Irish – is it a necessary language?


Sir, – Whether or not you agree with Rosita Boland’s contribution, one has to accept the honesty of her appraisal of learning the language and her attitude towards it now (“Can anybody truthfully say that Irish is a necessary language?”, Broadside, May 30th). With the one exception of Irish Catholic morality, no other topic has been tainted with such gross hypocrisy as the survival and revival of the Irish language. I would be extremely interested to hear how many of our TDs ticked the “Yes” box when asked the language question on the census form. The cúpla focal used gratuitously on suitable occasions is no indicator of proficiency, and the sudden dash to the Gaeltacht for language immersion by the relevant minister when he or she is appointed is a fair indicator of how shallow the pool has become. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare.

Sir, – I read with interest Rosita Boland’s article and completely agree with her. She is entitled to her opinion, which is one that makes sense to me.

I was useless at learning and speaking Irish at school and failed every Irish exam I sat. I was miserable. I sympathise with Debbie Chapman’s son (June 1st) who is unable to learn Irish, and the exemption system does need to be looked at. Two of my friend’s sons have similar problems. My friend spent a lot of money taking these boys to one educational psychologist after the other for years before exemptions were finally secured, one in the Junior Cert year and the other in fifth year. Those boys were miserable. We are all entitled to education, and when it doesn’t work it needs to be addressed.

Rosita Boland is not suggesting that Irish should be banned. Those who want to learn Irish can learn Irish. At least they have a choice, but the rest of us presently don’t. That is undemocratic.

Whenever this subject is broached, the cultural and heritage cards are brought up. This is blackmail to make us feel guilty. Well done to your columnist for her bravery. –Yours, etc,


Dublin 5.

A chara, – Rosita Boland’s article deserves a reply about the value of education for education’s sake, rather than for employment alone; about Ireland’s pathetic fifth-last ranking in bilingualism in the EU; about the benefits of additional language acquisition at a young age; and about a thriving and expanding community that sees Irish as necessary, useful and part of its identity.

It deserves this retort, but I cannot be the one to deliver it. I’m too tired of defending the Irish language on all sides.

Please, I beg of you, can we have a moratorium on articles about the way Irish, and Irish alone, is taught? Can we have a discussion about education without seeing the face of Peig Sayers, two decades after her biography came off the curriculum? Can we, just once, read about a columnist who blames the State, de Valera and the rest for an inability to remember how to calculate functions in trigonometry? – Is mise,



Cluain Dolcáin,

Baile Átha Cliath 22.