Gaeltacht ar an dé deiridh?

‘Níl a leithéid de rud againn níos mó agus Gaeltacht,’a deir Seosamh Mac Donnacha san eagrán reatha de Comhar. Maíonn sé gur cainteoirí dúchais dátheangacha iad formhór mhuintir na Gaeltachta, agus nach sealbhaíonn siad an dá theanga ag an luas céanna ná go dtí an leibhéal cumais céanna.

Caithfimid ceist bhunúsach a chur orainn: cad is Gaeltacht ann? Go dtí seo, tá Rialtas Bhaile Átha Cliath sásta líne a tharraingt agus ‘tearmann Indiach’ a chruthú, gan bonneagar ceart. Deir Mac Donnacha nach mbeadh páiste a tógadh leis an Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht ábalta seirbhísí bunúsacha a fháil tríd an Ghaeilge, nach mbeadh sé ábalta oideachas a fháil go hiomlán tríd an Ghaeilge, nach mbeadh sé in ann post a fháil mura bhfuil Béarla aige, agus nach mbeadh sé ábalta labhairt leis na gardaí i nGaoth Dobhair i nGaeilge.

Sin an fhadhb is mó atá againn maidir leis an Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht agus sa Ghalltacht: níl an Ghaeilge sa timpeallacht. Nuair a théann tú isteach i siopa nuachtán mór anseo, feiceann tú na céadta iris i mBéarla (ráiméis an chuid is mó acu, ach sin scéal eile). Ní féidir leat iris Ghaeilge a fháil i siopa nuachtán ar bith i nDoire. Dála an scéil, thig leat Paris Match a cheannach i lár na cathrach gach seachtain.

Má théann tú thar sáile, is féidir leat teanga na tíre a phiocadh suas go gasta. Labhraítear í i ngach áit: ar an tsráid, sa teach, sna siopaí, sna hoifigí srl. Cluineann tú an teanga an t-am ar fad ar an raidió agus ar an teilifís. Feiceann tú nuachtáin agus fógraí sa teanga. Bíonn tú i dteagmháil leis an teanga i gcónaí – fírinne fhollasach. Ach ní tharlaíonn sin in Éirinn. Agus ní féidir teanga a fhorbairt mura mbaintear úsáid aisti go leanúnach i saol an phobail. Níl ach tír amháin ar dhroim an domhain ina bhfuil tú in ann post a fháil san earnáil phoiblí mura bhfuil an teanga náisiúnta agat- sin teach na ngealt darb ainm Éire, ar ndóigh, tír ina bhfuil polaiteoirí gan mhaith agus maorlathaithe gan anam.

Bhuel, tá Lá ’le Pádraig thart. Cuirfear an Ghaeilge ar ais sa tarraiceán go ceann bliana eile. Ach má théimid ar aghaidh mar atá muid, rachaimid chuig an chófra lá éigin, agus ní bheidh rud ar bith ann.

A dying Gaeltacht?

‘We don’t have any such thing as a Gaeltacht any more,’ says Seosamh Mac Donnacha in the current issue of Comhar. He says that most of the people living in the Gaeltacht are bilingual native speakers, and that they don’t acquire the two languages at the same speed or to the same level of proficiency.

We must ask ourselves a basic question: What is a Gaeltacht? Up until now, the Dublin Government has been happy to draw a line and create an ‘Indian reservation’ without proper infrastructure. Mac Donnacha says that a child brought up in the Gaeltacht would not be able to get basic services through Irish, he would not be able to get a complete education through Irish, he would not be able to get a job without English, and he would not be able to speak to the gardaí in Gaoth Dobhair in Irish.

That is the biggest problem facing Irish in the Gaeltacht and in non-Irish speaking areas: there is no Irish in the environment. When you go into a big paper shop here, you see hundreds of magazines in English (most of them rubbish, but that’s another story.) You cannot get an Irish language magazine in any paper shop in Derry. By the way, you can buy Paris Match in the city centre every week.

If you go abroad, you can pick up the local language very quickly. It is spoken everywhere: on the street, in the house, in the shops, in offices etc. You hear the language all the time on the radio and on the television. You see newspapers and notices in the language. You are constantly in contact with the language- an obvious fact. But that does not happen in Ireland. And a language cannot develop unless it is used continuously in public life. There is only one country in the world where you can get a job in the public sector without knowing the national language- that is the mad house called Ireland, of course, a land of useless politicians and soulless bureaucrats.

Well, St. Patrick’s Day is over. Irish will be put back in the drawer for another year. But if we keep on going the way we are going, we will go to the cupboard some day, and there will be nothing in it.