We recently sat down with Barra Ó Scannláin to talk about how he found himself back home in Donegal, his plans for expanding on his Irish Language knowledge through a Masters in Translation Studies and what he values as a member of The BASE Community.


1. Tell me about your yourself.

I grew up in Dreenan, just across the river from The BASE. Now I can see the building from my front door but of course the view was very different when I was a wee boy! After doing my schooling at St. Columba’s College in Stranorlar I went to Dublin to study Irish and French with a year abroad in Lyon, France. When I graduated I went back to France and worked for a year as an English language assistant in 2 secondary schools. The next big move was to Canada – I was awarded an ICUF (Ireland Canada University Foundation) scholarship to teach Irish language and culture courses at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. That was a big leap for me and the farthest I’d ever been from home (western Canada is a lot farther than Toronto for example which is just a direct flight from Dublin!), but I really loved living there. Unfortunately given the uncertainty of travel that came with the Covid 19 pandemic I had to cut my time in Canada short by a few months and came home to Donegal in April. 


2. Tell me about your Masters Program.


The program is a 1-year Masters in Translation Studies at DCU. That’s where I did my BA degree but this course is fully delivered online. My language modules are in Irish, but most of the courses are not language-specific, like translation technology, computerised terminology, research methodologies to name a few. It’s only been a few weeks but it’s very busy already. Loads of new concepts to wrap my head around!


3. Why did you want to pursue a Masters Degree?

An arts degree in languages, while useful (having any degree these days is almost a minimum requirement for certain jobs these days), is very broad and I always planned to specialise a bit more. This MA was hard to pass up as it’s part of a European network of Masters in translation (EMT), and the fact that it’s delivered fully online meant I got to stay at home and not have to move back to Dublin. I had considered doing a Masters in Canada before I left, but international fees are really high there and Masters take 2 years to complete in Canada whereas they tend to be 1-year courses here.


4. What do you hope to do with your degree?

By the end of 2021 the Irish language will have full working status as an official language of the European Union, meaning there will be even more opportunities for highly qualified Irish linguists in the EU in the coming years. Those jobs are very attractive and having this qualification would really benefit me in that regard. But who knows – long term, the idea of working freelance might be interesting too. The course gives me the chance to learn hands-on the tools that professional translators use, knowledge that would be essential for entering the translation profession.


5. What is the best part about being back in Donegal? 

Tough question! It’s the first time I’ve properly lived at home in 7 years and having lived in different cities in various countries, it’s really comforting to be somewhere people know you and wave at you when they see you out. You’re never too far away from a family friend or a relative. I’m also working on a project in the Gaeltacht area close to Ballybofey, so getting back to speaking Irish in a natural environment is a lovely part of being home.


6. Anything else would you like us to know about you?

I can’t think of anything else but if you are making me a cup of tea in the BASE I usually drink decaf – I should probably get a jar for my teabags and label it?!


The BASE Community


1. Being a local yourself, what impacts does The BASE have on your community? What benefits do you see?

The opportunity for young people to work at home and be part of a professional community here is a positive impact. It appears, on the surface, that there isn’t much going on in our town for ambitious young people but The BASE is facilitating lots of that.


2. How does completing your work from The BASE benefit you and your progress toward your Masters?

The social aspect of The BASE really motivates me. And the fact that I can come here and work and go home at the end of the day helps maintain a work/study-life balance. When you are working from home it can be hard to distinguish where the working day ends and the down time begins. I also love being around other people, even if we aren’t talking, it takes away from the solitude of working/studying alone.


3. What services do you avail of at The BASE?

I use the CoWorking Space mostly. Having a stable internet connection and the option of a wired connection there is great. It’s a big bright comfortable room. The Meeting Rooms are very useful for when I have synchronous classes on Zoom and need to have a space to myself.


4. What other aspects of The BASE environment do you enjoy?

Sharing ideas with other professionals – I didn’t really think this would apply to me because of the type of work I am doing, but every now and then a casual conversation can lead to some really great advice from someone who has a different area of expertise. As David Epstein’s book ‘Range’ (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41795733-range) shows, we need to be generalists and draw from our experiences across a wide variety of disciplines to succeed. The BASE is a great metaphor for that! Also love the kitchen 🙂


5. What new services or features would you like to see developed at The BASE?

Given the restrictions we have to live with these days, there’s not much more that can be done in this regard but I would like to see more networking/social opportunities at The BASE. I’m looking forward to attending those types of events when restrictions are lifted!


6. Would you recommend The BASE CoWorking spaces to other friends and professionals? Why / why not?

Yes, definitely, and I have already recommended The BASE CoWorking to some friends and acquaintances. I think it represents a new way of working for the Twin Towns – one where people with big ideas can be based here and enjoy the fantastic quality of life we have to offer, but be connected to businesses and professional networks that stretch to all four corners of the world. Not everyone has an office space at home, or a stable internet connection, but you can have that at The BASE – it’s flexible, and the rates are reasonable too.