The Irish Abandoned Their Language

We weren’t forced to give up our language. We decided to do it.

It pisses me off. Really, it annoys the fuck out of me, that apostrophe.


What the fuck is that?

Why is that Irish?

It isn’t.

That apostrophe was applied to our family names by people who hadn’t the slightest idea what they were doing. They took family markers like Ó and Ua, and they turned them into Darby O’Gill bullshit like O’. Nonsense terms that they thought were like Will o’the Wisp and John O’Groats, which these things never meant in the first place.

Do you know what really annoys me? We Irish went along with it, just as we went along with the nonsense renaming of our places. We happily accepted the ludicrous Bally for half our towns, because the English-speaking map-makers decided to impose it on us. Ballydehob. Ballybunnion.


Our places were , and still are, called Baile, a term that might be interpreted as meaning gathering.

Why do we out up with this shit? Why do we still propagate it?

Have we no pride?

Wait. Don’t answer that. It’s obvious we have no pride when we look at the kind of dimwit fucking skobes we allow to pollute our streets, flinging their rubbish everywhere and shouting at the top of their fat, drunken voices.

I don’t really care how badly we mis-spell our placenames because they’re such an insane mis-spelling of the original Irish placenames anyway. They make no sense any more, so why would we worry how fools spell them?

We abandoned out language. Nobody forced us to do it.

It’s about time we took responsibility for our own feeble-minded self absorption and stopped blaming the world.

Shame on us.

We Irish really are a fucking disgrace.

68 thoughts on “The Irish Abandoned Their Language

  1. Really? A disgrace? Robbed, terrorized, slain in waves, occupied, degraded, disenfranchised, lied to, lied about…for centuries. I hesitate to weigh in here, what business do I have expressing an opinion? I am an american. Well, so I think I know a little something about disgrace. Thing is, on my side of the pond we created disgrace out of grace. Had it all and and couldnt piss it away fast enough. No foreign power occupied my country. Fact is, we took someone else’s country from them; practised genocide upon their population and the few that did not accommodate the invaders by dying were herded onto scraps of land, their children taken from them, their braids cut off, their names changed, their language and history denied them, christianity forced upon them. The claim was to integrate them, to equip them to join in the american society. But that was a lie. All the polished anglo manners in the world, you were still an indian, your people savages. End result? Indian populations with sky-high percentages of alcoholism, suicide, unemployment, infant mortality, crime. Ring any bells? So now some tribes have casinos, others tourist interests thanks to changes in fashion. My school pal Judy Goldberg moved to Santa Fe and now she’s ‘Brown Bird’ and claims indian heritage. (I can only imagine what Mortie and Esther made of this) My point is; how long does it take for a people as a people to ‘bounce back’ from such sustained decimation? Centuries of no legal or cultural use of a language, when trade and legal and court transactions are all performed in english, all civic documents are recorded in english, maps, as you say, and books and newspapers, when power speaks only english, what happens? I dont know for a fact but would not be surprised if Ireland suffered under the longest continuous foreign occupation of any nation in history. Followed up by institutional social domination by the foul Catholic church. Their history, as far back as you care to look, speaks for itself. Reading your Ryan report I wondered if the ghosts of the english aristocracy past didnt roll over and realize that if they had not run the catholic clergy out of Ireland but instead done a deal with them ‘ala the republic they might not still be in charge there. Anyway, I hope not to offend. I just think that like a rape victim who assumes the shame of someone else’s criminal act you assume blame for crimes you did not commit, only survived. I think perhaps you are flinching at the sight of a scar, understandable. But the wound that left the scar was not self-inflicted. I do wish that, as in my country, good people would get angry. And not at each other. An old friend once told me that when I feel shamed, powerless, or afraid, I need to look for who is on the other end of my chain, for I am are surely being jerked.

  2. Rx — That reply qualifies as possibly the most patronising comment I’ve ever received. Congratulations.

    Roosta — Exactly. It’s our responsibility.

  3. It pisses me off no end too. Like Roosta, after many years out of school and more than embarrased when people asked if I spoke Irish (everyone assuming I could becuase I’m from there). I started classes here in Brussels a few years ago, and got to quite a level of fluency, which I do try to maintain by speaking the language as much as possible.

