‘It is not possible to secure the future of the Irish language without establishing new communi

‘It is not possible to secure the future of the Irish language without establishing new communities in which Irish is spoken as the primary language’.

This is the mission statement of BAILE, which was established to found ‘new Irish speaking communities.’

I maintain that it remains as true today as the day with formulated it. It is my personal conviction that no future is guaranteed for the Gaelic language in Ireland without settlements ‘in which Irish is spoken a the primary language in every aspect of life and in which Irish is the language of choice for the majority of people living in the area’. New Irish speaking communities, Gaeltachtaí if that is your preferred term.
One must caution of course, against putting all ones eggs into one basket. Frequently in minority language discourse one meets people who in my view over emphasis the importance of one particular strand in relation to others, sometimes to the obvious determent of others.

For example, some may overwhelmingly stress immersion education, children’s’ TV, linguistic rights, news media, marketing, continuing development of modern literature etc. etc. when it would seem clear to me at least that the correct balance of emphasis must maintained among different facets of action with a continuous focus on the big picture.

I believe in that balanced and multi-facetted approach, but it is true to say that I see little prospect of a positive future for the Irish language in Ireland without the establishment of new Irish speaking communities.

It is a simple truth that the Irish language is a minority and minoritised language in Ireland, one which is not universally welcomed beyond the ‘cúpla focail’ and even they can enrage a minority.

What is needed is geographical realities in which the community has the ability to ensure that Irish is the default language of the neighbourhood and its institutions, i.e. school(s), shop(s), club(s), pub(s), etc. Just like in the stronger Gaeltachts.

This is quite a heavy conviction, for I understand only too well how difficult it is the build such communities. The difficulties are numerous, there are financial constraints, there are personality clashes, there is the fear factor, the lack of vision, the political strains, and this is only at the first meeting.

To date, aside from a number of ‘clachan’ size clusters, only two new Irish speaking geographical communities have come about, the Shaw’s Road Gaeltacht and the Gaeltacht in Ráth Cairn, Co. Meath.

For years I have droned on this matter and others have certainly groaned as I pipe up again and again on this topic. Often people agree with me and then they come out with the following words … ‘yes, Foras na Gaeilge and the government [26 co.s] should do something about that’.

Everytime I hear those words now my heart sinks further, once they enraged me but as the years go by I mellow into sadness at them. They are the words of children.

Once we Gaeil were a warlike and fierce people, now we surrender our hopes to the Southern Government and Foras na Gaeilge, we stick a wretched hand out in their direction, and upon them we place all blame and responsibilty and thus divest ourselves of our own.

Thankfully, the young people who built the Shaw’s Road Gaeltacht were made of stronger stuff and sought permission from no-one and waited for no grant to fulfil their vision.

Let us be clear, neither Foras na Gaeilge nor the Irish government are going to back, recommend, permit nor fund any new Irish language community.

Irish spoken as a first community language, even by a small minority is the polar opposite of the Foras na Gaeilge vision for the Irish language, which is that Irish is spoken as a second ‘cultural’ language by a majority, leaving all serious matters to English.

We have in Pobal Feirste, or Gaeltacht Bhóthar Seoighe if one prefers, a wonderful example. A small multi-ethnic, multi-faith, indeed multi-lingual community which maintains after 40 years Irish as its default vernacular.

There are but thirty families, if even, but this community has had a huge impact on their surrounding environment and on the fortunes of the Irish language in Belfast and beyond.

It is from the Shaw’s Road that the Irish medium education system has sprouted and it remains the bedrock on which the Irish language is built in Belfast, steadier and stronger than those institutions based only on the dry sands of grants.

Bóthar Seoighe is not the ‘circled wagons’ of a final stand nor a desperate last minute fortification but a seed planted in rich soil.

It is often said mockingly to me, well, ‘moy hoo’, away ye go and build yer Gaeltack.’ I accept without question that I have never done so. I would dearly love to have even a small amount of the vision, courage and ability which those who built Pobal Feirste had, alas I doubt if I do.

