May 302010
 

I was chatting to a friend of mine today when somehow or other the subject of gaelscoileanna came up.  I don’t know why.  Despite having been taught exclusively through Irish for a large chunk of my own school life, I didn’t give the subject much thought in recent years, except perhaps to wonder at the  motives of some parents.

Even though I’m all for a revival of the language, it did seem to me that the outbreak of all-Irish schools in urban areas was bit of a yummy-mummy fashion statement from the Celtic Wombat era, along with skinny lattes and BMW jeeps.

Obviously, I don’t question the motives of all parents.  There are many who sincerely wish their children to emerge from school fluent in Irish, even if that Irish is heavily-accented with strangulated middle-class vowels.  But so what?  People can educate their kids any way they like and it hardly matters what I think.  Maybe it’s a good thing for the language to survive in the affluent suburbs of Irish towns and cities rather than dying out completely, even if it ends up as little more than a designer fashion accessory for many people.

I wasn’t expecting what came next.

Supposing, my friend wanted to know, supposing the demand for all these gaelscoileanna was not entirely because of a fervent desire to revive the Irish language?  Suppose there are parents – a significant proportion of the parents – who want their children to attend an all-Irish school so they won’t have to mix with the children of immigrants?

Suppose there’s a slice of Irish society that embraced the Gaelscoil movement as a convenient way to hide their xenophobia, racism or snobbery, knowing that the schools would have a lower proportion of poor kids attending and almost no Africans, Poles, Russians, Chinese or Indians?

It was a tough question, and I didn’t have an answer, but I’ll throw it out here anyway.

What do you think?  Is there any truth in it?  Besides the sincere, well-motivated parents, are there some who choose to send their kids to a gaelscoil for the wrong reasons?

  63 Responses to “Gaelscoil – The Skinny Latte of Irish Education or Something More Sinister?”

Comments (63)
  1.  

    Your friend BOCK is away with the fairies.
    I believe Gaelscioleanna are merely a money making racket, tax shyte; grants and stuff. The parents themselves know full well that it’s the surest way for their kids to learn the language and that’s to be applauded. The fuck-up of course is that once the kids move to secondary level, the language is out the window.
    Kinda pointless in the long term given the dept. of education’s unconcerned approach.

  2.  

    Bock, your “friend” is clearly a racist and a drunk! What a mad idea, slow news day on BTR indeed.

    @ Unstranger the fine people of Limerick are lucky to have a Choláiste Ghaelige in the city so xenophopes can send their puddins there to continue their indoctrination

  3.  

    Considering that hardly anyone can speak Irish fluently after the guts of 15 years full time tuition, the teaching of Irish has failed!

    Now is the time to remove the coercion and give parents and children the choice, that is the only way to save the language. it will probably die for a while but it will become fashionable and possibly the strongest method of demonstrating onces Irishness.

    The people own the language, its time to let them decide whether it lives or dies…

    The life of a language is in its speaking!

  4.  

    I don’t know if parents send their children to Gaelscoileanna to avoid different races?
    I do know that Gaeilge is seldom the motivation.
    It’s more likely to be one of these –
    Better pupil-teacher ratio given to Gaelscoileanna by the Government (better even that Gaeltacht schools!!)
    Parent power
    Young teachers forced to donate extra curricular services free

    All sounds good from the parental persepctive, except –
    Principals and deputy principals are appointed, not based on their experience or their qualifications but because they were the first teachers in the fledgling school
    Due to the above, the management of the school often haven’t got the experience that they should have to run a school properly
    Teachers are appointed based on their Gaeilge – there is much, much more needed
    High turnover of staff, because of the extra curricular duties and pressures that are expected – quite a bit of bullying takes place also in “making” teachers go the extra mile
    Lots of effort is put into photo ops and publishing how “fab” the school is on a superficial level
    Often based in poor accommodation such as GAA club houses
    Gaeige is king at the expense of English – not a good idea
    Special needs pupils struggle with education due to Gaeilge being King

    Will I go on…..

  5.  

