Her Majesty’s challenge for the opponents of Irish

A Uachtaráin agus a chairde.

There were many significant elements to the speech given by Queen Elizabeth II in Dublin Castle yesterday and these five words were certainly among them. Not because of their meaning, but because of the language in which they were delivered.

For centuries it was the policy of the British establishment to rid the Irish people of their Gaelic tongue and, for most of the population, they succeeded in their goal.

It is slightly ironic therefore that a British monarch would address the Irish people in the native language of the island but the gesture should not go unrecognised. Indeed it opens up an opportunity for many people, especially here in the north, to reaccess their perceptions of Irish Gaelic and of the language movement in general.

Unionist hostility to Irish is an issue that still needs to be addressed – it was only in February that a Belfast City Councillor was jeered and shouted down for using the language in the Council Chamber, hardly the sign of a progressive and inclusive society. Everybody of course has the right to their opinion but debate should be based on fact and on the reality of Irish Gaelic in 2011, not on outdated prejudiced perceptions.

So if Queen Elizabeth II can show respect for the Irish language and its community, will certain Unionists now be able to do the same?

  • iluvni

    I’d say those who have abused the Irish language most have been Irish Republicans.

  • The Raven

    You mean, of course, “some unionist hostility to Irish”…

  • Metacom

    Aontaim leis.

  • Aontachtach

    I think the Queen has been outstanding this week and the fact that she spoke in Irish (abeit a few words) has pleased this Irish language loving Unionist. Maybe now that our Queen has made the effort, Unionist politicians will catch themselves on regarding the language. I also hope that Republicans will realise that they turned the language into a political football by the use of the language ( both written and spoken) at Provo funerals and on Provo murals. These actions were always going to cause a backlash against the language. Sad but true.

    Táimid dóchasaach go bhfuil muid tagtha ar an pointe ag casadh agus tá go leor Aontachtach beidh an sampla a leanúint Riona. Dia na Banriona!

  • ranger1640

    The Unionist community don’t have an issue with the Irish language Per sa. The issue for Unionists is that republicans politics it, Go raimh maith agat.

  • joeCanuck

    I remember an anecdote from quite a few years ago about Brian Faulkener. At a public meeting some smart alec tried to unsettle him by asking a question in Irish. Faulkener answered in perfect Irish. He had learnt it while being educated at Trinity, I believe.

  • If HM attends a State visit to France and addresses some of her remarks in French, must HMG fund government access through French?

    Strawman I know…

  • vanhelsing

    I’m with ranger on this. I have no problem with Gaelic in principal it’s when it’s made a political football I will object.
    Example, that fine Education Minister we once had spent over £100,000 translating documents into Irish. Same minister sent back documents, in English which had, for example ‘The Police Service of Northern Ireland’ to be changed to ‘The Police Service of the North of Ireland’, the Youth Council of Northern Ireland’ became the ‘Youth Council of the North of Ireland’ then multiple exponentially. You can then see why Unionists who look at Ruine as the key promoter of Gaelic get their backs up.

    If the Shinners played in down I personally don’t think many Unionists would play it up and it would also stop this silly Gaelic / Ulster Scots competition 🙂

  • Alf

    “For centuries it was the policy of the British establishment to rid the Irish people of their Gaelic tongue and, for most of the population, they succeeded in their goal.”

    In fact all through the centuries when the British opposed the Irish language it continued to thrive. In the nineteenth century when they were no longer actively trying to suppress it the language died out. Not because of any British ‘oppression’, but because the Irish people themselves came to see it as an embarrassment. The language of backward yokels. In their desire to progress in life they actively discouraged their children from speaking it.

    That may not fit in with the nationalist narrative, but it is what happened. The revival in interest in the language was pioneered by well meaning Presbyterians.

  • Zig70

    Mahatma Gandhi said “A nation is dumb without it’s national language.” I don’t necessarily agree.
    The political football is an objection to all things republican. While Irish is not republican, it is because republican’s use it that it is objectional? Playing it down it not a way to treat or save a threatened language. A second language of whatever tongue is a good thing for developing kids intellect. It shouldn’t be any more objectional to me speaking French.

  • cavanman

    “The language of backward yokels”
    What kind of rancid sneering leads to that opinion?!
    Breathtaking condescension for a language used across the island to varying degrees with no trace of embarassment. Not everything is filtered through a Northern lens…

  • Alf

    “The language of backward yokels”
    What kind of rancid sneering leads to that opinion?!
    Breathtaking condescension for a language used across the island to varying degrees with no trace of embarassment. Not everything is filtered through a Northern lens…”

    Cavanman,

    Take it up with Feargal Keane. He is the one who pointed out that Irish people north and south viewed the language as such in the nineteenth century. They saw it as a barrier to progressing in life and that is why they actively discouraged its use.

    It was northern Presbyterians who kept it going.

  • ranger1640

    The Unionist community don’t have an issue with the Irish language Per sa. The issue for Unionists is that republicans politicised it, Go raimh maith agat.

  • joeCanuck

    “The language of backward yokels”

    Yes, Cavanman,
    That remark says a lot about Alf. I have listened to locals on the west coast using Irish as the daily language of commerce and presumably in their homes. I lost my (fairly limited) ability through years of disuse and I regret it.

  • Kadfoomsa

    “It was northern Presbyterians who kept it going.”

    That silly remark comes up every time anyone mentions Irish, I wonder what ejit came up with it first – that is not to say that people dont believe it.

  • cavanman

    My own great-grandparents encouraged the use of English but never to the detriment of the Irish language.
    I really think people need to have a bit more cop for the deserved respect given to a culture that permeates every single county of this island.

