Opening Doors

I blogged a line or two last year about the ‘Opening Doors’ program being run in Baile an Chaistil and in Íle.

Today’s Irish News reports that the ten week course is starting up again this new School year in both places. The course is designed for parents with little or no Gaelic and aims to encourage them to use the language in the home as far as possible, it is also hoped that this will give more people the confidence to embrace the benefits of a bilingual education.

The link between Ballycastle and Islay has been developing for a number of years now and this kind of work is a result of that combined effort. It has also reported that the use of Gaelic in Islay, the nearest Gaeltacht to Ballycastle has increased as a result of streams of confident Gaelic speakers visiting the Island.

What will be interesting is whether the linguistic bond between the two places will redevelope? Will the dialects spoken by the kids in the Gaelic medium school in Ballycastle and the Gaelic medium stream in Islay once again become fully mutually intelligeable, as they once were?

Groups of parents on the Hebridean Island of Islay and in the north Antrim town of Ballycastle for the second year running have just started the 10-week programme for parents who wish to raise their children with a knowledge of Gaelic language and culture. Programme author and developer Réamaí Mathers says that Gaelic Medium Schools are now commonplace throughout Ireland, in Scotland and on the Isle of Man. “While this sector seems to be in perpetual growth and academic results from the schools are impressive, large numbers of parents, who may otherwise be interested in giving their children access to Gaelic culture, still shy away because they hit the language barrier!” he says.

“The language barrier we are talking about is that parents who don’t have Gaelic sometimes feel that they may have a diminished role and they may not be-able to fully interact with their newly bilingual son or daughter.

“We all know that parents have a massively important role and are the first and most important teachers of their children. You could say that what our parents give us acts as our reference point for the rest of our lives. The educational support role for non-Gaelic speaking parents is as important in Gaelic-Medium Schools as in any other school. For example, a love of books and reading in English will allow the child to also flourish in Gaelic, after-all literacy skills are transferable across languages.”

The Opening Doors Programme deals with the importance of place and heritage in education, it invites parents to become part in an experiential learning process with their children. The ‘Opening Doors Programme’ recognises the fact that most parents do not speak Gaelic and instead of focusing only on just on language deals with the parental role as an educator, friend and mentor in their child’s journey towards bilingualism. By providing the parent with information on Gaelic culture and language, stories, discussion topics and a few basic words, the programme sets the scene for Mums and Dads to really become fellow travellers on the child’s road to becoming a well educated and active speaker of Gaelic and English.

It is in this way that the perceived language barrier can be transformed to a pathway to a deeper, more interactive and enjoyable relationship between parent and child…Something we as parents all aspire to.

The course began last night at Gaelscoil an Chaistil’s Family Centre, Ballycastle. and if you are interested in the course, you can get more information by phoning 028 2076 8883 and those in Islay will be starting back the following week at Ionad Chaluim Chille, Íle, Isle of Islay 01496 810818.

  • Dewi

    Good news for Islay school.
    Nice comments underneath the Scotsman article.

  • Coll Ciotach

    I think I will attend as I am especially interested in the East Ulster dialect and if they are teaching gaelic with an input of the Ilé dialect then I will be most chuffed.

    Glad to see the connection between the glens, and by extesion Ireland, and the isles re-emerging.

  • Ulster Gael

    Nice to see Ulster’s native tongue being used to the fore.
    Seeing the link up with Scotland is fantastic, almost like what the Gaels of Dalriada did.

  • OC

    “Will the dialects spoken by the kids in the Gaelic medium school in Ballycastle and the Gaelic medium stream in Islay once again become fully mutually intelligeable, as they once were?”

    According to Big Maggie, this would make these two separate languages.

  • GGN

    A Choill Chiotaigh,

    I am not sure about the your own level but it is based on Irish for parents with little Irish.

    That said, I find that often even pretty good speakers dont have the small talk involved with children if they were not reared with the language themselves.