    “Suppose there’s a slice of Irish society that embraced the Gaelscoil movement as a convenient way to hide their xenophobia, racism or snobbery, knowing that the schools would have a lower proportion of poor kids attending and almost no Africans, Poles, Russians, Chinese or Indians?”

    I have experience of two gaelscoileanna, Gaelscoil Seoirse Clancy in Southill where my grandson goes to school and Gaelscoil O Doghair in Newcastle West, the most incredible learning environment I have ever experienced in my lifetime, in both schools the above comments could not be further from the truth.

  6.  

    That’s a sinister way of looking at it but i reckon your right. People send there schools outside the city all the time to keep them away from other inner city kids. Btw i’d love to learn irish fluently so anybody with any info on where i could do this as an adult in or around the limerick area i’d appreciate it.

  7.  

    Jbkenn — It’s more a proposition for discussion than a statement of fact.

  8.  

    Think you’re right with the yummy mummy syndrome. I went to the Model in O’Connell Ave. many years ago. The kids were from all the surrounding areas and everyone walked home for lunch. There were kids from further afield whose parents were Gaelgoiri. Now the kids seem to be predominanly well heeled and delivered in SUVs of various sizes. As for avoiding the off spring of immigrants a child of 4/5 starting school has an equal chance of learning Irish regarless of their ethnic background. Most will after all be hearing the language for the first time. Does you friend believe in the Magic Bullet theory?

  9.  

    I don’t know. As I said, it came up in idle conversation, not as a statement of fact, but simply as a point of debate.

  10.  

    I live in France and I send my kids to a Catholic school for exactly the reasons you stated above. I don’t want my kids going to the public school because the level of education and dicipline is disastrous! There is no political correctness as in the public school with this muslim arab shite. So if you can see the parallel as I can and someone needs more clarity I will be happy to provide some!

  11.  

    Boss,
    looks like ye’ll be havin to flag a discussion post as “DISCUSSION” at the top afore ye put it up wit the way that some of them react.
    Tek it as a compliment, they tek everything ye say as fact!!!!

  12.  

    Thank you val.

  13.  

    I have heard it said more than once that some people send their kids to Gaelscoileanna because they are guaranteed no non-Irish nationals there. Have’nt come across it personally but it does’nt surprise me.

  14.  

    I haven’t come across that reason in anyone’s thinking that I know of, though I do know of several parents who choose the Gaelscoil because of a better pupil/teacher ratio than in other nearby schools. It mystifies me sometimes, as I know parents with barely a word of Irish and little interest in it sending their kids there – how do they help with homework?

    If there are any choosing Gaelscoileanna to avoid immigrants, I just feel sorry for them. I absolutely love the fact that my sons relatively small school (about 160 pupils) has kids from 24 different countries and every continent. Compared to my monoculture education it’s a joy.

  15.  

    @LL
    If you’re stuck..Mairtin O Briain (a Gaelgeoir of note) is very interested in the promotion of Irish and is frequently to be found in the White House. He would be able to steer you in the right direction.

  16.  

    @ Bock – I’ve 1 at Gaelscoil Padraig, and a 2nd starting in September. I’m fluent but the wife doesn’t have a word as she is from the UK. Why do we send them there?
    1. Pupil teacher ratios.
    2. Teacher age profile is younger than the other schools, teachers are younger and more involved.
    3. Parent involvement. Most kids there come from homes where education is valued.

    I know parents who won’t send their kids to a Gaelscoil because “it’s too much hassle”. This isn’t the fundraising etc, but the effort of helping with homework as Gaeilge. Knowing that the parents of the other children prize education and put in that effort is worth far more than any other consideration.

