Not Knowing No Focal At All



Union Students of Ireland president Kevin Donoghue

Further to fadagate

Fiona O’Malley, of the Union Students of Ireland, writes:

The USI is calling for a change in the way the Irish language is taught at primary, secondary and third level. The union’s annual congress, held from the 21st – 24th March in Ennis, passed the motion that the VP for the Irish Language will direct a study, in collaboration with the relevant Irish language organisations and teachers’ unions, teacher-training colleges, between students, teachers, and others, to publish a collaborative report that would set out a progressive, comprehensive, and multilateral strategy regarding the teaching of Irish at primary and post primary level.

“The way Irish is taught in schools isn’t working,” Kevin Donoghue, USI President, said, “There needs to be more of an emphasis on the spoken language. Fluency is best reached through submersion, which is why we’re recommending all students go to the gaeltacht.”

“USI is concerned about the teaching of the Irish language at secondary level in Ireland and noted that many students believe that the Irish language is not “taught as a language” and that too much focus is put on literature instead of the oral practice.”


Pic: USI

154 thoughts on “Not Knowing No Focal At All

  1. Drogg

    Firstly stop giving the USI free press they are the blueshirts of tomorrow secondly its time we got rid of Irish and religion from the syllabus and focused on subjects that are actually useful.

    1. ahjayzis

      Thing is Irish could be useful as a second language / primer for learning third languages if taught right.

      But there has to be some vested interest holding back the blatantly obvious fact that Irish teaching is an abject, woeful failure. Someone’s gaining from the status quo complete waste of time and money.

      1. Drogg

        But then why not learn a third language instead? you know a language that is actually useful.

        1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

          I can’t speak for everyone but Mr Pídgéόní has certainly benefited in his time from knowing a few words of Irish. He could be reading me the phone book but I dig the whole ‘foreign’ (at least to me) tongue *ahem*

          Plus something something science says it makes you smarter

        2. ahjayzis

          How do you select the language every kid learns in primary school though? Nationally or by school? It’d be totally arbitrary. And you’d have to train every primary school teacher in the country to speak it, be it French, German or Mandarin, or multiple languages if they want to be competitive for jobs.

          No it makes more sense to teach Irish (properly) at primary as a primer, then let the kids have at it at secondary for a third language. But we *need* to break ourselves of the illusion that it’s our co-first language, it’s not, for the vast majority it’s an alien language, teach it that way and that’ll eventually change.

          1. Rob_G

            Learning almost any language other than Irish would set kids up better to learn another language.

            French would make it a lot easier to learn Spanish, Italian, Romanian…
            German would make it a lot easier to learn Dutch…

            I think Irish should be taught until the end of primary school, maybe until the junior cert. The education system has been banging its head off a brick wall trying to teach everyone to speak the language for 90 years – this represents an enormous cost in purely economic terms, and also an enormous opportunity cost in terms of the other more useful things that the kids could have been taught instead.

    2. Tish Mahorey

      Lumping religion in with Irish is an interesting tactic there Drogg.

      Let’s forget about the religion bit and focus on the subject in question which the Irish language.

      If you have no knowledge of Irish, you will have difficulty understanding your heritage, the meaning of most people’s surnames, townlands, rivers, mountains, the fantastic Irish Annals which are 1000s of years old and written in Irish.

      It’s not all about adding up numbers for the boss man and getting a pat on the head.

      1. ahjayzis

        It’s not the students fault, it can’t be, you can’t tell me the vast majority of students are slow learners / on some kind of irish strike.

        I got a B in honours Irish, and I can’t speak the thing. It’s taught entirely for the test, you can have no clue about how to have a real life conversation beyond the rote orals, but if you nail the themes of a crap poem you’ve nailed the exam.

        1. Tish Mahorey

          I agree that it’s not taught the right way. It should be taught like French or German. And French, German etc should be taught from early on in primary school.

          But the mindless hatred of the language by those who never learned it is not the way to form a policy on it.

          Thousands of foreigners come to Ireland to learn the language and many become fluent. One Australian woman actually worked at translation for the Irish Government!

          1. Rob_G

            “Thousands of foreigners come to Ireland to learn the language and many become fluent.”

