Liofa 2015- what’s to lose?

Northern Irish sports stars are apparently to be “targeted” but thankfully this time it is with something more benign than letter bombs or online hate messages:

Sports stars targeted in Irish push 

Northern Ireland’s police service and a string of sporting bodies are being asked to back a plan to create an extra 1,000 Irish speakers by 2015.

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin will ask high-profile figures, plus members of the public, to agree to try to become “liofa”, Irish for fluent, by the target date.

 The Sinn Fein minister said she hoped “Liofa 2015” would attract people from across the political divide and said the Gaelic language should be seen as belonging to all communities.

 She may hope away, at least as far as Jim Allister is concerned:

Mr Allister claimed Sinn Fein’s “divisive anti-British vendetta” is to use departmental office, money and facilities to promote their language agenda.

He added: “In historical culture Irish has its place, but as a living and working language it is a non-starter in the 21st century, whether it be the Long Kesh variety that the minister speaks or the real thing which she and her Sinn Fein colleagues emasculate every time they fumble and mumble through the mantra they have adopted as the introduction to everything they say.”

In the interests of transparency, I should say at this juncture that I contributed an article this week to the Irish language paper Gaelscéal (there’s a little segment of it here). The editor had asked for my written opinion of this summer’s events, which he then kindly translated. I was more than happy to do it partly because it meant that a demographic which perhaps rarely would be exposed to a “normal” (or let’s say, “normal-ish”;)) Unionist point of view would be getting to read one and secondly because I personally have no problem with the Irish language as a… well, language.

The Irish language in itself obviously isn’t “anti-British” and to date it has never actually murdered anyone because of their politics, religion or national identity.

But is it “divisive”?

As a language, an abstract, again obviously not. Its employment within certain contexts (e.g. at terrorist funerals) and the fact it sometimes forms part of a narrow ethno-nationalist tick-list as to what comprises “real” Irish identity most definitely hasn’t helped its image amongst Unionists. But that Unionist antipathy (and yes, occasionally also bigotry) is largely the fault of Ms Ni Chuilin’s present and erstwhile “comrades”, not of the language itself.

So, I would personally be prepared to give “Liofa 2015” a chance. As far as I’m concerned, the ball’s in Ni Chuilin’s court and, from a Unionist point of view, if the Sinn Fein Minister plays to usual party form and the language remains within its present cultural ghetto, then we’re in no worse position than we are in today. However, it might, just might, also open completely new doors for those of us willing to explore further another element to our identity, culture and history and to write off that possibility at this stage seems premature.

It may also mean in future that rather than giving poor Ciaran migraines with having to translate my mangled English, I can express myself fluently in equally mangled Irish…


A UK Unionist and also confirmed devo-sceptic.
I believe the creation of devolved “governments” in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, along with the corresponding unsolved “English Question”, has weakened that Union.

The present-day Conservative Party would be the national party which would come closest to representing my political beliefs. I have previously belonged to the “Friends of the Conservatives” and the UUP but am no longer connected with either party.

Outside of my Unionism, I consider myself as an economic libertarian, social liberal and secularist- e’g. am pro-choice, anti-schools segregated on the grounds of (parents’) religious beliefs.

Very suspicious of NI’s Human Rights’ Oligarchy (in particular the NIHRC) and hope to be writing on this topic, as well as wider UK and European political issues.

  • Turgon

    I am confused. In 2002 Barry McElduff said this: “I expect the census figure that are due to be announced this week to show a big growth in the use of Irish.”

    Indeed the 2001 census apparently found 167,487 people (10.4% of the population) had “some knowledge of Irish” and 75,125 claimed to be able to speak, read, write and understand Irish.

    Surely the aim of creating 1000 extra fluent Irish speakers would represent only a trivial increase: a very conservative hope for a minister supposedly promoting Irish.

    Unless of course that census figure and those claims in 2002 by McElduff are nonsense with people pretending they had significant knowledge of Irish when they did not?

    Actually I have some sympathy for true Irish language enthusiasts, many of whom have no desire to politicise their language. Sinn Fein seem to use the language as a political football or as a stick to beat unionists.