    I didn’t hate Irish at school, but was just bored by it. The Irish govt needs a kick up the arse and they really need to change the sylabus of Irish at school and concentrate more on the spoken language rather than the books and the poems. That can come afterwards.

    As for placenames… look at the problem with Dingle/Dangle/Whateverthefuck when they tried to change the name to Irish.

    What needs to be done is to just get more people interested in Irish. How did the Welsh do it 25 odd years ago? Before that there was only a very small population of people who spoke it, not it’s about an impressively high percentage of people speak it regularly.

    It’s a difficult problem, but not one impossible to overcome. But as usual, successive Irish governments aren’t interested in doing anything about it (and those who are gaelgoirs are rabidly so (O’Cúiv comes to mind here)), and all the time, youngsters are being more and more turned off the language.

  4. They say that anyone with an O’ in front of their moniker is destined to be haunted by banshees.

    I reckon Irish is on its knees because of corporal punishment. In a period in which the religious orders stand indicted of the appalling abuse of children, I level another accusation at them – they murdered our language.

    For decades they tried to bate it into us.

    Abdul stand at the top of the class and say in Irish, “the brother is touching up schoolboys.”

    “Er, ta se, er, fuck, am, whatever,” – out with the paws and ten of the best on each hand.

    “That’ll teach you, you brazen little Arab” – and it did teach us.

    It taught us to psychologically drop the language like a hot spud the minute a brother wasn’t brandishing a leather strap in the vicinity of our skulls.

    It is the official language of the state – but we don’t understand it. I got a summons once for doing a Michael Schumacher impersonation (speeding) down the M7.Half of it is written in Irish – it might as well be written in Inner Mongol – that fucker that beat our Ken in the Olympic final was from Inner Mongolia, the bastard, and he boxing for China.

    So blame the brothers and the department of education – again. Ten of millions has been spent keeping the language on a life support machine but 90% of the population can’t bring themselves to speak it because we associate it with Catholicism, backwardness, the Railway Cup final and brutality.

    Meantime. I remember a while back two Japs claiming on RTE that they could speak Irish
    after just six months study.

    “We speak language fluently, long time, would you like some flied lice with that,” they claimed, the slanty eyed fiends

    “Yeah? So what’s the Irish for Enola Gay then, eh, fucking Charlie ?”

  5. Rx,
    Just one example (from amongst many the world over throughout history):

    Bulgaria was under the yoke of Ottoman (Turkish) oppression for 500 years, during which time the Ottomans did everything they could to eradicate and exterminate their language and culture. All the usual horrible stuff, with the killing of women and raping of sheep, etc.
    Then they were liberated by Russia who spent the next 150 years or so grooming them for eventual communism and absorption into the soviet union. Not so much with the killing this time, but certainly with the language, cultural and religious oppression for sure.

    Up until the fall of communisin they were forced to learn everything in Russian, once communism fell, they got rid of it so fast that now virtually no kids in Bulgaria can speak it. They got rid of their foreign-imposed language in less than one generation

    My point is that 650 years on they still speak their own language and keep their own customs despite having been under the yoke of not one but two very different foreign powers.

    If we want to blame someone for the death of our language might I suggest that we start with the Irish middle-class, whose interest in the acquisition of power and wealth continues to this day to be the driving force behind the disintegration of our society (bearing in mind that the Irish language evolved, like all other languages, to serve the culture that used it)

    Bring on the flames!!!!

  6. We did get rid of it ourselves. Teachers bateing kids for speaking Irish at school. Parents bateing kids for speaking it at home. “You need the Béarla to get ahead in life”, they said. And they did, you know.

    And no amount of insipid, placatory, badly-thought-out half measures can fix that.

    Caithfidh go bhfuil gá don teanga ionas go bhfásfaidh sí. Níl gá le Gaeilge. Ní fhásfaidh an teanga. Sin sin.

