Veteran former newspaper editor and journalist Gerard O’Regan has a somewhat tongue-in-cheek article in the Irish Independent headlined:
“It’s pointless keeping Irish on this sentimental life support”
The thrust of the piece is of course familiar from our anglophone media establishment and it ends with a self-evidently fallacious point:
“Would modern-day realists not argue that there are only three world languages – methods of communication, if you like – that really matter? And we Irish are fortunate to be reasonably adept at them all.
They are, of course, English, soccer and Google.”
A rather shallow argument to say the least and O’Regan himself in the past has acknowledged the tokenistic commitments of the Irish political elites to the indigenous language and culture of this island nation. However I am reminded of some recent words I read from the artist Eoin Mac Lochlainn:
“I grew up in an Irish-speaking family in Dublin city. This was unusual at the time, there wasn’t that many Irish-speakers living in the city – the Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas were mostly located on the west coast of Ireland.
So, when we spoke Irish to each other in the city, we spoke quietly. In a way, we were a little ethnic minority, keeping our heads down, hoping to pass unnoticed. Well yes, looking back on it, I think that was strange – why would we want to hide our culture, our unique identity in our own country? But… it’s complicated. I think that it was somehow tied up with the post-colonial condition, although it wasn’t our “colonial masters” that we were hiding from. We were wary of our fellow citizens in Dublin city who seemed to look with scorn on anything Irish – our language, our music, even our sports.”
Much has changed for the “Hidden Irish” – but as we can see so much has stayed the same.