Irish language is aging in the Gaeltachtai

Interesting piece in the LA Times on the 80 year long battle to keep the Irish language alive. Although John Daniszewski gives his view from the Gaeltacht area around Spiddal in Co Galway, the decline in interest amongst the youth is familiar to most of us who have a strong attachment to the language.

  • Colm

    I am bemused by Beano’s constant wailing about the ‘discrimination’ against English in the Gaeltachts. Considering the 2 languages respective positions on this planet isn’t that a bit like complaining about the pain caused when a mouse steps on an elephants foot.

  • J McConnell

    Glad to see the thread still has some life in it

    First, Imeallach

    > Ethno-linguistically speaking the language that is
    > taught in school is as much a made up language as
    > Esperanto.

    > Are you an ethno-linguist?

    No, but over the years I have had several very long and very interesting conversations with two different linguists who were doing doctorates about the Irish language, one on comparative dialectal differentiation in various Indo-European languages, one on the grammatical similarities between Q-Celtic and various Hamito-Semitic languages. The subject of second thesis was very definitely ethno-linguistic and that individual has since gone on to have a very successful scholarly career . His opinion is good enough for me.

    > That’s an idea that goes back a long way to the days when we equated our language
    > with the shame of poverty and social inferiority. That is the reason why you’ve only
    > ever overheard 3 conversations in Irish in your life.

    This is a very interesting theory. Your theory is that the reason why I have heard very few conversations in Irish over the years is because all those vast multitudes of closet Irish speakers were ashamed to speak Irish in public. Whereas my theory is that the reason why one hears so few casual conversations in Irish is because, well, almost nobody actually speaks Irish as a day to day living language.

    I prefer my theory. It’s simpler.

    > And you claim your forbears are ethnically pure of Irish speakers for 10 – 12 generations?

    Actually what I said was that based on the standard models of language transition in populations, and the part of the country my lot are from, you would probably have to go back ten or twelve generations before my ancestors were majority Irish speaking. On further reflection, make that seven or eight on my mothers side, rural populations are more linguistically conservative.

    So my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather on my mothers side probably spoke Irish. So this makes Irish my ‘native’ language? I dont think so.

  • J McConnell

    > Little literary merit? fine display of ignorance, Mr. McConnell.
    > Just because you dont understand classics such as Táin Bó Cuailgne,
    > Agallamh na Seanórach or An Béal Bocht condemns them.
    > we might as well burn every other book written nin a non-English language while were at it.

    Actually I have read and enjoyed in translation all these works and a lot more that were written in Old and Middle Irish. In fact I enjoyed them so much that I bought an Old Irish grammar to get a better feel for the original language.

    But with Leaving Cert Irish you are not going to be able to read any of these work, with the exception of The Poor Mouth, in the original.

    And I find it somewhat ironic that the only book written in Modern Irish that has successfully escaped the prison of its language is a book that sends up the whole language revival movement and is a parody of the literature produced by the movement.

  • Imeallach

    “So my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather on my mothers side probably spoke Irish. So this makes Irish my ‘native’ language? I dont think so.”

    I didn’t say that at all. I was simply struck by the tone of your “10-12 generations” statement. I thought it smacked of a declaration of ethnic purity – as if the taint of Irish-speaking ancestors was some kind of serious embarrassment, like having a murderer in the family. And if that’s the attitude you have, why are you surprised at my assertion of a widely accepted fact: that the nation as a whole shares the legacy of an inferiority complex about the language?

    However, as in so many other ways, we are growing up and getting over it – and so should you.

  • maca

    Concerning this Gaeltacht issue comparison can be made with the Finnish island of Åland where “under the Autonomy Act the Province of Åland is unilingually Swedish”. This was agreed to protect the culture and language of the island … and it’s not as if Swedish in an endangered language.

    JMcC
    Re: your earlier post…

    I recommend you do some research on what the Official Standard actually is, follow that up with research on Esperanto and there’s no doubt you will understand how inaccurate and plain silly your comment was.
    And while you’re at it research how many countries teach “standards” in their schools.

    “if you could not get a Leaving Cert pass grade you could not go to university…”

    In all honestly those who can’t achieve a pass in LC Irish ain’t going to college anyway. It was that easy.

    “Bore people senseless, filling them with both resentment and guilt. Resentment against what they deep down know is a utter waste of their time. And guilt because of the raising of the language to being this fetish of Irish cultural nationalism and identity.”