    The little one sits between a Nigerian and a Pole, so we don’t wear our white hoods on the school run anymore,

  17.  

    as far as I see, there are all different kinds of nationalities in the gaelscoils. as for the model, its booked out till 2014, so maybe immigrants wouldnt know how much in advance they need to apply? there are immigrants everywhere and in every school, and i would prefer that my children mix well and embrace the society they will grow up in. i am hoping to send them to gaelscoil, simply because i am useless at irish and believe it to be a beautiful language i could never comprehend, and was never given the correct teaching in order to learn. I feel there is a level of snobbery involved with other parents and have a feeling i will not be too popular with the other mothers! i have never heard of the non-irish national bit and believe its untrue. i do believe, however, that gaelscoils are perceived to be better schools and give a better education than other local schools. and if a parent believes they are sending their child to a good school, then fair play- they want their child to do well in life and school becomes about what is important for your child’s future, not where is more convenient for walking or driving. kwim?

  18.  

    Regarding the post from John The Pessimist:He says”most kids there come from homes where education is valued”. What kind of statement is that? The only conclusion I can draw from it is that if children dont attend a Gaelscoil,education is not valued in their homes. What is the basis of this strange assertion? Or did he make it up to bolster his self-mportance?

  19.  

    You’re being hard on him. Most kids in Gaelscoil probably do come from homes where education is valued. That doesn’t mean other parents place less value on education.

  20.  

    Ok,Bock. But he didnt say that,so I think is fair to point this out.

  21.  

    He said most kids there come from homes where education is valued. Fair enough. One would hope so.

  22.  

    Its believable! Yummy mummy power, Tarquin simply must perform his rendition of Peg Sayers for the Jones. However, Gaelscoile in Shannon has a number of non nationals, and its terrible to think that other nationals value the first language of the country before its own citizens.

  23.  

    The reasons why parents would send their kids to a gaelscoil or any school will be varied. Proximity and reputation would be well up the ladder for most parents. It might be a good idea for people to put their heads together and see how best we can include more non-nationals to gaelscoil afterall this is the EU year of social inclusion.

  24.  

    I wince when somebody who never posts an article in Irish prefaces remarks on controversy about Irish with the remark: “Even though I’m all for a revival of the language…” You have voted with your mouth, Bock, so don’t make the unconvincing claim that you’re all for the revival of Irish. Only those who talk the teanga and walk the fear suil are trying to revive the language. Ever notice that heated discussions about Irish are 99.99% conducted through the medium of the Sassanach settlers?

  25.  

    @ Tony C, You inferred from my post above that “The only conclusion I can draw from it is that if children dont attend a Gaelscoil,education is not valued in their homes”. This is not the logical conclusion of my point. However, I do assert that there are children in all schools who come from homes where education is not prized. I suggest that there are fewer of these children in the Gaelscoils, because of the effort required to;
    1. Get the child in in the first place.
    2. Help the child with homework, projects etc in what is not the first language for most Gaelscoil parents.

    Putting your child into a Gaelscoil is not the course of least resistance for parents. Neither is putting your child into a fee-paying school. Both actions are suggestive of valuing education.

    I made no suggestions/inferences about parents that choose non-Gaelscoils, convents, Educate-Together
    etc. etc.

    I’m unclear as to where my self-importance entered the discussion.

  26.  

    Benno — Do the posts in Irish on this site not count then?

  27.  

    Younger teachers are “more involved” in Gaelscoileanna because they are “made”.
    I have been told horrible stories of bullying from young teachers in Gaelscoileanna.
    The large turnover of teachers in Gaelsoileanna is very noticeable.
    Younger teachers mean they are less experienced teachers.

    So, young teachers in the Gaelsoileanna is not really a good thing and not a good reason to choose a Gaelscoil for your child. Afterall, would you like your child’s teachers to be mostly inexperienced? dying to get out of that school and move on? at risk of bullying?

  28.  

    When you start cussin ‘as Gaeilge’ I’ll believe that you’re “all for the revival of the language…” Bock.

    For the record (LP, 45 rpm or 78 rpm) I attended an Irish medium primary school during tender years (and the odd belt of a stick was rather tenderising on hands and legs) and spent cupla laethanta saoire down in the Gaeltacht, where smoking fags when the Maistir wasn’t looking and dancing with local girls at supervised ceilis were the height of teenage passion. I have no regrets about those innocent teanga days except that the cailini ceili girls never kissed my acned face; but I consider Hiberno-English to be my Muttersprache. Capisce?

