Deireadh an scéil?

Tá Books and News, Sráid Ché na Long ag dúnadh an tseachtain seo i ndiaidh 27 bliain de sheirbhís don phobal.

Tá a lán fáthanna ann. Níl Sráid Ché na Long chomh gnóthach is a bhí sí tráth: tá cuid mhaith de na siopaí dúnta agus tá na bancanna a bhí ann ar shiúl. Maidir le leabhair, nuachtáin agus irisí, tá lion na léitheoirí níos lú anois.

Tá na hollmhargaí ábalta praghasanna na leabhar a ghearradh: mar sin de tá an siopa leabhar beag thíos leis. Tá na siopaí leabhar i gcomórtas le Amazon agus a leithéid. Is féidir a lán leabhar a fháil don Kindle saor in aisce. Tá na nuachtáin uilig ag streachailt. Tá daoine sásta nuacht a fháil ón teilifís agus ón raidió.

Ach is féidir ábhar a chur i láthair i leabhar ar dhóigh nach féidir leat a dhéanamh ar scáileán. Sílim go gcruthaíonn leabhar atá os mo chomhair an fhírinne seo: The Other Tongues (Foilsitheoir: Irish Pages, Béal Feirste). Dála an scéil, is bronntanas breithlae é, ach ná cuir an cheist mhór. Cnuasach de litríocht i nGaeilge na hÉireann, i nGaeilge na hAlban, i gcanúint na hAlban agus sa chanúint Ultach atá ann. Tá dearadh chlúdach an leabhar galánta. Tá sleachta ó thart fá ochtó scríbhneoir sa leabhar, ón 18ú haois go dtí an lá atá inniu ann. Tá nóta ar gach údar ann, agus tugtar aistriúchán de na píosaí is deacra. Tá an leabhar maisithe go hálainn.

Léiríonn an bailiúchán saibhreas litríocht na n-oileán seo, idir fhilíocht agus phrós. Ach sin ráite, ní thuigtear luach ár litríochta. Níl nuachtán Gaeilge againn; tá an chuid is mó de na hirisí faoi bhagairt; beidh sé doiligh as seo amach deontas a fháil le leabhar a fhoilsiú. Níl a lán scríbhneoirí lánaimseartha ann.

An todhchaí? Smaoiním ar shliocht ó ‘To a mouse’, le Robert Burns in The Other Tongues:

“An’ forward tho’ I canna see, I guess an’ fear.” Bhí Burns

End of the story?

Books and News, Shipquay Street is closing this week after 27 years of service to the community. There are many reasons for this. Shipquay Street is not as busy as it used to be: many of the shops are closed and the banks that were once there are gone. With regard to books, newspapers and magazines, there are fewer readers now.

Supermarkets are able to cut the price of books, so the small bookshop loses out. The bookshops are competing with the likes of Amazon. You can get a lot of books free for your Kindle. All newspapers are struggling. People are happy enough to get their news from the television or the radio.

But material can be presented in a book in a way that can’t be done on a screen. I think that a book that I have in front of me just now proves this point: The Other Tongues (Publisher: Irish Pages, Belfast). By the way, it is a birthday present, but don’t ask the big question. It is a collection of literature in Irish, Scots Gaelic, the Scots dialect and Ulster Scots. The design of the cover is beautiful. There are selections from around eighty writers in the book, from the 18th century to the present day. There is a note on each author and a translation of the more difficult extracts. The book is superbly illustrated.

The collection shows the wealth of literature to be found in these islands, in both poetry and prose. However, the value of our literature is not generally appreciated. We do not have an Irish language newspaper; most of the magazines are under threat; it is going to be more difficult to get a grant to publish a book from now on. We do not have many full time writers.

The future? I am thinking of a quotation from ‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns in The Other Tongues.

“An’ forward tho’ I canna see, I guess an’ fear.”

Burns was talking to a mouse that he had killed. I hope we are not talking about a dead language.