Gaelscéal : Unionists in Armagh are moving away from staunch rejection of Irish Language claims activist

Athrú meoin le mothú i bhfogas d’Eamhain Mhacha

Méabh Ní Thuathaláin

Tá meon na nAontachtaithe in Ard Mhaca ag athrú, dar le Seán Maoilsté, oifigeach Forbartha na Gaeilge de chuid Cairde Teo.

Anuraidh, díreoidh aird na meán ar Jim Speers, Chomhairleoir an UPP de chuid Ard Mhaca, mar gheall ar an gcáineadh a rinne sé ar an nGaeilge. Dar leis, “the only place Irish will take you is back to the bog”, ach creideann Seán Ó Maoilsté go bhfuil athrú ag teacht ar chúrsaí.

“Tá pleananna againn Cultúrlann a bhunú agus rinne muid cur i láthair os comhair na gComhairlí ar na mallaibh le tacaíocht a fháil don tionscadal. Bhí Jim Spears i measc na gComhairlí agus thug sé moltaí fiúntacha dúinn maidir leis an suíomh a bhí muid ag coimhéad air”  arsa Maoilsté.

“Ní hé go raibh sé go mór son na Cultúrlainne ach tuigeann sé go bhfuil an éileamh ann faoina choinne. Tuigeann sé go bhfuil muid ag iarraidh poist a chothú agus nach bhfuil muid ag tabhairt faoi chun aighneas a chothú ná a dhath ar bith. Thug sé éisteacht dúinn cibé, agus is comhartha é sin go bhfuil rudaí ag athrú,” arsa seisean.

Thosaigh an Ghaeloideachas 17 bliain ó shin in Ard Mhacha agus tá breis agus 400 dalta sa chóras Gaeloideachais in Ard Mhacha faoi láthair ag leibhéal na hiarbhunscoile, na bunscoile, na naíscoile agus na réamh-naíscoile.

Tá Gaeilge iontach láidir sna scoileanna Béarla agus ina measc siúd sa Ghaeloideachas in Ard Mhaca chomh maith, dar le Sean Ó Maoilsté.

“Bíonn muid ag obair le daltaí ó Choláiste Phádraig, meánscoil áitiúil, agus le daltaí ón aonad Gaeilge i gColáiste Chaitríona, agus tá an caighdeán céanna Gaeilge ag na daltaí. Fiú amháin Coláiste Chaitríona, sa chuid den scoil nach bhaineann leis an aonad, bíonn siadsan iontach maith ag an nGaeilge fosta,” arsa Sean Ó Maoilsté.

“É sin ráite, tá daltaí ag teacht fríd an gcóras Gaelscolaíochta agus ag freastal ar na meánscoileanna Béarla. agus tá bunús iontach acu, rud a théann i bhfeidhm go cinnte ar na daltaí eile atá sa rang.

Tá thart ar 170 páiste ag freastal ar an aonad Gaeilge i Bunscoil na mBráithre Críostaí, an oiread céanna agus atá ag freastal ar an aonad Béarla sa scoil. Tá 25 páiste ar an naíscoil faoi láthair agus 25 eile sa ghrúpa súgartha atá dírithe ar pháistí atá 3 bliana d’aois.

“Tá an Ghaeilge iontach láidir sa scoil. Tá éiteas láidir a ritheann tríd an scoil trí chéile. Bíonn imeachtaí éagsúla á reáchtáil  i ndiaidh am scoile trí mheán na Gaeilge, club drámaíochta, foireann peile le Gaeilge” arsa Ó Maoilsté.

Ag an leibhéal meánscoile, tá 142 dalta ag freastal ar an aonad Gaeilge i gColáiste Chaitríona chomh maith. Tá 2,926 ag déanamh staidéir ar an nGaeilge ag leibhéal iar-bhunscoile san iomlán, sna meánscoileanna Béarla agus sa chóras Gaeloideachais. I mbliana, tá 324 ag gabháil don GCSE Gaeilge agus tá 77 ag déanamh Gaeilge mar ábhar A-Leibhéal.

“Tá daoine ar an eolas faoi rogha na Gaelscolaíochta in Ard Mhaca anois. Tá fás millteanach ar chúrsaí ónár thosaigh sé,” a dúirt sé.

Tá Naíscoil Shliabh Fuaid le n-oscailt ar an bhfobhaile i mBaile Mhic an Aba atá cúpla míle ón gcathair féin. Tá Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta i mbun staidéir maidir leis an éileamh atá ann don naíscolaíocht ar an gCéide. Chomh maith leis sin, tá grúpa eile ag iarraidh grúpa súgartha a bhunú ar an taobh eile d’Ard Mhacha fosta.

Is eagraíocht í Cairde Teo a chuireann an Ghaeilge chun cinn i measc an phobail agus a bhíonn ag plé leis an bpobal áitiúil.

“Tá muid ag obair ar thionscal faoi láthair le daoine idir óg agus aosta, a dhéanfaidh comparáid idir na fadhbanna sóisialta ar nós dífhostaíocht, drugaí, féinmharú, cúrsaí ceardchumainn agus mar sin de. Ní dóigh liom tríocha bliain ó shin go raibh trácht ar fhéinmharú ach is cinnte go raibh sé ag tarlú. Tá cúrsaí ceardchumainn iontach lag faoi láthair i gcomparáid le tríocha bliain ó shin nuair bhí beagnach gach duine ina mbaill do cheardchumainn,” arsa Ó Maoilsté.

This weeks Gaelscéal - we talk to Irish Christian Zionists, Carál Ní Chuilín confirms her support for Northern based Irish language groups and we ask the Gardaí if Dolours Price has been questioned in relation to the killing of Jean McConville

Unionists in Armagh are moving away from staunch rejection of Irish Language claims activist

Méabh Ní Thuathaláin

Even Jim Speers, a Unionist Councillor for Armagh and member of the UUP, is changing his attitude towards the Irish language it has been claimed.

Last year’s comments by Jim Speers, “the only place the Irish language would take you is back to the bog”, were considerably far removed from his response to the recent proposals of a new Irish language cultural centre in Armagh, according to Sean Ó Maoilsté from Cairde Teo, the Irish Language and community group behind the proposals.

“I am not suggesting that he is a keen supporter of the Cultúrlann but I think he recognises the demand for such a centre and understands that we want to create jobs and services for the growing Irish language community in Armagh. He recognises that we have a legitimate claim and he put forward practical recommendations about the site that we were looking at and we welcome this input,” said Ó Maoilsté.

Irish medium education began 17 years ago in Armagh and is continually growing, with plans of a new nursery school underway a few miles outside the city in Ballymacanab.

“Parents in Armagh know now that Irish medium education is an option and are more aware of the benefits of bilingualism,” said Ó Maoilsté.

There are currently 400 students in Irish medium education in Armagh at post-primary, primary, nursery and pre-nursery level. Currently there are 2,926 students studying Irish at secondary level in Armagh, 142 of which attend the Irish language stream in St. Catherine’s College.

“The standard is very high even among the English medium secondary schools in the area, where Irish is taught as a subject. There are students coming through the Irish medium primary education system and attending English medium secondary schools and other students are benefiting from that.”

 

 

  • keano10

    Nice to hear that Unionists are embracing their native tongue…

  • Ciaran,

    The developments re Irish Language teaching at the East Belfast Mission could be worth a post?

  • Seimi

    Also the classes on the Shankill Road?

  • Red Lion

    Really smart comment Keano10 well done.

  • Reader

    keano: Nice to hear that Unionists are embracing their native tongue…
    From Wikipedia “A first language (also native language, mother tongue, arterial language, or L1) is the language(s) a person has learned from birth[1] or within the critical period, or that a person speaks the best and so is often the basis for sociolinguistic identity. ”
    So most unionists embrace their native tongue, and have been consistent on that. However, a few nationalists seem to be intent on abandoning theirs! Not that many, though.

  • galloglaigh

    Reader

    You’re being disingenuous there with your interpretation. Your quote comes from Wiki, under the heading First language. Altogether different from Keano’s assertion that Gaelic is our ‘native’ tongue. While English is our first language, that doesn’t mean to say it’s our native language. But to paraphrase Linda Ervine – it’s only a communication tool.

  • Reader

    galloglaigh: Your quote comes from Wiki, under the heading First language
    But ‘Native language’ redirects automatically to ‘first language’. So does ‘native tongue’. It’s not a cunning hun plan – I left Wikipedia exactly the way I found it.
    And I wasn’t being disingenuous. So far as I am concerned, my native language is the one I learned at my mother’s knee. It feels strange – artificial, even pretentious – to me that keano10 presented it as a different concept altogether.

  • galloglaigh

    I don’t buy that. If you look a bit further into your link – i.e. the latter part of the first sentence, it also states that ‘In some countries, the terms native language or mother tongue refer to the language of one’s ethnic group rather than one’s first language’. So that could be read as ethnic Irish people who speak English, but see Irish as their native language; as the language of their nation. People like you can never take that away from the Irish. And as this topic shows, people are looking beyond the bigotry. That can only be good for the growth of the Irish language, and its acceptance by Protestants. The language is continuing to grow, and it’s inevitable that an Irish Language Act is passed. That would keep us in line with Scotland and Wales, and will keep the promise made by the British government.

  • Red Lion

    Whats good for the Irish language, is to continue reclaiming it from its hijacking by republicans as a tribal tool.

    Its of this island, its for this island, and should be kept as far apart from tribal politics as possible.(Same as Ulster Scots).

    There is already signs of a natural dynamic underway of people from unionist background showing interest in the Irish language, and reclaiming it from the wreckage of the troubles. How do you harness this? By sinn fein adopting the language as a badge of honour? Certainly not. Its up to irish language enthusiasts to distance the language as far as possible from tribal extremism. How this is done , i don’t know, but I guess a good place to start would be for such enthusiasts to identify with Ulster-Scots language and culture, and to take forward both heritages in solidarity with one another as minority languages.

    It has to be pointed out, to speak Irish does not make you any less of a unionist, if anything it makes you more of a unionist.

  • galloglaigh

    Red Lion

    I’ve put your sentiments forward before. The time is right for the politics to be taken out of the language, but to suggest any similarity with Ulster Scots doesn’t stand up to the test. One’s a language, the other’s not. That doesn’t mean that Ulster Scots traditions don’t exist – they do. They’re very similar to Gaelic cultures’ and traditions’. You may be on to something in terms of those links!

  • Reader

    galloglaigh: it also states that ‘In some countries, the terms native language or mother tongue refer to the language of one’s ethnic group rather than one’s first language’. So that could be read as ethnic Irish people who speak English, but see Irish as their native language; as the language of their nation. People like you can never take that away from the Irish.
    I wonder why you can’t see that those concepts don’t help either? “ethnic Irish”, “language of their nation”. That’s definitely off-message! There are people here celebrating that the language is broadening its appeal (even keano10 in his own way, with the unhelpful terminology and snarky welcome), and yet here you are trying to nail it down to a single ethnicity and national identity.
    If my position was as narrow and as simple as you imagine it to be, I would be glad of your assistance in limiting the appeal of the language. Instead, I’m a little saddened that you’re undermining the honest efforts of people trying very hard to involve as many people as possible in a less politicised movement.
    And I’m also beginning to wonder, if it was possible to detach politics from the Irish language movement, would you lose interest.
    By the way, you seem to be connecting ‘native’ with ‘nation’. It’s more closely related to natal/nativity etc. – i.e. birth directly from L. nativus “innate, produced by birth,” from natus, pp. of nasci (Old L. gnasci) “be born,”

  • Reader

    galloglaigh: The time is right for the politics to be taken out of the language, but to suggest any similarity with Ulster Scots doesn’t stand up to the test. One’s a language, the other’s not.
    From you know where: “Language is the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, and a language is any example of such a system of complex communication.”

  • Red Lion

    Seriously galloglaigh, who really cares whether ones a language or not, theres plenty argue Ulster scots is a language, others say its a dialect, ive Ulster scots poetry and i enjoy it v much. Part of the problem in NI is too many people split hairs over small matters – we all really should be a lot more relaxed about comparisons. Do you really not think that Irish Language enthusiasts teaming up with their Ulster Scots counterparts in solidarity and common ways of working to take evrything forward to everyone’s mutual benefit has no merit??

    To me, and to those who don’t feel the need for purist sentiments, comparing Irish and Ulster -Scots does stand up to the test.

  • galloglaigh

    Very good Reader… Hands up 😉

    You’re both right, I’m splitting hairs, for which I apologise.

  • galloglaigh

    Red Lion

    I do get your point. From where I stand though, the whole US language is a political tool, while US cultures and traditions are alive and well. The IL is also a political tool, while at the same time it’s alive and well (albeit on a very small capacity). I’ve read a few US poets and enjoyed them, as much as I enjoyed Heaney or Yeats. To me they’re all Irish.

  • Red Lion

    The day unionists make the proposal for tri-lingual street signs in Belfast City Centre might wrong foot everyone, and help take the political sting out of the debate.

    Of course such a proposal might require intellectualism and alternate thinking from within unionism…i wont hold my breath.

    Irish language and Ulster Scots should go forward together

  • Some of the arguments here are a bit silly. Aren’t half of the world all Indo-European linguists apart from a few anomalies like the Basques?

  • abucs

    I think an interest in language is a very healthy and intellectually stimulating pastime and hopefully it is less partisan these days.

  • Seimi

    ‘It has to be pointed out, to speak Irish does not make you any less of a unionist, if anything it makes you more of a unionist.’

    Can you articulate on that?

  • BarneyT

    1. Stop weaponising the language and using it to create division or to isolate those who you know cannot understand it. This will serve no purpose only to politicise Gaelic, and its had enough of that.

    To empahsise this point, I will recall an episode in an Oxford pub from my student days. A few individuals started bombarding me with their mother tongue and it transpired they were Welsh. I merely understood it to be Welsh. When I responded in English, detecting I was Irish, they apologised saying they thought I was English. Its one thing using Irish in Ireland to isolate Unionists and another to use Welsh in England to target the English. Both an unacceptable and a misuse of any native tongue.

    2. Accept that it is valid for those that feel Irish to speak Irish or at least try.

    3. Understand that the language is areligious and apolitical and not the language of the IRA

    4. Accept that learning and using Irish is not going to compromise your royalist, british nationalist, unionist or any cultural identity you have. Look at East Belfast where there seems to be a realisation that Irish became part of the “planter” fabric.

    5. Look at the beauty in the language and eventually you will see that it is all around us as we all happily use the phonetic equivalent on a daily basis i.e. Donaghcloney, Ballymena, Ardmore, Belfast etc… Remember the English did not generally translate the names, but introduced a version (close to the original) that they can pronounce…thus ironically preserving the sounds. Otherwise Doire would not be called Derry but Oakwood (or something close)

    6. Cut out the snobbery within the nationalist community against those that cannot speak it and accept the reasons are the same for many a unionist. It was not supported at home, in their community (even the most nationalist) and in their formative schooling. Its just the way it is.

    7. Accept that nationalists may not want to learn it (ok thats going to be difficult…)

    8. Accept that the French have their French, the English have English…and its ok for All Irish to have Irish. There is no such language as British so promoting Irish will franchise many of us

    9. If you are a unionist and want to speak the Irish language, just remember you might be just stealing it back, but please share it.

