‘Why can’t we speak Irish?’

Mayo students seek answer to language question

Language students – Christopher Hunt (left); Paul Flynn and Aaron Hannon

Language students – Christopher Hunt (left); Paul Flynn and Aaron Hannon


Three students from St Muredach’s College, Ballina – Aaron Hannon, Christopher Hunt and Paul Flynn – have entered a project called, “Why Can’t We Speak Irish?”, for this year’s BT Young Scientist Exhibition. The project aims to find out why the majority of Irish people “do not, and cannot, speak their native language”.

The idea came from the three of them comparing and contrasting their experiences of learning Irish in, for example, Gaeltacht summer colleges. Says Aaron Hannon: “We also found that there were a lot of common beliefs among people about the Irish language which we wished to dispel.”

To that end, the Mayo men have divided their project into five sections: 1) Is there a fear factor in speaking Irish?; 2) Are teaching methods adequate?; 3) What effect do Irish colleges in Gaeltacht areas have?; 4) Is the Irish language just difficult and are we better at learning other languages?; 5) Are we just not bothered? Is it a pride issue?

They are looking for people to complete an online survey to help them answer those questions and complete their project. They need over 1,500 replies for the survey to be accurate. However, says Aaron, it only takes 10 minutes to finish and, he hopes, “It will cast light on the subject and promote the use of our native language”.

The survey is at http://goo.gl/forms/HfIWDWlHCM and the students are also setting up a blog at www.whycantwespeakirish.wordpress.com which will also chart their progress.