Lets Speak The Truth: Those Who Hate Irish Speakers Do So Because They Are Racists…

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh on Anglophone attitudes to Hibernophones in contemporary Ireland: "At times it’s racist. Nobody ever calls it that, but no other culture would tolerate it."

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh on Anglophone attitudes to Hibernophones in contemporary Ireland: “At times it’s racist. Nobody ever calls it that, but no other culture would tolerate it.”

In an article to mark the start of Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week) on Monday the Irish Times has asked ten people to describe their lives as Irish speakers. They include journalists and students drawn from places as far away as Ethiopia and Holland. The most interesting, and in a way the most honest, contribution is from the television presenter Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh who gives an insight into the experiences of a speaker of the indigenous Irish language in contemporary Ireland:

“I came to Dublin when I was 15 from a small Gaeltacht in Meath, and the Irish language wasn’t cool at all. Then, crazy as it may sound, the Hothouse Flowers came on the scene, and it became cool – and then became uncool again when I was 18.

When I was a teenager the reaction was, and still can be, “Stupid language: what’s the point?” Then the adult versions: “It was beaten into me”; “you’re all mad ’RA-heads”; and my favourite, “You get a grant for everything.”

My response is: I am so sorry, and that is all terrible, but guess what – I am the minority here, and, however difficult it was for you, it has been and still is a struggle just to respond to all of you. At times it’s racist. Nobody ever calls it that, but no other culture would tolerate it. There has been a huge demise in the promotion of our language and Gaeltacht existence. I heard Paul McGrath during the week on radio, talking about the Irish language, and he was inspirational. Yet I would be scared to ask the people of Ireland [if they were] for or against the language. I fear it would be against. But, hey, I will battle on and wait for the next wave.”

The irony that in modern independent Ireland the racism and discrimination that was once applied by our former English (and English-speaking) colonial masters to the Irish people as a whole is now applied by the English-speaking Irish against those they perceive as being Irish-speaking Irish.

Speak English, read English, write English – and apparently think English too…

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30 Responses to “Lets Speak The Truth: Those Who Hate Irish Speakers Do So Because They Are Racists…”
  1. Seán says:

    The reason for this is simple, and it will eventually fade away. Watch this video a chara, see how it corresponds with your own views on the subject.

  2. It’s a special form of racism directed not at an *ethnic* community but at a *linguistic* one. Maybe there should be a word for it, “linguism” or some such.

    • Yes, I do agree to an extent. However there is a historic “ethnic” component to it that does make it a form of racism. It is the difference between “native” and “Planter”, between “mere Irish” and ‘Palesman” that shaped Ireland’s history over the course of centuries. In a sense these are historical echoes of our colonial past that still shape our culture and society today. I’m not even sure most of the English-speaking Irish people in contemporary Ireland who hate Irish speakers and the Irish language are even aware of the origins of their hatred. In fact I’m sure they’re not, and would deny any such links. But the evidence is plain to see.

      Attitudes that naturally evolved under British colonial rule, between English-speaking settler and Irish-speaking native, persist to the present day. They may be perverse, anachronistic, and in a sense a form of “self hatred” (on the part of some)but they do continue to exist.

      I hope to explore this further.

      A final thought. How many contemporary English-speaking Irish people, who hate the Irish language, do so because they and their ancestors never spoke Irish? I mean never. Do these people represent a distinct Anglicised-Irish or Anglo-Irish ethnicity?