  7. Yes, I suppose in the absolute you are correct.
    In your chosen area, Ronan o’Gara would simply be Ronan. His son macRonan or in the old macciRonan and grandson ‘of the blood’ of Ronan. Beyond that it gets a bit tired.
    I wonder though if Nessa Childers will get in. The shooting of her grandfather carried her father to the Aras and I have this feeling it will carry her to Europe for Labour.
    Mind you having fitz floating before ones name cannot have been the best of starts. But I’m with Rx &co, when survival is the question, whats in a name.

  8. Hey Bock, weren’t we prohibited from speaking it by those who couldn’t understand the essence and pronunciation in this language. Isn’t this where all this boloxology started ? And it’s like Abdul and Froodie say, official Ireland then got hold of it and shoved it down our necks which drove us further away. It’s fair mad now to be driving around seeing signs in both languages, fair strange indeed. I think Rx is onto something by comparing the plight of native American culture with the state of our own language. The colonists used similar terror tactics. You make a good point about maps and signs and people not making an attempt to return to the original, though.

  9. Um, no, sorry. Those of us who do not feel any obligation whatsoever to persist with a language we do not feel connected to and which serves no useful function in our lives have nothing to be ashamed of. If these things are important to you, then so be it, I won’t object to anyone who wants to pursue and promote the Irish language or particular cultural traditions. But please do not suggest or imply that there exists some sort of duty, by virtue of the arbitrary fact of a person’s place of birth, that they should conform to particular cultural practises. My language is English, not Irish. I use anglicised place names rather than the Irish originals and I use the English version of my name. None of this makes me any more or less Irish than any other citizen.

  10. I am of course open to correction on this. However I am of the opinion that “O” means son of . Ni is daughter of. Fitz is the bastard son of ( Franco Norman).
    O;Sullivan son of one eye?

  11. “We Irish really are a fucking disgrace.”–Bock

    I strongly disagree. I’m very proud to be Irish. I’m tired of the self-hating, self-flagellating stuff so often written here. Some critical posts I can certainly handle. A constant barrage of denegrating Ireland and the Irish people — no.

  12. @AM The Welsh example is instructive. They suffered as we did and the language survived principally in the more outlying areas. That it was not eliminated is due largely to its use in the Welsh church combined with a strong respect for learning. Recent increases are not unconnected with the quality of welsh-medium schools. There are echoes of that here also.

    @Nora We’ll have to do an Irish Times cuckoo on Bock’s blog: spot the most inspirational post of the year.

    @me It would have been impossible for the teachers to impart the spoken language as they did not speak it. Hence the reliance on grammars and texts, and the leather. The whole method was wrong. You need immersion and we had run out of water, so to speak, by the time the state was set up.

    @ Bock Say something nice about Bertie.

  13. I think the problem is in the schools. Irish should be thought as a 2nd language, not as a 1st, forget poems and novels let the students talk about anything they like as long as it’s in Irish.
    Make everyone have their say on every topic. There is probably a huge flaw in this so I am open to a better idea.

  14. De fan, you may be correct. Spanish taught in American high school is just conversational spanish, no history, poems, just conversation and letter and essay writing its really nice.

  15. Let’s not forget motivation. I was reared partly in an environment which not only questioned the teaching of Irish in schools, but actively resented it. “Th’Irish, waste of time; what use is it; where will it get you”?

    Until there is a satisfactory answer to this question, and one which convinces people, the rest is a waste of time, and money, and resources, and intellectual and emotional capital. Irish has entered the category of the cynical with a lot of politics, along with a significant part of the financial and religious sectors.

  16. @Bock

    Let me clarify. We was robbed of it and have not succeeded in getting it back. The decline had gone too far for restoration. Any restoration of Irish today would produce a bastardised anglicised version that would have very little to recommend it over Ulster-Scots. I don’t blame the irish people for this. I would find it easier to blame them for not facing the facts as they are today.

    …and Bertie?

  17. Have to admit I hated Irish in school ,never liked it because those who had Irish were dominating , parochial, nationalist De Valera types, usually with a collar. It represented the rural frugal backward Ireland. They really got it wrong from the start. Drop the Irish from school, let it be a hobby or whatever, Personally I would love to have it removed and banned. Gosh I,m getting better at offending people, thanks Bock.