However, my hope is great that there are young people out there with those qualities and above all with the business skills that we so badly need to make a success of such a venture. Who knows.

  • smcgiff

    “It is my personal conviction that no future is guaranteed for the Gaelic language in Ireland without settlements ‘in which Irish is spoken a the primary language in every aspect of life and in which Irish is the language of choice for the majority of people living in the area’.”

    In that case it was nice while it lasted

  • séamus mac seáin

    na díol thu féin faoi do luach a GGN. Nuair a scaiptear an síol ní bhíonn a fhios agat cá háit a dtuitfidh sé.Tá dream in Inbhir Nis in ngárbhchríocha na hAlban atá ag iarraidh “Gaeltacht nua” a thógáil ansin.Tá an rud atá siadsan ag iarraidh i bhfad níos uaillmhianaigh na an rud atá tusa ag moladh ach thiocfadh dó gurbé an rud is lú is tairbhe.Scaip an scéal agus mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sé.Go néirí leat.an de thaisme atá an focal “attack” mar eochair iontrála don phostáil seo?

  • sinless

    Samus: Cac asail. Nil suim ag na sao Stataigh cultur na hEireann a chur chun cinn. Ta Sean Og O hAilpin go liofa i nGaeilge, agus, mheasfainn, i dteanga Fiji chomh maith.

    Bhi suim agam nuair a duirt duine anseo go raibh Martin Sealadach McGuinness i gcuinna ar dteanga duchais. Iar Bhrit eile, dearfainn.

  • Ray

    “Once we Gaeil were a warlike and fierce people, now we surrender our hopes to the Southern Government and Foras na Gaeilge, we stick a wretched hand out in their direction, and upon them we place all blame and responsibilty and thus divest ourselves of our own.”

    So why did your Sinn Fein people stick a knife in the back of Gaeloiliuint?
    Gaeloiliuint was building everything you talk about and much more, and yet, you blew up Gaeloiliuint.
    And you do not have the courage, honesty, not integrity to admit to this dastardly deed.
    Of course, Gaeloiliuint did not feel the need to kiss the arses of the Sinn Fein leadership. It was cross community and that was death to the SF leadership.
    So much for democracy in NI or moving forward into the future.

  • GGN

    A Shéamuis,

    Silím gurb é an rud is tábhachtaí ná daoine a aimsiú a bheadh ábalta díriú ar an cheist 100%.

    Is é an fhadhb atá againn fá láthair ná go ndéanann na daoine ceanann ceánna beagnach gach rud ó thaobh obair deonach de.

    Tig daoine chuig pointe nuair a chaithfidh siad ‘fás aníos’ agus cupla phunt a shaothrú chomh maith.

    Ach táim dóchasach go leor.

    Ní fheicim aon chiall da laghad ar chór ar bith idir leis an ‘Cheathrú Gaeltachta’ gan títhíocht. níl mé ina choinne, díreach neodrach.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    GGN, bhí mé ar An Creagan oíche aréir nuair a sheol Padraig Ó Baoighill sár-leabhar nua dena chuid fá Phádaí Láidir Mac Culach, an chainteoir dúchasach deireannach ó Ghaeltacht Thír Eoghain. Bhí an t-ionad plódaithe le daoine, óg agus aosta, a raibh suim acu i canúint na Speiríní.Ní raibh ach an Ghaeilge ann ar feadh na hoíche agus ba mhór an ‘lift’ é – scata mar sin a bhí ann. Ach, bhí muid ag amharc siar mar is gnách.

  • GGN

    PH,

    Tús maith leath na hoibre. Táthar ann nach gcreideann ina leithead de rud – chan mise.

    Ta fiúntas ag imeachtaí oidhreachtúla iontu féin, dar ndóigh ach is riachtanach iad chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn chomh maith, chun an ceangail a chruthú eadar an duine aonair is agus eadar an pobal is an Ghaeilg – ríthábhachtacht faoin tuath ach go háirithe.