  3. Gerard says:

    In order to overcome this uneasiness in learning, using and being comfortable in the shoes of the Irish language we must first banish the hurdle the is the colonized mind in Ireland. That colonized mind fears difference, and like the blurry fog that is English identity itself, we are not quite sure what we are or who we are as a race of people. Our schools teach history in headlines with background or context. We are spoon fed absolute lies to feed various self-serving myths, We are told we are a Celtic people. We are not. The origins of most of the Gaelic families can be traced to Spain, Portugal and the South of France. To those who might question this, I point you in the direction of the National Museum where you will find not a section big or small to support the myth that we are Celtic (Keltoi). And what of the “English” which gave the name to the language we speak most in Ireland. What about them. “The English” are an invention, as the language is a melting pot of linquistic streams flowing from the Germand and Danish tribes the Angles (Anglo), Saxons and the Jutes. Add the Romanic language and dialects, Norman French, Italian and the Nordic (Vikings) languages into the stew and one develops a more accurate sense of where the English (From French Angle after the Germanic Angles) language, based largely on the language spoken by the Germanic Angles and Saxons, hails from. The Irish are not alone in this linquistic self-delusion. “White” England still pretends it doesn’t have a German monarchy, although this is changing as Britain becomes more multi-cultural to the point where our Englander neighbours are fleeing Blighty to establish “white” English speaking colonies in Spain, France, Italy, and heavens above, in dear auld Oireland. In this highly emotive subject of language, we sometimes forget that the English that we speak, and that is spoken in all parts of Britain, has little uniformity. I watched Enda Kenny interviewed on ABC during his recent visit to Washington and that interview was sub-titled. This was nothing personal. I have seen Englanders like Ricky Gervais and Gordon Ramsey sub-titled in the same manner, but not funnily enough Scandinavian celebrities who all seem to speak “American”. The brand of “English” spoken in Ireland and Britain has itseld been colonized, with the differing versions no more than provincial and often barely comprehensible dialects of that same American flagship. I do not disagree that we have a problem with language in this country. How much more robust would our exports, national economy and balance of payments be if we could trade more seamlessly with China (1.2 billion), the Franco-phone countries (300 million), Japan (140 million) and the German s
    speaking states? (136 million). Our colonized mindset makes us believe that we can only succeed in the surrounds of the “American English” oxygen tank, not that it seriously limits our potential to become a multi-lingual economic dynamo. The Danes do it, Icelanders do it, even the Norwegians and the Swedes do it. They do with confidence and pride in who they are. And that’s the kernal of the problem. We don’t.

    • Hi Gerard, and apologies for the late reply. It takes time to work through the many Comments and messages I receive in relation to An Sionnach Fionn and I sometimes struggle to keep up.

      I quiet agree about the colonised mindset. A post-colonial inferiority complex and cultural cringe are not confined to the Irish but we do excel at both. More so, I may suggest, than most other formerly colonised peoples. Perhaps it is the longevity of our colonial occupation, the presence of a large, ancestrally colonial or thoroughly colonised population or the geographical proximity to our ex-colonial masters that does it? Whatever the case it has left us, in our collective psychological culture, very much a “half-a-nation”.

      I’m afraid I disagree about the claims to Celticness you make – or lack thereof for the people of Ireland. Linguistically the Irish language (and associated culture) is a “Celtic” one. There seems little point in challenging a fact universally accepted by linguists. One could go beyond that, into forms of society, law, mythology, literature, archaeology, material cultures, etc. to prove the Celtic nature of Early Ireland (from the Bronze Age to… well, the preferred terminal point is a matter of choice and interpretation – some argue there is none if a Celtic language continues to spoken in Ireland, by however small a population) but the evidence simply outweighs the naysayers. Of course one can go (way) too far in the whole “Celtic” thing but the generalisations do hold. Ireland was historically a Celtic nation, linguistically and culturally, and elements of that Celticness continue to survive via the Irish language and associated culture. That is sufficient for me.

      Personally I have no problem with English nationalism, in it progressive and inclusive forms. More of the Billy Bragg than the EDL. England’s has some very fine traditions from the culturally innocuous Morris Men to the politically charged Levellers. They are well worth preserving and promoting. Nor do I think that the Germanic origins of the English (with its complex mix of Angle, Saxon, Jute, Frisian, native Briton, Danish, Norwegian, Norman-French, and all the rest) precludes a celebration of “Englishness” (whatever they may choose that to be). Perhaps it is the “multicultural” elements of Englishness that are worth celebrating? (as a side note see my brief piece on J.R.R. Tolkien and his views of Englishness).

      I agree that in a multinational, multilingual world “locking” ourselves into one language box is, in the long run, self-defeating. We have already seen that in the absolute and unfaltering commitment of Ireland’s political classes to the Anglo-American model of unregulated, free market capitalism. Speak English, read English, think English. No matter that the model has been proved wanting or that it has led this nation down a socio-economic cul de sac. The cultural mindset of the political establishment (and their allies in the civil service and media) dictates their view of the world.