    Her Majesty has it within her grasp to be that gracious towards it

  • Gael Eoghain

    True reconciliation can only come from the respect shown for all traditions and their respective culture.
    It is indisputable that republicans (anti monarchists) took much greater exception to the prohibition of the Irish language than those who espoused or pledged loyalty to the English monarchy and who wished to be faithful, loyal subjects.
    Historically Irish republicans have been much more rebellious and antipathetic towards the writ of law whether it applied to the use of the native ‘tongue’ or any other dimunition of Irish identity.
    The legacy of official prohibition of the use of Irish language in the North after 1922 accentuated the division of attitudes towards Irish between those loyal to the 6 county state and those who aspired to the reunification of Ireland.
    Over the years I have encountered many otherwise progressive Unionists who can not countenance any tolerance or recognition of the Irish language.
    When invited to explain, they invariably revert to the argument that ‘it’s a dead language’ Small wonder.
    To this day, many Unionist leaders can’t bring themselves to write an Irish word let alone pronounce it, even in the grammatical context of using a proper noun.
    Only today, Tom Elliott paid tribute to the late Garret Fitzgerald, ‘former Irish Primeminister’ The deceased was former Taoiseach, never the Primeminister. For decades newspapers of a Unionist editorial perspective have continued to refer to An Garda Siochana as The Civic Guards which title has never existed.
    Is it any wonder that it fell to the non-Unionist community, with a few notable exceptions, to keep the language in use?
    Many will hope that the new dispensation for the Irish language and signal of its recognition by Queen Elizabeth II will now make it easier for her loyal subjects to support its rightful re-integration into the official fabric of society under the aegis of the Stormont administration.
    The Irish language is a valuable linguistic and literary inheritance which belongs to everyone on this island regardless of political affiliation.
    I earnestly hope that enough men and women of the Unionist family will soon recognise the damaged but beneficial inheritance which they can embrace and ensure is passed to their political successors and future generations.

  • Alf

    “Yes, Cavanman,
    That remark says a lot about Alf. I have listened to locals on the west coast using Irish as the daily language of commerce and presumably in their homes. I lost my (fairly limited) ability through years of disuse and I regret it.”

    Joe,

    Perhaps if you took the time to read what Alf actually said you might be able to work out that it was not Alf who felt that way. The Irish people themselves in the nineteenth century came to view the Irish language as being used by backward yokels. That is why they stopped using it and actively stopped their children from using it.

    The death of the Irish language had nothing to do with British oppression. The Irish dumped it themselves.

  • joeCanuck

    Alf,

    I have re-read the relevant paragraph and it is not clear that it wasn’t your personal opinion.
    If you are now saying that such was not your personal opinion, then I apologise for miscontruing it.

  • SK

    “What kind of rancid sneering leads to that opinion?!”

    You get used to it.

    It’s fair to say that Republican groups have probably done more harm than good when it comes to the Irish language over the years. That said, I don’t think the Shinner tendency to sneak ‘cupla focal’ in the Assembly chamber now and again is enough to justify the almost neurotic opposition espoused by even the most “moderate” of unionists. Hopefully the Queen’s overture will go some way towards remedying that.

    Incidentally, Gerry should get the name of whoever Liz went to for lessons.

  • Alf

    Joe,

    Your apology is accepted.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    The Queen’s speech was an exercise in speaking for a long time and saying feck all – except perhaps in sending 2 not very discrete messages – firstly to the Plain People of Ireland reminding them that she is a victim herself and to those Irish who oppose the Irish language – telling them to get a grip on their Union Jack Knickers.

  • Alanbrooke

    Gael Eoghain

    perhaps you should look a little at the history of Irish. It survives in no small part due to the Protestant community writing down the grammar and vocabulary and beginning gaelic studies in the 19th Century; this at a time when Daniel O’Connell was describing it as a language of the past.

    Despite your comments many Northern unionists have no problem with Irish; the UK quite happily gives equal status to Welsh and Scots gaelic. Most of the hostility to Gaelic has come about through the use of the language as a political weapon. The Irish language is as much the cultural heritage of Unionists as it is Nationalists.

  • cavanman

    Alf….Dumped is a strange term for a language heavily in daily use in the Western regions as well as inclusion in everyday phrases throughout all other regions..

    Look up at the date on the calendar and realise that attitudes can change for the better as well

  • Alf

    I don’t know anyone who opposes the Irish language. They simply don’t like having it forced upon them by republicans who have publicly stated that they view every word as a bullet fired at the union.

    Back in the day Orange banners were inscribed in Irish. You can thank the Sinners for putting the damper on that sort of inclusivity.

  • Alf

    “Alf….Dumped is a strange term for a language heavily in daily use in the Western regions as well as inclusion in everyday phrases throughout all other regions..”

    Cavanman,

    It’s alive and well then? Right so. 🙂

  • Dixie Elliott

    As James Connolly said:

    “Yes, ruling by fooling, is a great British art – with great Irish fools to practice on.”

    And we could add Gaeilgeoirí to that now it seems?

    “Speak a few words of the Irish to them your majesty and you’ll have them eating out of your hands.”

    “a uck-tar-on ug-us a car-ja…”

    “Thats right!”

    “Whats it mean?”

    “It means we get to impose more cuts up North while the
    fools think you’ve become more Irish than the Irish themselves.”

  • SK

    “I don’t know anyone who opposes the Irish language”

    Both unionist parties- not to mention the ‘benign cultural group’ that is the Orange Order- have been unequivocal in their opposition to Irish. The TUV regard it as a ‘leprechaun language’. Aer Lingus have to refrain from using it during in-flight announcements on all Belfast routes.

