Rockaway DOS Worker Earns Fulbright
A Rockaway sanitation worker who has often appeared in the pages of The Wave has been awarded a scholarship to study Gaelic in Ireland this summer by the Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange, the same body responsible for the prestigious
Rockaway native Edward (Shevy) Shevlin, 50, who has worked with the city’s Sanitation Department for the past 18 years, has been awarded an Irish Language Summer Study Award which will see him travel to Carraroe, Co. Galway this July for an intensive four-week language immersion program.
Shevlin is a sometime columnist for The Wave, chronicling first his motorcycle trip across the nation from Rockaway to Rockaway Beach, Oregon and then his trip to Ireland.
“I was really surprised,” Shevlin told the Irish Voice on Tuesday, after his story was first publicized in the Daily News. “This is the most prestigious award I have ever received.”
The aim of the awards is to support short-term study in Ireland for U.S. citizens. The awards are supported by the Irish government and the Irish National Lottery program.
Shevlin is one of 20 candidates to be awarded a scholarship of up to $7,000 to cover travel, tuition and living expenses for the course of their studies.
Already an advanced Irish speaker, he told the Irish Voice he often uses the language in his job as a sanitation worker.
“When I hear people in the street with an Irish accent I always hit them with dia dhuit ar maidin (good morning) or conas atá tú (how are you?) and most of them are taken aback,” he said.
The first person he called was his Cork-born mother, who was “absolutely delighted” with his good news.
Despite dropping out of high school at a young age, the Irish American returned to his studies when he turned 30 and earned a high school equivalency diploma before beginning work with the civil service.
After hearing Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams deliver a speech in both English and Gaelic, he was inspired to learn his ancestral language.
Shevlin was just an infant when he made his maiden voyage to Ireland to see his grandparents. More than a dozen trips later, he decided the best place to learn the language was on the Emerald Isle.
In 2009 he traveled to the west of Ireland where he enrolled in an Irish language summer school program hosted by the National University of Ireland in Galway. Eager to further his Irish language skills, when he returned he began an Irish language study course at Lehman College in the Bronx.
“I love being there as nothing is really new for me. I feel like I am in Rockaway Beach,” he told an Irish Echo reporter.
Right now Shevlin, who boasts a large tattoo on right arm that says “Saoirse,” the Gaelic word for freedom, is preparing for his trip in July and is looking forward to staying with the same host family from his 2009 trip.
“I’m staying with the Seoige family in Carraroe and I may even get my old room back!” he laughed.