    Don’t attempt to speak for anyone but yourself. YOU may resent the language and carry some form of guilt but you are clearly in the minority.

    “As most Irish people cannot speak Irish after twelve years of school hence the strong touch of neurosis about the whole subject. See postings above for some fine examples.”

    “As [certain] Irish people cannot speak Irish after twelve years of school hence the …” rather large and abnormal chip on their shoulder and the desire to deride the language and anyone who happends to support it.

  • maca

    “that the nation as a whole shares the legacy of an inferiority complex about the language”

    Spot on. Many people who can speak some Irish are often embarassed to speak it. And it’s made worse by the existence of people who harp on about ‘Gaelic’ being a ‘dead’ and ‘worthless’ language.

  • J McConnell

    Well this thread is winding down and I am glad to see that nothing has really changed in the last twenty years. People are still rolling out the same stale old arguments.

    And still studiously ignoring the real substantive arguments to be made about the monumental failure of the Irish language policy over the last eighty years. Walk around the streets of the towns of Ireland and listen to the sound of a failed language policy.

    As I expected all the critics have deliberately ignored the real beef I have with my experience of the Irish language while growing up in Ireland. I am not arguing against the massive subsidies for the language (several hundred million Euros a year). I am not arguing against the right for people, if they so wish, to speak the language with other like-minded folk, or send their children to Irish speaking schools. If that is their personal choice, as adults, then that’s fine by me.

    I am arguing against the policy of compulsory Irish.

    What I object to is the coercive policy of foisting what is a foreign (ie non-native ) language on the those who have no choice on the matter for purely partisan political reasons.

    By this stage no one can honestly claim that the official Irish language policies of the last 80 years have anything to do with a genuine attempt to revive the Irish language as a living vital everyday language in Irish society. If the people behind the policy had been really genuine in their motivation to revive the language they would have made radical changes in the policy 40 or 50 years ago when it became glaringly obvious that the coercive policies were failing to arrest the steep decline in everyday use of the language.

    I’ve have had several conversation with Israelis knowledgeable about the revival of Hebrew in Israel who were genuinely puzzled about the failed revival of Irish. As I described to them how the Irish language was taught in Ireland, the (unspoken) politics of the language question, and my own observations while growing up, the Israels would shakes their heads even more confused.

    The inescapable conclusion was that you could not create a set of policies more likely to kill a marginal language than those put in place and supported by successive Irish governments.

    It was not until I read an essay by the historian Roy Foster where he analyzes Irish nationalism as a fairly typical example of 19th century romantic cultural nationalism that the Irish language policies of the last 80 years started making sense. The policies really had nothing to do with reviving the use of the language. They were just an archetypal statement of one of fundamental holy cows of cultural nationalism. If we are going to use the language to define our national identity as being not something else (in this case Not-British) – then the defense of the language become a fundamental policy of the state. What was important was the statement of the policy of defense and revival of the language, not the results of the implementation and execution of these policies.

    The ‘revival of the language’ became a shibboleth repeated by all political parties. Just another statement of vague aspiration rather than an practical policy aim.

    The other two pillars of early Free State nationalism, unification and economic self sufficiency soon fell apart when they ran into that brick-wall known as the real world. Unification was de-facto abandoned as a policy of state in 1949, and economic self-sufficiency was abandoned ten years later when the state was faced with total economic and demographic collapse. But the policy of revival through compulsion has survived to this day because the only sector of society that suffer any direct burden from the policy are those who are in no position to complain. School children.

    If the burden of the compulsory Irish fell on adults, lets say, all dealings with government agencies had to be through the medium of Irish, how long would that policy last? A week? A day? A few hours?

    Its time to abandon the policy compulsory Irish. It has failed to revive the language.

    Do the gaelgoires have so little confidence in their language that they feel it can only be revived through coercion and compulsion? If so I suggest it is they who have the inferiority complex about the language, not me.

    I would be only too happy if at some time in the future I heard Irish (real Irish, not school Irish) spoken on the streets of Ireland just as naturally and just as often as the dozen odd languages that I have heard spoken on the streets of Ireland in the last year.

  • Feachadoir

    Lord, but you’re a cranky lot.

    Did no-one think of turning on the TV, or the radio?

    There’s Irish (good, naturally-spoken, Irish) to be heard all over Ireland and the world 24hrs a day. I’m listening to RnaG right now!