    I was not educated in Irish and I remember very well the first few days teaching in a Gaelscoil! traumatic.

    The CD with accompaines the course has Ulster Irish (Gort a’ Choirce) and Islay Gaelic.

    Click on my name for some basic dialect stuff from the area – much more to on up.

  • Imeall Tra has been established to develop the links between language and dialect in Donegal, the Glens and Western Scotland which some of you may find interesting…
    I think there was a bit of a problem with funding but not sure what the current situation is with it.

  • Anna

    should have added the web address…

    http://208.106.223.16/Default.aspx

  • picador

    So when is the boat trip?

  • Tam

    Are the Scots aware of the divisive sectarian background that attaches to Gaelic on the Irish side of the channel or has that been glossed over by the Glensmen?

  • Ulster Native

    Are the Scots aware of the divisive sectarian background that attaches to English on the Irish side of the channel or has that been glossed over by the Glensmen?

    Are the South Koreans aware of the divisive sectarian background that attaches to Korean on the north side of the Korean border or has that been glossed over by the north Koreans?

  • fin

    can a language be sectarian?

    If a Protestant/unionist refuses to recognise or immerse themselves in the Gaelic language because it is spoken by Catholics/nationalists, than the Protestant/unionist is sectarian not the language or its speakers.

  • GGN

    Tam,

    I have never come across any Scottish Gael who was in the least preturbed about the senistivites of some overhere to the Gaelic language.

    In fact, I only thing I ever heard was expressions of pity for those who have Gaelic without thought.

  • Píobaire

    Nice to see the interest in the Programme. It is truelly great to see people working together. Some of the comments on sectarianism are sad though.
    You could say, are people aware the the sectarian comments that are made through English everyday?…..I mean please people start to think for yourselves and don’t go down the road of reducing people to steriotypes.. The Opening Doors course is all about challenging negative mindsets and thinking about diversity as a plus.

  • It sounds like a great idea for the parents to at least understand some of the language that their children are using at school. However, I can’t imagine that that it is a good idea for them to start actually speaking Gaelic to their children. The normal rule if you are bringing up your children multilingually is to speak to your children only in your mother tongue or in a language you speak fluently.
    Although I speak Irish well enough (enough to get an A in the Leaving way back when) I would never consider speaking to my children in Irish besides a few words now and then. Personally I hope that some of these graduates of Gaelscoileanna go on to speak Irish to their children because (theoretically) they should speak it fluently enough. Very few people who go to English medium schools speak Irish well enough to use it in the contexts needed to support the parent-child relationship. The only way to learn to speak a language properly is to have regular exposure to native and near native speakers.
    I hope that the Gaelscoileanna and university level Irish medium will keep growing to a point where the concept of Gaeltacht disappears and the status of Irish in Ireland at least comes near that of Swedish in Finland where you can live a life through Swedish from cradle to grave though you must of course be able to speak the majority (Finnish) language.

  • GGN

    “The normal rule”

    There is a rule?

    I have never seen any research that indicated that children were in anyway linguistically harmed as the result of another language being spoken in the home.

    There is no suggestion that non fluent parents would speak Irish exclusively, rather a degree of bilingualism is promoted.

    In my experience teaching in Gaelscoileanna the kids whose parents speak even a little Irish, even if it is a mere twenty phrases have much better Irish and much more confidence than those from exclusively English speaking homes.

    Even a handful of simple phrases can break the cycle of Irish being exclusively connected with school, the true Gaelscoil is about the community, the parents, not just the children.

    Back in the day it was a considered a rule that the parents were required to learn Irish for their kids to get into a Gaelscoil in the North.

    Encouraging people to use what Irish they have is vital in the normalisation of the language.

    Look at the Israeli example …

    http://www.litriocht.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=3234

    In many ways the Irish language is stronger in the South than in the North, but in one huge respect the language is stonger in the North – In the South only a third of fluent speakers use the language daily, in the north approx. twice as many people actually use Irish daily than can speak the language fluently.