    Opposing Irish because Gerry Adams uses it is absurd; such an attitude is akin to me opposing English simply because Johnny Adair tries to speak it.

  • joeCanuck

    You might have a going thing there, Dixie. Phonetic Irish translator for some of the SF team. Maybe even for a few unionists who decide to follow the Queen.

  • jonno99

    “The death of the Irish language had nothing to do with British oppression. The Irish dumped it themselves”

    In my opinion you’re at best being disingenuous with the facts. The lingua franca for Ireland after The Famine was English. You needed to speak the lingo in America, Australia and England. English became the language of economic power and therefore many Irish encouraged their children to learn it, often losing the Irish Gaelic in the process.

    “The Great Famine of 1845-47 is reputed to have rung the death knell for the Irish language, not just in Co. Monaghan, but throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. The Gaeltacht areas of the western seaboard were the worst affected in this respect, as the greatest exodus of victims of that terrible period came from those Irish speaking districts”.

    http://www.irishidentity.com/extras/heritage/stories/language.htm

    But I agree the Gaelic language in Ireland shlould not be a politicised vehicle for the exclusive use of one community.

  • Rory Carr

    “The issue for Unionists,” says Ranger 1640, ” is that republicans politicised it…”.Indeed he is so convinced that this is the case that he said it twice. But there really is no need to so stress the issue, republicans are happy to accept that they did indeed politicise the issue and why ever not? It was a political matter and needed addressing and no one else was taking it up.

    Even Aontacht, who describes himself as “an Irish language loving Unionist”, complainsof “the use of the language ( both written and spoken) at Provo funerals and on Provo murals. “. Why? Are Irish republicans to be denied the use of their native tongue? Should they have reverted to Hungarian instead? The very idea that any and all expressions of Gaelic culture ought to be suppressed because offence might be taken by reactionary unionists rather misses the point?

    “These actions were always going to cause a backlash against the language. Sad but true.” avers Aontacht. Again we must ask why? And why was there not a similar backlash against the English language every time the Provos issued a statement in that language (which was much, much more often than they ever issued any in Irish) ?

    In any case, now that HM Queen Elizabeth, to whom unionists profess (as they never tire of telling us) undying obeisance, has so publicly embraced the Irish language at a forum where the import of its usage could not be mistaken surely all loyal unionists will now follow Her Majesty’s lead. She plainly has not been deterred by the fact that Provos “politicised” the language or that they used it at gravesides or on the headstones and monuments to their dead. But then I suspect that Her Majesty is made of sterner stuff than our correspondents, Ranger 1640 and Aontacht and that she does not fear being thought a Nazi when using English because of the BNP’s politicisation of that language, or indeed a Roman Catholic whenever called upon to employ Latin.

    Time to grow up and drop the lame excuses, lads.

  • latcheeco

    Does political football mean that Irish would be acceptable to unionists if Sinn

  • Alanbrooke

    SK

    welcome to Ireland – we do absurd better than anyone else, so don’t go pulling out examples or you’ll get swamped with stupidities island wide.

    Your issue on Irish has a parallel in flying the English flag in mainland UK.Because it has become associated with a nationalist sect, in this case the BNP and EDL it has become a political statement.

    Until it has become uncoupled from those using it as a poltical badge it will stuggle to claim its role.

  • latcheeco

    Oops!
    Does political football mean Irish would be acceptable to unionists if Sinn Fein weren’t interested in it. Strange thing to expect from the main Irish nationalist party in the North. The logic then is that it would be fine in principle except its promotion one of themmuns’ aspirations.

  • cavanman

    “Cavanman,

    It’s alive and well then? Right so. ”

    In the West where i live, it is in rude health, smiley face or none. I suggest taking a step outside of the Northern Irish sphere to see how this petty glueing of Sinn Fin to the Irish tongue falls apart in Ireland. It’s bigger than Gerry thank god.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t mind Irish but it doesn’t help that it has been hijacked by militant republicanism. It’s not right that something should come to be defined by the way that people use them, but that’s the way it is sadly, just like Burberry, Subarus and Fred Perry designer label stuff. You don’t see the SDLP littering all their stuff with Irish, neither do you see the main political parties in Ireland doing it.

    One thing that really, and I mean really fucking winds me up are the people who deliver a speech in English but top and tail it with a few cliches such as “a chairde” or “slan” or whatever. That’s not speaking or respecting the Irish language – that’s a person who does not know how to speak Irish littering their speech/writing with tribal markers. People who actually speak Irish fluently, and relatively frequently, do so with confidence that means they don’t need to mix it in with their English.

    So when you get a bunch of people, mostly militant, who hijack a language in this way, turn it into a tribal marker and then try to use it to piss all over the unionists, is it really that surprising you end up with a kneejerk response ?

  • SK

    “Until it has become uncoupled from those using it as a poltical badge it will stuggle to claim its role.”

    Alanbrooke,

    Is blanket opposition to Irish really a proportionate response to Sinn Fein’s adoption of the language? I don’t doubt that linguistic hijacking sticks in the unionist craw- justifiably so- but the resulting zero-tolerance approach to gaeilge just seems very, well, intolerant.

    Events like yesterday demonstrate that the Irish language is more than just a Sinn Fein hobby-horse.

  • latcheeco

    Comrade,
    ” Top and tail it with a few cliches” Isn’t that what the Queen did? But your not wrong. It’s especially funny at GAA matches when everybody knows the captain is stretching his cupla focal to the limit.