    Some of the moaners above sound just like Yanks when they talk about Spanish speakers.

    The good news is that there’s loads of Irish speakers all over Ireland.

    The bad news is that there’s even more prejudiced morons all over Ireland who like to have a go at us. Are you surprised that we prefer not to speak Irish when you’re around?

    Now cop on. Live and let live.

  • Gaillimeach

    Nil inti ach teanga amhain i measc na millte mion theangan ar fud na cruinne. Ach ta galantacht, stair agus firine ag baint leithe – ni amhain in Eireann, ach chomh maith leis sin, san Alban. Mas daoine cultura muid, tabhraidh muid oscailt di.

    Le dea mhein, Gaillimheach.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    I am arguing against the policy of compulsory Irish.

    That’s what J. McConnell says but what the logical import of his argument is that it will eventually be compulsory not to do Irish in school.

    What I object to is the coercive policy of foisting what is a foreign (ie non-native ) language on the those who have no choice on the matter for purely partisan political reasons.

    I’ve heard about MOPE but this really takes the biscuit – Most Oppressed Monoglot Ever (MOME). How ignorant this man is – how bigoted these remarks are.

  • George

    At least the Gaeltacht population has stopped declining for the first time and has remained stable since 1996.

    J McConnell,
    do me favour, why don’t you start a campaign among the Irish people to have our national language removed as a compulsory subject from our schools (why not maths and English, the other two compulsory subjects, while you’re at it) and if you fail, promise us all you’ll live with it in silence or as we used to be told in the Gaeltacht if you constantly talked out of turn – ciúnas.

    “Do the gaelgoires have so little confidence in their language that they feel it can only be revived through coercion and compulsion.”

    It is the Irish people as a whole who want to retain the language in our schools and institutions, you seem to forget that. Either that or you simply can’t accept it.

    Something tells me that if you grew up with the experiences of many of us, such as exploring your sexuality as Gaeilge in the long grass of rural Ireland while there as a teenager on a three-week Irish course, you’d have a greater grá. You’d certainly be less frustrated by it all.

  • Valenciano

    Maca: “I can’t remember ever hearing Russian (or Lativian, they all sound much the same).”

    They might be indistinguishable to you which is fair enough, but they certainly don’t sound the same. Latvian is a Baltic language not a slavic language so can’t be confused with Russian the way Ukrainian could. The only lingo that could be confused with Latvian is Lithuanian. Otherwise Latvian/Russian is about as samey as English/Spanish.

    Latvian is a good example of why Irish is up the creek, it lived in the shadow of a larger dominant language (Russian) and suffered official discrimination yet it’s alive and well (although still endangered) because the speakers cared enough about it to maintain it as a means of communication. Go to Riga or even more so to some of the smaller towns and you’ll hear it spoken every day as a means of communication. Irish survives only in ever shrinking enclaves.

    Moreover the Latvian government has taken strong and practical measures to ensure it’s survival including the requirement that all would be citizens must pass an exam in it and all government bodies deal exclusively in Latvian. The third of the population that are Russian speakers are simply ignored on an official level. That might seem ruthless but it has halted the pre-1991 decline.

    Irish just isn’t in a comparable position. The government pays lip service to it but is unwilling to take practical measures to save it. Civil servants must have passed exams in Irish but nothing is done to ensure that they actually speak it. Money is pumped into the Gaeltacht areas but they are unwilling to take longer term measures to make them economically viable to ensure that people don’t leave those because of lack of cash.

    “the only way it can survive is as a community language and if the governments provide support.”

    There I’d agree but the focus should be more on the former. Pumping money in… all fine and well but only as a way of kickstarting the language. Any language which is relying on the whims of a government to keep it alive is in a precarious position. It only takes a change of government to one apathetic to or hostile to the language and then it’s adios to irish.

    George: “As I said before, it all depends on what’s important to a state and its people. The Irish language is important to the Irish state and the Irish people. “

    If the language was as important as you claim then we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. People can tell any number of pollsters that they want the language to survive but unless they actually learn and use it then it’s doomed.

  • Valenciano

    Maca: “I can’t remember ever hearing Russian (or Lativian, they all sound much the same).”

    They might be indistinguishable to you which is fair enough, but they certainly don’t sound the same. Latvian is a Baltic language not a slavic language so can’t be confused with Russian in the way Ukrainian could. The only lingo that could be confused with Latvian is Lithuanian. Otherwise Latvian/Russian sound about as samey as English/Spanish.