    Best wishes to children who attend gaelscoileanna. As long as teachers do English lessons thoroughly, with lots of attention to enunciation, grammar and spelling, I think the kids will have a worthwhile language education. BTW Are children aged 10-upwards getting lessons in Fraincis or Gearamainis in the Gaelscoileanna, as happens in English medium schools?

  29.  

    Cuir méar i’ do thóin, a mhála buinnigh

  30.  

    Nach scannalach agus drochbheasach an tóinbeal mór ata agat? You seem to have missed out on a creative career as a muinteoir at one of our gaelscoileanna. You’d give the twerps a good tongue lash instead of getting physical.

  31.  

    I refer to your comment 29. You challenged me to use foul language in Irish and when I accepted the challenge you took offence.

    Hypocrisy.

    Drochbhéasach mo mhagairlí!

  32.  

    Cac uilechumhachtach. You’ve caught me out. It’s a fair cop guv’nor. Ta an blas agat. Anois beidh me im thost. Ta mo bheal dunta.

    Hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue.

  33.  

    Bock,would you be all for the revival of the language if your everlasting memory of the Irish class was Mr. Marrinan lifting you by the ears off the ground and hitting your head off the classroom door on an almost daily basis because you couldnt understand it? And most probably the reason you couldnt understand was because Marrinan tried, not teaching,but terrorising the language into you.

  34.  

    I think it’s important not to let abusers win the war. Why would I hate a language simply because a teacher misused it?

  35.  

    I’ll tell you why you’d” hate a language simply because a teacher misused it”. Because if you were you either of two of my classmates who were affected,you would associate the misuse of that same language with the gratuituous violence and abuse perpetrated on you by an individual to whom your education had been entrusted for almost a year of your life. Ask any people who suffered in a like manner,about the Irish language,and I have a fair idea of the answer you’d get.
    But Bock,I asked you a simple question and I think you skirted it.
    Would you be all for a revival if………….?

  36.  

    I thought I’d answered your question. If a guy like that made me hate the subject he taught, then he’d be the winner and that’s not going to happen. In any case, I’d never identify a subject with any individual teaching it.

  37.  

    Bock,I refer to your article about Murray and Marrinan and the solar system. Would you accept the possibility,that because of what he experienced ,Murray will forever associate the solar system with
    Marrinans violence?

  38.  

    Oh there is xenophobia at work here, but your friend in the suffer. Using your friends “logic” you could make the same statement about Hebrew Schools, Yeshivas, Parochial Schools, Spanish Language TV stations, etc etc. There have been Japanese, and Ukrainian schools operating in NJ on weekends for years as a means of connecting the children with the homes and culture of their families. To the best of my knowledge no axe murders have been produced by either.

  39.  

    Tony C — I can imagine people being put off, but you asked me how I personally would feel, and I told you. I can’t speak for anyone else.

  40.  

    Bock,you spoke for Murray and you said “it brutalised all the other young boys in the classroom” in your wonderfully written Memories Of A Violent Teacher.

  41.  

    I believe it did brutalise everyone, but it clearly didn’t give them all a dislike of the Irish language. What it gave them was utter contempt for the teacher.

    Anyway, this is drifting off topic a bit. It might be better to continue it on the original thread.

  42.  

    Yes we have digressed Bock,but a good exchange of views nonetheless

  43.  

    Haven’t had time to go through all the comments. In response to your article, I can just relay the thoughts of a friend of mine who taught in a Limerick gaelscoil. He came to the same conclusion as your friend. From his dealings with parents and other staff, he was convinced that one of the principle reasons that many of the parents chose his school for their kids was that they wouldn’t have to mix with non-nationals. Indeed, the principal of the same school marketed the school (subtly, but very definitely) to the parents of prospective students on this basis. On one occasion when it was suggested that the class rooms could be rented out on an hourly basis to various community groups in the evenings, the principal blocked the move because of the likelihood of a non-national group doing so.

  44.  