  18. Benny — We weren’t robbed of it. That’s just another of our national self-pitying cop-outs. We’re never responsible for our own fuck-ups.

  19. @Bock
    We may have collaborated over the centuries, but the heartland was occupied and individuals were eventually faced with unpalatable choices. I wouldn’t burden them with compromising their futures for some abstract thing they weren’t even aware of.

    and Bertie?

  20. how would the lads say gis a fag illo as gaelige would love to see it reborn and I do agree no poetry and history that can be introduced later and as for being robbed of it …mmmm your probably right Bock , a lot of Irish history survived the ages so the language could have too

  21. Brian C — When you lose your language, you lose your soul. I thought everyone knew that.

    Ash — There were no electronic listening devices in the 18th century.

  22. “When you lose your language, you lose your soul. I thought everyone knew that.”

    Tell that to James Joyce. Or Yeats. Or Wilde. Or Beckett, Shaw, Swift, Heaney, Kavanagh, etc. etc. etc.

  23. I can’t tell that to Joyce, Yeats, Wilde, Beckett, Shaw, Swift, or Kavanagh. They’re dead. Didn’t you notice?

    However, of the people you mention, I believe Yeats, Wilde, Beckett, Shaw and Swift would not claim that the Irish language was part of their families’ tradition.

    I could tell it to Heaney, but I believe he speaks Irish.

  24. There’s no need to be snarky. The point I was making was that Irish writers have produced works of extraordinary literary merit in the English language which would seem to contradict the assertion that one loses one’s “soul” when one loses one’s language. If any of those mentioned would indeed claim that the Irish language was part of their families’ tradition as you suggest, then either: These individuals were not “completely” Irish or they were as Irish as anybody can be in which case it is possible for one to be Irish without using the Irish language.

  25. I can only reply to the point you make. If your examples aren’t relevant, you need to pick better ones.

  26. I do not believe the fact that several of the artists I chose as examples are deceased makes them irrelevant. Nor do I believe that a poet such as Heaney who works primarily if not exclusively through English is an irrelevant example because he is able to speak Irish.

  27. You’re not grasping it, are you?

    A society that abandons its language loses an essential element of its character.

    Sorry. It seems I can’t help you with understanding this.

  28. I humbly submit that making an assertion and then simply restating it without supplying any coherent argument to back it up is certainly not conducive to helping me see your point. I do have one question, however, if you are willing to humour me:

    If it is true that a society which abandons its language loses an essential element of its character, is it also true that a society which abandons its religion loses an essential element of its character?

  29. You assume that the religion is an essential characteristic of a society and not something imposed on it from outside.

  30. Leaving aside for a moment the question as to how one would divide “essential” from “nonessential” cultural characteristics, I assume that the vast majority of religions which have ever emerged have done so within some specific culture before they were spread to foreign cultures. I can certainly think of historical examples of cultures which we associate very closely with their native religions. (Athenian culture for example.)

    If the criteria for determining what is an essential characteristic of a society is whether or not it has been imposed from the outside, then I imagine the Irish language would not stand up to scrutiny if one were to examine the origins of the language (nor indeed would any modern language).

  31. Samuel Johnson said it better than me:

    There is no tracing the connection of ancient nations, but by language; and therefore I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations.

    Since you can’t accept it from me, I refer you to Dr Johnson’s writings for further enlightenment.

  32. Or, we might ask: Have we suffered a loss as a culture because we no longer worship An Dagda or Danú?

  33. I happen not to be concerned at all with the “pedigree” of the nation to which I belong. I find the notion to be inherently restrictive and conservative (not to mention conceptually suspicious). I am simply concerned with the present and future state of the nation to which I belong. However I pass no further judgement upon those who share Mr. Johnson’s sentiments and I do not view them as being necessarily morally or intellectually inferior to my own. I am not suggesting that the Irish language be left for dead, or that its decline was necessarily a good thing. What I am suggesting is that individuals are perfectly entitled to explore their own conceptions of what it means to be Irish, and if this results in the rejection of the Irish language they have no reason to be ashamed of their decision.

  34. Apparently the maid who found him said he was in the closet with a chord around his neck and genitals.Thats according to the L.A Times anywho.His publicist is denying it and saying he died of natural causes.I suppose we’ll have to wait for the autopsy results.