    Latvian is a good example of why Irish is up the creek, it lived in the shadow of a larger dominant language (Russian) and suffered official discrimination yet it’s alive and well (although still endangered) because the speakers cared enough about it to maintain it as a means of communication. Go to Riga or even more so to some of the smaller towns and you’ll hear it spoken every day as a means of communication. Irish survives only in ever shrinking enclaves.

    Moreover the Latvian government has taken strong and practical measures to ensure it’s survival including the requirement that all would be citizens must pass an exam in it and all government bodies deal exclusively in Latvian. The third of the population that are Russian speakers are simply ignored on an official level. That might seem ruthless but it has halted the pre-1991 decline.

    Irish just isn’t in a comparable position. The government pays lip service to it but is unwilling to take practical measures to save it. Civil servants must have passed exams in Irish but nothing is done to ensure that they actually speak it. Money is pumped into the Gaeltacht areas but they are unwilling to take longer term measures to make them economically viable to ensure that people don’t leave those because of lack of cash.

    “the only way it can survive is as a community language and if the governments provide support.”

    There I’d agree but the focus should be more on the former. Any language which is relying on the whims of a government to keep it alive is in a precarious position. It only takes a change of government to one apathetic to or hostile to the language and then it’s adios to irish.

    George: “As I said before, it all depends on what’s important to a state and its people. The Irish language is important to the Irish state and the Irish people. “

    If the language was as important as you claim then we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. People can tell any number of pollsters that they want the language to survive but unless they actually learn and use it then it’s doomed.

  • J McConnell

    Mr Chromaill

    I will not recapitulate my postings on the recent Dingle thread.

    There is more than enough discussion there to illustrate and defend my opinions.

    http://www.sluggerotoole.com/archives/2005/06/european_status.php

  • J McConnell

    Mr Chromaill

    I will not recapitulate my postings on the recent Dingle thread.

    There is more than enough discussion there to illustrate and defend my opinions.

    http://www.sluggerotoole.com/archives/2005/06/european_status.php

  • Faoiseamh

    I am another person living abroad (in Holland) and I just read through this thread today, it is very interesting to hear some of the current opinions about the use of the Irish language.

    I have to say that I agree very much with the idea that lots of Irish people are ashamed to speak Irish in public. Last year I was in holiday in Donegal and I was just too ashamed to speak Irish in the shop. I got an A in the Leaving Cert (albeit in 1989) and still I can rarely bring myself to speak the language to other Irish people.

    My reasons for rarely speaking Irish are twofold. On the one hand, English speakers who can speak Irish are often very critical if you want to speak it and you get major resistance. If you get bitten enough times you don’t bother even trying any more. On the other hand, any native Irish speakers I came across were condescending about my Irish. I never met a native speaker who was willing to speak more slowly and explain words that I did not understand.

    The irony is that I love languages and every day I speak at least two languages other than English (Polish to my wife and Dutch at work) and I speak three other languages regularly and well.

    For me it is a source of shame that I now speak other languages much better than Irish. The main cause though is that I have never had one single Irish friend who wanted to speak it. I have just slipped further and further from the level that I had leaving school.

    However, I see a lot of hope now. It can’t be long before TG4 will be freely available as a digital channel anywhere in the world so I will be able to watch Irish television when I want. It is already possible to hear RnaG on the net but technology will surely soon bring that cheaply to a handheld device. Irish language books are available for purchase on the net. An Irish language group has started in The Hague that meets once a month.

    Maybe with all of these things I can revive my Irish and maybe even meet some people who actually want to use what is indeed a precious and beautiful language.

  • Faoiseamh

    I am another person living abroad (in Holland) and I just read through this thread today, it is very interesting to hear some of the current opinions about the use of the Irish language.

    I have to say that I agree very much with the idea that lots of Irish people are ashamed to speak Irish in public. Last year I was in holiday in Donegal and I was just too ashamed to speak Irish in the shop. I got an A in the Leaving Cert (albeit in 1989) and still I can rarely bring myself to speak the language to other Irish people.

    My reasons for rarely speaking Irish are twofold. On the one hand, English speakers who can speak Irish are often very critical if you want to speak it and you get major resistance. If you get bitten enough times you don’t bother even trying any more. On the other hand, any native Irish speakers I came across were condescending about my Irish. I never met a native speaker who was willing to speak more slowly and explain words that I did not understand.