  • tiger feet

    So that could be read as ethnic Irish people who speak English, but see Irish as their native language;

    No problem with that bit.

    as the language of their nation.

    A problem arises here. Seeing Gaelic as a language of their nation then fine. However you seem to be saying that someone who does not see Gaelic as their language, because they do not consider themselves to be ethnically Gaelic for example, cannot be a member of the Irish nation. Rather like a Highlander saying that Lowland Scots are not really Scots.

    I think that we should be aiming to achieve a state where the following people are accepted.

    A) A person who considers themselves to be part of the Irish nation, to not be ethnically Gaelic and that Gaelic is not their native tongue, but a language of other fellow members of the Irish nation.
    B) A person who considers themselves to be British, to be ethnically Gaelic, and that Gaelic is their native tongue, and that they are not part of the Irish nation.

    THAT is when the language can be de-tribalised and de-politicised.

  • “Irish became part of the “planter” fabric”

    There seems to be a lack of realisation that many who came from Scotland were Gaelic speakers ie they brought their own fabric with them. They also brought their religion too – a large spectrum of sects, including Catholic.

  • tiger feet

    There seems to be a lack of realisation that many who came from Scotland were Gaelic speakers ie they brought their own fabric with them. They also brought their religion too – a large spectrum of sects, including Catholic.

    Perhaps then those on the Shankill should be learning Scots Gaelic, and Belfast city centre can have quadrilingual street signs.

    Alternatively Northern Ireland could construct it’s own official Gaelic language, different from that used by documents issued by the Dublin government, thereby use of Gaelic being softened from concepts of irredentism.

  • Red Lion

    seimi at 10.27

    if you are a unionist and you know Irish , it shows a certain comfort in your own skin, ease in other cultures and indicates one to be more outward looking rather than insular defensive, and dour. This , in my view, is to an individuals advantage, and collectively to unionisms advantage.

    Insularity has got unionism nowhere, learning to be more chilled out around differnce and diversity is the only way forward. Being interested in and accepting of diversity is the only way to expand the ‘traditional base’ of unionism. Im really talking about a transformation from narrow big house unionism into a liberal, strength in diversity union. i wont hold my breath, but such unionists exist.

  • “from narrow big house unionism into a liberal, strength in diversity union”

    Red Lion, perhaps you should take a look at the 1892 Ulster Unionist Convention and the 1912 Ulster Covenant. Ditto the nationalist family. There’s no scarcity of diversity.

  • Red Lion

    Nevin, there is very little diversity, liberialism, choice, intellectualism, vision, developing, evolving, self-scrutiny, self-criticism, progressiveness espoused by todays main unionist parties.

    Just because something nice may or may not have been said 100 years ago doesn’t make up for the utter backwardness of the core of unionism today.

  • Red Lion, I just wondered where you had acquired the notion of ‘narrow big house unionism’ when the examples I’ve given illustrate diversity.

    The enduring constitutional question has inhibited both unionism and nationalism. I don’t think there are too many votes here for politicians who drift away from the narrow ground.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    What sort of sanction did the UUP apply to Councillor Speers after his ‘back to the bog’ comments?

  • Red Lion

    Nevin, there may not be many votes because no choice has actually been offered to the unionist electorate, or to the electorate as a whole.

    One of the choices people have been making? to simply not vote. Can’t be bothered with the tribal choices available. Give a fresh perspective of unionism, liberal and more in tune with mainland GB values, and I believe a vote would come out-not least because i believe it would appeal to a diverse range of people.

    Herman, McClarty, McCrea, mcClarty are examples who have received many votes, Harry Hamilton got 10000 votes (though weasnty elected), East Belfast showed a desire for something different. A mood is out there, but a strong coherent easily identifiable liberal union voice, has not yet come together for people to vote for it.

    Give the people a different reformed fresh liberal union to identify with and galvanise round, and only then will the narrow ground be challenged