbhneoirí.
What is it that inspires a budding writer? And what are his needs during this journey? Mícheál Ó Ruairc gives us an insight into Scéim na nOidí or The Tutors’ Scheme that Foras na Gaeilge is providing for the next generation of writers.
Tamall de bhlianta ó shin chuir Foras na Gaeilge tús le scéim nua a bhí dírithe go hiomlán ar scríbhneoirí a bhí i dtús a ré scríbhneoireachta. Ba é an bonn a bhí faoin scéim áirithe seo ná go reáchtálfaí scéim printíseachta idir oide agus ábhar scríbhneora ar bhealach a bhí cosúil le scéim oiliúna nó printíseacht cheirde. Leanfadh an phrintíseacht ar feadh bliana. Bheadh ar an oide agus ar an bprintíseach casadh ar a chéile ar bhonn rialta ar feadh na bliana sin. Thabharfadh an t-oide treoir don phrintíseach maidir leis an saothar (saothair) a bheadh idir lámha, chuirfeadh sé/sí comhairle air/uirthi agus dhéanfadh sé/sí an saothar a fhorbairt, a neartú agus a thabhairt chun críche, dá bhféadfaí é.
Tá macallaí áirithe den chóras a bhíodh ar siúl i Scoileanna na mBard le clos. Seo a leanas cuid den chuntas atá ag Úna Nic Éinrí ar Scoileanna na mBard ina leabhar ‘Stair Litríocht na Gaeilge’ (Folens Agus A Chuid, Tta, 1970):
“Scoileanna na mBard a thugaidís ar an áit ina mbíodh siad (na Baird) ag foghlaim; ach ní “scoil” a bhí i gceist mar a thuigimid an focal anois . . . Is amhlaidh a bhíodh bard fostaithe ag uasal éigin agus thagadh daltaí chuige chun ceird na filíochta a fhoghlaim uaidh. Bhíodh botháin bheaga ag na daltaí sin agus ní bhíodh fuinneoga ar bith iontu. Thugadh an bard ábhar éigin le haghaidh ceapadóireachta do na daltaí. Bhídís ag obair air i rith an lae sa dorchadas . . . Ansin, le teacht na hoíche, thugtaí soilse dóibh agus scríobhaidís a ndánta. Dhéanadh an bard léirmheas orthu . . . Seacht mbliana a leanadh an cúrsa léinn.”
Ní mar sin atá Scéim na nOidí eagraithe. Ní bhaintear feidhm as botháin bheaga gan fuinneoga orthu a thuilleadh! Tá na réimsí liteartha seo a leanas clúdaithe faoin scéim: ficsean, filíocht, drámaíocht, saothar neamhfhicsean – gach gné den scríbhneoireacht i ndáiríre. An aidhm is mó atá leis an scéim ná scríbhneoirí óga a threorú, a spreagadh agus a mhisniú. Tá sé seo thar a bheith tábhachtach maidir leis an nGaeilge, im thuairimse. Is ‘teanga i mbaol’ í an Ghaeilge, teanga an mhionlaigh agus ar an ábhar sin tá sé ríthábhachtach go mbeadh scríbhneoirí óga sásta tabhairt faoi scríobh sa teanga sin.

Tá an focal scríofa i mbaol i ngach teanga agus i ngach cultúr ar chlár na cruinne. Is fíric thar a bheith íorónta í seo, dar liom. Tá an nuatheicneolaíocht mar chuid lárnach den dul chun cinn atá déanta ag an gcine daonna le breis agus scór bliain anuas. Mar sin féin, tá an nuatheicneolaíocht chéanna ag bagairt go láidir ar thodhchaí an leabhair agus na litríochta. Le gach siopa leabhar a dhúntar cuirtear cor eile i gcinniúint na litríochta. Caithfidh gach scríbhneoir sa lá atá inniu ann dul i ngleic le feiniméan na cibeartheicneolaíochta.