  35. Wow this site is cool just stumbled across it keep up the good work Bock u r insane ;-)

  36. I speak Irish fluently. Three of my best friends also speak Irish fluently (post-graduate level, and either teaching, translating or writing dictionaries), while even more have a level of fluency that is fine for ordinary conversation. However, unless we make a conscious effort not to, we always speak in English.

    If we can’t do it…

  37. [Note: This comment was an entire article copied and pasted from another website. That is not acceptable]

  38. I speak Irish parenting language and find it unbelievably useful to have private conversations with my husband in the company of my two American sons. His knowledge is frustratingly minimal but we get by.
    Unfortunately the two sons (9 and 4) have picked up who the “buchaill mor” and “buchaill beag “is, they know for example when I ask my husband is one of them asleep? They know Dun do Chlob means you better zip it or Mom will kick your ass so bad when she gets you out of sight of this stuck up bastards that we have to have good manners in front of.
    So yes! Immersion, I’m all for it.
    Please tell me Peig is gone from the Leaving?

  39. I speak Irish fluently.
    I speak Irish every day.
    Irish isn’t dead, research from NUIG last year indicated that MORE people not less are speaking Irish.
    I get what you’re saying, Bock, and in the end it is actually up to us to use the language, BUT it was definitely hammered out of us. English was needed for commerce, yes, you’re right, BUT it was also needed by millions of emigrants who ran out of Ireland so that they could EAT!!!
    So, we can’t dilute this important discussion into a one-dimensional argument.
    Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam, ach mura bhfuil duine beo níl aon anam ná teanga ag taistáil uaidh!

  40. Steve – it’s the middle class who want to keep the Irish. Go down to the ‘working class’ (not working ever class) who have no interest in the language. People should learn it if they wish, it should not be forced on anyone.

  41. Tá an oiread sin daoine ag lorg áiteanna do pháistí i nGaelscoileanna ar fud na tíre nach féidir leis na scoileanna deileáil leo. D’fhéadfaí a rá go bhfuil cáil ar na scoileanna seo ó thaobh caighdeán ginearalta muinteoireachta, ach is fíor freisin go bhuil an-chuid tuistí ag lorg oideachais lán-Ghaelach dá gcuid páistí. Ní hionann seo agus “Gaeltacht” mar a bhí. Ach tá an teanga fós beo – agus daltaí eachtrannacha ag labhairt Gaeilge líofa gan morán stró. Is rud gan íonadh dóíbh í. Is trua nach féidir a leithéid a rá fúinn féin, ach tá stair fada casta leis an scéal seo. Agus ní orainne an locht don chuid is mó.

    It’s a tactic of colonialism to kill off the local language and religion and tear the people from the glue that binds them. It wasn’t the Irish who put tally sticks into Irish schools. It wasn’t the Irish who organised the Plantation of our country. Unfortunately our colonial rulers succeeded to a large degree with our language, but not with our religion. We’d have been better off the other way round. And nobody would be talking about “bullshit”. They’d be talking about “raiméis”.

  42. The reason Irish is not widely spoken is because of the way it was and is taught in schools, it was not taught as a second language. The people most responsible for the problems with Irish are those who love it the most, they have a fascist approach to all things Irish. They try and beat you over the head with it, its a turn off.

    Most people would have studied Irish for 13/14 years in school, if you cannot be fluent after that there is something seriously wrong(Peig anyone).

    I am not a native Irish speaker , my parents/grand parents are/were not native Irish speakers, its not been part of my culture for generations so lets not get too excited about losing our soul or any of that bs.

  43. Language is a tool for communication, a very practical thing. A dead one cannot be revived without grassroot
    support. The problem with the Irish language is that it was solely attempted to be revived through the education system – a formula for absolute failure. People must voluntarily pick it up. It is encouraging to see interest in the Irish language today by the more yuppie types in Ireland, whose children now fill the Irish schools. Davis McWilliams wrote on the phenomenon really well, credit to him.

