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Gaeilge

It’s a Thin Line Between Love and Hate; a Reflection on the Irish Language

Op-ed writer Sarah Morris divulges her Gaeilge gripes in her piece and discusses the disdain that may Irish youths feel toward our native tongue. 

The Irish language and I have always had a somewhat fraught relationship- I’m in no way whatsoever a fluent or even remotely decent speaker (I’ll forever look back on the awkward silence of my Irish oral exam with dread) and I’ve never been majorly interested in the whole ‘Irish Culture’ thing.

While most people rant and rave about their time spent in the Gaeltacht creating lifelong friends and blissfully happy memories, viagra my experience was somewhat different.

I was sent home a week and a half early ‘in the mutual interest of myself and the college’- in other words, I was a complete wagon and made no attempt to speak Irish.

To add to the humiliation of it all I was 17 and going in to 6th year, not some homesick 12 year old, so in hindsight I probably should have dealt with it in a better way.

Anyway, I was dispatched to Dublin on the train never hating Irish more in my life and swearing (quite literally) off it completely.  I resolved on that lonely train ride that I would drop to ordinary level the first day back at school and would settle for a pass with minimal effort. Forever a woman of my word, that’s exactly what I did.

Despite my teacher’s best efforts to get me and many of my classmates participating in  and enjoying Irish culture beyond the speaking of the language,  rest assured that my enlightened colleagues and I thought of her as nothing more than an over-excited leprechaun lover.

We certainly weren’t afraid to show her our feelings – learning Irish was a “waste of time”; we should spend the time learning an “international language” – something that we could use – Spanish, French even Chinese!

With the benefit of hindsight and advanced years (I’m now an ancient 19), I have come to realise the importance of language to a country’s identity.

It’s something that’s been written and talked about, not only in relation to the Irish language but with the many hundreds of “minority” languages throughout the world.

Having travelled to Spain, Portugal and Croatia in the past year (apologies if that came across as bragging- only meant to a little), it was a somewhat novel experience to see the locals speak their native language with such ease.

It was then that I felt saddened that we, as a nation, don’t speak our own native language.

The fact that a majority of people in Ireland are not able to speak the language is as present an issue as ever.

It takes the collective effort of the whole country to fight for it.

Do we not want to keep the language alive for future generations so that our children and their children will have, at the very least, the chance to have even an interest in the language?

That should be the worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario should be that future generations use the language on a day to day basis and even speak it like they speak English.This scenario is entirely possible and I believe that if you asked most Irish people would they want this to happen they’d say yes.

The trouble is making the effort. While there are people who are committed to the promotion and preservation of the language, there are many who are just happy to let it be and see it as essentially ‘not their problem’.

So many people don’t seem to realise the enjoyment the whole Irish movement can bring. I, in fact, even have anecdotal evidence of how enjoyable it is to be involved in the whole Irish scene.

I recently ventured to the Irish speaking pub, the Conradh in what was a somewhat unforgettable experience, although increasingly forgetful as the night went on.

By the way, I’ll give a warning to those who haven’t gone to say DO NOT attempt to dance on a fairly unstable table after copious amounts of Bulmer’s (I still have the bruises to prove it mightn’t be the brightest idea)

Anyway, despite my significant lack of cupla focal, I managed to communicate and be understood, even after 5 cans. It involved my stepping out of my comfort zone but in the end I have to say the craic was mighty.

I’d even go as far to say I’m somewhat of a convert and I’m even convincing friends to join me again there soon, minus the table dancing (but then again probably not).  

Anyway, in our designer and branded world where culture can play second fiddle to consumerism, we should be fighting to preserve and pass on all aspects of our culture.

What was stolen from us so long ago and what previous generations have battled (quite literally) to keep and preserve is now right in front of us, well within our reach.

We just have to grab a hold of it.

If not it’s becoming increasingly likely that the language will be lost in the not so distant future.

I’m sure if someone like me who had zero interest in all aspects of Irish language and culture can be converted to actually wanting to speak Irish and become involved in it then there’s hope for most!

 

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