English versus An Ghaeilge
English versus An Ghaeilge

The Limerick Leader carries an opinion piece by conservative columnist Patricia Feehily that plumbs the noxious depths of Anglophone intolerance as she attacks the Irish-speaking communities and citizens of Ireland, and their desire for full equal rights with their English-speaking peers. As usual we find the anachronistic terminology of anti-Irish racism which is rooted in the history of Britain’s colonial rule in Ireland given full expression as Hibernophones are labelled as “fanatics”. For only in Ireland could men, women and children who speak the language of their own nation be subject to victimization and hatred for not wishing to speak the language of another nation.

Here are some of the article’s dubious highlights:

“SOMETIMES I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming – or hallucinating, as the case may be. It happened again at the week-end when I saw the first pictures of an angry protest march through the centre of Dublin…

Over 5,000 ‘gaeilgeoiri with a grudge’ were marching from Parnell Square to the Dail to demand their civil rights in what sounded like an angry ‘gael’ force wind. Most of them were incandescent with rage, their faces painted red to indicate varying stages of apoplexy, and, no doubt, to put the fear of God in the rest of us. As I’ve said, I had to pinch myself.

But is this a new departure in the campaign to restore the Irish language? If it is, I’m petrified.

The protesters claimed that Irish language communities were sick of being treated like “second class citizens”. Well, maybe they should try living like the rest of us then, without the industrial grants, the rent subsidies, the special housing aids and the employment grants, not to talk of the extra points in the Leaving cert and the reserved places in primary teacher training colleges. Far from being disadvantaged, Irish language speakers are the most pampered and the most indulged minority group in the whole EU and I think it’s time someone had the guts to tell them that they are not, by any means, the biggest priority facing the country at the moment.

…there are many others, like myself, who chose not to define either our identity or our Irishness by the tongue we speak. Seeing that we are in the majority, do we not deserve a break now and then from the incessant whinge that emanates from the ranks of the gaeilgeoiri claiming that the country is not doing enough to restore the language? Short of beating the English out of us with whips, I don’t know what more the Government can do with limited resources to satisfy the unreasonable demands of the fanatics. I was force fed Irish as a child. Now it’s being forced on my consciousness. Everywhere I go, it’s in my face, from road signs with dumbed down Irish place names to ballot papers with confusing options. It seems to me that there is no public service now that isn’t available in both Irish and English.

…even if we did strike gold or oil in the morning, it would be impossible to satisfy the demands of the gaeilgeoiri who I suspect, want nothing less than a fully staffed alternative administration for themselves – all 70,000 of them. 

On the other hand, I think they’d get a right shock if their plan succeeded and we all abandoned the English language and started spouting a cupla million focail in the morning.

What would happen then to the elite status they currently enjoy? What would become of the righteous superiority that sustains many of them in a nation where they are vastly outnumbered by people with lesser Irish credentials, like me?”

Is there any part of this opinionated piece that could be labelled fair commentary or an analysis of current affairs? When a newspaper columnist must resort to untruths and the propagation of conspiracy theories about Irish-speaking “elites” to prove her or his point then we have entered dangerous times. This is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for the Anglophone extreme but with Hibernophones in the role of the “rats” scurrying furtively in the shadows.

If you wish to protest the dissemination of this anti-pluralist poison then can I suggest that you contact the Limerick Leader and its editor, Alan English, at news@limerickleader.ie. Or you can report the publication to the Press Ombudsman using the complaints process outlined here. Alternatively you can log the event here.

12 comments on “If You Tolerate This

  1. Note: Given the use of litigation by journalists and other media figures in Ireland to silence their critics and deter contrary views please be careful when commenting or you may leave yourself open to legal action.


    • an lorcánach

      that’s got to be a joke there about legal action, right sionnach? — but does that mean then that accusations of gaelophobia are comparable to homophobia? — does that mean that the sh*t-stirring-mendacious-commentariat can write what they want with thre backup of a swift clubbing by shillelagh-slaying lawyers? — Jesus, we’re really f*cked!


      • No joke I’m afraid. Can’t go into too much detail but I am aware of one or two well-known firms of solicitors in Dublin eager to get on the litigation gravytrain on behalf of several controversy-seeking media figures. Personally I’m quite prepared for it but others should be aware too. It seems that dissent will not be permitted…


  2. It’s important that the Irish language movement not focus its public demonstrations on the needs of only 70,000 Gaeltacht residents, but on the rights of children and their parents all across the country to receive their education in Irish. This is a Civil Rights issue for everyone in that 800,000 Irish children and their parents are denied access to an education in the first language of the nation.


  3. Go Halla An Náire le Patricia.


  4. To translate a paragraph the former Coimisinéir Teanga’s statement to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on 23 Januray 2014: “We have two simple choices – to look back at Irish as our lost language or forward with it as a core part of our heritage and sovereignty.” It would appear that this lady, without really taking the time or trouble to ask who were marching in Dublin or why, has taken one choice. She appears to be among those for whom, in the words of our President, “the Irish language is not half dead enough!”

    Has she even taken the time to read what the Coimisinéir Teanga said on 23rd of January which in no small way lead to these demonstrations? In fact the changes that he advocates would create no extra expense on the state in fact it might save taxpayers money, not to say, considerable grief and heartbreak. Why doesn’t she ask how that could be?


  5. an lorcánach

    Does this mean then we write Swiftian pamphlets on toilet paper and deliver them to Indepenent House Online via blog/twitter? – am giddy with expectation -:) “Ar aghaigh linn: Fág a’ bealach, Patricia, a phlaidhce!”


  6. Replace “Irish” with most any race, religion or sexual orientation in this article and there’d be a hullabaloo that would end with this writer being fired. This reminds me of what I the words I’ve read that bigots espoused during the 1960s’ Civil Rights Movement in the US, that activists were only looking to stir up trouble where none existed.


  7. And what solution do you propose?
    To reinstate language skill requirements for civil service workers again?
    You repealed them long ago.


  8. Graham Ennis

    Ireland is a tragic place. Before the Irish Genocide, there were nine and a half million people living in ireland. About 80% of them could speak Irish. After the terrible events there were not more than about three million left in Ireland. Now the surviving numbers are just 70,000 who can actually speak the ancient language, and actually use it. Surrounded by a largely monoglot, indifferent, hostile anglophone general population. If they were Jews, everyone would be sympathetic. As it is, they have been reduced to the “Last of the Mohicans” parked on a sort of “Indian reservation” . I weep, I weep. Castlereagh’s last, grim vengeance on Ireland has come to pass..


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