    In the North it became a symbol of defiance for a people robbed of almost everything else. Pity about those offended

  • Driftwood

    The Queen speaks another dead parrot language (Manx) when she has to visit the Isle of Man (very) occasionaly.

    http://www.gov.im/isleofman/tynwaldday.xml

    No-one has a clue or gives a toss.
    The Dail would be conducted totally in the ‘national language’ if they were serious about it but they’re not.
    I’d like to hear Neil Lennon attempt to speak it. But then I’d like him to attempt English first, walk before running etc.

  • Gael Eoghain

    Alan Brooke

    I do not dispute in any way the veracity of what you say.

    I appreciate the valiant and invaluable efforts of Northern Presbyterians in the renaissance of the Irish language in the 19th century, ably assisted and encouraged by Belfast merchants few of whom were Catholic.
    I was merely trying to explain the unfortunate reasons why the Irish language is now wrongly perceived by many Unionists as being the preserve of only Nationalists.
    It is heartening to kniow that not all those from a Unionist background perceive it as such.
    A sean fhocal (proverb in Irish) says of the language: Labhair i agus tiocfaidh si (speak it and it will come)
    1970 there were 90,000 speakers of Welsh in Wales. Legislation to protect the rights of Welsh speakers was introduced. Today there are in excess of 2,000,000 speakers of Welsh.
    The right of noone was demeaned to afford protection to the rights of others. In the process a valuable inheritance was saved and the life of each citizen of Wales is enhanced.
    It is to be hoped that our political leaders can follow the example of our cousins from Cymru and that we may ALL share in the fruits of their success.

  • Comrade Stalin

    ” Top and tail it with a few cliches” Isn’t that what the Queen did?

    Actually, in all seriousness, isn’t it fairly normal in these sorts of state visits for the visitor to say a couple of words in whatever the native tongue is ? Usually a greeting, or good health, or whatever.

    That’s not the same as the type who sprinkle the few words they learned from the pages of An Phoblacht to try and make it sound like they’re more Irish than everyone else.

  • latcheeco

    And in the interest of parity of esteem it should be noted that the number of times she’s been about the place pinning medals on the UDR we’ve yet to hear her speaking Ulster-Scots.

    I have never heard of anybody who picked their Irish up from an phoblacht, but a brave few improved theirs directly and indirectly through Her Majesty’s gracious hospitality outside Lisburn.

    But, at a basic level, if somebody is using it as a weapon isn’t the best way to counteract that to embrace it and show you don’t care.

  • joeCanuck

    I love confusing my north American friends by throwing out great Ulster-Scots words and expressions. I don’t think it is a language, however. But we should cherish it and support it.

  • Kevin Barry

    Another Irish language thread, and it’s already near 50.

    The usual ‘militant republicans stole the language’ argument for hating it is so weak, along with ‘it’s been politicised’. Really? Who’d have thought that would happen after the hostility shown to it over the years.

    Essentially, expressions of Irish are seemingly unpopular amongst unionists, no great shock there.

    Comrade, I am very surprised by your rantings above. You’re usually a fairly level headed and fair minded person but thinking that mostly militant republicans speak it, or am I reading too much into when you said ‘when you get a bunch of people, mostly militant, who hijack a language’ is a bit simplistic to say the least.

    If so, I apologise in advance, otherwise, sprinkling your posts referring to Irish being ‘littered’ in the pamphlets of political parties kind of gives away your thoughts on Irish and it’s use in general if I must say so.

  • antamadan

    As an Irish speaker myself (An tAmadán means The Fool) , I don’t objectt all to the ‘cúpla focal’ or ‘top and tail’ Irish in English-content orations at all; especially where the audience consists of predominantly english-only speakers, but contain some people with Irish.

    Surely it’s of limited intrusion for non-Irish speakers, and yet much-appreciated for Irish-speakers to hear some Irish outside of the Gaeltacht?

    On another note, I find Gerry Adams’spoken Irish quite good (I know he throws in the odd English word) and the much-blogged idea that his Irish is crap is crazy. I certainly had no problem understanding his live interviews on Radio na Gaeltachta, Do I have to say that Bríd Rodgers’ Irish is more beautiful(true) to avoid aggresive comments etc.??? Ceard a cheapfá Mick? (What do you think Mick Fealty)

  • USA

    Sinn Feiners and other republicans are as entitled to use the language as much as anyone else.
    I would argue that it is in fact unionist hostility that is as much, if not more to blame for politicizing the language issue in the North.
    In fact statements from Sammy Wilson about it being a “leprechaun language” is racist bigotry, pure and simple.
    I firmly believe SF will deliver an Irish language act in this session of the assembly.

  • Nunoftheabove

    A lot of unionists play a really dumb game with Irish. They seem to believe that Irish is yet another vehicle for greening the north and that that will serve to accelerate separation from the UK whereas the oppositie is probably true; if nationalists feel more at home in the north and enjoy full and free expression of their culture and all of its forms in a genuinely plural fashion in a tolerant state they’ll more probably feel much less inclined about pushing for unity.

  • Alanbrooke

    Gael Eoghain

    the Welsh model is an interesting parallel. While cavanman speaks of Irish flourishing, it sort of is and it isn’t. The true native speakers ( ie those who use it daily as their first language ) have been in decline for the last hundred years and still are.

    Where there has been a success is in the number of people who can speak Irish as a second language. Ultimately this pool of people is where the language will survive and in some places lives comfortably.

    How that relates then to NI is ultimately for the people there to decide. However northern hardheadedness usually means that the harder something is pressed the more resistance it gets, so the SF approach I think is ultimately self defeating.

  • Comrade Stalin

    latch:

    And in the interest of parity of esteem it should be noted that the number of times she’s been about the place pinning medals on the UDR we’ve yet to hear her speaking Ulster-Scots.

    Indeed, although in that example she’s not on a state visit to another country (legally speaking).

    But, at a basic level, if somebody is using it as a weapon isn’t the best way to counteract that to embrace it and show you don’t care.

    I would agree. And you could take it a step further and argue that unionists could take away most of the arguments by embracing their own Irish identity. Then the intertwining of culture and politics would change, in interesting ways; militant republicanism would then no longer be able to try to claim exclusive ownership on Irish culture in NI, as it does at the moment.

    Kevin:

    Comrade, I am very surprised by your rantings above. You’re usually a fairly level headed and fair minded person but thinking that mostly militant republicans speak it,

    I never said that, I do not believe that at all.

    or am I reading too much into when you said ‘when you get a bunch of people, mostly militant, who hijack a language’ is a bit simplistic to say the least.

    I’m referring to the efforts of SF, and others of that ilk, and their zeal in taking up the baton to spread the language. I don’t see the same zeal in other parties.

    If so, I apologise in advance, otherwise, sprinkling your posts referring to Irish being ‘littered’ in the pamphlets of political parties kind of gives away your thoughts on Irish and it’s use in general if I must say so.

    You seem to be confusing my posts with someone else. I don’t recall saying anything about pamphlets of political parties.

    I have seldom encountered fluent Irish speakers inserting random bits of Irish in their English. Certainly here on Slugger, if someone wants to speak to the other Irish speakers, as Mick used to do more often, you get the full discourse in Irish. I find nothing objectionable in any of that, because it’s not an attempt to be patronizing or get into political football stuff. A different matter is the geezer posting as “Ardoyne Republican” who says “mo chara” at the start of every contribution before going on to explain why police officers are being murdered.

  • JR

    Our problem here is lack of cultural mingleing at an early age. I was out a number of years ago with some friends, all Protestants and mildly Unionist. One of them noticed when my Girlfriend at the time (now wife) sent me a text in Irish, as she always did. The conversation then turned to the Irish language.

    They thought they had had no contact with anything in the Irish language except gerry adams on TV. They also thought that no-one actually spoke it. I pointed out that the place where they all lived has an Irish name, still phonetiaclly identical if spelt differanlty to its Irish equivalent.

    When I started to get involved in Irish Language organisations in my area it astounded me how many people there are in my area (South Down, South Armagh) who have a very high standard of spoken Irish. Many of whom I had known before but did not know they had Irish. What really gets my blood boiling is the asumption that if somthing is in Irish no-one understands it.

    By the way VHS £100,000 is less than £3 each from the taxes of eash of the 30,000+ people who speak Irish to some degree according to the census. As one of them I am happy to pay that ammount. I have had to get over the fact that some of my taxes go to orange bonfires, you have to get over the fact that some of your taxes go to the Irish language.

  • JR

    Driftwood,
    I think your random Niel Lennon slur is in very poor tase.

  • Aontachtach

    Rory

    I for one hope that many Unionists will embrace the language now that our Queen has made the effort. I started started to take an interest in it just after the Good Friday Ageement was signed. In fact I had never crossed the Border before 1998 and now you can’t keep me away from the Republic. Mind you I don’t want to live in the State but I am very happy to holiday in it. I believe times are changing and (hopefully) Unionists will not be put off by the (in my eyes) the shinners in your face support of the language.

    I had also hoped that Nelson McCausland could have reached out to the genuine language speakers when in charge of the Culture department but alas he couldn’t see past the end of his (ulster scotch) nose.

    My comments in the earlier post of which you made little off are unfortunately how many Unionists felt during the troubles. Hopefully the “war” that was fought here is over and now people can start to embrace things which they would have found alien to them 15 plus years ago

  • Mick Fealty

    @AntA

    I fhirinne, mar tarlaíonn sé, caitheann muid ar gcomharsana (níos mhinice na nach gcaitheann), iadsan nach bhfuil aon focail amháin acu, le dímheas maidir leis an teanga. Dar liomsa, seo é an cead fadhb ata roinne ar dtús..

    http://translate.google.com/

  • So many things of importance to Irish Independence have been appropriated by supporters of the IRA and their various branches that I should not be irritated at having to refer to those supporters as republicans, but I am and increasingly so. Irish republicanism does not belong to the IRA or SF. SF have spent the past few days behaving in the same backward fashion they have for decades, leaving others to do the work and build the bridges that they then walk all over.

    Now here they are making a dogs dinner of the language issue again. Is it to win real recognition of the Irish language in the north, or is it the certain knowledge that it will wind some unionists up to the point of refusal and retaliation. The Irish language is neither a political tool or toy.

  • JR

    A Aontachtaí,
    Tá sé go mhaith go ndearna tú earraíocht Gaeilge a scríobh. An ndearna tú ranganna nó an raibh Google a úsáid?

  • Kevin Barry

    Comrade

    ‘You seem to be confusing my posts with someone else. I don’t recall saying anything about pamphlets of political parties.’

    ‘You don’t see the SDLP littering all their stuff with Irish, neither do you see the main political parties in Ireland doing it.’

    Amongst ‘stuff’ I have construed pamphlets, but that was but an example.

    ‘or am I reading too much into when you said ‘when you get a bunch of people, mostly militant, who hijack a language’ is a bit simplistic to say the least.

    I’m referring to the efforts of SF, and others of that ilk, and their zeal in taking up the baton to spread the language. I don’t see the same zeal in other parties.’

    Has it ever crossed your mind that SF in their pursuit of rights for Irish speakers don’t want to ‘ use it to piss all over the unionists’ but instead are more concerned about the language itself? How does one piss all over unionists by speaking Irish? Tbh I think this shows more your opinion on the use of Irish in general rather than SF’s championing of it.

    ‘A different matter is the geezer posting as “Ardoyne Republican” who says “mo chara” at the start of every contribution before going on to explain why police officers are being murdered.’

    Agreed, but this is not the same as someone who starts of a speech at a wedding referring to those in the room as ‘a chairde’; again, I would say that this shows your prejudices against the language itself. Essentially, you’re asking for someone to speak either entirely in Irish or nothing at all as you believe the person who is using it is being patronizing (how?) or wants to make some kind of ‘tribal marker’.

    I’m hoping this isn’t the case with the rest of the AP otherwise the mask has well and truly slipped

  • pippakin, perhaps some of our local squabblers could take a leaf out of Scotland’s book where the Gaelic and Scots proponents support one another. Unfortunately, the linguistic issues here have got caught on the horns of the constitutional dilemma. Place-name research in Scotland is also much more broadly based and relaxed.

  • Kevin Barry

    But CS is not far wrong, many ‘republicans’ use the Irish language as a way of stressing their ‘republicanism’. It is irritating. The Irish language has serious problems in the south where its taught from age five, those problems are not because of lack of education but from lack of interest and that lack of interest is because the language has been so heavily politicised.

    I have found that many people, having neglected Irish for most of their lives, return to it in their forties with real enthusiasm. Its almost as though only when we are mature and firm in our own values can we ignore the politics of others and enjoy our language for its own sake.

    My mother spoke Irish but I have forgotten most of it and am now trying, very slowly and painfully, to learn. If only they could ‘lose’ the Fada!

  • Kevin Barry

    Pip

    While I was at school (not too long ago) most of my Irish class learned Irish for the love of it, because they felt it was a part of their ‘make up’ shall we say and because we had an excellent teacher who always, always got great grades in the subject.

    Essentially, the argument being used is that since republicans use Irish (imagine that) therefore we don’t like it and some go so far as to try and stop its development at all costs.

    Well, that’s great, except that argument is so truly pathetic it sickens me. It’s a ‘themmums like it so we hate it’ argument and you’re merely condoning it.

    You and I have sparred on this subject before but what I will say is that the problem is with unionism and those who dislike republicans using this as some battering ram or something to get one over on the Shinners; keep it up, people like myself who would consider himself a moderate, floating nationalist voter and someone who values the Irish language find this truly infuriating and because of this I give my 1st pref. vote to SF as they seem to be the only ones willing to get this sorted.

    I ask one question, and I will apologise in advance for it will be awhile before I will be able to reply to any answers, but if SF were to drop their use or championing of the Irish language do you honestly think all of those who have shown their hatred or dislike for it would all of a sudden be ok with it being spoken and used?

    My answer is no, but I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s thoughts on this

  • vanhelsing

    @kevin barry “but if SF were to drop their use or championing of the Irish language do you honestly think all of those who have shown their hatred or dislike for it would all of a sudden be ok with it being spoken and used?”

    As a through and through Unionist without going into the detail of what you mean by “with it being spoken and used” I would say it would be much more acceptable. If my Queen, HM, uses it – hell I might even learn a bit myself. But when the Shinners ram it down our throats and use it in ridiculous circumstances I’ll fight it’s expansion tooth and nail – BUT ONLY for that reason. For those slow learners on this thread the problem for Unionists is not the bloody language – it’s the politicisation of it that’s the problem!!!

  • between the bridges

    Personally I have no problem with the Irish language, my wee ma will occasionally recite a few lines, the problem is that in many ways it has been hijacked by political elements and this has made it somewhat unattractive to most PUL. I cannot see a time when the number of gealic speaking unionist’s reaches the heady heights of 3% of the nationalist community that speak garlic fluently..but I live in hope…

    Ni mor a admhail, Nil Gaeilge maith agam, Beagan agus a ra go maith. Uladh go Brach!!

  • Kevin Barry

    I have to say that your experience appears to be different to many here. FG said, before the election, that they would investigate the teaching of Irish I hope they do.

    In answer to your question. I think if SF would leave the language ‘alone’ it would go a long way to de-politicising it. Its unlikely that real change will happen quickly but since most of the people on this island are proud and fond of the language I think a more speedy growth, if politics is removed, is assured. I don’t know if you saw it but one of the pre election debates was conducted in Irish. It was the best debate of the series. Its one thing to hear CR gargling her way through one she learned earlier. Its quite another to follow a flowing easily spoken conversation. The Irish language needs more such conversations and less gargling!

  • Henry94

    Cllr Michael Brown, Sinn Fein Mayor of Cashel shook hands with the Queen this morning.

  • JR

    Vanhelsing,
    As a matter of interest When has Irish ever been “shoved down your throat”?

    I personally don’t buy any of this politicisation of the language nonsence. I heard Gerry adams on the Nolan show during the week saying he bakes apple sponge for the SF cooking club in the asembly once a week. By your logic apple sponge is now off the menue for every right thinking unionist. Did you know that they also served tea at every Provo wake? I bet that put you off a good cupa.

    Idir na ndroichead, An rud is annamh is iontach!

  • RG Cuan

    UPDATE: It seems that Elizabeth II’s speech has already had an impact on a certain Unionist politician – DUP First Minister Peter Robinson speaks Irish

    Regarding the points raised above about Sinn Féin’s ‘ownership’ of the language, each and every Gaelic speaker finds such claims absurd. In a way this perception is very much promoted by the English language media as Sinn Féin are invariably the only organisation they approach for comment on Irish language issues.

    If the general public, especially unionists, got an insight into the everyday life of the Irish speaking community (school events, music gigs, Gaelic media etc.) and didn’t have to rely on politicians for their contact with the language, I guess perceptions of ‘ownership’ would change.

  • vanhelsing

    JR,

    We would differ on that one then. I would not seek to claim to understand the logic or machinations of Republicans at every step. I cannot empathise with their desires but as long as they are democratic I respect their rights and aspirations. I am telling you how Unionists feel. I find C Ruines pedantic use of Gaelic and SFs need to push it at every opportunity ridiculous. I do not presume you will understand that but that is how it seems and feels from a moderate Unionist. You’ll have to sway people like me first 🙂

  • JR

    RG Cuan,
    Did he also uses the phrase “Tús maith leath na hoibre”, a while ago.

  • RG Cuan

    JR

    Rinne mé dearmad go ndearna sé tagairt don fhrása sin maith go leor. Tá an chuma ar an scéal go bhfuil suim áirithe aige sa teanga mar sin, ábhar iontais gan amhras!

    http://translate.google.com/

  • nightrider

    ‘Faugh a Ballagh’ seems quite a popular phrase in some areas going by the flags.

  • JR

    vanhelsing,

    I suppose if I had only encounterd Irish through Catroina ruanne I would probably feel the same way you do. Try watching some of the TG4 news ladies and weather girls instead. They might leave you a bit more positively disposed to the language 😉

    Just so you know there are many within the Nationalist community who are quite anti Irish Language too. While many unionists see Irish speakers as provos many nationalists see them as show offs. As I was bluntly told recently “anyone I ever knew who could speak Irish was a dick head”.

  • vanhelsing

    What channel is tg4 and I might check out the weather girls – just for research purposes of course. Thanks also for the heads up regarding anti language within the Nationalist community – never realised that – some of my students try to teach me bits and pieces – they’re probably swear words though 🙂

  • JR

    TG4, rte’s irish language station, one up from TV3. It was criticized a year or so ago for its hiring policy. Hiring mainly female 20 something’s, preferably with a modeling background.

  • JR

    Vanhelsing

    Also – on the swear words, that the best part of the language, there are no “curse words” there are just endless ammounts of curse phrases. A small selection of the hundreds,

    Loscadh agus scóladh chugat! -may you scorch and burn
    Fuil is liú ort! – may you bleed and yell,
    Go n-ithe an tochas thú! – may an itch consume you.
    Má ithis, nar chacair! – If you eat may you never shit,
    Titian lofa chugat -may your balls rot
    Lá breá ag do chairde ad’ adhlacadh -May your friends have a great day burying you
    Go dteipfidh ort ar oíche do phósadh- May you fail on your wedding night.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    No doubt there was Unionist whingeing at the start of the last century as well – there will always be arguements of convenience rolled out when Irish Culture and/or language is involved.

    “The Irish Celtic Revival movement encouraged the creation of works written in the spirit of Irish culture, as distinct from English culture. This was, in part, due to the political need for an individual Irish identity”

    Taken form WIKI’s Celtic Revival.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_Revival

  • vanhelsing

    I quite like that scorch and burn one. If I’m ever elected as an MLA I’ll enjoy using that one on Katrina Ruine. Where would I find the phoneics on that?

  • JR

    lusk-oo (first part would rhym with rusk) agus scaw-loo, (if the first bit of the last word rhymes with claw) you are not too far off.

    I think it would have been funny if the queen had have opened with ‘if you eat may you never shit’ Some phonetics coach missed a trick there.

  • socaire

    My mixing and mingling in non-British society here in the North East would lead me to believe that the Stoops would have a very much higher percentage of Gaeilgeoiri in their ranks than the provos but they are too well reared to ‘push it down the throats’ of their neighbours – not like the ‘scum of Sinn Féin’. If Gerry Adams spoke a few words of French in Stormont what would be the reaction? Is it not just a case of anything native is bad and anything colonial is good?

  • Kevin Barry

    Pip,

    I have had the ‘pleasure’ of learning Irish in the South when my family returned from Boston; though I was pretty young I do remember it wasnt exactly taught with any great enthusiasm and was seen as more of a subject to get out of the way than anything else. Up North it is (from my own personal experience) taught with a lot more enthusiasm. I was at the Gael Linn in Lurgan every Friday night before I went to secondary school and for me Irish was a big part of my life and a positive part of who I was.

    Regarding it’s being taught in the South, yes, I am glad to see Inda is going to look into it. Personally, and IMHO, the reason behind the enthusiasm for it up North is more to do with it facing such hostility from unionism and others who really should know better.

    Would I like for the language to not be a political issue? Of course, but when we have some on here and in the North in general who simply don’t like it because themmums like it, it means it’s too late, it’s a political matter. Parties are supposed to represent the views of their electorate, SF voters see this as an important issue so I would expect them to try and do something about it.

    Van Helsing,

    Heck, you nearly sound reasonable there. Essentially, you don’t mind the use of the Irish language, but because SF use it means that you will fight it’s use and expansion tooth and nail. While I hate to paint unionists as reactionary, pety and anti Irish you seem to be doing a great job instead.

