Ann Marie Hourihane

Ann Marie Hourihane – Carrying The Torch For The English Language In Ireland!

Maybe I should start a new series? One devoted to recording the amount of bile and hatred directed towards Irish speakers in the “Irish” news media? There is certainly plenty of material out there. The latest offering comes hot on the heels of a positive review of Irish speakers in contemporary Ireland by the Irish Times. Up to the plate steps regular IT columnist Ann Marie Hourihane, writer-turned-comedian-turned-actress-turned-journalist-turned-whateveryoufancy, bat in hand swinging for every Gaeilgeoir in sight.

It starts with the headline:

“What’s the Irish for ‘leave those kids alone’?”

Reading that you may be thinking Pink Floyd. In Ireland, these days, most people will be thinking a series of scandals involving the sexual abuse of children. A coincidence? In a newspaper headline? Hardly. So the tone is set and off we go, bat swinging.

“…it’s time we all took a closer look at the Twenty Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 . And that won’t take too long, because it’s kind of on the beag side.

If you look at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht website you will see one of the aims of this complex strategy, which emerged from several commissioned reports that were paid for with your airgead, is neatly summed up thus: “To increase the number of people who speak Irish on a daily basis outside the education system from 83,000 to 250,000.”

What’s the Irish word for ambition again? I think we should be told.”

Hilarious. I can see why she was a comedian and sketch writer. Twenty years ago.

“Come on, we’ve wasted enough time on this nonsense. It is one thing to be taught Irish by your loving family in a happy home, as most of the Irish-language enthusiasts quoted in the article Mise agus an Gaeilge , published in this newspaper on Saturday, appear to have been. It is quite another to have the educational opportunities of hundreds of thousands of Irish children squandered in hours of non-teaching of a non-spoken language.”

Erm. A non-spoken language that is in fact spoken in some peoples loving families in happy homes? So it’s not exactly non-spoken then is it? Ah, but of course. These people are “enthusiasts”. Like train spotters. Hmm. So are German people in Germany who speak German “enthusiasts”, or French people in France who speak French?

No? So then Irish people in Ireland speaking Irish is kinda, um, normal?

But what about Irish people in Ireland speaking English? Is that not a wee bit, enthusiastic?

“Too many Irish children leave primary school unable to confidently read or write their mother tongue – by which I mean English. And now we see the numbers of special-needs teachers drastically cut – while of course the pensions of our former taoisigh remain reassuringly high, but that’s another day’s obair – and our unfortunate páistí still being dragooned into this national charade.”

Ah. So Irish speakers are to blame for the numbers of special needs teachers and assistants in our schools being reduced? And the exorbitant pensions of ex-government ministers? Wow. These people really are to blame for everything, aren’t they? It’s like a global conspiracy of Gaels. Irish-speaking rats scurrying behind the walls of society gnawing away at the foundations of our western civilization. We really should do something about it. Maybe hold a night-time torch-lit parade or something? Burn a few books? That’s always good!

“Meanwhile, the second language of this country is actually Chinese.”

Ooops! Did Angloban HQ not send out their latest communiqué to Ann Marie? Anglophone militants in Ireland no longer claim that Chinese is the second most spoken language in the country. No, they claim it’s Polish. No matter that the claim is equally untrue. In fact it’s a flat out lie. But hey, repeat a lie often enough and loud enough and soon everyone will come to believe it. Now which group perfected that form of propaganda? Back in the 1930s? Err… Oh well, I’m sure it will come to me eventually.

“Then there is the whole translation scam, by which all official documents must be translated into Irish. As we all know, the number of people who will read these vital communications in Irish is so small it would be much cheaper to send them all to live in Switzerland, keep them in cocaine for the rest of their lives and phone them individually with each translation as it limps off the presses.”

Oh, hilarious. Why aren’t you still writing for RTÉ, Ann Marie? Really. No matter that the same amount of state documents read in English is proportional to the same amount read in Irish. We’re going for the big lie here, folks. And with a smile!

“…I wrote that the Irish language was our equivalent of the hijab, the headscarf worn by orthodox Muslim women as a badge of identity and compliance, a figleaf to cover a web of unacknowledged weaknesses.”

Well done! There is the perfect analogy. Hijab, Mulsim women, oppression, lack of freedom, religious intolerance, Islam, extremism, terrorism – Irish speakers! It all fits together! Oh Ann Marie, you cute Hourihane, you paint pictures in my mind with your finely crafted words…

But why do I have this sudden urge to buy a beige shirt? Or do I mean a brown one?

Och well…

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