Creidim féin nach féidir an scríbhneoireacht chruthaitheach a mhúineadh. Is bua faoi leith í an cumas cruthaitheachta. Tá dhá sheanfhocal ann a bhfuil baint acu leis an scéal: (i) ‘Cuir síoda ar ghabhar ach is gabhar i gcónaí é’ agus (ii) ‘Ní dhéanfadh an saol capall rása d’asal’. Tá fírinne éigin ag roinnt leis an dá sheanfhocal sin gan amhras ach mar sin féin creidim go gcaithfidh an t-ábhar scríbhneora a c(h)eird a fhoghlaim sula mbeidh sé/sí in ann í a chleachtadh i gceart. Cleachtadh a dhéanann máistreacht maidir le ceird ar bith.
An modh a chleachtaimse le printísigh cheirde ná a n-aird a dhíriú ar na bunscileanna atá riachtanach chun rud ar bith a scríobh i dteanga ar bith. An chéad scil ná máistreacht a aimsiú ar an teanga (.i. sa Ghaeilge). Caithfidh an printíseach a bheith in ann an teanga a labhairt go réasúnta líofa. Ansin ní mór dó/di a bheith in ann scríobh go réasúnta saoráideach sa teanga. Ba cheart go mbeadh cur amach ag an bprintíseach ar scríbhneoireacht na Gaeilge agus roinnt mhaith leabhar a bheith léite aige/aici. Cérbh iad na scríbhneoirí/filí/údair is fearr leis/léi? Cad chuige ar roghnaigh sé/sí scríobh trí mheán na Gaeilge? Nach bhféadfadh sé/sí scríobh as Béarla? Tar éis an tsaoil nach bhfuil i bhfad Éireann níos mó scríbhneoirí sa tír seo ag scríobh as Béarla sa lá atá inniu ann?
Tá na coincheapa agus na ceisteanna seo an-tábhachtach don duine atá ag tosú amach ag scríobh as Gaeilge, measaim. Cuireann sé ionadh orm, caithfidh mé a rá, an méid daoine óga atá i mbun pinn sa Ghaeilge sa lá atá inniu ann. Is rud iontach ar fad é. Ábhar misnigh domsa agus do mo leithéidí go bhfuil sé amhlaidh. Sin an fáth go bhfuil sé chomh tábhachtach sin cuidiú le scríbhneoirí óga Gaeilge sna blianta tosaigh dá gceird. Caithfear iad a spreagadh agus caithfear féachaint chuige go mbainfidh siad taitneamh agus pléisiúr as a bheith ag scríobh freisin.

 

I mo chás féin, is breá liom cuidiú le scríbhneoirí óga atá ag iarraidh dul i mbun pinn mar mháistir ceardlainne nó mar oide i Scéim na nOidí. Tá difríocht idir ceardlann agus printíseacht. Rud gearrtéarmach nó ócáidiúil is ea ceardlann ina ndéantar duine óg atá ag iarraidh a bheith ina ábhar scríbhneora a mhisniú agus a spreagadh. Rud fadtéarmach is ea printíseacht ina ndéantar ábhar scríbhneora a fhorbairt agus a thabhairt chun aibíochta. I gcás ceardlainne bíonn scata mór i gceist, de ghnáth, agus bíonn ar an máistir ceardlainne déileáil le raon fairsing ábaltachta. Maidir leis an bprintíseacht, bíonn an gaol i bhfad níos pearsanta mar nach mbíonn i gceist ach beirt.
Tá buntáistí agus míbhuntáistí ag baint leis an dá rud. Bíonn i bhfad níos mó éagsúlachta agus fuinnimh ag baint le ceardlann. Bíonn malartú smaointe i gceist. Bíonn iomaíocht i gceist. Bíonn raon samhlaíochta i bhfad níos fairsinge i gceist. Ó mo thaobhsa féin de faighim dlús aidréanailín i bhfad níos mó ón gceardlann de bharr na héagsúlachta, na hiomaíochta agus na difríochta. Tá cúrsaí printíseachta i bhfad níos moille. Ní mór aithne cheart a chur ar dhuine. Ní mór dul i dtaithí ar mhodhanna smaointeoireachta, samhlaíochta agus scríbhneoireachta an duine seo. Bíonn deis agat saothair scríbhneoirí eile a phlé leis/léi. Bíonn deis agat do shaothar féin a phlé.
Is iontach an pléisiúr a thugtar don oide nuair a thugann sé/sí faoi deara go bhfuil dul chun cinn á dhéanamh ag an bprintíseach, go bhfuil sé/sí ag bláthú má’s maith leat. Bhí mé ag obair le printíseach roinnt blianta ó shin ar úrscéal agus cad é mar áthas a bhí orm nuair a d’iarr sé orm an t-úrscéal sin a sheoladh dó bliain nó dhó ina dhiaidh. An bhliain seo caite bhí bean óg mar phrintíseach agam a bhí go huile is go hiomlán tiomnaithe do scríbhneoireacht na Gaeilge. Níor chaill sí oiread agus soicind amháin as seisiún amháin a bhí againn le linn na bliana sin. D’oibrigh sí go dochreidte crua agus bhí mé thar a bhí tógtha leis an dul chun cinn a rinne sí. Scríobh sí breis agus dosaen gearrscéalta d’ardchaighdeán le linn an ama. Táim cinnte go bhfoilseoidh sí cnuasach breá gearrscéalta sara i bhfad. Bhí mé an-bhródúil aisti. Is cuid lárnach de Scéim na nOidí, dar liom, an comhoibriú agus an chomhthuiscint idir an oide agus an phrintíseach. ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’, mar a déarfá.