      Another language, another way of thinking, might (and I only say might) have prevented or at least tempered the economic madness (and political corruption) of the last four decades, and the last decade in particular. And that is not a call to socialism (far from it) but the advocacy for a more communal, social-democratic model of society and the nation as a whole. Indeed a model that has some roots in traditional Irish society, free of the diktats of Church or Landlord.

      Yet here we go again, selling our nation to the highest bidder. Yesterday the EU, today China. And who will benefit from this? The citizenry as a whole or simply a small elite at the top of the pyramid?

      The view between those who value Irish over those who value English in contemporary Ireland is the difference between those who see Irish men and women as autonomous citizens with distinct rights and responsibilities and those who see them as simply workers and tradable commodities in an all-consuming market.

      Though perhaps that is off the subject?

      Thanks for your Comment.

    • Jack Delaney says:

      It does not make allot of difference where we come from- Nobody really knows. However something that I can personally see as an Irish man is that I am definitely Irish and my mind, my thoughts and everything that I am to the core of me is Irish- Whatever that means.
      It is this Irishness wherever it comes from that I believe exists in a certain shared awareness among certain people who seem to share this love of Ireland, As Gaeilge and Irish music.
      I understand that the idea of ‘Celtic Ireland’ could indeed be an illusion of sorts, but whoever the Celts were- this is who we are and I think that’s more important.
      I think also that because compared to other nations we seem to have had a smaller gene pool that we have somehow captured a moment in history that gives us a certain identity that many are proud of.

      • Very interesting point, Jack, about capturing a moment in history in terms of a genetic record. You are quite correct and it is something that gives us a slight advantage in tracing the history of the island of Ireland through DNA studies, etc. Which is why genetic studies has become so important in Ireland (and Scotland and Wales) in recent times.

    • Ken Westmoreland says:

      Gabh mo leithscéal, but the number of French speakers is considerably less than 300 million – it’s debatable how many people in so-called Francophone Africa are actually Francophone. More people speak Portuguese in Brazil alone than French.

      It’s true that the Danes, Icelanders, Norwegians and Swedes are polyglots by need and by nature – foreign films and TV programmes are subtitled instead of dubbed – but they’ve never experienced language loss to the extent that the Irish have. The Finns had to fight for their language to have official recognition, first under the Swedes, then the Russians, but never went through a comparable experience.

      Greenland has actually abolished Danish as an official language, while Faroese, despite having only 45 000 speakers, is used for everything from TV advertising to dating sites. But, like Iceland, they have the advantage of being geographically isolated. A daily newspaper in Icelandic has a captive market, a daily newspaper in Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh or Breton doesn’t.

  4. Joe Geoghegan says:

    Well said Gerard.It no wonder, Blathneid, that your career has oft times been stalled by your attitude. In this matter it is extremist, obnoxious and way out of proportion to the reality. Most of us have the cupla focal, and many possibly five to eight percent are verbally fluent and a lessor group can write as Gaeilige coherently. However, we are all proud to enjoy and contribute to our fine to our Gaelic culture in arts, music, and dance. To damn the English in this manner is despicable. These British Isles, of which we occupy the second largest island, are the synthesis of a polyglot of cultures. How luck we are that we had English, the new world vernacular, to take us successfully to the four corners of the world, first in the British Empire (from 1801 it was our Empire too) and the American led world of today.

    The ownership of farm land was resolved by The Wyndham Purhase Act of 1903. National freedom was granted to the island in 1922. Unhappily, but with the full and legal agreement of the majority of rest of us, Northern Ireland opted out of the Free State within two days.The
    Independence for the six Dominions was copper fastened by the Statutes of Westminster in 1931, thus giving De Valera the opportunity to introduce the controversial 1937 Constitution. Furthermore, it is quite evident now, that like the know it all teenager, we were not quite ready for full self government, as Rome Rule and the endemic corruption and the disasterous mismanagement of our first economic boom since the Georgian era demonstrate.

    Any hatred of the Irish language was not racist or discriminatory, as your badly expressed suggestion infers, but beaten into us at the leaded point of a bamboo cane, or a black leather by the Christian Brothers of abusive infamy. Enough said. I spent many fine summers at Baile Gibb , in the Irish community and at Cois Fharrige, a far better way indeed to promote all things Irish as is the Gaelscoil. Check out the Scots and Welsh approach. Compulsory anything is a bad idea. You resented compulsory English introduced after the Williamite Wars. The peasantry carried on in Gaelic as you might expect. But education for the professions, including the clergy, required English. Nothing strange about that. It was the vernacular of the Empire. Scotland and Wales also on the ‘Celtic’ fringe of the archipelage had a similar experience.

    Compulsion has failed. Dismally! This government review our efforts and scarce resources to expand bi-lingualisn where practical. Such appalling nonsense as the Dingle/ Daingean debacle controversy will not enhance public support of the promotion of Irish. The revised Constitution should reflect reality. Our vernacular language is Hiberno-English, the medium of our renowned Nobel prize winners and reflecting our thousand year old Anglo-Irish culture. The fine ancient language of our forebears, is Gaeilige a minority second language. Nil aon tintean mar do thintean fein seems to apply here . We are what we are, and we roysh loike ish!

    • Hi, Joe, and thank you very much for the Comment. You make some interesting points though some tendentious ones too.

      Firstly, the term “British Isles” is one that the vast majority of people in Ireland would not recognise (nor, in fact, does the Irish state). While some have argued for a merely “geographical application” it quiet obviously has “geo-political” overtones too. In fact even on a strictly geographical level it is inappropriate. Whatever about claims for an ancient origin and references to early Greek and Roman writers the term “British” is understood to pertain to the island of Britain and its coastal islands. Not to the island of Ireland. And in any modern sense it clearly brings with it unwelcome claims of territorial jurisdiction and sovereignty.

      Lucky to have English? But what was the mechanism by which we achieved that “luck”? Invasion, occupation, colonisation and annexation. I think most Irish people would, on the balance of things, forgo such “luck”.

      To praise the conversion of the Irish-speaking population of the island of Ireland to an English-speaking one through the process of invasion and colonisation is like, to be frank, praising the Third Reich for creating the state of Israel through the process of the Holocaust. I’m fairly sure the people of modern Israel would rather the loss of their modern nation-sate than to have paid the terrible price of six million lives to finally spur its creation.

      If not being able to watch imported British and American television shows in their original language was the price to be paid for wiping out eight centuries of pain and suffering from the historical record of Ireland and the returning of this nation to its Irish-speaking status I believe most Irish people would pay it.

      Your argument that we were “not ready” for government is straight out of the Imperialist’s lexicon of stock phrases to justify colonialism, I’m sorry to say: the “natives” cannot rule themselves. It has been heard a thousand times from Africa to Asia and the Americas. It is also a particularly pernicious idea in relation to Ireland since it was used endlessly by successive British governments in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to justify their rule over this country. It is the argument of “Mister Punch” and Irishmen and women imagined in the form of brutish, ape-like creatures.

      I’m sure you did not intend it like that but it is a concept much open to abuse.

      Racist attitudes towards Irish speaking citizens in contemporary Ireland come not from mandatory Irish in the education system or the manner of its teaching. That is simply a modern myth promulgated by anglophone propagandists, I’m sorry to say. Historically, from the 1920s to the 1970s, Irish was taught no differently than any other subject. It was the education system as a whole that was at fault since brutality, conformity and rigidity was inherent in the culture of the system. Teaching Irish had nothing to do with that. “Horror stories” about the teaching of Maths, Geography, History and English are as plentiful from that era as stories about the teaching, or inappropriate teaching, of Irish.

      It is an unfortunate myth promulgated by vested, English-speaking interests.

      Since the 1990s the teaching of Irish, as teaching in the education system as a whole, has been transformed. This is especially true of the last decade. You notice you’ll find very few people in their teens and twenties in with the same attitudes towards Irish as those over 30s. In fact several recent surveys have shown that support for the Irish language is directly proportional to the age of the person surveyed with the highest support (80% plus) amongst the under-25s and the poorest in the over-45s (30% or less).

      The racism towards Irish speakers is derived, directly and indisputably, from our colonial history and colonial attitudes. It is simply, and demonstrably, counter-historical to argue otherwise. A sizeable minority of the Irish people hate the Irish language and Irish-speakers because they perceive them to be “alien” on one hand and “indigenous” on the other. It is an inherited form of racism, a post-colonial after-effect of centuries of anti-Irish rule, laws, education and propaganda.

      It is so obvious that it hardly needs stating.

      Our native language, our national language, is the Irish language. It does not mean there is no place for English or English-speaking communities (most obviously in relation to the ethno-political minority living in the north-east of the country). Far from it. But compulsion, forcing Irish-speaking citizens and communities to conform to the language and culture of our ex-colonial masters, is utterly unacceptable. Irish-speaking people are not second-class citizens in their own country nor should they expect to be. They have the same right to the resources of the state, and services from the state, as their English-speaking peers.

      Bilingualism has not failed. It was never tried in the first place.

      How long must Irish Ireland wait in second place to English Ireland?

      All that said, thanks for your contribution. Even if I disagree with some of your points it is most welcome.

      • Jack Delaney says:

        I am very interested to see that the stats show that under 25’s seem to support the Irish language more.
        I am 28 and I did not grow up with the Irish language as a first language- I am from the travelling community and we have a language that we use that is similar to Irish called Shelter.
        I personally did not have to go through allot of the problems people seem to have had with Irish being drummed into them as I left formal education very early. But as soon as I got the chance I decided to embark on a learning of Irish and and am still learning and am confident that I will be fluent.
        I have realized that for me personally the Irish language simply provides an appropriate structure for my Irish mind, which seems to fit much better than English- Which gives me great incentive to expand my vocabulary so as to ‘transfer’ my mind into Irish.
        It is admittedly something that I am ‘doing’ rather than me being raised with it, but nevertheless I have a great love for the language and feel that it is becoming more popular among young people.

        • Some great points there, Jack.

          It is certainly worth noting the widely-held theory amongst historians suggesting the origins of the Traveller population in the communities of late Medieval and post-Famine Ireland displaced by Britain’s colonial wars in our country. That, in part, may explain the prejudice members of the Traveller community face from the settled community, particularly the urban, east coast English-speaking one.

          Is there an echo of old ethnic tensions here between (exiled) native Irish and (new) English settlers and planters?

          Likewise, how much of the prejudice from some English-speakers in Ireland towards Irish-speakers derives from old historical patterns of invasion, conquest and colonisation?

          It has been frequently stated by foreign academics that anti-Irish bigotry or hatred in Ireland originates in a widely held, if rarely acknowledged, view that Irish-speakers in Ireland are somehow more genuinely Irish, or indigenous, than English-speakers.

          Is the intolerance towards Irish-speakers and Travellers a shared experience because both are viewed in popular culture as more “historically” Irish than some English-speaking Irish people?

          I think there is definitely a study paper or two in that.

          Thanks for Commenting, Jack, all feedback and opinions much appreciated.

          • Jack says:

            You know,
            This is one of the questions that has haunted me since I can remember. I honestly do not know the history of travelers but there is some evidence to say that it does stretch to before the famine and the Cromwellian conquest, However there is no doubt for me that those events caused people to become travelers or join existing bands of travelers as travelers were adept in that lifestyle.
            I do however sense an almost subconscious discrimination for no reason which does baffle me. It is not too different to the one that people feel when you say something in Irish to them !!.
            I believe we are no aware of the deeper effects of evolutionary psychology and genetic legacy which has allot to do with things like this.

            • Irish-speakers are recognisably, through language and culture, associated with the indigenous population of Ireland.
              Travellers are arguably, through genetics and history, associated with the indigenous population of Ireland.

              Irish-speakers are discriminated against in contemporary English-speaking Irish society.
              Travellers are discriminated against in contemporary English-speaking Irish society.

              There is a case to be made that these things are not unrelated.

              You make some interesting points on the legacy of culture and genes. This might be of interest to you, Folk Memory.

  5. Jen says:

    Great post! I am wondering if you can point me to any scholarly articles/publications about the history of the Irish language. I am working on my PhD in conflict analysis and resolution. I have decided to write my final paper for Irish Social Conflict about the conflicts surrounding the use of Irish in Ireland. I was thinking it would probably be easier to concentrate in the North. I have access to databases and libraries at two universities, but my searches are turning few results. Perhaps you have some better search techniques for this topic?

    Thanks!

  6. I wouldn’t say Irish speakers are racists .. perhaps some of them are and I suppose I wouldn’t be too fond of them for it .. but I’d hardly ‘hate’ them [Your Headline - LETS SPEAK THE TRUTH: THOSE WHO HATE IRISH SPEAKERS DO SO BECAUSE THEY ARE RACISTS is ambiguous and open to more than one interpretation] … Bi cúramach.

    • Hi Jonathan and thanks for the Comment. I was paraphrasing the sentiments expressed by Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh of course though I think the meaning of the headline is clear enough. Certainly no one else has seen more than one interpretation. Then I suppose it is in the eye of the beholder :-)

  7. This is an interesting take on the subject! When is racism not racism? http://athfhas.blogspot.ie/2013/11/saoirse-phreasa-chosaint.html

  8. ancroiait says:

    Ceart ar fad aici.

  9. Ronan Shaw says:

    Speaking I’ll of a language is not racism,for English and Irish speakers of Irish descent consider themselves the same race. I’d could be as little as ones ability to learn languages in school or which primary schools you were sent to.The customs, language and social behaviour of a society change over time and many people in Ireland feel we don’t want or need a separate language. I’ve never once heard anyone argue for Irish speaker to be rewarded less marks in school or not be eligible for grants with English speakers are. All I want is “positive” discrimination to stop. For the children of two English speaking people not to be forced to learn a language their parents don’t like.For it not to be mandatory for entry to college or defense forces.
    I Think the oppression of a peoples culture is wrong. Thats why government should not force what they believe to be the right and one true culture of Ireland on people but let people decide themselves. I

    • Some interesting points, Rónán, however the implication is that the majority of the Irish people voluntarily moved from being monolingual Irish-speakers to being monolingual English-speakers. That this was some sort of natural, evolutionary or democratic process. It was not. The change on this island nation came about through invasion, occupation, annexation, deportation and extermination.

      Colonialism was the driving force for the language shift in Ireland.

      Since this was a man-made change is it not reasonable to believe that a man-made effort can change us back to what we were? That a great historical wrong, a crime against humanity, can be righted?

      This is the experience of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Catalonia, Flanders and numerous other European nations where languages artificially brought to the point of extinction have been artificially revived – that is revived in actuality.

      Speaking English in Ireland is mandatory for all adult Irish-speaking citizens. Speaking Irish is not and never has been mandatory for all adult English-speaking citizens. That is the difference.

      Have you ever once in your adult life in Ireland been discriminated against for speaking English? Have you ever been verbally abused for speaking English? Have you ever been threatened on the street for speaking English? Have you ever been instructed to speak only English? Have you ever been made to feel embarrassed or ashamed for having an English surname?

      I have experienced all those things in my adult life.

  10. Ronan Shaw says:

    I am not imply anything about how people came to speak English In Ireland today. I am stating that Its not racist not to want your child alive today forced to learn Irish against their own and your wishes.I’m arguing against man made change of the first language of the majority of Irish citizens because it is their mother and fathers first language they’ve learnt from birth. And I think you’ll agree forcing children into a language they can’t communicate with their parents in is never right. Two wrong don’t make a right.
    English is necessary for all adults alive today in Ireland, not mandatory. But If the removal of compulsory English in schools for Irish speakers is what you want I won’t oppose it.
    I had my primary education through the nineties and never went near a brothers school. My name is just Ronan Shaw. Having my name translated so it had fada’s and the h removed from Shaw to make it Irish was one of the first things I remember about my Irish instruction. I was shouted at, singled out and made stand for hours by many teachers for speaking English to answer questions, including being refused to use the toilet because I could never ask correctly in Irish. Those hours each week I spent forced to try to read aloud and being mocked are the most hellish of my life, still vivid in memory and upsetting to me twenty years later.
    By secondary school I was not easily bullied and teachers already jaded by others before me made little attempt to teach me Irish and but still I was force to spend hours sitting in classes I couldn’t follow and not allowed study anything else.Despite good grades in everything but Irish and French by leaving certificate I realized I was greatly limited in what colleges I could attend because I failing pass Irish. I was still made sit exams and study Irish despite no teacher ever expressing a confidence I could learn the language.
    In what I guess is a rare chain of events for someone without a word of Irish I found myself living and working in Irish speaking areas of the west of Ireland. References to being from the pale and not truly being Irish did regularly occur although bothered me little. Often I was Insulted through Irish to my face, I only know this from the laughs and sneers of others having not understood a word myself.
    The abuse that we both encountered are wrong. I can’t stop individuals wronging you, but its a simple change to stop the systematic wronging of children like me.