    A vital part of that is parents using what Irish they have. A child whose parent cannot speak Irish fluently, yet regualar uses around 20+ phrases in the home is not a native speaker, but they do have some Irish from the cradle, the effects of that can be heard in any Gaelscoil.

    The ideology which dictated that even fluent Irish speakers should speak English to their children is moribund in Ulster, and it is an ideological stance, and the organisations which promoted it have withered, they have done their job, it is time to build on that.

  • Píobaire

    Obviously if you do not have Gaelic you cannot speak it to your child!…no rocket science here. but…. you have a central role in valuing and demonstrating that you value their experience at a gaelscoil.. There are lots of practical simple and easy ways this can be achieved…many people have achieved this. Their children grow, not only as Gaelic speakers, but speakers who have gone on in many cases to raise their own children as first language Gaelic speakers who are fully bilingual in Gaelic and English..
    You can achieve almost everything with a little thought, nurture and a positive mindset..

  • GGN,
    Woah, slow down there. You might read my first sentence. I did say that I thought it was a good idea for them to understand it just not to start trying to use it as a regular language of communication. You might not have read research indicating that using a language you are weak in affects children negatively but I have. I cannot give you a list of the literature I have read but I can point you to a post of mine on multilingualism which references several papers describing the experience of children in multilingual environments (http://faoiseamh.blogspot.com/2008/12/fourth-language.html).
    In my home I speak English, my wife speaks Polish and the children go to Dutch school and speak it as their main language. Many misinformed teachers in Holland tell foreign parents to speak to their kids in Dutch and the result is that the children speak Dutch with a foreign accent. I speak fluent Dutch and use it all day every day but I do not speak it to my kids in any case as I do not want them picking up my accent. My Polish wife is the exact same. We all speak all three languages but the One Parent One Language rule is that the parents speak their mother tongue and that is by far the best way to bring up multilingual children.
    If I had kids in a Gaelscoil (not possible since I live in Holland) I would still not speak to them in English for this reason. Of course I would encourage them to speak to me in Irish and expose them to Irish language media.
    The Israeli example is good in some ways but invalid in others. For a start they revived a dead language, Irish has never died. For that reason the fact that Yiddish speakers were speaking Hebrew made no difference. There was nothing to measure against whereas one of the curses of the Irish situation is the fact that people are obsessed with Gaeltacht dialects and these are the benchmark. Hebrew was not competing against English either, the rise of Hebrew actually almost killed off Yiddish. You win some, you lose some.
    You don’t need to tell me about people not speaking to their kids in Irish. It is the tragedy of my family’s history that my forefathers were so linguistically narrow-minded that they gave up their native language. It was not my choice to be an English speaker and to have to learn Irish as a second language. However, I did learn Irish as a second language and I hope that my kids might want to learn it in the future. Since they will have at least five other languages after going through school in Holland it should not be that difficult. Let’s face it Irish is not particularly difficult. It is harder than Spanish but probably easier than Polish and definitely much easier than Japanese. The challenge is to get those who speak fluent Irish to bring up their children speaking Irish and form larger urban Irish speaking communities

  • JimR

    As a Unionist, may I say that such cooperation here between the Glens and Scottish Isles, along with teaching and promoting an East Ulster dialect is a much more positive way to promote the Gaelic language in Northern Ireland. Nationalists take note – no need for the political agendas.

  • Coll Ciotach

    JimR – gald to hear that, however would your view be typical of the Unionist view? Anyway GGN I bought the book on the dialect as I am interested.

  • GGN

    Coll Ciotach,

    You may be interested in the small collection of Glens folklore published by Pobal an Chaistil. Should be available from the school.

    I intend to put more mainland stuff on my Rathlin blog in the future, call in in a month or two.

    I thought ye Fianna Fáil men were really munster dialect whores??!!!