Mholfainn go láidir do scríbhneoirí óga cur isteach ar an scéim iontach seo. Seo a leanas na sonraí teagmhála:
Foras na Gaeilge, Ráth Chairn, Áth Buí, Co. na Mí.

Fón: 046-9430419

Facs: 046-9430420

Ríomhphost: leabhar@forasnagaeilge.ie

Suíomh Idirlín: www.gaeilge.ie

 

Rugadh Mícheál Ó Ruairc i mBréanainn, sa Chlochán, i nGaeltacht an Leitriúigh in Iarthar Chiarraí. Tá cónaí air i mBaile Átha Cliath le fada. Tá trí chnuasach filíochta, dhá chnuasach gearrscéalta agus dhá cheann déag d’úrscéalta i gcló aige.

Tá mórán duaiseanna buaite aige as a shaothar scríbhneoireachta thar na blianta. Go dtí seo tá a shaol caite aige mar mhúinteoir agus mar scríbhneoir. Faoi láthair is eisean an t-ionadaí Gaeilge ar Bhord Áras na Scríbhneoirí i mBaile Átha Cliath.

 

The Mentoring Scheme for Writers –
Mícheál Ó Ruairc

Some years ago Foras na Gaeilge started a new scheme that was aimed primarily at writers who were starting to write in Irish. This scheme was based on the concept of an apprenticeship between an aspiring writer and an established writer that was similar to a training scheme or a trade or craft apprenticeship. The apprenticeship would last for a year. The apprentice and the mentor would meet regularly in the course of that year. The mentor would offer guidance and advice with regard to the work in hand, and would help to develop, improve and bring this work to completion, if possible.
There are certain echoes of this system that existed in the bardic schools. The following is part of an account that Úna Nic Éinrí has written about the bardic schools in her book Stair Litríocht na Gaeilge (Folens, 1970):

 

The places where they (the bards) went to learn were called the bardic schools; but they were not ‘schools’ as we understand them nowadays … what happened is that some nobleman employed a bard and students would come to him to learn the craft of poetry from him. The students lived in small dwellings which had no windows. The bard would give the students some subject on which they were to write a poem. They would work all day in darkness… Then at nightfall they would be provided with light so as to put the poems to writing. The bard would then review their efforts… This particular course of learning would continue for seven years.

