After sunset this evening we will officially be in the period of the Feis Shamhna, the Festival of Samhain, from which is derived in large part the Western World’s celebration of All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween. Under the indigenous Irish, Scottish and Manx calendars Samhain was the great festival marking the commencement of winter and possibly the new year too. Nearly 1500 years after the conversion to Christianity the Gaelic nations continue to celebrate one of the most important cultural events of their Celtic ancestors, albeit in a much debased form.
So it is a sad irony and a true reflection of the linguistic regime that we live under that the eve of Samhain is the very day that the government of Ireland announces an end to its tokenistic effort to encourage the positioning or recruitment of Irish-speaking officials to the civil service. Already forced to speak English in virtually all interactions with the institutions of this state, from the highest to the lowest levels, this policy move will ensure that Irish-speaking citizens and communities in Ireland are further denied access to the resources of the state unless they surrender to anglophone conformity.
Which, given the unrelenting antipathy of the Fine Gael and Labour coalition government to its indigenous-speaking citizens, is perhaps the very purpose of the policy change.
Ireland, an Irish nation? Don’t make me laugh.