    The experiment which the Irish state has conducted with reviving the Irish language is long overdue a rigorous scrutiny. Despite countless millions of investment, compulsion, Irish language requirements for primary teachers, subsidised Gaeltacht visits, grants and a vast plethora of other incentives, there is little evidence of increased daily usage. It’s something of a national fiction, perpetuated for quaint historical reasons and often hijacked by some people for personal advancement. Gaelscoileanna have not added much to the frequency of daily usage either, a factor which should count as the real measure of some degree of success. Indeed, I suspect that non Gaelscoileanna have lost the small cohort of Gaeilge sympathetic parents who were always there, as they have now circled the wagons and unfortunately self- corralled themselves within these establishments. In other words “regular” schools must find the teaching of Irish more of an uphill struggle than ever with little enough support. This subsidisation can go on in perpetuity and probably will. Yet, when I have attempted to speak Irish in regular social interaction in Ireland, few if any, can manage to respond in a coherent manner. Gael Scoil “Graduate”

  45.  

    Leaving aside all other considerations, isn’t there something seriously wrong with a system that fails to turn out a majority of fluent speakers after 13 years of tuition?

  46.  

    Language teaching is all about motivation and motivation is complex. Foe the past ten to fifteen years the methods employed in teaching Irish are very similar to methods used in teaching languages worldwide. In other words, an emphasis is placed on communicative methods, games, drama, and a variety of other “attractive” approaches. The results have been varied and sometimes very disappointing. Teachers are very widely trained in these approaches. However, if you take the TEFL world, most of the same methods are employed and , in general, considerable success is in evidence. The major difference is of course a cultural motivation in countries like Spain, Germany, Latvia and countless other places to encourage students to gain some level of proficiency in English. Coupled with this largely, I suppose “economic” motivation, there is of course the cultural, international attractions of English as a world language. While methods of teaching Irish are broadly similar nowadays, what cultural, economic and aspirative attractions exist to bolster the classroom work? There is a fiction also that the Irish are not good at language acquisition. No such generalised argument can be maintained if we accept that huge swathes of Irish people gradually shifted from Irish to English in the 19th century, surely one of the biggest language transformations ever in Europe. Why was this done? Largely to improve their economic prospects in the face of mass emigration and the strength of the prevailing language of English within the then British empire. I don’t think very many Irish people want to roll back that particular transformation and their decision not to embrace the revivalists’ agenda was and is an act of passive resistance , often conveyed in subtle ways to their children. I see this resistance as a positive thing, by the way.

  47.  

    Your friend might want to do some research before spouting out such wild suppositions, – this talk started back in 2008 when one of the papers published remarks made by one mother of one gaelscoil students that she was sending her kid there to avoid the “blacks”

    , the anti Gaeilge brigade latched onto this as representative of the entire Gaelscoil community, ie. all xenophobes.

    This is despite the fact that many gaelscoils now have a quota for foreign national intake, I know the Limerick one does for sure.

    Faced with this fact the anti-Gaeilge brigade starts complaining that such foreign nationals usually have poor English and that the Gaelscoils will deny them access to the English language, a language that they will almost certainly master from more or less everywhere outside the school anyway.
    http://gombeennation.blogspot.com/2008/07/gaelscoileanna-gaelscoils-no-foreigners.html

    It is important for the anti Gaeilge crowd also to remember that anyone who supposts and learns the Irish language is a mad-Sinner and lover of Padraig Pearse’s ideology , just as anyone who learns German is a nazi, Russian is a Stalinist, and Chinese is a MAuist.

  48.  

    Caithfidh me a ra nach bhfuilim i gcoinne Gaeilge mar theanga ach stadas na Gaeilge sa choras oideachais. Caithfear ceisteanna a chur mar gheall ar sin. Ni hionann ceistanna a chur agus a bheith frith- Ghaelach. Faigheanna na Gaelscoileanna cabhair s’ cunamh on Stat ar leibheal nios airde na gnathscoileanna, an rud is mo na breis muinteoiri, gan amhras. Ta scoileanna eile ann agus iad ag cailliunt muinteoiri mar nach bhfuil paiste no dho eile acu. Rud eile, ni chloisim focal sa bhreis Gaeilge i measc na daoine ce go bhfuil Gaelscoileanna go forleathan ar fud na tire. Seans ann go bhfuil roinnt mhaith tuismitheori a nusaid chun a leanai a scaruint amach o ghrupai eile ( rud aicmiuil b’fheidir ) agus nach bhfuil siad ro-dhairire faoin teanga. Bron orm ach nil aon sinte fada agam ar an riamhaire seo no nil se cutha in eagar chuige!

  49.  

    Shane — Tell me more about this anti-Gaeilge brigade. Do you detect many of their agents here?

    A pholl dorcha — An ball tusa don lucht i gcoinne na Gaeilge??

  50.  

    Ni ball me a Bhock ach duine a cheapann go bhfuil an Ghaeilge nios tabhachtai na an coras. Saoirse don teanga. End compulsion and free the language.

  51.  

    Maise.

  52.  

    @An Pholl Dorcha Bhuel holy be jasus o the mary críost! Iontach spéisiúl. An dóigh leat go mbéadh sé rud a chinnt maith don teanga labhartha munar raibh an iachall céanna curtha ar na gasúrí sna scoilleanna chun í a fhoghlaim? Céard a cheapann tú faoi na scoileanna atá lonnaithe ins na Gaeltachtaí nó na bhreac-gaeltachtaí. Cur i gcás ar Oileáin Chléire agus ar Oileáin Árainn Mhór, tá siad aron in easnamh meánscoil lán-Gaeilge. Sin ceann de na phríomh-fadhbanna atá ag baint le meath na Gaeilge sna ceantracha sin. Nach bfhuil sé an mhalairt fhabhb atá acu ansin? Deir tú go nach bfhuil tú in éadain an teanga ach i gcoinne an maoinú speisialta atá curtha ar a son ach mar a bhreathnaíonn tú ansin, ins na Gaeltachtaí go fiú níl an leor áiseanna ó thaobh oideachas de acu. Céard é do thuairamsa? And as for the yummy mummy syndrome there is a bit of that in it I’d say for sure, the racism I wouldn’t be so sure of, since there are so many of those people who are so hostile to other languages and cultures that they hate Irish as well. Ignorance is universal Im afraid. But as was mentioned I dont see much of a rise in daily speakers as a result of all these Gaelscoileanna. Be as well off looking after the gaeltachtaí and giving a proper gaelic language education in the ‘ordinary schools’. Good discussion though.

  53.  

    Faraoir, nil cothrom na feinne fachtha ag muintir na Gaeltachta maidir le hoideachas a bpaisti, ce go bhfuIl Gaeilge fite fuaite ina saol, rud nach bhfuil le brath go forleathan ar fud na tire (ce go bhfuil neart Gaelscol gallanta le feiscint). Tacaim leat gan amhras!

  54.  

    RANGANNA GAEILGE I HALLA ÍDE Ó MHEÁN FÓMHAIR/IRISH CLASSES IN HALLA ÍDE FROM SEPT.
    Scéim Phobail Gaeilge i gcomhar le Foras na Gaeilge

    Rang Gaeilge do thuismitheoirí/Irish Class for Parents

    Dé Máirt/Tuesday 7.00pm – 8.00pm

    Táille/Fee: €100 (10 seachtaine/weeks)

    Ag tosnú/Start date: 7/9/2010

    Rang Gaeilge don Scrúdú Béil (Ardteist.)/Irish Class for Leaving Cert Oral Exam

    Dé Céadaoin/Wednesday 7.00pm – 8.00pm

    Táille/Fee: €100 (10 seachtaine/weeks)

    Ag tosnú/Start date: 8/9/2010

    Rang Gaeilge do dhaoine a bhfuil Gaeilge na hArdteistiméireachta déanta acu/Irish Class for those who have done Irish in the Leaving Cert

    Dé Céadaoin/Wednesday 8.00pm – 9.00pm

    Táille/Fee: €100 (10 seachtaine/weeks)

    Ag tosnú/Start date: 8/9/2010

    Tuilleadh Eolais/Further Information:

    Conradh na Gaeilge, Halla Íde, 18 Sráid Thomáis, Luimneach – (061) 417895 conradhluimnigh@gmail.com

    Conradh na Gaeilge, Halla Íde, 18 Thomas Street, Limerick

  55.  

