Jack O'Flaherty and Darragh O'Connor of Exiles
Jack O'Flaherty and Darragh O'Connor of Exiles

Several high profile Irish and international pop artists have recorded tracks in the Irish language in recent years, raising awareness among music lovers at home and beyond.

RTE’s Ceol 2018 album featured many homegrown artists singing Irish translations of their own tracks as well as American stars Macklemore and Wheatus singing as Gaeilge.  Adopted Irishman Ed Sheeran previously recorded a stunning version of his hit Thinking Out Loud in Irish for Eoghan McDermott’s RTE 2FM show.  The Irish language has never been championed quite so loudly through pop music.

Exiles singer and passionate Gaelgoir Jack O’Flaherty is enjoying the resurgence but he believes artists can go even further when working with Irish.  He commends endeavours like Ceol for raising awareness of the language, but he feels artists can do more than learn, sometimes phonetically, direct English to Irish translations of songs which are then championed as Gaeilge.

“With all due respect to Macklemore and Ed Sheeran I wouldn't like to ask them what they’re singing about because I don’t think they could tell you!” he says.  “They’re fantastic artists but I think it kind of takes away from the integrity of Irish people taking ownership of their national language for people to learn it phonetically.”

Jack (24) has rewritten all of Exiles’ tracks in Irish including Red Lights and their most recent release Rearview Mirror (Fagtha chun deiridh).  He and fellow Exiles bandmate Darragh O’Connor performed them live at An Puball Gaeilge at Electric Picnic last summer – to rapturous applause.

What Exiles are doing, he says, is very different from a direct English to Irish translation. It’s about the process of creating a song organically through the Irish language from scratch.