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Irish and ‘language snobs’

March 26, 2014

No reply Sir, – On the subject of the Irish language, which has been featuring in these columns over the last few days, I feel I must express some pent-up feelings that have been with me for decades.

Going to school in Dublin 4 during the 1950s, at all times during Irish class I was reminded that I was not a “fíor gaeilgeoir”. Terms like “seonín” were used liberally and frequently. I was good at Irish and got more than 90 per cent in my Leaving Cert and I have retained a strong affection for the language. But that did not matter during class time.

The school did not have a GAA team – neither did it have a soccer team. It had a rugby team, and I was its captain at several age levels. No opportunity was ever missed to remind me of “garrison towns”.
Some of my classmates were from rural Ireland. The favouritism shown to them by the teacher was little short of sectarian.
Needless to say, most of the rest in the class were completely demotivated from ever having any interest in speaking or having a strong feeling for the retention of the language.

How wonderful now to have TG4 showing Rugbaí Beo . I don’t care if Jerry Flannery’s Irish isn’t perfect (his rugby was very nearly). Can we get on with preserving the language by making it living and not an academic exercise? Yours, etc,

Glasnevin Hill,
Dublin i9

Sir, – The only meaningful way to ensure the continuity of the Irish language in Ireland is if we mandate a high percentage of all broadcasting to be made in Irish. This would allow people the ability to think of the language outside of school. A similar policy has worked wonders for Catalan. So why not in Ireland? Yours, etc,

Annagh lodge,
Co Sligo

A Chara,- Tá go leor scríofa, agas cainte déanta, faoi “Ceist na Gaeilge”. Is trua gur i mBéarla a bhíonn sé! Tá sé in am dúinn anois ár dteanga Ghaeilge a úsáid, a bheag nó a mhór de atá againn. Mar a deir an seanfhocal, “Beatha teanga í a úsáid”. Use it or lose it! Is Mise,

Gleann na Smól,
An Charraig Dhubh,
Átha Cliath