  • Unless of course that census figure and those claims in 2002 by McElduff are nonsense with people pretending they had significant knowledge of Irish when they did not?


    Curiously enough, Baz was exactly the person I had in mind when thinking about that ethno-nat check list!

    Actually I think that 167,487 figure is rather on the low side, assuming that every child in the maintained school sector will have encountered the language at some stage during their education. By the same token, 75,125 claiming to be able to speak, read, write and understand Irish is not the same as saying that 75,125 are fluent in the language, ie able to deal with conversation or reading material to almost the same standard that they would be capable of doing in their own mother tongue.

    So (depending on the measurement and with these kind of projects the PR is always more important than the actual objective results), I don’t think 1,000 is that trivial an increase. The biggest problem towards achieving it is decoupling the SF brand from the language.

  • There are lies, damned lies and the Norn Iron Census.
    And every decade I lie thru my teeth and claim that I am “liofa” (at best I am just more than liath-liofa….if indeed its even possible to be “half-fluent”.
    Indeed for the purposes of the Census, all my “clann” are “liofa”…even the ones that now live in their own homes.
    Theres absolutely no point in the Norn Iron Census if you cant lie. Its a British Census so it doesnt count (so to speak).

    My own experiences of Irish are a bit “iffy”. I had no choice but to send #1 son to a Gaelic speaking nursery school. (his grandparents looked after him during the day).
    I was a bit concerned when I was maiting for my “mac” outside the school and got kinda chatting with another “athair” outside waiting on his “inion” kinda embarrassed myself and told him that I didnt really speak much “gaelic” and he told me that he spoke “Jailic” having learned it at “Ollscoil Long Kesh”
    Of course my “mac” learned “ba ba caora dubh” with the best of them and the time arrived for him at 5 years old to go to “bunscoil” and we had an interview and they told us #1 son was brilliant.
    I was kinda put off by the notion that I would have to fund raise for the school and that seemed a bit of a risk in 1989/90 (to be publicly identified with themmuns).
    The attitude that if I didnt fund raise it might have an effect on #2s chances of getting into the same school was a bit annoying……as much as the notion of my colleagues seeing me outside the Bank Buildings on a wet Saturday with a collecting tin.
    Indeed much later, one of my colleagues spotted a “focloir” in my drawer and said “I didnt think you were like that”.
    Of course things change. Coming up to UDR roadblock I always thought it advisable to get the books off the back seat. And yet about ten years ago a RUC man went out of his way to tell me he was “ag foglamh”.
    There are ups and downs with learning. Theres that “bialann” in County Donegal where I cant show my “aghaidh” due to the unfortunate incident where I ordered “nostrils” rather than “beans” for my sons.
    I suppose up in Donegal they dine out on stories about people from “Béal Feirste” thinking they are fluent.

    Thing is I only speak Gaelic in front of people who speak it even worse than me. Id hate to make an “amadán” of myself in front of a real Gaelic speaker.
    Not that I havent tried to learn more. Even went to some night classes with a man who wore a poppy in Poppy Season and the rest of the “rang” were far too polite to notice.

    So Carál can sign me up for Liofa 2015.
    Absolutely. No “fadhb” at all.

    But actually Id make a very bad Gaelic speaker. I dont buy into the “first national language” thing. Its the “first national hypocrisy”.
    I also think Douglas Hyde was a bit of a weirdo.
    Ironically a few years back I stopped the car in Ballaghadereen, and asked directions for Frenchpark and the man from Ukraine didnt understand the question. The lady from Poland working in a shop did tell me.
    The irony being this is the place where Dougie heard a boy speak “English at the Market and asked him could he not speak Irish”. And he told Dougie “shure isnt it Irish Im speaking”.

    Actually the wee “buachaill” was “ceart”. English IS an Irish language. The basic problem that Sinn Féin have with “English” is that its called “English”. Call it an Anglophonic language and they might react better.

    And theres an iriny there thats lost on the “Gaelic galory”.
    In “English” we tend to refer to the “English language” and the “Irish language”.
    Yet in Gaelic an English person is “Sasanach” and the language “Béarla”. And it is “Éireannach” and “Gaeilige”.

    By the way my “Gaelic” spelling is worse than my “English” spelling and Im too lazy to look up spellings.

    So I should probably sign up to “Liofa 2015” just to remove the horrible “peaca” of lying to British census people. And I live in daily “eagla” of getting a phone call from them asking me to say something in Gaelic. Plan B is to mention that I am deaf……but I forget how many deaf people I declared in the family.
    Is it Divisive?
    Couldnt care less to be honest.
    People who use the word “divisive” say it was a “bad thing” but no more than the Twelfth, Poppy Day, GAA, Unionist, Republican.
    There is an unhealthy obsession about making us homogenous. Resist it!

  • lamhdearg

    bata se suas do pholl. s.f. look forward to the day when Irish is a prerequisite to employment in the police and any other job.

  • socaire

    Turgon, I think people like you need to be stopped now and asked to spell out why or how An Ghaeilge has been made into a political football or a stick to beat unionists. Does it happen when Gerry Adams uses it? Or any member of the Republican movement? Who uses it in a non-political way? Is it Fenian-tainted? Who else do you expect to regard it as ‘the National language’ only Irish nationalists?

  • socaire

    And lamhdhearg, if it is going to be a job prerequisite, there will be damn few Sinn Féin people who will benefit from it, believe you me.

  • Turgon

    How about “Every word of Irish spoken is like another bullet being fired in the struggle for Irish freedom.” (reference here)

  • socaire

    Not enough! That is just a soundbite from an essay and represents only the author. I’m sure you are familiar with the mouthings of the English invading forces who were determined to stamp out Irish AS GOVERNMENT POLICY.

  • Turgon

    No I am not and nor are you. The reason I am (and you are) unfamiliar with such “English” policies is that they occured several hundred years ago. On the other hand the Sinn Fein policy that speaking in Irish was firing bullets in the struggle etc. is vastly more recent.

    You have been here before socaire. Intergenerational MOPEry across centuries is simply silly.

  • socaire

    I take it you are familiar with the intricacies of the Bible and that was a while back. Can you give me a reference to where that was SF policy? And can you direct yourself to my 5.55 comment or are you still sidestepping what you can’t cope with?

  • Nunoftheabove


    It’s a language; if you feel threatened by it or foresee a danger in people speaking it then the neurosis isn’t with those who like speaking it or who fancy learning it. You’re politicizing the issue every bit as much as the some of the poseurs and chancers of SF are, perhaps more so – at least some of them are sincere whereas you’re position on this issue is entirely opportunistic. Stop seeing a threat where there isn’t one and demonstrate some semblance of a commitment to pluralism and give it up with this pitiful parochialism.

    And drop the puerile MOPEry references too. It’s cliched in extremis and betrays only your very slightly bothered conscience about the element of truth that you’e endeavoring to deny.

  • Mick Fealty

    Just checking in before I go to bed. Can I just say that whatever your politics Seamus Mac Sheain’s D’Imigh Sin agus Thanaig seo ought to get a wider reading or hearing not least amongst non Irish speaking people for a handle on the heroic dedication amongst a small group of activists in Belfast, who have, in a very real way not only kept her lit but have laid the foundations of a powerful revival of the language that few could have foreseen in the late sixties/early seventies.

    Right feel free to go back to the tribal kulturkampf… Night all…

  • ayeYerMa

    What is the point in becoming certified in an artificially created standard created in the 1950s by the Dublin government and mainly based on the tongues of Munster and Connacht?

  • wje

    I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but two interviews/statements this week by the Sinn Féin Minister for education, John O’Dowd, are worth noting simply because O’Dowd’s position would appear to mirror that of a British Tory minister rather than of a minister representing a supposedly socialist republican party.

    In an interview with the Irish News on Tuesday, O’Dowd indicated that there will be many school closures under his tenure; that new builds will not necessarily be traditional red-brick builds (more portacabins?), and as for the Irish language – well in today’s Belfast Tele, minister O’Dowd, whose party pledged in its election manifesto to promote and facilitate Irish medium education,turned down plans for two new Irish speaking nursery schools. O’Dowd is going to implement wholescale cuts in education. How will SF members and SF Cllrs be able to stand on the picket lines with thise trade ubionists opposing those cuts?

    McGuinness when he was minister of education introduced PFI’s against party policy. Clearly O’Dowd is doing a re-run.

    Read more:

  • lamhdearg

    may i relaunch this thread with, what’s to gain?.

  • pippakin


    What’s to gain? Learning another language is always a definite gain and the Irish language is hardly responsible for those who abuse it.

  • SK

    “may i relaunch this thread with, what’s to gain?.”



    Fluency in a second language has been associated with increases in cognitive fleixibility and inhibitory attention. Google Bialystok for a decent overview.

    The unionist argument that they oppose Irish on the grounds that they saw some Shinner speak it is a cop-out. A rationalisation of their intolerance. It is akin to a nationalist arguing that English is evil because it’s the language that Johnny Adair attempts to communicate in.

    Many Unionists will never give the the Irish language the time of day, precisely because it is Irish.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru


    Allow me to indulge myself by telling my account of irish.

    As someone who has never formerly learned irish I have only a basic knowledge of irish. Unlike my parents who both have a good grasp but never spoke it around me. The only real source of irish learning in my life was my grandmother, who was a fluent Gaelgoir from County Cork. She was the type of person who didn’t teach word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase, rather while I was an infant she would simply call me by my irish name, and make demands on me in irish, and only if I was really clueless would she finally repeat it in english. Its an odd way to learn. I never learned how to formally say : “Hello my name is Charlie from Derry” but would actually have a vocabulary that consisted of “Shut the door behind you”, “Sit down and be quiet” , “your sister is very bad girl” etc…

    That coupled with the obligatory registration class irish that you subconsciously learn at school and I could probably happily tick the “some knowledge” box

    However my mother alays thought learning German was good. i did and never looked back. Since then I have lived and studied in Bavaria during the world cup as an erasmus student and had an amazing time.

    On top of that, it spurred me on to apply for an EU-japan co-sponsored programme in Tokyo and unbelievably I was chosen as one of 40 out of nearly 1000 applicants. That was the best year of my life without question. Please check it out ( It has made me love Japan and particualrly now the japanese language way above any romance or germanic based european language.

    However on christmas day I found myself travelling from hiroshima to an island by boat with an Austrian, a Hungarian and a lithuanian. We arrived at our capsule hotel and decide to email our families to wsh them a happy christmas. however, upon seeing me typing my message (in english) to my mum, the Hungarian guy gave me a gentle ribbing that we could all understand my email, all the others could just be read by the author.

    It really got me thinking. I do have a native tongue if I was bothered enough to learn it. Since then I’ve become more pre-disposed to learning it and would hope that this totally aplotical, non-partisan anecdote would encourage ppl from all backgrounds to embrace the language and have something tangible to be proud of and show off.

    Therefore I’d love to be one of the Liofa, but my living in London probably doesn’t make me eligible.

    Anyway, hope this viewpoint adds something small to the debate.
    On top of that it spurred me onto doing

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    D’oh, I should probably learn english next.

  • In response to LamhDearg”, I think the balance of probability is that he personally has nothing to gain from An Liofa 2015 and should probably not sign up.
    On the question of a broader gain for Norn Iron Society then the gain is likely to be minimal because of course theres no such thing as Norn Iron Society.
    We have three societies.
    There is self evidently no gain for Unionism.
    And a major gain for Nationalism.
    And a marginal gain for Lets Get Alongerism because the programme is sugar coated with some “lets get alongerist” attitudes.

    Effectively it is Nationalism pushing the envelope.
    And there are three responses.
    Satisfaction, Hostility, Indifference.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru


    Did you look at my message at all?

    It is almost entirely at odds with yours in outlining the sheer apolitical nature of the irish language as a tool for us all to broaden our horizons. It was an individual assessment at every stage.

    Do you think my anecdote is totally swamped by the political thinking of it interms of gains/losses that you outlined, or is there plenty of stories like mine out there who are the people who would stand to gain the most from this initiative.

  • Nunoftheabove


    No gain for unionism; this is debatable however can you confirm that you believe that unionism at least loses nothing ?

    The major gain for nationalism is contestable too but we can certainly say that there would be no loss.

    The lezgeddalongism is happy enough. You say slight gain, I say no loss. Unproblematic either way, right ?

    By my calculations that’s a slight net gain all round, nobody is harmed, offended, undermined, questioned and no casualties can reasonably be predicted. Hostility is therefore not appropriate, indifference unharmful and not widespread and on the whole a minor net satisfaction can be predicted.

  • Yes Mr Sheens Guru, I read your piece.
    There may seemingly be a gain for you. And I acknowledged a marginal gain for lets get alongerism which is essentially people who feel they want their horizons broadened.

    I dont think broadening horizons is all that important to be honest.

  • may i relaunch this thread with, what’s to gain?


    Learning to speak in a language other than the one your mum taught you is usually a gain on several objective levels- not least you will think a lot more carefully how you express yourself in your own tongue.

    For Unionists (or Ulster protestants) the Irish language has specifically played an important role in our culture and history- eg protestant ministers in Down and Antrim played a vital role in its revival in the mid 19th Century and today it could give us a direct connection with other (non-nationalist) gaelic speakers elsewhere in the British Isles. Many place names in N.Ireland (even in east Belfast!: have direct roots in the Irish language.

    As I said in the post, if Ni Chuilin follows the trad SF role in promoting the language (ie as an integral part of a narrow, ethno-nationalist and exclusionist Irish identity) then the campaign will go nowhere.

    If however there is a genuine willingness to include those outside the normal circles then it has potential and at this stage we would be throwing out the baby with the bath water to write the campaign off before it even starts.

  • Nunoftheabove


    I agree, the genuine willingness of some to not exclude themselves from the initiative is also rather key here though. Those claiming to be offended by the speaking – or teaching – of a language which is not their own we can, I shall assume, dimiss entirely as bone-headed bigotry and ignorance, just as we would if anyone were to oblige the adults among us to learning it.

  • lamhdearg

    Let me quote Hommer (simpson not the Greek),”Every time I learn something new, it pushes out something old) “, See, “Is there a problem in explaining cognitive progress?’ by Aaron Ben-Ze’ev in Rethinking Knowledge: Reflections Across the Disciplines.”, if the mind is a container then better to use the space there, for useful knowledge, i myself have trouble enough with English, but if i had the mental capacity to learn another language, Irish (gaelic) would not be in the top ten.

  • lamhdearg

    As for the anti Irish charge, Latin or Ket or Jedi, do not make the top ten either.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Be that as it may, are you saying that it would be a more objectionable choice (for those with the requisite mental capacity) than any other language ?

  • lamhdearg

    nunoftheabove, i understand the psni are to be targeted in the drive, i believe the psni would be better to learn some of the language’s that many people in N.I. have as there only language. can anyone give a est, of how many people in N.I. speak only Gaelic?.

  • Limerick

    “The unionist argument that they oppose Irish on the grounds that they saw some Shinner speak it is a cop-out. A rationalisation of their intolerance. It is akin to a nationalist arguing that English is evil because it’s the language that Johnny Adair attempts to communicate in.”


    Perhaps nationalists should stop using the English language then.

  • DT123

    Alternatively they could use the money required to give a 100 people their heart operations earlier or train a 100 youngsters somthing that may give them a means of making a living in the future etc etc etc……………………………..

  • SK

    “Perhaps nationalists should stop using the English language then.”

    Perhaps you should stop pretending that your disdain for Irish is anything other than good old fashioned intolerance?

  • Seimi

    Just back from the launch of Líofa 2015. Very good. All credit to the staff and pupils of St. Dominic’s, who played beautifully and spoke extremely well.

    Very well attended too. There wasn’t an empty seat. Also, it was good to see the likes of Basil McRea there.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Succinct and pointful – well said. The absence of any discernible response is, I like to think, also impressive.

  • iluvni

    I assume those 100 PSNI officers signed up will be taking classes in their own time…

  • Limerick

    “Perhaps you should stop pretending that your disdain for Irish is anything other than good old fashioned intolerance?”


    There is no disdain present. I was merely highlighting the idiocy of your ‘point’.

  • Limerick

    “I assume those 100 PSNI officers signed up will be taking classes in their own time…”


    I would assume that it won’t do their promotion chances any harm. Although this is Sinner led there is nothing new in RUC/PSNI officers learning the Irish language. It comes in useful for listening into republican conversations.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Assume whatever you care to. Should you have something approximating to fact of any kind with some relevance to the matters at issue it might – and it’s only might, mind – be worth sharing.

  • lamhdearg

    there has to date been no response to my 9:38?.

  • antamadan

    Interesting ONeill, but the link to the article doesn’t seem to be working.

    Re Allister et al: I’m almost fluent in Irish -not from Long Kesh-, and I often listen to Radio na Gaeltachta without a problem. Adams has done live interviews on it, and seems to me to have pretty good Irish. And, if I’m not mistaken Eamonn Mallie once said on this website that he interviewed Bobby Sands in prison expecting it to be in English but it was all in Irish (Mallie has also broadcast in Irish). So…I’m inclined to think the oft-made charge that SFéiners Irish is crap ha ha ha, is just vitriol. Have we any SDLP Irish speakers, or maybe the unionist guy that writes in Foinse , or others who bump into republicans at Irish-language events to clarify.

  • Seimi

    Quite a few ‘top level’ members speak Irish quite well, some pretty fluently. Bairbre de Brún taught through the medium of Irish, Barry Mcilduff speaks fluently, Paul Maskey and Pat Sheehan both speak it very well. Adam’s Irish has improved dramatically over the years to the point where he can conduct interviews in Irish and take part in debates in the Dáil in Irish.

    But ye know what? Who cares? Doiminic Ó Brolcháin is also fluent. Gusty Spence got his Fáinne in jail. Plum Smyth also gained a Fáinne in jail. One of the PSNI officers at the launch today spoke to my colleague in Irish.

    Irish isn’t the sole posession of Sinn Féin. They never claimed it was. Today’s event wasn’t SF taking ownership of the language. Caral ní Chuilin spoke about her own personal reasons for wanting to improve her Irish, ie. in order to catch up with her kids. She said it was a personal choice.

    I have no doubt that the PSNI officers who were there, were there because their superiors approached them and asked them to sign up, however, I also have no doubt that many PSNI officers also volunteered for the programme, not just because, as Limerick pointed out, of the obvious benefits re promotion, but also because maybe this was their chance to learn, or improve their Irish.

    This is a genuine opportunity to de-politicise the language, I think, and people like Basil McRea did themselves no harm whatsoever by attending the launch. It would be even better if he signed up himself, but it’s a completely voluntary thing, so it’s his choice.

    As to iluvni’s question re PSNI officers attending in their own time: The project appears to utilise existing classes, rather than starting up new ones, which, as we all know, would cost more money, and that is one of the main gripes that ‘liberal’ anti-Irish language posters have, so I’m sure the officers concerned could find a wee ‘rang’ somewhere when they’re off-duty. Having said that, I see this as a very positive move by the PSNI, and I for one wouldn’t have any problem with them attending a class as part of their everyday duties.

  • I was also at the Launch. And I have signed up to Liofa.
    I think it was quite low key.
    As pointed out Basil McCrea was there. So was his UUP colleague John McAllister.
    For the SDLP Patsy McGlone and Dominic Bradley (both fluent speakers) and Mark H Durkan were there.
    Among the SF people were John O’Dowd, Paul Maskey, MartinA Anderson, Barry McElduff. The mayor of Belfast Niall O Donghaile was also there with his bling.
    There were probably about four PSNI people in the Long Gallery and one Methodist Minister from Donegal. The Minister for the Gaeltacht Dennis McGinley was also there.
    And former Senator Maurice Hayes.

    The Minister confessed to being a silver fáinne holder and was going for gold..
    The young girls from St Dominics were excellent but as one put it “I want to speak the language of the country I live in” (sic). Fair play to her.

    There is actually a challenge here.
    Actually two challenges.
    Outreaching to a community that is not naturally receptive to things Irish.
    And while I dont believe it is possible or even desirable to disentangle broader political issues from the Irish language..there is a challenge to Irish speakers not to be exclusive.

    Clearly PSNI Officers will take a lead from senior officers. When Judith Gillespie visits a PSNI station in darkest Larne, it might do a PSNI man a bit of good to leave his “focloir” lying around.
    A big change when a silver or gold fáinne will do you more good than a sash or an apron.
    But that would be too cynical. The majority signing up will be because they want to.

  • JR

    I would like to sign up to that. I have put alot of effort into learning Irish over the last few years. I am not yet fluent but am married to a woman who is. I have to say that learning Irish has been thoroughly rewarding.

    I remember a few years back coming across a recording made about three miles from where I gerw up. the recording was made in 1931 by a German Wilhelm Doegen, and was of One of the last Native Irish speakers in the area telling a story about the faries. At the time the sound on the recording was meaningless goblidigook to me. I remember feeling a sense of loss. I had totally forgotten this untill a few weeks back I once again came across the same recording. This time it was a story. I have to say I got a great kick out of it.

  • Eddie (Eamonn) Mac Bhloscaidh
  • Old Mortality

    One question occurs to me.
    Accepting that it is beneficial to have fluency in more than one language, it there any reason, apart from sentimental ones, why that language should be Irish? Surely, only the most chauvinistic Irish speaker would argue that his language offers greater literary pleasures than French, German, Spanish or Russian.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Old Mortality

    Only a fluent Irish speaker who was also equally fluent in the other languages you mention could make such a call with any expectation of being taken half seriously and in my experience people with that kind of talent don’t often make calls quite as fatuous as that. I’d be disappointed if anyone took issue with the idea that linguistic ability applied to tongues other than the mother one was other than healthy, enriching and innately worthwhile culturally, cognitively and so forth.

  • Daghdha

    First off, Jim Allister is not in a position to brand Irish as a non-starter language of the 21st century, as he knows nothing about the Irish language in NI aside from IRA or Sinn Féin (mis)use. He lives in a bitter wee Unionist bubble and is, as usual, typically all too quick to cough up his distaste at everything or anything remotely Irish in his precious British United Kingdom.

    Just as I am not in a position to talk about rocket science, because I know nothing about it.

    Those in NI who have found themselves estranged to Irish, for whatever reason, may well find great enjoyment and a sense of personal belonging in the Irish language that they never knew they had, as it is undoubtedly an important key that opens the many troves of treasure Ulster holds locked away in the pages of its masterful Gaelic poetry, prose, and invaluable information about our surnames, placenames, and the like. It’s no wonder we were once known as the Land of Saints and Scholars.

    If executed correctly, Líofa 2015 could be a great opportunity for more people than ever before in NI to sample this beautiful, open, quirky modern language and embrace what should never have become a divisive political weapon. Our forefathers knew this and the Irish language as a cultural celebration was once held in great esteem by Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter the length and breadth of this island.

  • RG Cuan

    Is iontach an togra é seo agus tá moladh mór le dul chuig gach duine a bheas ag glacadh páirte ann.

    Líofa 2015 is an excellent inititaive and everybody taking part deserves credit. Irish is for everybody, and I’m sure Linda Ervine would be interested in signing up too:


    For somebody who says that Irish Gaelic would not be in the top ten languages you would learn, why is your profile name in the language?

  • babyface finlayson

    Am I correct in saying that this initiative does not actually provide any practical help in the learnin of the gaelic? Class fees, learning resources, that sort of thing.
    A few people I have spoken to seemed to think that was the idea.