    Just had a quick look at the subject matter in this thread, and I find it strange now that I am beginning to think like my Late Father and Mother,. Irish Who needs Irish ? are you trying to impress someone ? they would say, Will it get you a Secure Job ? etc, etc, etc, So Speaking for myself I was totally tuned out. In any case having travelled the World I never came across anyone speaking it., and only in more recent years do I occasionally hear it spoken in Ireland. Some of my friends are Teachers including one of my Daughters and Daughter in Law, but that hasn’t changed my opinion., Perhaps its because the way it was Beaten into us, and the first chance we got, the Irish Book went up in flames., I found I could Speak Greek in a matter of Months perhaps thats an exageration, but I worked for Stavros Niarchos and If you didnt Speak you didnt eat., Quick Learner Me. Thereafter I got a Job with the Germans and again that was easy to pick up. I have come to the conclusion that you must live and work in the envoirnment to learn any language with any degree of fluency. , and now with the damn emigration ships once again moving our best people abroad it may become forgotten for another generation., it wont bother me one bit. they will be fine., and perhaps return some day more educated and tolerant. Cheers/ Maitiu

  56.  

    Very similar experiemce in some ways. Learned working knowledge of Spanish in a month , French in a similar time. Irish : 13 years but fluent now. Slowness in learning Irish not due to parents or teachers who were supportive but the surreal nature of it. Learning a language that you rarely heard spoken by anyone. (1960 and 1970s). Much more interested in learning Vietnamese (that was 1972 or so) around the time that the American Empire was defeated more or less, but school didn’t seem to offer it. Pity!

  57.  

    These schools were popular long before we had immigrants and the reason is simple. Some parents believe their children will get a better education, it is as simple as that. A friend of mine was heavily involved in one of these schools because he had a great love of the language. He had a visitor one sunday evening. It was a very irate lady who gave him a piece of her mind. She accused him of running a school for rich people only and that her children had no chance of getting in there. Well he was horrified to hear this and assured her that if she brought her children around to the school he would see to it that they were enrolled and they were.

  58.  

    I have found that in our small town, there are more foreign kids in the Gaelschol than Irish Children. When we immigrated here 15 years ago, our neighbour said I am sure you will send your kids to gaelschol and when I asked why – she said all the foreigners do! They become more Irish than the Irish! Thats just my experience – as I didnt want to be labelled “one of those” foreigners, i opted for the local convent instead!

  59.  

    Have any readers realized that the gaelscoil movement has also been successful in working class areas like Ballymun? As jack the lad noted, the gaelscoil movement has been active, and successful, for a number of decades, long before the advent of immigration and asylum seeking. The cosmopolitan town of Shannon near the airport is one of the places where gaelscoileanna have been bunaithe. If I were a psychological philosopher I’d say that the parental choice for gaelscoileanna is a reaction against homogenising soulless suburbanization. It is an interesting way of coping with social anomie. In the so-called melting pot of America parents from various ethnic backgrounds have coped for a long time with the potential ‘loss of identity’ that suburbanization entails by establishing weekend Chinese schools, Irish dancing and language schools, Japanese schools etc to which children can be sent. Why have so many Catholic schools in New York and Boston been sending their flamboyantly attired pipe bands to Dublin to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parades? It’s to do with identity mainly. If Chinese-Americans want their children enrolled in weekend Irish dancing classes who’s to stop them? Who in Ireland will stop the enrolment of Lithuanian and Nigerian children in gaelscoileanna?

  60.  

    Don’t talk shite. The Gaelscoil movement is pure elitism. Bonus points?

    If you want to include Lithuanian and Nigerian children, teach in the vernacular.

    Don’t expect them to speak Gaeilge, as we don’t, despite your Dev inspired delusions.

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