That is not how this mentoring scheme is organised. Small dwellings without windows are no longer used! The following literary genres are covered under the scheme: fiction, poetry, drama, non-fiction – every literary genre, as such. The main aim of the scheme is to direct, inspire and encourage young writers. I believe that this is very important in the context of the Irish language. The Irish language is an ‘endangered’, minority language, and therefore it is most important that young writers feel happy to attempt to write in this language.
The written language is in danger in every language worldwide and in every culture on the planet. This is a highly ironical fact, I think. New technology has been central to all the progress made by the human race for more than twenty years. At the same time this same new technology is threatening the very existence of the book and consequently of literature. With each bookshop that closes, the fate of literature takes another turn for the worst. Every writer today has to contend with the phenomenon of cybertechnology.
I sincerely believe that creative writing cannot be taught. Creative ability is a particular gift. There are two old sayings that relate directly to this situation: (i) ‘You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’; and (ii) ‘You cannot make a racehorse out of a donkey’. There is undoubtedly a certain truth in these two aphorisms, but at the same time I believe that the aspiring writer needs to learn his trade before he or she is capable of putting it to good use. Practise makes perfect, whatever the craft.
The method I adapt with apprentices is to direct their attention to the basic skills that are necessary for writing in any language. The first skill is to attain some degree of mastery in the language (i.e. the Irish language). The apprentice must be able to speak the language with reasonable competency. Then he/she must be able to write with an acceptable degree of proficiency in the language. Likewise the apprentice must have a fairly good knowledge of writing in the Irish language and should have read or be in the process of reading a number of books. Who are the apprentice’s favourite writers/poets/authors? Why did he/she make the decision to write through the medium of Irish? Could he/she not write in English? After all, aren’t there a far greater number of authors writing in English nowadays?

These concepts and questions are very important to the aspiring Irish-language writer, I think. I have to admit that I’m amazed by the number of young people who are writing in Irish today. I think it’s wonderful. It gives people like myself great hope for the future. That is why it’s so important to help young Irish-language writers in the early years of their craft. It is crucial that they feel motivated and that they enjoy and take pleasure from their craft.
Personally, I love helping young writers who are learning the craft in a workshop situation or under the auspices of the mentoring system. There’s a difference between a workshop and a mentoring system. A workshop can be short term or occasional, where a young person who aspires to be a writer can be encouraged and inspired. The mentoring system is for the long haul, where the aspiring writer can be developed and matured. In the case of the workshop, there is usually a group dynamic taking place and the tutor must deal with a wide range of abilities. Regarding the mentoring system, it is much more personal as there are only two people involved – mentor and apprentice – as a rule.

Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. There is much more variety and energy in a workshop: there is an exchange of ideas; there is competition; there is a much wider range of imagination. From my own point of view I get much more of an adrenaline rush from a workshop because of the variety, the competition and the differing attitudes. The mentoring system is much slower. It is important to get to know the apprentice personally and to become familiar with their thought process, imaginative process and writing process. You have the opportunity to discuss the work of other writers with him/her. You can discuss your own work with him/her.he mentor gets great pleasure when he/she notices that the apprentice is progressing well, that he/she is flowering, if you like. Some years ago I worked with an apprentice on writing a novel and I was delighted when he asked me to launch his novel a year or two later. Last year I had a young lady as an apprentice who was completely dedicated to writing in the Irish language. She never missed a single second of any one of our sessions during that year. She worked extremely hard and I was extremely impressed with her progress. She wrote in excess of a dozen short stories of a very high standard during that time. I’m certain she’ll publish a fine collection of short stories in the near future. I was very proud of her. Collaboration, co-operation and mutual understanding between mentor and apprentice is essential to the success of the mentoring system, in my opinion. As the old maxim goes, ‘There’s strength in numbers.’ I would strongly recommend that young writers apply for this wonderful scheme.

The following are the contact details:
Foras na Gaeilge, Ráth Cairn, Athboy, Co. Meath

Phone: 046-9430419

Fax: 046-9430420. Email:

leabhar@forasnagaeilge.ie

Website: www.gaeilge.ie

Mícheál Ó Ruairc was born in Brandon, Cloghane in the West Kerry Gaeltacht of An Leitriúch. He has lived in Dublin for many years. He is the author of three collections of poetry, two collections of short stories and twelve novels in the Irish language.

He has won many prizes for his writing over the years. He has spent his life up to this point teaching and writing. Currently he is the Irish-language representative on the board of The Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin.