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‘Cupla focail’ for former president

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has expressed an interest in learning the Irish language and may get the perfect opportunity to pick up the "cupla focail" later this summer when he visits Ireland. Clinton has being invited to Donegal by Liam O’Cuinneagain, director of Oideas Gael, to attend one of the his summer Irish language and culture courses. Clinton is expected to lecture at Trinity College in Dublin in May and may head to Donegal a few days later.

This week O’Cuinneagain told the Echo that he’s confident that Clinton will follow in the footsteps of Irish president Mary McAleese and immerse himself in the Gaeltacht region and learn the native tongue later this summer.

"We cater for everyone, from princes to presidents and pastors to pilots," O’Cuinneagain said. "If Clinton wants to avail of the course, we’ll make adequate arrangements for his participation."

The courses run at Oideas Gael incorporates the Irish language, hill walking, set dancing, painting, arch’ology and traditional music.

Clinton mentioned his interest in the Gaelic language while speaking on Isr’l television recently.

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When asked by an Isr’li reporter would he like to live in the Middle East and learn Hebrew and leave his "lonely house in Westchester," Clinton said it had crossed his mind to learn Hebrew. It was also one of his post-White House projects to learn Irish.

"Maybe I should go to language school," he said.

Clinton said that he was busy every day unpacking boxes, and that after he finished with the boxes in Chappaqua, he would move on to unpacking boxes in his other new home — Senator Hillary’s base in Washington D.C.

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