    Tá athchló a dhéanamh ar scéalta mhuintir luinigh, rud iontach dar liomsa.

    Ní féidir toiseacht leis an chaint reabhlóideach.

  • “Irish spoken as a first community language, even by a small minority is the polar opposite of the Foras na Gaeilge vision for the Irish language, which is that Irish is spoken as a second ‘cultural’ language by a majority, leaving all serious matters to English.”

    Perhaps this is a consequence of Irish being a first official language, rather than a recognised minority language. Lots of breadth but no depth.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’ll complete that sentence for you :

    “It is not possible to secure the future of the Irish language without establishing new communist worker’s movements to carry the banner of the proletariat and forge a new government of peasants and intellectuals. All power to the Soviets!”

  • Balthazar

    Will there be glass walls like in the zoo for people to come along and watch the inhabitants? Can we take photos are will they think we’re stealing their souls?

  • GGN

    Balthazar,

    Funny enough, this is one of the ‘issues’ that come up.

    However, in practice, both the Shaw’s Road and Rath Cairn are like anyother Gaeltacht area, there is nothing to see.

  • USA

    Balthazar,
    “Can we take photos are will they think we’re stealing their souls”

    Evidently you still struggle with English, yet you have the audacity to ridicule those who can speak two languages.
    Idiot.

  • Balthazar

    Well done USA! You picked up on my typo. I suspect that pedantry is the best one can expect from the likes of you.

    Dolt.

  • citybus

    What street(s) are part of this Shaws road Gaeltacht, and how do they stop non irish speakers moving in to the area?

  • Seimi

    ‘What street(s) are part of this Shaws road Gaeltacht, and how do they stop non irish speakers moving in to the area?’ – citybus

    There are three streets in the Gaeltacht – Shaws Road, Rosgoill Park (or Cois Cluana as the sign reads), and Cois Cluana Park (?) This last one consists of 6 new houses, which were built for the children of the original founders, meaning that there are now 3 generations living in the Gaeltacht.

    ‘and how do they stop non irish speakers moving in to the area?’

    The land on which the houses are built belongs to the people who live there. They bought it years ago. When a new family moves in, they become ‘directors’of the business set up to buy the land. The most basic requirement for any new family is that they use Irish on an everyday basis, and that they raise their children through the medium of Irish. This isn’t so much ‘stopping’ non-Irish speakers, as encouraging people who see the Irish language as their preffered language in which to converse in their family lives.

  • HGW XX/7

    It strikes me as wrong to set up reservations for any particular interest group. A ‘them and us’ situation can’t be healthy.

    If Irish can only be saved by literally ring-fencing speakers into their own paid-for ghettos and excluding those who do not speak the language then it is on life-support. Best perhaps to pull the plug.

  • Seimi

    The people who set up this community in the late 60s, did so so their children would grow up hearing the language being spoken all around them. There is nothing wrong with this. The fact that they bought the land themselves shows a tremendous amount of vision, in my opinion. There is nothing ‘them and us’ about it. And they didn’t exclude English speakers. They recognised, as we all do, that English is the majority language. They didn’t cut themselves off from it, they merely gave their children the opportunity to experience another language, and they should be congratulated for it.

  • Seimi

    By the way, nobody has suggested that the only way the language can be saved is by ‘literally ring-fencing speakers into their own paid-for ghettos’. Except you that is.

  • HGW XX/7

    Seimi Post 18

    Have you read GGN’s thread opening? It seems to me that this statement says pretty clearly that “it is not possible” to save Irish “without establishing communities in which Irish is spoken as the primary language”.

    If you disagree, fine, but consider a little more before challenging a response to that view.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    “Evidently you still struggle with English, yet you have the audacity to ridicule those who can speak two languages. Idiot.”

    Ha ha….Ceart!

  • Seimi

    “it is not possible” to save Irish “without establishing communities in which Irish is spoken as the primary language”

    is a very different statement to;

    ‘literally ring-fencing speakers into their own paid-for ghettos’

    don’t you think?