    The bind that Irish speakers are in is this, when someone who can speak Irish speaks Irish they are accused of ramming it down someone’s throat (?) but if they don’t use it then it’s a dead language. So, which is it to be folks? Do we lack the confidence in our own identities that when someone expresses themselves in a tongue foreign to us we feel so threatened that we are to try and fight it’s use and propagation tooth and nail, that we think that in the main they’re trying to make others feel uncomfortable and make it be known that we belong to a different tribe, or we embrace the full range of positive cultural expressions on this island, that we realise that there are different cultures or tribes if you will here but this not a bad thing, that variety is the spice of life?

  • Metacom

    Here’s the google translation of Mick’s 12:39 PM offering:

    In truth, as it happens, we spend neighbors (more often the non-smokers), those with no words, only the depreciation of the language. In my view, this problem is the swollen department permission first .

    An-greannmhar. A cara, an bhfuil cailinni salach cuis ar do “swollen department”?

  • vanhelsing

    @ kevin barry

    “While I hate to paint unionists as reactionary, pety and anti Irish you seem to be doing a great job instead”

    My comments regarding my ‘limited’ experience of Gaelic were related to Katrina Ruines forced Irish into the Education Department when really was there any need?

    In fact while I hate to paint CR as reactionary, pety and anti British you seem to be doing a great job instead…Hmmmm. The shinners were so embarrassed by her incompetance they couldn’t wait to get her out of there…

    Regarding your other comment I never said,

    “…but because SF use it means that you will fight it’s use and expansion tooth and nail”

    If you’re going to quote me go ahead but at least get it right:)

    I said,

    “But when the Shinners ram it down our throats and use it in ridiculous circumstances I’ll fight it’s expansion tooth and nail – BUT ONLY for that reason”

    Two completely different things…

  • Kadfoomsa

    “My comments regarding my ‘limited’ experience of Gaelic were related to Katrina Ruines forced Irish into the Education Department when really was there any need”

    Hard to think of anywhere where it is more needed.

  • Kevin Barry

    Van Helsing,

    If I wanted to quote you as opposed to paraphrase you I would have used quotation marks.

    How are Shinners ramming the use of Irish down your throat? Care to elaborate? Instead of fighting the expansion of
    Irish tooth and nail care to come to some kind of compromise?

    Also, Why should Irish not be in the education department?

    Nobody is ramming Irish down your throat, all I hear and read is synthetic anger; truly pathetic.

  • Reader

    Kadfoomsa: Hard to think of anywhere where it is more needed.
    They are notoriously bogged down in paperwork anyway. Doubling it up isn’t going to help.

  • Kevin Barry

    Van Helsing

    ‘I’ll fight it’s expansion tooth and nail’ only because SF ‘ram it down our throats'(?)

    I said

    ‘because SF use it you will fight it’s use tooth and nail’

    You’re right, two completely different things…

  • vanhelsing

    Yip – two completely different things:)

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Go raibh tochais síoraí ar do mhagarlaí

    may you have an eternal itch on your balls

  • Seimi

    ‘My comments regarding my ‘limited’ experience of Gaelic were related to Katrina Ruines forced Irish into the Education Department when really was there any need?’

    I think you’ll find that Caitríona Ruane had nothing to do with this. The Irish language was first ‘forced’ into the ‘Education Department’ by a group of parents, my own included, who wanted to open an Irish medium Primary School in West Belfast in 1970. At the time, they refused help from political parties, and did so for years after, because they didn’t want their dream to be politicised. The Department of education threatened them with jail, if they opened that school. They went ahead anyway, ignoring threats of jail, and threats from Loyalist paramilitaries to blow the school up, with the children in it if necessary. The school opened with 9 pupils in 1971, and is now the biggest in the north.

    From 9 pupils in 1971, there are now around 4,000 kids being taught like this throughout the north every year, and that school was the blueprint for all the others, as well as some schools in the south, the ones in Ballymun being a fine example.

    Politicisation of the language occurs on both sides, and it wrecks me. However, someone needs to push for it at the highest level, and that is the job of our elected representatives. Of the 2 Nationalist parties, SF are the ones who do this best. SDLP have some fine people in it’s ranks, who speak and love the language. Dominic Ó Brolcháin stands head and shoulders above them all. But, when Dominic wanted his language Act pushed through, which would give Irish an equal standing with English, where were the Unionist cries of SDLP ‘politicising the language’?

    Much of this supposed ire about policisation appears to be directed either solely towards SF’s use of it, or as in David McNarry’s and members of the TUV’s cases, purely because of an irrational hatred of all things Irish

    Any language is politicised if it is used by politicians. However, no language is the sole posession of any one group of people, or any one political ideal. The Irish language belongs to everyone, whether they wish to learn it or use it or not. Unionists could essentially ‘de-politicise’ it, by using it themselves, by embracing it as part of their culture too.

  • Barnshee

    ” However, no language is the sole posession of any one group of people, or any one political ideal.”

    Dont want Irish dont want my taxes to pay for it dont want an ” Irish” extravaganda funded by the tax payer to provide jobs for the useless turds who could not get a degree in a “hard” subject — in short fuck off and pay for it yourself The same applies DOUBLED for the gibberish piss promoted as ulster scots

  • Brian

    Drink all day and rock all night
    Law come to get you if you don’t walk right
    Got a letter this morning and all it read:
    You better head back to Tennessee, Jed

  • Brian

    Apologies…pasted the wrong thing.

  • grandimarkey

    Barnshee:
    ” in short fuck off and pay for it yourself The same applies DOUBLED for the gibberish piss promoted as ulster scots”

    Would this also apply to Orange Marches? Should the Order foot the bill for their events?