Protestants and the Irish language

Tonight sees the launch of a long awaited book, ‘Towards Inclusion: Protestants and the Irish Language’ by Lurgan man (agus fíorGhael!) Dr. Ian Malcolm. It will be launched in the Canada Room, Q.U.B, tonight at 6:00 pm. It is a book that I have longed looked forward to reading, I hope to review it on Slugger before too long.

Ian is well known (and very useful!) in the Irish language media as he represents the unionist view. The following is the product description from Amazon, I assume it is from the cover.

In Northern Ireland the Irish language has the power to enrage and enthral. For some, Irish is the expression of a cherished culture, but its close association with nationalism and republicanism means that Protestants and unionists rarely see it in a positive light. History reveals that this was not always the case. For centuries, Protestants engaged with Irish on their own terms, sometimes for academic reasons but often because it was their everyday language and an integral part of their lives. ‘Towards Inclusion’ considers these fascinating historical perspectives, as well as covering the role of the Irish language in Northern Ireland’s more recent past. But the main body of the book is based on Malcolm’s extensive and detailed research into the attitudes of young Protestants towards the Irish language, carried out through questionnaires and focus groups. Some of the students had attended a Gael-Linn language enrichment course, but the rest had little or no exposure to Irish. The results of this research are both striking and surprising, and will provoke fresh debate on the role of the Irish language in Northern Ireland today. In the twenty-first century can Irish become the intellectual property of all, regardless of political stance or religion?

I myself have taught Irish and related subjects in a number of Protestant schools and it was always an interesting an positive experience. I was alway concious however that all the kids were volunteers and that those with very negative views towards Irish were high;y unlikely ever to attend such a class.

The thing which interested all the kids in all schools was their own surnames and their meanings, they were often quite thrilled to learn what their names mean, though I must admitt that some English surnames had me quite stumped!

I hope to see yous at the launch so.

Freelance journalist, working mostly in Irish.

Have my own independent news website – antuairisceoir.com – which is in constant need of material.

I am the former editor of the newspaper Gaelscéal, www.gaelsceal.ie