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Three generations of the Mullan family from Dungiven graduate in Irish

22Three generations of one family from Dungiven, County Londonderry, have graduated at the same time with a diploma in Irish.
Odhrán Mullan, his aunt, Maria, and 82-year-old grandfather, John, were in the same class at the Ulster University at Magee.
John Mullan was the oldest student in the class.
Odhrán said he began studying the Irish language after being inspired by his grandfather.
“He’s been studying Irish for as long as I can remember,” said Odhrán, “He would always be encouraging people when they came into the house to use a bit of Irish.”
“I decided to do the diploma and it just so happened that Maria was also interested in starting at the same time as me.”
‘Never too old’
John Mullan said it was a long but very worthwhile journey from novice to graduate.
“It’s at least a 30-year journey but it’s something I’ve been terribly interested in all my life.
“I wanted to learn more about Irish, I wanted to be able to talk Irish before I would die and that was giving myself a few years.”
John said he never thought that he would be graduating along with his grandson and daughter.
“When I left the Christian Brothers [school] my first reaction was, ‘Oh thank God, I’ve no more Irish to do’,” said John.
“I struggled and I thought it was terribly difficult but once I got much older I started to understand the structure of the language and I thought this is not too bad, you can survive at this.
“Then these classes came up and my daughter said you better come back and finish up the same as us.
“I was in the class with a clatter of young people and I wasn’t treated like an old person, I was just another person.”
Maria said she returned to the language after her daughter began going to the local Irish primary school.
“I worked away from home a lot for many years so I used that as an excuse for holding me back.
“I always wanted to send her to the gaelscoil [Irish-medium school] and I was always impressed by the revival of the Irish language especially in our local town.
“I couldn’t use any more excuses, it was time to bite the bullet. Dad is a great example for you never being too old.”