    The irony is that I love languages and every day I speak at least two languages other than English (Polish to my wife and Dutch at work) and I speak three other languages regularly and well.

    For me it is a source of shame that I now speak other languages much better than Irish. The main cause though is that I have never had one single Irish friend who wanted to speak it. I have just slipped further and further from the level that I had leaving school.

    However, I see a lot of hope now. It can’t be long before TG4 will be freely available as a digital channel anywhere in the world so I will be able to watch Irish television when I want. It is already possible to hear RnaG on the net but technology will surely soon bring that cheaply to a handheld device. Irish language books are available for purchase on the net. An Irish language group has started in The Hague that meets once a month.

    Maybe with all of these things I can revive my Irish and maybe even meet some people who actually want to use what is indeed a precious and beautiful language.

  • Faoiseamh

    I am another person living abroad (in Holland) and I just read through this thread today, it is very interesting to hear some of the current opinions about the use of the Irish language.

    I have to say that I agree very much with the idea that lots of Irish people are ashamed to speak Irish in public. Last year I was in holiday in Donegal and I was just too ashamed to speak Irish in the shop. I got an A in the Leaving Cert (albeit in 1989) and still I can rarely bring myself to speak the language to other Irish people.

    My reasons for rarely speaking Irish are twofold. On the one hand, English speakers who can speak Irish are often very critical if you want to speak it and you get major resistance. If you get bitten enough times you don’t bother even trying any more. On the other hand, any native Irish speakers I came across were condescending about my Irish. I never met a native speaker who was willing to speak more slowly and explain words that I did not understand.

    The irony is that I love languages and every day I speak at least two languages other than English (Polish to my wife and Dutch at work) and I speak three other languages regularly and well.

    For me it is a source of shame that I now speak other languages much better than Irish. The main cause though is that I have never had one single Irish friend who wanted to speak it. I have just slipped further and further from the level that I had leaving school.

    However, I see a lot of hope now. It can’t be long before TG4 will be freely available as a digital channel anywhere in the world so I will be able to watch Irish television when I want. It is already possible to hear RnaG on the net but technology will surely soon bring that cheaply to a handheld device. Irish language books are available for purchase on the net. An Irish language group has started in The Hague that meets once a month.

    Maybe with all of these things I can revive my Irish and maybe even meet some people who actually want to use what is indeed a precious and beautiful language.

  • Faoiseamh

    I am another person living abroad (in Holland) and I just read through this thread today, it is very interesting to hear some of the current opinions about the use of the Irish language.

    I have to say that I agree very much with the idea that lots of Irish people are ashamed to speak Irish in public. Last year I was in holiday in Donegal and I was just too ashamed to speak Irish in the shop. I got an A in the Leaving Cert (albeit in 1989) and still I can rarely bring myself to speak the language to other Irish people.

    My reasons for rarely speaking Irish are twofold. On the one hand, English speakers who can speak Irish are often very critical if you want to speak it and you get major resistance. If you get bitten enough times you don’t bother even trying any more. On the other hand, any native Irish speakers I came across were condescending about my Irish. I never met a native speaker who was willing to speak more slowly and explain words that I did not understand.

    The irony is that I love languages and every day I speak at least two languages other than English (Polish to my wife and Dutch at work) and I speak three other languages regularly and well.

    For me it is a source of shame that I now speak other languages much better than Irish. The main cause though is that I have never had one single Irish friend who wanted to speak it. I have just slipped further and further from the level that I had leaving school.

    However, I see a lot of hope now. It can’t be long before TG4 will be freely available as a digital channel anywhere in the world so I will be able to watch Irish television when I want. It is already possible to hear RnaG on the net but technology will surely soon bring that cheaply to a handheld device. Irish language books are available for purchase on the net. An Irish language group has started in The Hague that meets once a month.

    Maybe with all of these things I can revive my Irish and maybe even meet some people who actually want to use what is indeed a precious and beautiful language.

  • Faoiseamh

    I am another person living abroad (in Holland) and I just read through this thread today, it is very interesting to hear some of the current opinions about the use of the Irish language.

    I have to say that I agree very much with the idea that lots of Irish people are ashamed to speak Irish in public. Last year I was in holiday in Donegal and I was just too ashamed to speak Irish in the shop. I got an A in the Leaving Cert (albeit in 1989) and still I can rarely bring myself to speak the language to other Irish people.

