The video above is from an Irish chat show. The interviewee is a native Irish speaker who also happens to work at the same TV station.
Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh was born in Canada, but then raised in Ireland.
In February 2014, she joined a march for Irish language rights. Have a look at the video for her explaining why she joined the march. You’ll get an impression of perspective of the situation of Irish speakers in Ireland.
So what do you think about this? What were your impressions of it?
It’s a light-hearted conversation with some jabs between Brendan (the host) and Bláthnaid.
Don’t forget, by learning to speak Irish, you’re not only showing respect for your own Irish heritage, but also for Irish speakers in Ireland.
5 thoughts on “What do you think about this language rights video?”
I’m always a bit apprehensive in offering opinions about internal issues concerning a country I am not a citizen of; but I do have a few thoughts on Katelyn’s concerns and questions.
I think first there should be a bit more clarity about what the main issue is. It seems to me there are actually two concerns at play here; one being what needs to be done to preserve the language in general, the other being what can be done to encourage the citizens of Ireland to embrace the use of Gaeilge as a primary language within it’s own borders. The first issue seems to be being addressed pretty well both within Ireland and outside the country. From the articles I’ve read, and my own experiences, there seems to be plenty of interest in the language. Enough to prevent the total loss of it anyway. The second issue however, seems to be much more controversial and much more difficult to promote. I’ve followed online debates and have read printed arguments from both sides; both having very valid points. The return of Irish as one of the primary languages, if not the main language of Ireland is certainly easy enough to endorse by those of us who are not citizens of the country; and I certainly do endorse it!. However, it may not be such an easy decision for a majority of Irish citizens who have, for several generations, developed a society who’s first language has been English. Having always tried to see through the eyes of an opponent whenever I’ve been involved in a debate, I can see how some might be reluctant to fully embrace the idea. Think of the resistance that would erupt here in America if we were all forced to learn the Native American Indian languages that existed here well before our own “British Invasion”.
I do think there a some things that might help promote the return of Irish as a common language in Ireland. Some of them are; the acknowledgement of the inevitable effects of “evolution” on any language, let alone the Irish language, and of course the highly debated and contested idea of a “standard”.
Katelyn makes a good point. I mean, even Blathnaid herself was born in another country! I’m in the U.S., and I am teaching my daughter Irish because my dad insists on it. You’d think my grandparents came straight from Ireland the way we all behave – speaking Irish, maintaining Irish customs, being upset when they send a non-Irish priest to the parish, LOL – but my family has actually been here since the birth of this country. It’s rumored that there have even been one or two “outsiders” marrying into the family (they were not ‘pure’ Irish!). I know how silly that sounds, being in America, and of course much of this is done a bit tongue-in-cheek, but my point is we have never lost sight of the fact that we are IRISH, and even now, well over three hundred years later, my father is insistent that the language is carried on to the next generation. You can imagine how shocking it is to us that the language isn’t even the common language in its own country ! Northern Ireland I can understand, maybe, but The Republic of Ireland is … well, it’s IRISH, and a country is generally defined by its language. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that Katelyn would wonder if it’s up to the non-natives to keep the language alive. There are Irish-American clubs here where it’s not uncommon to overhear a conversation in the pub spoken completely in Irish. I don’t want to be a “preserver of the national language” when I’m not even in the nation, but if there’s anything we can do on this side of the water that will further the preservation of our language there, I’m sure we’d be willing. I saw a short film once called “Yu Ming is Ainm Dom”. I think it was meant to be funny, but I cried myself sick over it. If you get a chance, look it up. To me, it was a sad commentary on a great loss of a great culture. If my dad/grandparents/great-grandparents are any indication of their ancestors, I know that they would be heartbroken to see what’s happened to their language. We have family still there, of course, too, but the letters I’ve seen from them were written in English. That’s sad because I wanted to start corresponding with them in Irish. I don’t speak Irish as well as I should, and I can’t really write it at all because I have no-one to practice it with. If you can’t get an Irish-writing pen-pal in IRELAND, the birthplace of the language, that is a sad thing indeed. But, know that there are places in the world where the language is being preserved, and learned, and spoken, and encouraged. In fact, in my neighborhood, there are little banners on the streetlights that say “Failte”, because this is an Irish neighborhood. So don’t give up !!! Just like the Irish saved civilization, perhaps the diaspora will save the language. 🙂
I think it’s amazing that there seems to be such a loss of the Irish language in Ireland. It’s strange to think of a country rejecting its own language. I wonder if it will be up to the non-natives to keep Gaeilge alive.
That is an excellent question and would like to hear from our readers concerning how to keep the language alive!
Brendan was quite cheeky, no doubt. It was hard to tell whether his ambivalence was genuine or if he was just being “abhcóide an Diabhal” to liven up the conversation a bit. Bláthnaid certainly gave back as good as she got. The interview definitely underscored some of the frustrations felt by those who have a marked interest, or even a marked “disinterest”, in the issue.