    When Eliezer Ben Yehuda made aliyah, he decided that his family would speak nothing but Hebrew from then on. He created new words and adjusted the language for modern use as he went along. We have people like him to thank for the revival of Hebrew – a triumph of the Israeli state and an asset for Jews everywhere (Please, no politics). It is an even greater incentive for everybody to learn Hebrew when it is a living language of a country as well as a vital part of Jewish heritage. Newspapers from the serious to the trashy, modern high-quality literature as well as literary garbage comes in probably the oldest language on earth that was regarded as effectively dead for well over 1000 years. Reviving Irish should be easy in comparison!

  44. @thesystemworks

    “Reviving Irish should be easy in comparison!”

    Quite the reverse. Israel needed a common language to bridge the diverse linguistic origins of its new citizens. Ireland already has a common language.

  45. I guess you are right there. I have seen some pictures of people who had recently made aliyah or were traveling in pre-state Israel asking for directions by pointing to place-names in Hebrew bibles! I suppose that highlights what I said earlier, language is really just a practical tool of communication. You can’t forcefully revive it, particularly just through the education system if kids who leave school have no outlet to use the language.

  46. ìrish sucks
    it requires more effort to speak it
    how many words are required to say :
    “PLEASE”….5 words
    “THANKS”….4 words

    and i resent having Nuacht on RTE1 when we have a perfectly awful TG4 for that kind of rubbish.

  47. Exactly. Cultural imperialism. Coke, skinny lattes, baseball caps, saying “like” three times per sentence, rampant consumerism, drugs, fast food chains, obesity, gang culture, carrying weapons, cosmetic surgery, “media advisors”, “duplexes” and “makeovers”. Even those stupid ‘baby on board’ signs:

    All I want is the music and the coffee.

    Dear god, an Nuacht takes 5 minutes. Don’t watch it if you don’t like it. Use your “cell” and order in a pizza. It’s the Angelus we should be complaining about.

  48. I did not intend to come back to this thread, but mention of Nuacht set me off.

    What do people think of RTÉ 1 radio’s schedule, as follows:.
    Weekdays – 21:50 Nuacht – 22:00 News.
    I have never understood this one. It is the ultimate proof of the tokenism of Irish on the “national” broadcaster. Variations between the content of this Nuacht and the subsequent News are trivial.

    As far as the Angelus is concerned, on radio at least, it gives the jump to Newstalk who start the actual news at 6pm while RTÉ 1 radio go into an Angelus-delay. So in terms of listenership it is self-defeating. On that basis I favour keeping it. We could even add the calls to prayer from the Mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin, to clinch the matter.

  49. “Steve – it’s the middle class who want to keep the Irish.” – Elle, the middle class have and always will be the most dangerous force in any society, it was they who took advantage of the famine years to consolidate their power base (and btw that’s how the church actually got so powerful in this country but that’s another story) and to cast away the culture they owned, in favour of the easier to use English culture, because it was easier that way to hold on to their money and their power. By middle class of course I don’t mean people like me and you who have jobs – we are working class – I mean the merchants – they are the middle class. I didn’t mean people who are well off by dint of their hard work. They’re still working class.

    I mean, do people honestly believe that even during the height of the British occupation, that Irish people went around speaking English at home just cos they were told to? Like frak they did, I’m sure they spoke it when the English were in earshot and I’m sure that those caught speaking Irish were punished, but don’t tell me that the entire nation just said “Oh, OK, we won’t speak our language any more”..Irish was probably never MORE alive than during the occupation when it became a symbol of defiance and independance. Just like every other nation’s opressed culture/language/etc has been throughout history.

    And jimbo, when you speak Irish, you DON’T say “Please” and “Thank You”. You say “If it is your will” and “May good be on you” which are two different things entirely. And that’s the point. “Please” and “Thank you” are the closest they could find in common English.

  50. I don’t go to mass and haven’t for many years, but I like the Angelus. Two minutes a day to blank the mind and relax a bit, who cares who gets the news on first.

    I spoke very good Irish, leaving cert standard and primary school in Irish, but have lost a fair bit through non use. I really enjoyed it at school and had a native speaker for the leaving who instilled, in me anyway, a love of the language. It’s great to use abroad as it sets us apart from other English speakers and I firmly believe that it is central to our culture.