    My reasons for rarely speaking Irish are twofold. On the one hand, English speakers who can speak Irish are often very critical if you want to speak it and you get major resistance. If you get bitten enough times you don’t bother even trying any more. On the other hand, any native Irish speakers I came across were condescending about my Irish. I never met a native speaker who was willing to speak more slowly and explain words that I did not understand.

    The irony is that I love languages and every day I speak at least two languages other than English (Polish to my wife and Dutch at work) and I speak three other languages regularly and well.

    For me it is a source of shame that I now speak other languages much better than Irish. The main cause though is that I have never had one single Irish friend who wanted to speak it. I have just slipped further and further from the level that I had leaving school.

    However, I see a lot of hope now. It can’t be long before TG4 will be freely available as a digital channel anywhere in the world so I will be able to watch Irish television when I want. It is already possible to hear RnaG on the net but technology will surely soon bring that cheaply to a handheld device. Irish language books are available for purchase on the net. An Irish language group has started in The Hague that meets once a month.

    Maybe with all of these things I can revive my Irish and maybe even meet some people who actually want to use what is indeed a precious and beautiful language.

  • Faoiseamh

    I am another person living abroad (in Holland) and I just read through this thread today, it is very interesting to hear some of the current opinions about the use of the Irish language.

    I have to say that I agree very much with the idea that lots of Irish people are ashamed to speak Irish in public. Last year I was in holiday in Donegal and I was just too ashamed to speak Irish in the shop. I got an A in the Leaving Cert (albeit in 1989) and still I can rarely bring myself to speak the language to other Irish people.

    My reasons for rarely speaking Irish are twofold. On the one hand, English speakers who can speak Irish are often very critical if you want to speak it and you get major resistance. If you get bitten enough times you don’t bother even trying any more. On the other hand, any native Irish speakers I came across were condescending about my Irish. I never met a native speaker who was willing to speak more slowly and explain words that I did not understand.

    The irony is that I love languages and every day I speak at least two languages other than English (Polish to my wife and Dutch at work) and I speak three other languages regularly and well.

    For me it is a source of shame that I now speak other languages much better than Irish. The main cause though is that I have never had one single Irish friend who wanted to speak it. I have just slipped further and further from the level that I had leaving school.

    However, I see a lot of hope now. It can’t be long before TG4 will be freely available as a digital channel anywhere in the world so I will be able to watch Irish television when I want. It is already possible to hear RnaG on the net but technology will surely soon bring that cheaply to a handheld device. Irish language books are available for purchase on the net. An Irish language group has started in The Hague that meets once a month.

    Maybe with all of these things I can revive my Irish and maybe even meet some people who actually want to use what is indeed a precious and beautiful language.

  • oranje68

    I am another person living abroad (in Holland) and I just read through this thread today, it is very interesting to hear some of the current opinions about the use of the Irish language.

    I have to say that I agree very much with the idea that lots of Irish people are ashamed to speak Irish in public. Last year I was in holiday in Donegal and I was just too ashamed to speak Irish in the shop. I got an A in the Leaving Cert (albeit in 1989) and still I can rarely bring myself to speak the language to other Irish people.

    My reasons for rarely speaking Irish are twofold. On the one hand, English speakers who can speak Irish are often very critical if you want to speak it and you get major resistance. If you get bitten enough times you don’t bother even trying any more. On the other hand, any native Irish speakers I came across were condescending about my Irish. I never met a native speaker who was willing to speak more slowly and explain words that I did not understand.

    The irony is that I love languages and every day I speak at least two languages other than English (Polish to my wife and Dutch at work) and I speak three other languages regularly and well.

    For me it is a source of shame that I now speak other languages much better than Irish. The main cause though is that I have never had one single Irish friend who wanted to speak it. I have just slipped further and further from the level that I had leaving school.

    However, I see a lot of hope now. It can’t be long before TG4 will be freely available as a digital channel anywhere in the world so I will be able to watch Irish television when I want. It is already possible to hear RnaG on the net but technology will surely soon bring that cheaply to a handheld device. Irish language books are available for purchase on the net. An Irish language group has started in The Hague that meets once a month.

    Maybe with all of these things I can revive my Irish and maybe even meet some people who actually want to use what is indeed a precious and beautiful language.