Spoken Irish in ‘freefall’?

The Irish Independent has disturbing findings on the state of the Irish language in the Republic. The report was compiled back in 2002, before the latest curriculum reforms, by the now defunct Linguistics Institute of Ireland (ITE)., but has not been previously released. It notes for instance that the “percentage of pupils attaining mastery of ‘general comprehension of speech’ in Gaeltacht schools has dropped from 96.3pc in 1985 to 73.3pc in 2002”.It’s not noted in the article, but the rise of Gaelscoilleanna where standards remain high may have been a contributing factor to the fall of standards elsewhere, as more able (and more motivated) students are drawn away from general system. But perhaps the biggest concern is that the twenty per cent drop applies to schools within the Gaeltacht areas as much as to those outside.

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  • pid

    So now we know what we’ve long suspected.

    I’m happy though. Ireland is a modern, driven country, capable of implementing change.

    The problem has been identified. It will be quantified and dealt with; and measured again, as business culture spreads into all aspects of life.

    A widespread grá for Gaeilge is an undercurrent in Irish life; the language’s worst days may be behind it.

  • I wouldn’t read too much into it just yet. Gaeilscoileanna have been booming here over the last few years. And even Irish teaching abroad is really growing, especially in the states. Give it 5-10 years and then re-examine where Irish is.

  • Keith M

    I don’t think this is anything to worry about. Irish Gaelic will never be anything apart from a minority interest in this country. It doesn’t matter that the majority of students are not proficient, it is far more important for the longterm survival of the language, that those that are interested in its preservation have a proficiency.

    With the growing number of immigrants, it’s only a matter of time until the compulsory Irish Gaelic is gone, and that will further help, as it will mean that those that have no interest in the language will not have the hostility from it being forced upon them.

  • isn’t Polish the second language in Ireland these days ?

  • “isn’t Polish the second language in Ireland these days ?”

    No, very few Irish people speak Polish. generally only Poles or their kids.

  • Hugh MacDiarmuid, the Scottosh poet, wrote a good poem about hearing Scots Gaelic in Glasgow. It is a shame of sorts that the Celtic Tiger is htrowing a lot of things overboard, one of which is Gaelic culture and all that is replacing it is materialism, the PDs and Sinn Fein TDs.

  • Keith M

    Taigs, the decline in Irish Gaelic has nothing to do with the “Celtic Tiger”, far from it. The biggest proporional decrease happened in the 1930-1960 period when former Irish governments were trying to force the language down people’s throats by forcing them to learn other subjects through Irish and using an arcain script, generally turning a large proportion of the populace against the language. We still have vestiges of that police today (see the parallel thread on teachers), but I’m sure that in time common sense will prevail.

    If anything the “Celtic Tiger” has helped the language because it has allowed bigger investment in the Gaelteacht areas and people outside those areas now have the funds to put resources into Irish Gaelic schools.

    Another correction, you have got cause and effect the wrong way round for the PDs and the “Celtic Tiger”.

  • Fearn

    Níor chuala mé preab na teangan agus í ag bauileadh na talún fós. Aon seans ann go bhfuil sí ag eitilt lei seachas bheith ag titim?