New deal for the Gaeltacht

 

Sir, – As I read with a familiar sense of despondency the latest diagnosis (“A New Deal is Required to Revitalise the Irish Language”, June 29th) by the eminent socio-linguist Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin of the current health of the Irish language I, a native speaker, wonder whether there’s an unduly negative focus on an Ghaeilge.

It’s not as if previous dire predictions have had a galvanising effect on government to promote the Irish language. More likely the effect is to encourage the anti-Gaeilge lobby within our public services to continue doing what they’re doing as it seems to be working.

Reading the latest update on the health of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht by Dr Ó Giollagáin, one can’t help feel the emphasis is very much on the negative and little prominence is given to the positive results indicating a resurgence in areas such as Múscraí (west Cork), Gaeltacht na nDéise (Waterford), Rath Chairn in Co Meath and Ciarraí Theas (South Kerry). More analysis should be carried out in order to find out why there are revivals in certain communities and not in others and what lessons can be learned.

The idea that the Irish language is solely dependent on its vitality in remote areas on the western seaboard in Kerry, Donegal and Galway is outdated.

The picture which accompanied Dr Ó Giollagáin’s article, depicting an fear marbh in the Blasket Islands is a misleading image in many ways.

Beautiful and all as the view is, the reality is the Irish language’s vitality is more aptly represented by an image of the Connemara-based band, Seo Linn, who recently succeeded in raising €50,000 on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site, singing the latest chart hit as Gaeilge with hundreds of teenagers.

– Is mise le meas,

CONCUBHAR Ó LIATHÁÍN

Linden Gardens,

Belfast.

Sir, – Let’s be daring. Instead of forcing thousands of students to study a language that I fear they grow to loathe rather than love why not offer them the choice?

Study Irish in a fun way in primary school but allow students to opt out in first year or after Junior Certificate. If Gaelgoirs in the Department of Education would take the time to talk to students both past and present, parents and teachers they might find that they are fighting a losing battle. If the system doesn’t change I fear they may lose the war. – Yours, etc,

DAVID CURRAN,

Knocknacarra,

Galway.