    Mairead, how do you get the fada on your keyboard?

  51. No 8,
    I wouldn’t mind something to blank the mind for two minutes. But the Angelus is religion-specific. It’s Christian, and used to mean saying three Hail Marys at that time. Let’s have something inclusive or nothing at all. (Benny’s only being provocative.)

    Holding down Ctrl + Alt while typing the vowel gives one a fada on my keyboard. I think it’s the same on the majority, but I can’t swear to that …

  52. Nora, thanks for the tip on the fada, it works.

    I have no problem with the angelus being religious or christian. Ireland is a christian country, although sometimes you wouldn’t know. People, IMO, are welcome to live here if they respect our traditions and culture. You can’t drink alcohol in some muslim countries and I don’t think you’ll find mass to easily. Off topic or what?

  53. @No. 8

    Nora is right, Benny was being provocative.

    Perhaps my tolerance of the angelus is linked to my having lived in a village where the church bell, like the the cock crow and the smell of real turf burning in my father’s birthplace, actually gave a sense of serenity and being a part of nature.

    Nostalgic old fart maybe. Might just come back into fashion, but this time with the “bell of freedom and the hammer of justice and the song’s about the love between my brother and my sister” etc. from the other Lopez.

  54. Does the Angelus still come on the telly at about 6pm???

    Wow, I’d forgotten all about that!!!

  55. “Steve – it’s the middle class who want to keep the Irish.”
    Elle, Have you looked at the number of Gaelscoileanna in working class areas in Ireland? Quite a few, m’dear. Popular too!

  56. Yes and No. I have spoken with Irish people and read about Irish history. The English were clearly interested in eradicating the Irish language in oder to assimilate the Irish people. Furthermore it was necessary for the Irish to learn English in order to have a better life or even to survive. But it is the fault of the Irish people to have taken over the bad image of Irish from the English by themselves by the time. They could have learnt English and maintained Irish at the same time. And achieving independence was the perfect opportunity to get rid of old stigmas originated by the English occupators. It was the chance to set up a socia-cultural revolution, too, to bring back Irish as the everyday language all over Ireland. A strong movement could,have created a force to which nobody in Ireland could resist. Israel is the best example of making use of an opportunity to restore a language and national identity. In the end, no Jew in Israel could ignore Hebrew any more because it became more and more widespread in the daily life. Of course, the immigration from several countries in the world had favourised Hebrew. But actually it would have been easier to make Yiddish the language of Israel as the majority of the first immigrants spoke it as native language. But nevertheless, the Jews have chosen to restore Hebrew, their ancient language. Why the Irish have not succeeded in doing similarly with Irish? If enough people had been motivated, they would have protested heavily against uneffective educational policies and introduced Irish into their homes again. When you study Irish history and your origins, you will undeniable met with the Irish language as well as native speakers still exist as bridge to this past.
    I fully support the essence of the sentence “Tir gan teanga, tir gan anam.” A fully Irish-speaking country would be more of its own. While I have visited Ireland, I notice the Irish-speaking minority as surviving link to the non-colonized Ireland of the past to today. Without it, Ireland will loose all of the salt in the soup. Without the Irish language, I would never come again to Ireland. This is sure!
    Mar sin, coinnigí an Ghaeilge agus cuirigí ar aghaidh í chuig bhur bpáistí! Is gá cainteoirí dúchais nua go háirithe! Athghaelaígí na Gaeltachtaí agus a dtimpeallacht! A mhuintir na Gaeltachta, caithigí amach an Béarla!
    Sláinte, bás in Éirinn agus bás don Bhéarla dúchais!