  • Pan Gaelic

    JimR

    “As a Unionist, may I say that such cooperation here between the Glens and Scottish Isles, along with teaching and promoting an East Ulster dialect is a much more positive way to promote the Gaelic language in Northern Ireland. Nationalists take note – no need for the political agendas.”

    But you’ve just kinda turned a language agenda back into a political agenda – and made it about what unionists like.

    Co-operation between Gaelic speakers of a Munster, or a Connaught dialect and a Hebridean dialect should be viewed just as postively from a language point of view (if not from a unionist political point of view).

    I’d like to see Scottish Gaelic broadcasts on TG4.

  • Pandee

    Holy Gadzooks Taxpayer Man get your chequebook out of your utility belt I see another public spending priority on the horizon!

    Why look so dismayed Taxpayer Man? Damn the sick and the homeless the weins must be able to speak like the ould wans and besides everyone needs a hobby; by the way can you bung me a few quid I’d like to bin the car and buy a geegee and live like it’s 1709.

    It’s vital I tell you, vital………..

  • Pan Gaelic

    Pandee

    “Holy Gadzooks…can you bung me a few quid I’d like to bin the car and buy a geegee and live like it’s 1709”

    FYI, there are many people who speak langauges other than English who drive motor cars nowadays.

  • Niall

    Aidan, GGN,

    Thank you for the fascinating exchange about language acquisition, child development and family, even if it’s not where you started from.
    Like you, Aidan, though perhaps to a lesser extent I dipped into the literature on language acquisition and child development a bit when my daughter was born before starting to try to speak Irish exclusively to. My impression was that for bilingual (or multi?) language acquisition the most important thing is consistency. In the dual language family it works for each parent to speak their preferred language consistently; but I believe other consistent language strategies can also work — e.g. you could speak Polish on odd days, English on Even, and Esperanto on the Sabbath, and if you were consistent your child(ren) would have great Polish and English and wonder why you turned a bit strange on Sundays and fumbled in a third lingua franca.

    Personally I’ve had a fantastic time acquiring the vocabulary of childhood raising an Irish-English bilingual toddler in the US. She always wants Irish books or insists on translations from English at night; and while she already mostly speaks English to me she understands Irish completely and continues to surprise and delight me by generating new Irish phrases and even jokes.
    I don’t wish to be harsh, but I am inclined to doubt that your speaking Dutch to your children would taint their development; rather speaking English to them, I would suggest, is both a cultural and instrumental choice. Irish English and Anglophone culture are, I suggest, an important part of your identity and heritage AND being fluent in English from a young age will probably help your kids to excel academically in the Netherlands or elsewhere (and not just in languages).

    Turning to the parents of Baile an Chaistil/Ballycastle the choice to send ones kids to any school is intensely personal and may have many motivations. You could choose a Gaelscoil for academic excellence, to give your children access to a wider universe than you had, for nationalist motives, and/or for a sense of place/roots/history. I don’t think those of us who are already multilingual (and to some extent multicultural) or those of us who are comfortably ensconced in a monolingual quarter of the dominant culture have any business second-guessing or gainsaying the choice of Anglophone parents in East Ulster (or anywhere) choosing to send their kids to a Gaelscoil. That said if the kids are learning all kinds of new things through Irish and the parent(s) has/have no Irish then that is potentially an intensely lonely position for a parent and will cause her/him to miss out on huge aspects of their child’s development. It could also have all kinds of detrimental impact for the kids creating psychic splits between home and school and between book/academics and the real world etc.
    In a context like that giving parents a real cupla focal, or as Nordies like to say “giota beag” is a real gift — and I don’t mean the old “a chairde Gael” symbolic nationalist bullshit, but everyday language like “Cen t-am e?” or “An bhfuil tu reidh chun dul ar scoil?,” etc.
    Teaching parents some Irish, or better yet helping them to learn on their own will allow them to engage actively in their children’s education and really enjoy the adventures of bilingualism. If kids and parents are both learning Irish together their learning processes will be interactive and a mutually enriching process. And the kids being more fluent in Irish than their parents can invert the conventional family hierarchy giving the children a sense of accomplishment and power and the parents a sense of patience and humility.

