One of the last monolingual Irish-speakers in Ireland being interviewed by the British historian Michael Wood for his 1985 BBC documentary “In Search of the Trojan War”. Does he look like a member of an “affluent, Mercedes-driving, latté-sipping, urban, Gaelic-speaking elite”? Or the last survivor of a people driven to the point of near-extinction? A point, perhaps, for the next Anglophone supremacist bigot you encounter.

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3 comments on “No Second Troy

  1. A feature story like that would never make in on the air today, I would imagine. Too bad, because it’s interesting on many levels: the fading way of life represented by the Irish-speaking story teller; the fact that no one else was learning the stories he knew or, presumably, following in his footsteps; that he was continuing a tradition that likely dated back many centuries, if not longer; etc.

    To paraphrase Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All languages are equal; some are just more equal than others.”

    • Indeed, most Irish people are “uncomfortable” with such reminders of the fact that they are little more than English people with an accent.

      At the start of the 20th century Ireland, under British colonial rule, had some 20,000-30,000 monolingual Irish-speakers. At the start of the 21st century Ireland, under independent self-rule, had – and has – zero monolingual Irish-speakers. That did not happen accidentally. It was a policy of state, “ethnic” extermination through discriminatory laws, practices and lack of services or resources.

      It is hard to view it any other way.

      • No one wants to be treated as a second-class citizen and no one wants their children to be treated as second-class citizens. If the populace recognizes that speaking a certain language brings with it inherent disadvantages, they’re going to discourage their children from speaking that language.

        We in North America have seen hundreds of languages die out over the past few hundred years as Native Americans have been forcibly assimilated or erradicated into or by White society. There’s little question that this was a state policy.

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