Goodbye to Irish?

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In a recent article on tuairisc.ie the philosopher Desmond Fennell says that Irish could be like Latin within ten years.

In a recent article on tuairisc.ie the philosopher Desmond Fennell says that Irish could be like Latin within ten years.

Latin is still taught in schools. You can get the news in Latin on the internet. Enthusiasts converse in Latin, but it is not a community language any more.

If we want to stop the decline of Irish, Fennell says that we must broaden the meaning of ‘community’ from ‘people who live in the same area in Ireland’ to ‘people who live in Ireland’. He recommends a network of competent speakers– 1000 people in the first instance. These would be in regular contact with one another and they would promise to speak Irish with their families and among themselves. He thinks the number could go up to 8,000 through an annual examination. The group would make a great impact and the language would be kept alive because of it. I would be willing to try anything in the crisis. But there is a danger that this will end up as an exclusive club.

Much more is required, however. First of all we must get rid of political hypocrisy. Can it be claimed that Irish is Ireland’s first language when 36 out of the 4,114 people who got a job or promotion in Government departments in the South last year were Irish speakers? We need Irish medium schools in every part of the country. We must strengthen that sector and promote Irish in other schools. We need changes in the teaching of grammar and literature. We need a chain of shops to distribute magazines and books. More than anything else, we must create an Irish language environment. With a little effort, anyone who has any Irish can contribute to this. But do we have the will power?