    As a side-note, I don’t think we know exactly why the academic results from Irish medium secondaries in the South are among the best in that State. It could be teacher commitment, learned adaptability, or filtering in bright kids who can succeed in a second language. But my own pet theory is that parental involvement in struggling to establish and maintain Gaelscoileanna has involved parents tremendously in their kids’ education and development.

    Opening Doors is a fantastic initiative and if a trip to a Scottish “Gaeltacht” broadens horizons, deepens roots (real or imagined), and encourages parents’ engagement in their kids schooling that’s wonderful.

  • Niall,
    I think that it is great that you speak Irish well enough to bring up your child through it. If more people made that choice then the number of Irish speakers would grow particularly outside the Gaeltacht. What was your background in Irish as a matter of interest?
    I never said that One Parent One Language was the only strategy merely that it was the most successful. In the context of this discussion the important thing about it is that children only hear languages spoken by people at native level. If I had Irish at (near) native level I would have spoken Irish to the children since Dutch children learn to speak good English anyway and we have many bilingual schools in the Dutch system.
    Anyway, my point is not that other languages than the target languages should not ever be spoken, only that it is dangerous to use a language that you are not very fluent in with your children. Semilingualism is as real linguistic phenomenon but even at the more general level exposing your children to non-native speakers causes them to pick up all kinds of linguistic quirks.
    To be honest everything I am writing is in line with what I have read. My own children are growing up as trilinguals and I speak several languages including Irish myself. It is no mystery, native speaker exposure is the key to fluency in any language. Luckily Irish children can now go to Gaelscoil, watch TG4, listen to Radio na Life and read Nos magazine. When I was younger your level of Irish deteriorated after school because RnaG and the Nuacht were the only Irish media available and they were not exactly sexy.

  • Alan – Newtownards

    I agree with with JimR.. keep the politics out of it. I happen to like the gaelic language and if it was depoliticised no one would have a problem with. If this was to happen the language would be welcome in mainstream unionist circles. Of that I would have no doubt. Unfortunately I don’t believe republicans actually want that.
    I would love my children to have some understanding of the language along with other languages as I believe it will broaden their horizions. It’s probably to late for me to learn it but who knows.

    As someone who spends most summers in the highlands is there much of a difference between both languages and would I be better trying to learn Scots gaelic.

  • Niall

    Re. Alan-Newtownards

    I also agree with Jim R that it would be nice to take the politics out of the language question. Irish speakers who are Protestants and Unionists like Ian Malcolm, a columnist in the Irish News, and Maolchoilm (Malcolm) Scott the (former?) Irish language officer for Newry and Mourne district council are personal heroes. Irish is part of the shared cultural heritage and available cultural resource for anybody from Northern Ireland for anyone who wants to choose it.
    But in practice I imagine it would be impossible to depoliticize the language question in NI. Endangered languages benefit immensely from states’ support (even while marginalized in other ways) and Irish speakers are always going to want and seek more public resources. I imagine that for many Irish (Gaelic) speakers in the North, learning and speaking Irish is a way of being Irish (and perhaps more Irish than those down south). This in itself is a perfectly legitimate reason for wanting to speak Irish (we should be free to choose and make our own personal versions of national identity). But I imagine that if nationalist Irish speakers want to attract and genuinely welcome Unionists learning or speaking Irish, it would behoove them to become a lot more pluralist, i.e. if speaking Irish makes a Northern Nationalist more Irish and rooted in Ireland, it would be nice if s/he could accept that speaking Irish could make an Unionist feel and be more rooted in Ulster. But it gets very messy because (nationalist) Irish speakers, not illegitimately, demand recognition and support for their language choice, as public official recognition of their Irishness and that politically NI is a binational place.

