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Irish language under threat

February 27, 2014

A chara, – While there may be some merit in the views expressed by Eanna Coffey (February 25th) regarding the Irish language, I would have to take issue with some of his remarks.

How can a language be described as “functionally useless” when it is still the first language of many citizens born in this State, be they located in Iarthar Ciarraí, Conamara or Gaobh Dobhair or elsewhere on this island? Presumably these citizens can still communicate with each other in their language of birth? I agree with his assertion that the policy of compulsory Irish has failed. It is a beautiful, sophisticated language and is wasted on those who do not appreciate it. Set the Irish language free and teach it to the willing. – Is mise,

Sandyford View,
Sandyford, Dublin 18.

A chara, – Éanna Coffey’s letter (February 25th) contains the writer’s derogatory comment on a literature written in a language which he deems to be “detested by students, who are force-fed second-rate poetry and literature out of some absurd national pride”. Then he urges us to see Gaelic games, Irish dancing , traditional Irish music as being worthy substitutes for language – the prime signifier of the Other. As a prose-writer who has written 10 works of fiction in my native language, ie, Irish, I find this attitude hard to take.

Mr Coffey dares to speak for others while he detests the Other that my native language has become in my native country. Furthermore, Mr Coffey, I presume, is aware of the fact that there is an Irish speaking enclave 40 miles from his own doorstep in west Kerry, where I come from. The fact that I received my secondary education in Killarney where I was force-fed English and its oftentimes second-rate poetry and literature, deemed worthy and first-rate, out of some absurd cultural-imperialist pride, is probably of little or no significance to him. – Is mise,

Bóthar na Ceapaí,
Bearna, Co na Gaillimhe.