The First National Hypocrisy

The First National Language is of course the First National Hypocrisy.
In September 2011, I attended the launch of An Liofa initiative. All very wonderful to have senior And junior PSNI members in attendance but on signing up all Liofa turned out to be was a list of resources in my area. It was really no better that just going along to the local “Tech” and asking for a guide to courses.
They still send me an online newsletter but I never bothered. Hopefully the Online survey will show that it is a complete disaster.
It was a farce that brings little credit to the Department of Culture.
I would really like to improve my status beyond being constantly “ag foghlaim” (learning).
I would have thought the most obvious route would have been dead air on TG4, the Irish language TV channel.
Seems to me it would be cost effective to have a “focloir” (vocabulary) played on a constant loop.

The Irish Language lobby does itself few favours.
In September, I approached a minibus driver on the Aran Islands. Alas he was picking up a wedding party but kindly phoned his friend to pick us up for a tour of the island. One would have expected that their conversation…two islanders ….would have been in Irish…but they spoke in English. I asked the second minibus driver if Irish was spoken on the island “all the time” he said “we speak in among ourselves”. Well….no they dont.
Actually that time in Connemara in the autumn was a bit disappointing.
For over thirty years, I have heard B & B owners in Galway City bemoan the fact that their competitors down the road get the Gaeltacht grants that they dont get in Galway City.
There is a certain buzz heading west from Galway and seeing the Gaeltacht sign. But in a post office in the area, business was being conducted in English and indeed the two pensioners on the Aran Islands picking up their pension were doing so in English.
Road signs are problematical. As I recall a few years ago activists objected to bi-lingual signs but certainly in Roundstone in 2014, there were bilingual road signs in Gaeilige and …..German.
But in among the Connemara scenery, there is the reality of TG4 headquarters, Udaras HQ, Radio na Gaeltacha….the assorted “ceol” tigh (music pubs) and craft stores. Disappointingly Connemara is a reservation performing music and dance and selling trinkets to tourists. It might as well be the Choctaw in Oklahoma.
I suspect the locals dont actually want the Irish language to flourish. Yes, the scenery will always be there. But all those Irish language schools would have to close down if Irish was widely spoken in Dublin…all those middle class kids worrying about university entrance would not have to go.
The Irish language activists in Connemara know where their “aran” (bread) is “immed” (er buttered).
Yes its little more than a middle class obsession outside the places where it is a business.
Nobody in RTE or civil service or a semi state body ever became impoverished thru using the Irish version of their name.
How to make Irish succeed?
Well two ways….Honesty….and making it illegal.
If they made it illegal tomorrow, Id be the first person down at the Culturlann to sign up.
If it was illegal….they would make more of an effort.

But…six or seven years ago, I stopped off at Ballaghadereen in County Roscommon to get directions to Frenchpark and the Douglas Hyde Heritage Centre which is maybe five miles away. The signpost in Ballagaderreen was a bit misleading. The man in the street didnt know. From his accent he was Eastern European. But he did suggest a local shop. There the girl pointed me in the right direction. She was from (as I recall) Slovakia.
This irony will not be lost on those who know tne Irish language mythology. It was in this town that Douglas Hyde allegedly heard the young market trader speaking English on market day.
“Cant you speak Irish” said Hyde.
“Sure isnt it Irish Im speaking” said the boy.
Which is of course a whole different problem. Is Gaeilge THE Irish language or more honestly ONE of TWO Irish languages.

NOTE….this is my contribution to a thread by Dimbleby Walker on Slugger O’Toole

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