I had an Irish oral exam on Friday so, needless to say, I’d been practicing all week, trying to speak it around the house as much as I could. No one in my house could understand what I was saying, which is the norm as far as Irish is concerned, and I find that really sad. In case you weren’t aware, Irish isn’t a widely spoken language, though it’s compulsory to learn in schools in Ireland. Most people leave school and never speak it again. Irish is mainly only fluently spoken in a few towns and villages called “Gaeltacht areas” however, only 35% of people in these areas speak fluent Irish on a daily basis. Irish is our national language, it’s a unique part of our culture that sets us apart from other countries and it’s important that we keep it alive.
So many people complain about having to learn Irish. In their opinion it’s a “dead language” so there’s no point in learning it when they won’t use it. Hearing this always makes me angry. Irish isn’t dead, but it will be in ten or twenty years if we continue to have this attitude towards it. Irish is an ancient language that was unique to Ireland ever before it was taken over by England. We nearly lost it then, but thanks to men such as Doughlas Hyde and Padraig Pearse it was revived. Before these men came along, parents punished their children for speaking Irish as it was viewed as a sign of poverty and lack of education. We can’t let Irish die out like it almost did 150 years ago. Men (and some very awesome women!) fought and died for Ireland to be an independent country, and letting such an important part of our heritage be forgotten is no way to repay them. We should celebrate our language as something unique and special.
I was watching a documentary about a Sean-Nos singer on TG4 (the Irish TV Channel…I know, I have a wildly exciting life!) a few weeks ago and I learned something about the language that I’d never heard before: Hundreds of years ago, ever before Irish was written down, it is thought that it was spoken in the form of song. Can you imagine a world where everyone sings to each other? I think it would be such a beautiful form of communication, Irish is such a melodic, rhythmical language. That world is worlds away from life in Ireland today, where most people struggle to string a sentence together.
As much as I wish I was, I am not exempt. The way I’m talking you’d probably assume I was fluent, but I am far from it, but I don’t think being fluent is the most important thing, though it would be nice. I think it’s more important that the people of Ireland, young people especially, our proud of their language and try to speak it to the best of their abilities. Why wait for a reason to arise, (in truth one probably won’t), almost every student in the country learns Irish, why don’t we ever speak it to each other? French people don’t talk to each other in English! One language dies every 14 days, do you want Ireland to be one? I know I don’t! As they say ‘Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam’ (A country without a language is a country without a soul).
Ed Sheeran sang Thinking Out Loud in Irish and it’s so beautiful…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNGATxtguho