Map showing the second most spoken languages in Europe by nation state, revealing historic regions of invasion, colonisation and modern immigration, 2014

Second Spoken Languages Of Contemporary Europe

Interesting charts from the folk at (the anglocentric) Move Hub: “This map shows the second most common first language in (nearly) every country in the world. These are people who speak it as a first language, we decided this was a more revealing metric as it illuminates the ancient furrows of conquest, colonisation and recent … Continue reading

Photo of Mae Burke, Eithne Coyle and Linda Kearns, Cumann na mBan revolutionaries, taken shortly after they escaped from a British POW camp, in Carlow, Ireland 1921

The Irish Republic

I remember writing an essay many years ago where I stated that the Irish revolution was the making of Ireland’s language revival and the Irish counter-revolution was its breaking. Nothing in the last ten years has altered that opinion. The internecine victory of the reactionary forces of the old Catholic Nationalist bourgeoisie in 1923, with … Continue reading

Alba Gu Brath - Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinbugh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

Salmond Hammers Darling In Second TV Debate

Well the verdict is in and it seems that Alex Salmond, the SNP first minister of Scotland, has emerged as the winner from last night’s second TV debate on Scottish independence. While the first contest was generally presented as a victory for Alistair Darling, the leader of the Unionist “No” campaign (partly on the basis … Continue reading

Gunmen of the UDA-UFF, a legal British terrorist faction in Ireland, pose for the cameras

No Speak The Irish!

As if the precarious position of Irish-speaking citizens and communities in Ireland was not difficult enough living under the authority of a state hostile or indifferent to their needs, in the north-east of the country they must also face the threat of violence too. From the Belfast Telegraph: “A community centre has suffered a wave … Continue reading

An Chatalóin (Catalonia)

United Parties In Catalonia, EU Citizenship In Scotland

Despite the financial scandal erupting around its former leader and his family the ruling Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) party has joined with other nationalist groupings in providing a united front to Spain’s opposition to Catalonia’s referendum on independence tentatively planned for November of this year. While the one-time doyen of conservative Catalan nationalism, the CDC’s … Continue reading

Labhair Gaeilge

A Department Of Irish And Irish-Speaking Communities

A great article over on Diaga Language which relates to my own piece yesterday on the lack of state-subsidised and accredited Irish language courses for adult learners in Ireland. As always you really should read the full post but here are the main points: “…I’ve been looking to find an advanced course over the last few days … Continue reading

Dearg Le Fearg, Irish Rights Are Civil Rights!

Irish Ways And Irish Laws

It seems that even the most reactionary dung-hill can produce the odd progressive rose. Here is Clare Cullen in the Irish Independent with some entirely sensible points in relation to Irish language education and the (constitutional) obligations of the state towards its citizens following the news that several TDanna were availing themselves of free Irish … Continue reading

British Unionism or British Nationalism the English Defence League

Better Together Star: Catholics Look Better Hanging From A Tree

The British Unionist parties heading the “Better Together” or No (surrender?) campaign in Scotland’s upcoming referendum on independence seem to have all but abandoned their scruples when it comes to defeating the SNP-led Yes side. Their language and rhetoric has become increasingly vitriolic with oblique references to verbal and physical violence littering their speeches as … Continue reading

An Idirlíon

A New Look For An Sionnach Fionn

You may have noticed a few changes in the layout of An Sionnach Fionn today though hopefully they are not too dramatic. Why the changes? Simply a case of trying to meet reader demands. Since the start of the year the number of visitors to ASF has shot up with around 30% of those coming … Continue reading

Volunteer of the Real Irish Republican Army armed with an AKM assault rifle

Analysis Of ÓnaÉ Video

There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the news media over the weekend caused by the military funeral of Tony Catney, a former senior veteran of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army. His funeral cortège in Belfast was escorted by uniformed activists, possibly Volunteers of the so-called New Irish Republican Army or NIRA through the west of … Continue reading

Scary Eire

Fingal Irish

  I’ve discussed before the truly excellent blog Dublin Gaelic which discusses the history of the Irish language in the capital and its hinterland, focusing in particular on the historic dialects of Irish in the region (now essentially lost; the contemporary version of Dublin Irish is based upon dialects from the west of Ireland mixed … Continue reading

Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond adresses independence rally, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

Scotland Votes No, Scotland Gets Tory/UKIP (DUP/UUP/TUV) Rule?

Some interesting polling in Britain which shows that the centre-left Labour Party is still in the lead over the governing centre-right Conservatives and right-left Lib-Dems. However despite all the adverse publicity of recent weeks and concerted media criticism the right-wing England-centred UKIP movement under Nigel Farage is not just holding its own with potential voters … Continue reading

Alba Gu Brath - Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinbugh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

Nimble Scotland Versus Lumbering Britain

There are very few politicians that I actually admire. In general my opinion of those who enter party politics is pretty poor though growing up in Ireland, with its values-adverse, morally flexible and easily purchasable political classes, it is easy to see why. It’s not that Irish politicians are particularly corrupt in the sense of … Continue reading

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Some Fan News

I know that quite a few of my readers are “fangirls” with an interest in all aspects of geek culture (literature, art, movies, games and so on) so it would be interesting to hear their experiences of what was traditionally perceived as a mainly male preserve, especially here in Ireland. World By Storm has a good … Continue reading

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No Time For Irish – Government Policy In Ireland

A few weeks ago the appointment of two ministers by the government of Ireland with responsibilities directly effecting the interests of Irish-speaking communities and citizens was mired in controversy when it became clear that neither appointee could actually speak the Irish language (despite the presence of several other fluent candidates in the government parties). Both … Continue reading

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

The Peshmerga Factor

Talking of the conflict in Iraq there is a good piece in Vice magazine by Hetav Rojan on the military troubles of the autonomous Kurdish region in north-eastern Iraq. The much-vaunted image of the Kurdish militias, the so-called Peshmerga, has taken a battering in recent weeks as the forces of the Islamic State have pushed … Continue reading

Albain (Scotland)

The Wee Blue Book

Like myself many readers of An Sionnach Fionn are interested in the upcoming independence referendum in Scotland so I thought I’d post some links to the “Wee Blue Book”, the much anticipated pro-sovereignty fact-guide by the excellent website Wings Over Scotland. By all accounts it has already been a great success and certainly judging by … Continue reading

Stephen King and wife Tabitha make their cameo appearence in 1981's Knightriders

A Stranger In A Strange Land

One of the worst aspects of occasionally working night-shifts is being forced to listen to the talk-radio stations that pollute the airwaves of BÁC during week-nights (the listening choice of others in my workplace, believe me). First off, why on earth would anyone want to listen to the opinions of strangers on a range of “controversial” … Continue reading

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The Rise Of The Islamic State

Reading Tom Holland’s stupendous (if controversial) history of the foundations of Islam, In the Shadow of the Sword, I was struck by how current events in the Middle East can find distant parallels in the political and religious convulsions of the sixth and seventh centuries. In particular the rise and spread of the Islamic State … Continue reading

John Redmond The British Ventriloquist

The Politics Of Brutal Bruton

Former Fine Gael leader and arch Euro-federalist John Bruton is generally regarded as the most economically right-wing Taoiseach Ireland has had in living memory. His term of office in the mid-1990s was pretty poor even by the mediocre standards of Irish politics, not helped by his obvious pro-British sympathies and antipathy to the emerging détente in … Continue reading

The National Library of Scotland, Early Gaelic Book Collection

Hold Your Tongue

Karen Matheson, the lead vocalist with the popular Scottish folk band Capercaillie, recounts something that was once very familiar to speakers of the two main Gaelic languages, Irish and Scottish. From the Herald Scotland: “WHEN Karen Matheson was growing up in the small Argyll village of Taynuilt, her mother refused to speak Gaelic to her. She herself … Continue reading

Reynard the Fox

Vote An Sionnach Fionn

Nice to hear that An Sionnach Fionn has been nominated for three separate categories in the Blog Awards Ireland 2014 (the same number as last year, so I must be doing something right!). The categories are “Best Political/Current Affairs/News”, “Best Mobile Compatible” and “Best Blog Post” (for the article “Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, What You … Continue reading

The mutilated body of Patrick Loughnane, age 29, Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army, tortured to death alongside his younger brother Harry, age 22, by the Royal Irish Constabulary, Britain's feared colonial police force in Ireland, 1920

British Violence Good, Irish Violence Bad

Perhaps I should change that headline to a more accurate one? “British Violence (By Irish People For Britain) Good, Irish Violence (By Irish People Against Britain) Bad” For that in essence is the argument put forward by former Taoiseach and aficionado of several right-wing think-tanks John Bruton in a number of recent speeches. Of course … Continue reading

Labhair Gaeilge

Reclaiming The Past And The Present

Some interesting thoughts on translation and the Irish language from the Cork-based poet Louis de Paor in an interview with Alan O’Riordan in the Irish Examiner: “CAN a poem ever really be translated? The Cork poet Louis de Paor covers this ground in the introduction to his latest volume, The Brindled Cat and The Nightingale’s … Continue reading

Northern Ireland

Going, Going, Gone

Up to the 1980s the British Labour Party was generally supportive of ending Britain’s centuries-old colonial interference in Ireland by drawing down the shutters on the last remnant of the beleaguered colony in the north-east of the country. Many in Labour saw themselves as “persuaders for unity” on the island of Ireland, a mantra once as important … Continue reading

The Celtic Nations

Festival Interceltique 2014

Sometimes we need reminding that – whatever our origins – we are not just Irish but Celts too, one of the indigenous peoples of north-western Europe. From a report by the Irish Times newspaper: “At the Festival Interceltique, President Michael D Higgins was warmly received as the only head of state of a Celtic country. … Continue reading

Maev's second meeting with Fergus, illustration from The Táin by Mary Hutton, 1924

Underground Warfare

  One of the commoner settlement types to be found in Irish archaeology are the ráthanna or so-called ring-forts 40,000 of which are known to have existed during the first millennium CE (and probably many more than that). These were a class of fortified homestead normally consisting of a circular earthen bank inside an exterior ditch which together enclosed … Continue reading

An Chatalóin (Catalonia)

Language Planning. What it means in an Irish Context (Part 2)

Originally posted on diaga language:
In order to plan for anything you must have contextual information on what you’re planning for. So today I’ll look at how to gather information about the situation of a ‘minority’ language using examples from other countries. Firstly, the main source of information for Irish language planners is the information…

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Festival Of Lúgh

It’s a rather overcast and muggy day in BÁC but I’ve still followed my own little traditions for Lúghnasa, the festival of Lúgh that marks the harvest time in the Irish and Celtic calendars. A climb to the summit of Binn Éadair to watch yesterday’s sunset over the capital that marks the commencement of the … Continue reading

The beautiful writing of Dubhghlas de hÍde in traditional Irish script

ASF Via Surface 2 Pro

So I’ve made the switch from a super-heavy Qosmio x500 laptop to a Surface Pro 2 with attached Type Cover for writing my blog posts (and a lot more). It’s a helluva change. At the moment I’m spending more time hitting the backspace key than any other while typing and using Win8 in tablet form (as opposed to laptop or PC) is, to … Continue reading

Éire vs. Ireland

Coláiste Lurgan, TG Lurgan

The current affairs site breakingnews.ie carries a lengthy article on the well-publicised work of Coláiste Lurgan, an independent Irish language summer school in Galway, to popularise the use of our national language with young people across Ireland and well beyond. Below are a few extracts from the piece (the spelling mistakes in the original have been corrected): “You can’t have … Continue reading

The Gaelic Chieftain, Maurice Harron

Saltire: Ionnsaigh, The First Scottish Language Graphic Novel

A quick break away from politics with news of the release of Saltire: Ionnsaigh, the first graphic novel in the Scottish (Gaelic) language, which is due to be launched at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August. From a report by the Stornoway Gazette: “The first in a series centring round Scotland’s first comic book superhero, the dark … Continue reading

Sign of Albain or Scotland

Language // “Criticising Gaelic Medium Education”

Originally posted on on travel, culture, language & politics:
© Emory Maiden Last month, a piece of research by Aberdeen University was published which examined the Gaelic usage of pupils in a primary school class somewhere in the Highlands. The report highlighted the difficulties that many pupils face when speaking Gaelic, particularly when it comes…

Troops of the British Occupation Forces line the barricades in Dublin City during an Irish Republican rally, the War of Independence, Ireland, 1920

Howth Gunrunning Ladies

Originally posted on Choosing the Green – Roghnú Glas :
100 years ago exactly, a large shipment of arms landed in Ireland. It took the actions of extraordinary women to accomplish the Howth Gun Running scheme of 1914 in Ireland. One, Alice Stopford Green, gave a loan to have the capital for negotiations. Two more, Molly…

Ireland in chains

Dublin Irish, 4000 Years And Counting

A few years ago a former passive-agressive manager in my job, who made a great point of mispronouncing my surname whenever the chance arose, confronted me with the following declaration: If you speak Irish why are you living in Dublin? Why don’t you go live somewhere down the country where it is spoken? His pugnacious … Continue reading

  • blog awards ireland Nominated: Best Politics Blog 2013, Best Personal Blog 2013, Best Blog Post 2013
  • blog awards ireland

    Nominated: Best News/Current Affairs/Political Blog 2014, Best Mobile Blog 2014, Best Blog Post 2014