    I imagine many Irish speaking nationalists hear calls from even well-meaning or interested unionists to depoliticize the language as a demand that they forswear any demands for public recognition of their Irish-ness. It is a pity that they respond in kind, as you’ll often see on Slugger, by trying to impose their own personal form of Irish-ness onto anyone interested in the language.

    All that said, I think that deep down most “real” Gaeilgeoiri care more about the pleasures of speaking, transmitting, and promoting their chosen language than they do about states and nations. Thus if you ever did make your way to an Irish or Gaelic class I wouldn’t be surprised if you were never exposed to any nationalist baggage; and I doubt very much that anyone would try to convert you politically. For what it’s worth I think the Irish spoken in Belfast and the Gaelic spoken in Scotland are still close enough to be mutually intelligible with a bit of practice and effort. I imagine there are a lot more resources for you in Newtownards learning Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic, so I’d really encourage you to give the former a go. I’d hazard that mixing with your neighbors would be good for them and good for you. And Irish (Gaelic) will give you a great foundation for some Scottish Gaelic in the Highlands.

    That reminds me another heroic Irish speaker from a Protestant Unionist background (turned Baha’i) is Seosamh Watson, whom I believe co-founded Oideas Gael in Donegal in part to be able to bring groups of Ulster Protestants to the Gaeltacht and open that heritage to them without imposing a nationality in the process: http://www.oideasgael.ie/

  • Niall

    Aidan, please email if you’d like to take this conversation, which is getting quite personal, off-blog.

    From here and your own beautiful blog, http://faoiseamh.blogspot.com/2009/09/language-is-my-religion.html, I’ve gathered that you spent your summers in Irish college, debated through Irish and got an “A” “on the leaving”. I really don’t think that if you had chosen to put time and energy into learning and speaking Irish with your children that you would have harmed them. The fact that they were otherwise occupied with English and Polish and Dutch and you with Japanese (and other languages) mightn’t have left any time for Irish but that’s life. As Nietzsche said, “To Choose is to Forgo”

    I think we need to be very wary of exaggerating the dangers of “semilingualism.” Like you I’m an emigre who loves learning languages; while I imagine my Irish is too limited to ever be hired by Raidio na Gaeltachta, I want my daughter to love languages too and to have as much of the language my grandparents loved learning as I can give her and as she is willing to embrace. I refuse to believe that I’m harming her by speaking my second language to her. I’d rather believe that I’m enriching her language acquisition facilities so that she can choose her own languages in the future. I fancy that your youthful exposure to Irish is what enabled you to multiply your spoken languages in your twenties. Language acquisition is it seems multiplicative, not additive.

    You and I have the privilege as members of the transnational middle class of being somewhat fluent in a variety of languages and highly literate in English. Yes, kids in Ballycastle as elsewhere will speak an inter-language, sometimes called Gaelscoilis. But I’m naive enough to believe that their struggles being semilingual in Irish will strengthen their fluency and literacy in English and strengthen their capacity to learn other languages. Also some (perhaps many) but not all of them will go onto be fluent in Irish. If their monoglot parents are adventurous enough to send them to a Gaelscoil and to struggle to learn some Irish, they will be distinguish better between English and Irish and be able to support their children making that distinction.

    If we get tied up with fear of not being good enough to speak Irish we’re letting the teachers and Gaeilgeoiri who used the language as a weapon to flaunt their power and authority win.

    Sorry if this is an overly combative response to your nice post at 25 above.

  • ersehole

    Alan-Newtownards…

    “I happen to like the gaelic language and if it was depoliticised no one would have a problem with. If this was to happen the language would be welcome in mainstream unionist circles. Of that I would have no doubt. Unfortunately I don’t believe republicans actually want that.”

    Why give a damn what republicans want? Gaelic has a word for republican – poblachtánach. It also has a word for unionist – aontachtaí. It favours neither.

    No republican or nationalist can disinherit you from your gaelic culture or heritage.

