Sensible suggestions for the Irish language

Eoin O’Murchu is the political editor of Radio na Gaeltachta, but he writes a weekly column in the Village magazine in a personal capacity. He is a staunch defender of the Irish language, but after last week’s contribution, I wonder if he’s missing the point.
He is taking issue with Henry Murdoch in the Irish Times who was demanding that the language requirement be dropped so that – wait for it – lawyers can be free to love the language and cherish it! What sickening hypocrisy. The language can only be cherished if provision for its use is guaranteed. The real challenge is not to drop the feeble language provisions currently in place, but to bring the legal profession into line with the constitution and make a reality of the language requirement and language use.

I guess I would disagree with that 100%. Don’t get me wrong, I have an enduring fondness for the Irish language, and from time to time still read poetry in Irish, listen to the news, and plan to go on a Gaeltacht holiday once more. It may be low level stuff, but the reality is that my first language is English. I transact business in it, travel with it, shop with it and use it functionally 100% of the time.

Perhaps the challenge with the Irish language will be to stop forcing it to be the first language of the only country where it is spoken. That does nothing for modernisation or competing in a global market. If on the other hand, it was cherished and promoted as a beloved second language, then maybe it would have a chance at survival. I went to an all Irish speaking school for a while as a child, and nothing repelled me as much as this false use of the language. It was only when it became an option for me, that I could start to enjoy and appreciate it for the delightful language that it is.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    So what do you do to promote the language, DB, or are you just a bar-stool Gaeilgeoir? Do you sit and snipe from the comfort of the tigh tabhairne at those who are doing their best to advance the language? Your ‘language gestapo’ comment is beneath contempt.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    hang on there a minute A Oilibheair. First of all i’m not a Gaeilgeoir. I’m an Irish Speaker. Two different things.

    Secondly, I work in Irish Language movements, for irish language media, and promote it in anyway i can.

    This language community has many good people in it, who promote it by sharing their love for it. To others, they think nothing of speaking Irish, or promoting it, because it is just their natural form of communication. The people i take exception to, my ‘language gestapo’, is the people who refuse to accept ANY criticism of the language, who insult people who speak ‘bad’ irish- like the woman who f*cked me out of it one day for daring to utter the words ”ice cream’ in a sentence i uttered- and who are turning people away from from it instead of towards it.

    Example. My mother is not a native speaker, but is fluent now after thiry years in the Gaeltacht. There is a gaeilgeoir in our town who corrects her anytime she says something grammatically incorrect. That might be ok in the classroom, but anyone who is making an effort to speak irish should be encouraged, not patronised.

    My point is that SOME in the language movement are adding to the weak state of the language by being too conservative and by dismissing any new ideas about the language, and by having a high handed approach.

    Anois, táim chun dul agus ice cream a ithe………;)

  • Donegal-John

    Have all irish speakers come to west donegal and then drop a nuke on them.

    This is the only sure way to get rid of these dead beats.

  • Gaelgannáire

    Ref : Donegal-John

    Like me understand the rules of this blogging thing.

    ‘Play the ball not the man’ but its ok to make sweeping statements about minorities and to suggest genocide as a sensible option for dealing with their pesky requests for equality?