  57. Well Bock.
    I have to admit, I used to be pretty fucking disinterested in the Irish language. This has of course all changed now, I’m making slow progress, and aiming to become a fluent speaker. The problem is Bock that there is an element of blame to be laid on my parents’ generation, as they really twisted the knife in terms of the wounded state of the Irish language. They were in charge of us in times of economic boom, they whored our country out to multinationals and the UN in order to be “globalised”.Take a look a look at Scandinavia, very high percentage of people who speak English, yet do they fuck away their ancestral language? No. And my parents’ generation and the subsequent de-celticisation of Ireland is to blame for the worst damage to our culture and language. This all has to change. In 13 years of state education, I didn’t learn Irish fluently. Guess why? because it was not taught right by my parents’ generation, and they never promoted Irish being spoken in the household. Now my generation is left to pick up the pieces. This gross lack of patriotism is sickening, and it’s like a malaise, spreading for the sake of being “multicultural and diverse”, and pure, outright, fucking laziness. The attitude towards our own ancestral language is SICKENING. We can’t blame the English anymore, they may have impaired it at first but that didn’t mean we couldn’t fix the state of Irish. But, we fucking didn’t. Yes, we made gaeltacht camps and gaelscoils, but then that makes the speaking of Irish selective, and doesn’t promote the language to everyone, which is what Ireland needs. All schools should be bilingual, teach Irish to a fluent standard, and there should be aspects of the government which should only operate through Irish, and have free government-sponsored Irish classes in every town and city in Ireland. As well, people who have learned Irish should be rewarded for it, not just favouritising native speakers for jobs in TG4. The country needs a language revamp, and I am willing to do my part to help fix the state of Irish in our country. tá siúl agam go mbeidh gach duine an rud céanna a dhéanaimh.

  58. Je ne suis pas impressionné
    parce que je ne trouve pas des longues comments en Irlandais sur cette brulant sujet linguistique. Commenter en langue Anglosaxonne sur les belles merites de Gaelicque c’est paradoxe et oxymoronique et soi-contredisant.

  59. Seano, however commendable your attempts now to learn the Irish language with the aim to become fluent in the language – I did the same a few years ago – some of the things you said do not make much sense.

    You blame the UN for Ireland forgetting the language? Absolute rubbish. If that was the case, then how come Welsh is widely spoken in Wales now? Or even Hebrew in Israel?

    Even in Luxembourg, they have their own language: Letzbergish, which is spoken widely there, as well as German and French.

    No, the fault lies squarely with the Irish people, and more so with the Irish governments of the past and present. Even recently, Irish became an official language of the EU. As such, there is now a very great need for Irish translators and interpreters. However, there is still a huge shortage of interpreters. The government can’t even try to supply these people or to encourage them to study the language in order to get the necessary qualifications for what most people would consider a very cushy job indeed.

    I believe Ireland should try everything it can to become a bi-lingual country. This would mean that it should be tackled from bottom-up as well as top-down. This would then also strengthen Irish culture, as we are fast approaching (if not already past) the point of no return where we are just an anonymous English speaking island which is part British and part American.

    How to do this? Investment, both people and money. Encouragement. Education, or rather re-education. Change of teaching methods towards a modern living European language, so the younger generations will come out being able to speak the language and not be forced to learn dreary old poems and prose.

    When I relearnt Irish myself recently, I did it here in Belgium. It was taught by a native speaker from Inis Mor, and it was based almost completely around conversation. The result? Out of 10 people in the class, 8 of us reached a decent level, and we still meet up specifically to speak in Irish in order to keep up the practice.

    If a person doesn’t use a language regularly, it is forgotten very quickly. This is why investment and encouragement are needed in order to get ordinary people to use it more.

    For those who say you hate the language, and say it is useless? It is only useless to you because you don’t use it. Again, I say to look at Wales and the usage of the language there. Look to Luxembourg and Israel. The Irish language is one of the greatest things Ireland has going for it, and it really needs to be revived – in a realistic and comprehensive manner.

    Benno: Je ne sais pas pourquoi tu a écrit en francais. Je pense que Seano s’a exprimé en anglais parce-que l’anglais est la langue maternal de la pluspart des irlandais. Ce n’est pas une paradox ni oxymoronique: c’est la langue que tout la monde comprends.

  60. Benno — I suspect you’re simply letting us know you can write in French. Your point makes no sense.

    The reason this post is in English is obvious. If it were in Irish, nobody would understand it.

  61. Aha, but I betcha more readers can read un petit peu school French than can express their feelings about Gaelic as Gaeilge. We should have been colonised by the French or the Germans, not by the Sassenachs.

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