  • Niall,
    To be honest you have taken what I have written a bit too personally. If the Irish language is ever to regrow then some English speakers indeed need to make the same brave decision you have made.
    Be that as it may. From a linguistic point of view I would not be able to bring up my children speaking only Irish because I lack the fluency and the wealth of idiomatic expressions needed to do this. Of course I could have given them a form of Irish but it would certainly have been a pidgin type version. Of course I have chosen to give them native level English. Living where I do it is a good choice and all parents need to make their own choices. After all, my great grandparents made the choice to abandon their mother tongue and bring about the situation where I don’t have Irish as my mother tongue.

  • GGN

    Aidan,

    The thing is, no-one is proposing that people with limited Irish speak only Irish with their kids, clearly that is not a good idea.

    However, I fail to see what harm a non fluent parent saying ‘codladh samh’, go raibh maith agat’ etc. is going to harm either the children’s Irish or English.

    English is so strong that there is no escape, even children in strong Gaeltachts reared exclusively with Irish pick up English.

    As for Irish, better some Irish than none at all in my view, better Gaelscoilis than nothing, better pidgin Irish than monolingualism – it cannot do the Irish language any harm.

    This is simply a difference of opinion, it is nothing person, the language and family life are discisions for families and are no one else’s business.

    That said, in Ulster for fifty years the dominate ultra-conservative middle class Irish language movement worked with the mantra ‘now is not the time’.

    They complained about the Irish others spoke with their children yet left their own children utterly ignorant of the language, they did not support Gaelscoileanna for petty dialect reasons etc etc. Perhaps I have seen some of that thinking in your post and simple reacted – apologies, I understand your views are based on sound research.

    Thankfully, a new working class based movement replaced the old in the North, released from the old prejudices it is this movement which is building Gaeltachts, building Gaelscoileanna, and to a significant degree, speaking Irish to their children.

  • Aodh

    A lot of positive things have been said about learning Irish on this thread and especially for me personally the welcoming note about some of the Irish-speaking community’s openness towards unionists.

    That being said I’m still not fully convinced, if for no other reason than that the language supporters are some of the same posters who expound pro Nationalist/Republican sentiments on other threads.

    I also wonder why the genuine concerns unionists have with the partisan political profile that has attached to the Irish language in Northern Ireland are avoided or simply dismissed as unionist bigotry.

    However I’ll suspend my disbelief and as Oideas Gael is attractive I’ll try a short course there and see for myself.

  • Alan – Newtownards

    Niall

    I appreciate your comments and your sincerity in defending the Irish gaelic. I believe that most speakers of the language speak it for no reason other than it is part of their heritage. These are the people that I would love to meet up with and possibly learn the language. The big problem for me personally, is the people who have turned it into a cultural weapon. You know the people I mean. But saying that I do believe that unionist politicians should be a lot more gracious when speaking about the language.

    I am going to try and see beyond the poeple on both sides who have poisioned the language and give it a go. If you have any advice on how to go about it I would be grateful. Dia Duit

  • Alan – Newtownards

    Niall

    I appreciate your comments and your sincerity in defending the Irish gaelic. I believe that most speakers of the language speak it for no reason other than it is part of their heritage. These are the people that I would love to meet up with and possibly learn the language. The big problem for me personally, is the people who have turned it into a cultural weapon. You know the people I mean. But saying that I do believe that unionist politicians should be a lot more gracious when speaking about the language.

    I am going to try and see beyond the poeple on both sides who have poisioned the language and give it a go. If you have any advice on how to go about it I would be grateful. Dia Duit

  • Cheshire Exile

    As a non-Gaelic speaking Scot, I think this cultural link is fantastic.

    It is resurrecting the centuries old cultural link as was in the time of the old Lordship of the Isles.

    Gaelic is very much part of Scotland’s heritage and our Dalriadic (as well Pictish and Norse) roots, should be celebrated. Gaelic is the last bastion of this ancient cultural heritage.

    If links with Ireland have a role to play, keep it up.

    Politics has no place in it.