            No they don’t.

          2. Rob_G

            I don’t hear Irish people speaking Irish on the streets at home, never mind foreigners.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            There’s a gaeltacht in Canada and a university in Prague offers a degree in it. Just because you don’t see foreigners folk speaking it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            On an unrelated note, whoever designed Samsung’s auto correct system can go fupp themselves.

          5. Rob_G

            “Unlike Ireland, where the term “Gaeltacht” refers to an area where Irish is the traditional language, the Permanent North American Gaeltacht has no resident native Irish speakers.”


            I am aware that there are hundreds of people studying Irish as part of Irish Studies programmes in universities across the world, much as people might study Latin or ancient Greek. I’m just disputing Tish’s assertion that “thousands” of foreigners come to learn Irish.

          6. ahjayzis

            When I express hatred towards it, it’s not at the language itself, that’d be silly. It’s at the teachers who have no problem teaching a failing system, the state for focusing on road signs and EU legislation translation, the state agencies responsible who seem to just protect their own patch. if I were any one of these bodies I’d be screaming from the rooftops that all this money is going down the drain and the language is still dying.

            I hate the smug sanctimony of ‘official gaelgoirs” who’ll gleefully correct anyone trying their best to get their point across, or write into the Irish Times at a typo in a road sign – they don’t actually want greater literacy, because it’d remove the gloss of their special hobby language.

            Someone, somewhere is holding change back, and I bet making a mint in the process.

          7. Medium Sized C

            If there is a place for pedantry and grammar-facism in English, why is there not a place for it in Irish?

          8. ahjayzis

            Because English isn’t a niche language English speakers purport to want to grow.

            If I’m sitting beside a Spanish colleague and he’s explaining something to me, I don’t pick up on every slight error if I know exactly what he means. I’ve lived abroad and tried to speak their languages, constant nitpickers destroy your confidence with it.

        2. mildred st. meadowlark

          Exactly like the English example. You can learn off answers by the paperload and pass the exam. No critical thinking or anything involved, just reams of memorizing.

        3. Nigel

          In fairness, Tish doesn’t blame the students. I tend to think that our deep insecurities and sense of self loathing as a nation manifests itself in hatred for the language.

          1. ahjayzis

            I tend to think that’s a really outrageous judgement of a whole country’s worth of people.

            The system isn’t working, 14 years of education for everyone leads to previous few fluent speakers.

            Apply occam’s razor for a minute – is it the central system in practice for decades at fault, or each individual user of that system, each in their own individual way is at fault?

          2. Nigel

            Meh. If we weren’t predisposed to believing that being Irish is something that has to be suffered through we might have fixed the way we transmit the flippin’ language.

            (It’s supposed to be a big rough generalisation about aggregate national mood and spirit over a century, not a comment on individuals at all.)

          3. ahjayzis

            If we’re “predisposed to believing that being Irish is something that has to be suffered through”, cant that be explained by the fact that our parents generation had to suffer through it and then emerged with little to no fluency?

            It *IS* something that must be suffered through if in the vast majority of cases you don’t gain anything from the process of dissecting poems about dead seagulls in a strange language ;o)

          4. Nigel

            Well, I think that speaks to our mindset. Things have to be suffered through with a ind of peasant surliness. We were a savagely oppressed people, and we exchanged imperial oppression for conservative catholic repression, and these are things we still associate with Irishness. Our relationship with our national identity is thoroughly dysfunctional for all sorts of completely understandable reasons.

          5. Kieran NYC

            “Dead seagulls”

            That comment needed a trigger warning!

            Wasn’t he taken off the syllabus due to a bit of kiddie-fiddling tourism?

        4. Medium Sized C

          If you got a B in honours, you probably were exposed to enough of the language to use it.
          You kind of chose not to, maybe not consciously, but you did.

          Most of us did. I certainly did.

          The thing is, you could have gotten good enough at basic conversational Irish to do as well as you did, most likely.

          I think that the “how its taught” argument is at least part of a cop out.
          I mean there is an issue with how its taught, certainly, but its not taught that much differently from the other languages. Kids are being taught, outside school, that the language is a box to be ticked, that it’s dead, that it’s taught poorly.

