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It’s time to speak up for spoken Gaelic

February 27, 2014

We need more emphasis on spoken Gaelic and we need more opportunities to use our native language, without any pressure or ‘compulsion’ towards perfect grammar.

The State must play its part, as Gaeilgeoir Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh intimated recently in an RTÉ interview, but so must businesses and every public service outlets. It would be so easy to have an oifigeach Ghaeilge, employed as a bilingual public servant, at a check-out, desk, or customer-service counter that displays a public notice ‘Gnó Tré Ghaeilge’. It would give us a chance to use our ‘cúpla focal’ without putting any public servant under pressure and would reveal a friendly attitude towards the use of Irish. I find it hard to comprehend that millions of euro are being spent on translating EU documents into Irish, when our native tongue is slowly slipping away from our grasp here at home. The time for paying ‘lip-service’ to the cúpla focal should be in the ‘aimsir caite’. We must promote its use in everyday conversation, in schools, and especially in the public service, to encourage the ‘shy Gaeilgeoir’ and spread a Gaeilge-friendly atmosphere i dTír ghlas na hÉireann.

Eilís Uí Bhriain
Caislean UíLiatháin
Co Chorcaí


Clár Sheachtain na Gaeilge ar líne

February 27, 2014

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Scrúdaithe TEG fógartha

February 27, 2014

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Sparánachtaí taighde ar fáil ó COGG

February 27, 2014

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Out of this world support

February 27, 2014

Seachtain na Gaeilge has even won support from an astronaut this year.

Born-again Irishman, Commander Chris Hadfield, features on a video promoting the events. He says: ‘Is leatsa í, mar sin úsáid í’ (‘It’s yours, use it.’) Last year, Commander Hadfield put Ireland on the map with the first tweet from space as Gaeilge: “Tá Éire fíorálainn” (Ireland is beautiful). This year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge ambassadors are Dublin footballer Ciarán Kilkenny, TG4’s Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, and Lynette Fay of BBC Radio Ulster.

Thousands of events have been organised, including Saturday’s national opening in Killarney, a street festival with a free concert, and Rith 2014 – a national relay run from Cork to Belfast. On Saturday there will be a match at Somerton GAA pitch in Dublin between Ciarán Kilkenny’s club, Castleknock and the Irish-speaking club Na Gaeil Óga.


OPINION: Our next storm is coming from the Gaeltacht

February 27, 2014

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 weekend when I saw the first pictures of an angry protest march through the centre of Dublin, just as this frail economy was desperately trying to recover from the devastating effects of storm Darwin. It seemed like the perfect time to raise another storm. 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.

Everyone has a right to march for fair play and justice, and no-one is denying the fact that the Irish language is very close to the hearts of many people in this country and beyond. But 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 in 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. Although one marcher did complain that she wrote an email in Irish to the HSE and got a reply in English. She should be thankful that she got a reply. I couldn’t even apply for the pension myself without indicating whether I wanted to do so in Irish or English. I checked with Social Welfare, after spending an hour trying to get through. “No,” said an irate public servant at other end. “You won’t get bonus points if you apply through Irish.” I must be brainwashed! There must be a better way of keeping the life in the language without resorting to bully tactics and guilt provocation. Tir gan teanga, tir gan anam has become a jaded cliché, especially since the country would have no problem selling its soul to the highest bidder if it got half a chance.

Anyhow the farcical antics of many of the protesters on Saturday did nothing at all for the dignity of the ancient tongue they purported to be trying to save. If I were an Irish language enthusiast myself, I’d have been mortified. Some of them couldn’t even hide their own self interests. The march apparently was organised in response to the news that the Language Commissioner, Sean O’ Cuirreann, is to resign over the Government’s failure to improve services in Irish. Look, hasn’t the Government enough on its plate at this delicate stage of our economic recovery, without having to maintain another quango for just 70,000 Gaeltacht dwellers? The bottom line is the cost of our delusions. We really don’t have the resources to indulge our supposed grandeur or national uniqueness. And 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?


Éiríonn Ó Cuirreáin as a chúram mar choimisinéir

February 27, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Irish language under threat

February 27, 2014

A chara, – While Eanna Coffey (February 24th) is more than entitled to his opinion, one feels he may be coming from rather a limited viewpoint.

As someone who has managed this far to receive all education through Irish (up to Masters level), and who communicates professionally and personally through Irish every day, nobody told me that “the Irish language is functionally useless in the modern economy, and as such the money spent is an extremely poor investment”. I believe I may be the antithesis of Mr Coffey’s rather unfounded sweeping statements, along with many others who contribute to Ireland’s modern economy, and who have managed, thus far, to stay in employment since leaving university. I may be part of a minority, but I prefer this to being part of the majority still leaving Ireland to find employment. – Is mise,

Baile na hAbhann,
Co na Gaillimhe.

A chara, – They say you can use statistics in an attempt to prove anything and Eanna Coffey’s letter criticising the use of the Irish language (February 24th) certainly gives credence to that. According to Census 2011 the main statistic concerning the use of the Irish and Polish languages stated that 1.77 million people speak as Gaeilge on a daily basis here, while 112,811 speak Polish. This fact should put the rest of Mr Coffey’s letter in some perspective. – Is mise,

Whitehall Road,
Churchtown, Dublin 14.

A chara, – Perhaps Eanna Coffey is mistaken about the simple demands made by muintir na Gaeilge in the past few weeks. Far from demanding that Irish replace English in Ireland, an aspiration given up on by the government in 1965, fair and equitable treatment by both governments is all we seek. It would seem from Brian Mac a’ Bhaird’s letter that far more resources were squandered by Revenue in trying to dissuade him from using Irish than simply fulfilling its own legally binding commitment as laid out in its own language scheme. The Iarchoimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin has stated that the structural changes needed to provide these services would be “cost neutral”. It is not a matter of money. It is a matter of practice, recognition and respect. While we all agree, especially muintir na Gaeilge, that changes need to be brought in to the curriculum, hyperbolic accusations that children are “force-fed” like foie gras Gaeilgeoirí are not representative of reality or of the attitudes of all young people. Mr Coffey should ask the thousands of young people who gave up their Saturday at midterm to march for language rights their opinion rather than speaking for them. – Is mise,

Páirc na Canálach Ríoga,
Baile an Ásaigh,
Baile Átha Cliath 15.

A chara, – According to Eanna Coffey “the Irish language is functionally useless in the modern economy, and as such the money spent is an extremely poor investment” (February 25th). Even were that true, why should we value things only on their economic utility? And, given that the country has been economically wrecked by following the wisdom of the so-called financial experts, I see no reason to think that investing in our culture and identity isn’t a sound idea; even if it doesn’t bring money rolling in, at least it won’t end up with us owing foreign banks and investors vast fortunes. – Is mise,

Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.


Earrach na Gaeilge ag bláthú faoi dheireadh

February 27, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

How students are learning Gaeilge with rugbaí beo agus YouTube

February 27, 2014

As Irish scores through live rugby and Twitter, Kim Bielenberg looks ahead to Seachtain na Gaeilge

It is all about taking the Irish language out of the classroom on to the dancefloor, and possibly putting the results up on YouTube. Hundreds of thousands of people will take part in Seachtain na Gaeilge, which gets under way on Saturday. The events will be launched in Killarney with a performance by Seo Linn, the band that created one of the unexpected smash video hits of the past year. More than 3.5 million people have viewed Seo Linn’s Irish language version of Avicii’s hit ‘ Wake Me Up’ since it was recorded with students at Coláiste Lurgan in the Connemara Gaeltacht last summer.

It is by far the most popular Irish language video ever made and one of a string of unlikely hits for the summer college in Co Galway. YouTube has now become a popular medium for Irish. Organisers of Seachtain na Gaeilge hope the popularity of the videos will help to boost the events, which run from this weekend until St Patrick’s Day. “Until now many young people have seen Irish as a subject that you study in school,” says Seachtain na Gaeilge manager Brenda Ní Ghairbhí. “The whole purpose of the events over the next fortnight is to take it out of the classroom and show that it is something to be enjoyed. “In the past, people had negative connotations about school work and Irish. There is more focus on the spoken language now, and that is helping it to become popular.” She says videos such as those produced by Coláiste Lurgan show how Irish can be fun. Last year, students and staff at the summer college started making their film at 7.30am one day, and did not finish until 3am the following morning. One of the ambassadors for Seachtain na Gaeilge this year is Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, presenter of TG4’s popular sports programme, Rugbaí Beo. TG4 has won hundreds of thousands of viewers beyond the gaeilgeoir fraternity with its lively coverage of the provinces in the RaboDirect Pro 12 league.

Máire grew up in an Irish-speaking area of Connemara, where her mother comes from. Her father hails from the rugby heartland of Limerick, and she wore a Munster shirt from a young age. “Rugby on TG4 has a huge following and I think it normalises the language as something to be enjoyed, and not something that you just do at school,” says the presenter. The native Irish speaker had a stint as a primary school teacher in a gaelscoil before she got a job at the Irish language station. “As ambassador for Seachtain na Gaeilge, I want to motivate people to speak it, and not to worry too much about making mistakes or breaking the rules. “Whether it is watching rugby or making a video, people can focus on what is happening — and the fact that it is in Irish does not really matter.” During the rugby broadcasts, she is joined by pundits such as the former government press secretary Eoghan Ó Neachtain, who played rugby for the defence forces. He is a fluent Irish speaker. Also on the panel are former internationals Jerry Flannery and Marcus Horan.

“They have really immersed themselves in the language since becoming analysts and are getting better all the time.” Aodhán Ó Deá , youth Coordinator at Conradh Gaeilge, says Irish is not just enjoying a video boom. “There is evidence that its use is growing rapidly on Twitter and Facebook. It is one of the top hundred languages used on social media. “Young people are now much more open to using it. When you have a big event such as a blizzard across the country, people will use an Irish hashtag on Twitter, such as #sneachta. It gives a sense of uniqueness.” During the recent wet weather, tweeters have used the hashtag, #whatthefliuch. The youth co-ordinator says there has been a surge in popularity of the language in thirdlevel colleges recently. The Cumann Gaelach in UCD now has 2,000 members, making it one of the most popular college societies. There are similar groups in 26 colleges across the country. “In the colleges, there are nights out, people sing in Irish and the language is seen as cool.” Aodhán Ó Deá says there is still a stigma among older people about speaking Irish in public, however. “In some places, if you start talking Irish people think you are being awkward or rude, or even cheeky. Hopefully that is declining.” During Seachtain na Gaeilge, many schools will have days when only Irish is spoken.

Seachtain manager Brenda Ní Ghairbhí says the secondlevel curriculum could be improved to give a further boost to the language. “Many in the Irish language movement believe there should be two subjects. The core subject would be about language and communication. Then there could be a second subject, based on culture, literature and history.” Aodhán Ó Deá says that at primary level schools could be encouraged to use the language in other subjects, such as art and PE. The idea for Seachtain na Gaeilge was first put into practice at the start of the last century, but it has ebbed and flowed in popularity over the decades.


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