Palestinian and Irish professors join efforts on Gaelic-Arabic translation project

Mahmoud Abdel Fattah, a professor of languages and translation at Birzeit University, translated seven Palestinian children’s stories from Arabic to Gaelic, and oversaw the translation for six stories from Gaelic to Arabic, under the Noor Ash Shams: Palestinian-Irish Children's Literature Translation Project. 

Working closely with a team of Irish translators and academics, Abdel Fattah translated seven Palestinian children’s stories into Gaelic through English, and six Irish children’s stories into Arabic. 

“This project helps us bring the two cultures - Palestinian and Irish - closer together through cultural exchange,” said Abdel Fattah, who traveled to Ireland in 2015 during the first phase of the project and met extensively with the Irish translation team: Eithne O’Connell, a professor of translation at Dublin City University, and Maire Ui Dhufaigh, an Irish author and translator. 

The first stage of the project culminated in the publication of two illustrated volumes of Irish stories translated into Arabic. The production of these volumes, which were distributed for free to libraries and schools across the West Bank and Gaza, was funded by Birzeit University and the publishing handled by the Tamer Institute for Community Education.

On choosing the stories, Abdel Fattah noted that the team decided on children’s stories because they can transfer concepts about each culture in a simple, enjoyable way, with the illustrations done by Palestinian artists who understood the stories and brought them to life with their efforts. 

“It is important for us to raise awareness about our Palestinian culture and heritage,” Abdel Fattah commented. “With these stories, we can shine a spotlight on the beauty of our culture and folk traditions.” 

For the second phase of the project, a single volume containing the seven Palestinian stories will be illustrated and published in Palestine by Tamer Institute, and then the copies will be transported and distributed for free in Irish schools and institutions. 

To view the first and second Arabic volumes, published on FADA, Birzeit University’s open-access repository, click here