    • But the logic of that argument leads one to a position where we would not teach any languages but the English language in our schools. If language teaching and use should be solely based on that of the majority then out go French, German, Spanish and others.

      The reason why teaching Irish in the education system has had such a minimal effect is because the state deliberately and knowingly ghettoised the language in the schools. What is the point of spending 14 years teaching children Irish in a class in a school when outside of that class and that school they have no opportunities to use it or experience it? We have made it impossible for schoolchildren to progress beyond a few words or sentences precisely by failing to providing the means by which they could use the language in their daily lives.

      That is why the Catalans looked to Ireland in their language revival in the 1990s and asked: what did the Irish do? Precisely so they could do the opposite! ;-)

      Catalan has now been revived as the majority language in Catalonia through a policy of state bilingualism, a policy NOT confined to the education system.

      The same thing has taken place in Québec where in the 1960s linguists and sociologists were confident that French as a living language in North America would be extinct within 50 years. Predictions were made that by 2000 there would no no Francophones left in Québec and this was taken as a fait accompli. In fact by 2000 some 98% of the population there could speak French, over 90% as native French-speakers.

      It was political will in all these language revivals that changed everything coupled with official bilingualism required in all areas of society.

      I campaign for a similar effort here. You and those that agree with you are certainly free to campaign on behalf of English. I genuinely have no problems with that. Let the people decide. My problem is with the discrimination that Irish-speakers face in daily society, as reflected in the national news media. Why is it necessary for the English language lobby to dehumanize Irish-speakers? Why the constant denigration and incitement to hatred?

      If you personally experienced negative reactions for being an Anglophone that is wrong, without equivocation. But it cannot be compared to the experiences of Hibernophones which go far beyond negativity and which are institutionalised in the very state they live in.

  11. Ronan Shaw says:

    No, It doesn’t follow my reasoning that languages not be taught. Removing Irish from compulsory status does not mean the end of all languages being taught. I believe learning a second language to be important. Its about choice and many would choose to learn Spanish, German or French before Irish. I believe they should be allowed. So I’d agree with the quotes taken from the Irish times. I was taught Irish in primary school when I could have been learning a language that allows to to speak to 100 million rather than to the handful of Irish speakers who aren’t bilingual
    You keep coming back to why its being reinstated as the first language in the wrong way, not addressing the point that a majority of people are happy with the language they speak now and do not want to change it. Its not lack of opportunity to use Irish but lack of want to.I have little interest in righting the wrongs that gave this tongue to my fore-bearers and a great interest in seeing no disadvantage heaped on my child while you try to. I am one of the Irish people so convince me why should we go to the lengths of changing are first language?

    What will the Irish people gain from the pains and efforts of reinstating Irish?

    And I can’t help think the use of “ghettoised” draws comparison with the treatment of Jews under Nazi’s. Starvation, forced labour and death regardless of anything but the family you were born into, is that what the Irish government have Institutionalized for Irish speakers in your mind? The heads of Irish state speak Irish, there is not one sentence written into Irish law that tries to demean the Irish speaker. The practicality of living in a country were the vast majority use English as a first language and all but a handle of Irish speakers can speak it means the state conducts its business through English. Therefore the fact that necessity drives Irish speakers to be bilingual is not discrimination.
    The case you linked of a man expecting two Dublin garda to be able to speak Irish while asking him to providing his licence certainly doesn’t sound like discrimination to me. The fact that a garda in a city which speaks English are constitutionally required to speak Irish to those that choice(note it doesn’t matter if you can speak English) is proof not of discrimination in Irish law against Irish speakers but for them.

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

    Nominated 2014: Best News, Current Affairs, Politics, Mobile Blog Categories; Best Blog Post

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