The Importance of The Irish Language.

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).

Orla x

P.S
Ed Sheeran sang Thinking Out Loud in Irish and it’s so beautiful…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNGATxtguho

 

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5 thoughts on “The Importance of The Irish Language.

    1. Thankyou for reading it, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, Irish folklore is beautiful. It is and young people in Ireland are beginning to appreciate the language, I think, but a lot of them simply see it as something they’re forced to learn but will never use, and that’s a sad truth. I spent a week in a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) last summer and didn’t hear a word of Irish, much to my disappointment. It is such an important part of our heritage and culture it would be a terrible shame for it to die out!

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      1. I remember moaning and groaning when my dad forced me to take Latin in Jr. High. I made a bargain with him that if I still hated it after two years, I could switch to French in high school, which I did. While I think French is a beautiful language, looking back, kind of wish I had stuck with Latin. I don’t think now it’s only taught in religious prep schools. So sad.

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      2. Yeah, I know how you felt! I used to moan and groan about Irish, it’s only really in the last two years that I’ve started to appreciate it. It’s not an easy subject to learn, the grammar and literature is quite difficult, but I’m glad it’s compulsory, because if it was optional a lot of people may choose not to do it due to the impracticality of it. Latin isn’t taught in any school that I know of near me, and that’s sad too, because it’s another ancient language from which so many others have grown.

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