          Some of the problems with Irish are the same as with most other subjects.
          Like you could say that last sentence about English.
          Replace “themes of a crap poem” with “factorise quadratic equations” and you have maths.

          Like, kids have a roll and a choice in what they learn.

          1. ahjayzis

            I didn’t have to memorise the themes of a poem about a dead seagull for French.

            I was considered fluent in 1st year, whether or not I was, from then on it was basically the English course – literature. How many 12 year olds are fluent leaving primary? If the answer is ‘very few’, it’s not language teaching from then on, it’s rote learning. I could have passed the Latin exam with the amount of memorising I was doing.

            Your argument is that I should ahve gone off on my own bat to learn it in secondary school – find me a teenager in any way assed to do that and then just make non-compulsory.

          2. Medium Sized C

            That isn’t my argument

            My argument is that you cannot just absolve the kids of blame and lump it all on some sort of system. I can’t help you if it hurts your feelings to think that you might be some way responsible for squandering the opportunity.

            And there certainly are lots of kids out there who will go and engage with subjects in school. Kids competing in young scientists. Kids from English language schools debating in Irish. Kids who go on exchanges to France or Spain.

            As an aside, I don’t agree with you that Irish is taught from the assumption of fluency in secondary school. More is expected, after 6 years of instruction, but like, Peig or Imithe aren’t the Irish language analogs of Hard Times or Hamlet.

            Also, I may be incorrect in assuming all kids have a roll. They may have gotten sandwiches.

          3. ahjayzis

            You have a very selective approach to this.

            If we devolve the teaching of say algebra to a level where students don’t emerge from 14 years of education with any meaningful skills in algebra, it’s the students fault?

            Because a 15 year old in secondary school has a duty to fill in the gaps in the education system off their own bat? That the leaving cert can wait because they’re up in their room studying something that isn’t examined even though if they rote learn things they can pass it? Again, I gamed the system, I got a B and I can’t speak Irish.

            When maths outcomes were flagging – why did the state change the syllabus completely rather than blame the lazy students not teaching themselves on their own time? Your argument doesn’t stand up for any subject other than Irish, what other subject is a in-built love presumed and a requirement that the student make it their special hobby?

          4. LW

            How’s your french ahjaysis? Could you find the local maximum of a parabolic curve? I think people focus entirely on the fact they haven’t retained Irish, ignoring that all the other stuff they could do has also atrophied, due to lack of use

          5. Medium Sized C


            Its basically the opposite of selective.
            In fact, I would say that saying “Irish is struggling because of how it is being taught” is way more selective than my argument. What’s more you keep dragging it back to the students “fault” which is clearly more selective than just about everything I’ve said.

            Many kids do leave school with no practicable understanding of algebra.
            Yes, in many cases it is more their fault than the education systems.
            I know this is true.

            I was reasonable at maths. I went on to do a degree in Engineering, because I was actually fairly good at maths, I just didn’t realise it.
            My sister was not good at maths. She cannot do that stuff.

            But I tried to help her and she could do it. Its just a) She didn’t want to and b) she was constantly being told she wasn’t good at maths and that algebra was useless in the real world.

            I actually got the same because my older sister would throw histrionics rather than try to do Maths. I’m prepared to accept she may not have been able, but the subject sister was able.

            So my sisters failures can be blamed on herself, her family, her community and also the rote learning & exam orientation of the Irish Education system.
            As opposed to just the Education system.

            I don’t know why the state changed the maths syllabus but I do know it does nothing to help your argument, because you don’t actually have any results to show it made any difference.

            Also that bit at the end about special hobbies….thats selective, its misrepresentation of my point and its kind of childish. You got a B in honours but instead of learning the language you gamed the system. The System didn’t game itself.

      2. Drogg

        Tish i get it you like Irish and that is fine but it should be a choice subject if people choose to learn it. I have never felt the fact that i don’t speak Irish makes me any less connected to my heritage. Also i am not saying that we should get rid of it altogether but like religion in schools they are unnecessary subjects so they should be offered but no a core part of the curriculum as teachers are already struggling to fit all they need to teach in their timescales. I think the focus should be on subjects that are actually useful to students and then choose superfluous subjects if you wish to learn them. At the end of the day there is a ridiculous amount of money and time wasted on the Irish language and still very few people and use it at all. I am just asking to look at it practically realise that no matter how you teach the course people will not find a use for the Irish language unless you work in the media or are an academic of Irish.

        1. Nigel

          People who wish to see Irish killed off because it is not ‘useful’ are much of a muchness with people who look out at our countryside and think that if they built a few ghost estates there they could make a few bob, or who save themselves a few bin charges by dumping their rubbish by the side of the road. That way, the countryside is finally being being ‘useful.’

          1. Drogg

            Thats totally me. You have found me out i am a developer of shoddy housing in the middle of the country side while also dumping my rubbish on any bit of wasteland i can find.

          2. Nigel

            Sorry, Drogg, I feel bad. That was mean. I see you don’t actually wish it dead, so consider all that retracted/not aimed at you.

          3. Drogg

            Wow i am the cultural equivalent to a ghost estate, thats a kick if i have ever gotten one. Did you ever think that if the Irish language wasn’t forced upon people that those that do learn it would appreciate it more? At the end of the day there is no need no matter what you say for it to be learned or used as a joint first language if people choose to us it fine but if people choose not to use it like they currently do why waste millions on it every year and waste thousands of man-hours teaching it for it to be no use?

          4. Nigel

            Well, still apologising for the kick, I don’t think it being compulsory in school is a big deal at all. Lots of things are compulsory in school, it;s the way school is. The way it’s taught needs to be completely overhauled, and it won’t go back to being a truly living, culturally relevant language until they find a way to teach it without also making the kids hate it.

          5. Drogg

            Yes but lots of things are compulsory in school cause we need them for life and advancement this is why i said religion and Irish both are unnecessary subjects and should not be part of the core curriculum. It would mean more time could be spent on subjects like history which could bring a closer attachment to our heritage then speaking a language that has no real use.

          6. Nigel

            Well, I disagree but I feel I jumped, laughing hysterically, off the moral high ground when I was so mean to you, so I’ll leave it at that.

    3. Nigel

      Is there anything colder, more utilitarian and martially puritan than someone who thinks a national language should be actively killed off?

      1. ahjayzis

        Is there anything more nationalistically blind than looking at a failing, mess of a language teaching system and a fluency rate that is not rising and thinks it’s detractors are the ones at fault?

        It’s not fit for purpose – argue for a new way of doing things or maybe don’t insult people who see no point in wasting resources on failure.

        1. Nigel

          But I’m not talking about detractors who detract from the educational system. I detract vociferously on the subject myself. I’ll never forgive it for ruining the language for me for decades. I’m talking about the ‘let it die,’ people.

          1. ahjayzis

            I’m not for actively killing it off, but you can’t blame people for losing hope that the vested interests will ever be chased off the lawn.

            They don’t even see it as failing, are the falling rates of fluency even brought up at teacher conferences?

          2. Nigel

            Drogg – What are you talking about? That’s a true Irish, Celtic name, green as manure. There’s supposed to be a fada but I can’t do fadas on this keyboard.

            ahjazis – no, I don’t blame them. I just get annoyed when people blame the language itself and think that there will be no cost to letting it die.

  2. Eoin

    Some of my friends’ Gaeltacht experiences in the late 70s/ early 80s were bordering on abuse. Physical and mental.

    1. Tish Mahorey

      Probably the same number of kids who suffered the same treatment at home.

      I had a fantastic time at the Gaeltacht and so did most of my friends there.

      Save it for Joe Duffy’s annual Gaeltacht bashing.

      1. Medium Sized C

        I had a poo time, but it was not the fault of the Gaeltacht, the people there or the language.

  3. MoyestWithExcitement

    I’ve been saying this for years. The Irish syllabus is just like the English one in format. It assumes you are already fluent when it should be taught like a foreign language because it effectively is. I don’t remember having to read the French or German equivalent to Peig or any boring poetry either.

    1. Medium Sized C

      But you haven’t had 9 years of instruction of French or German by the time someone made you read Peig.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        As I said above; “It assumes you are already fluent”. Maybe kids *should* be nearing fluency by the time they start 5th year, but the reality is they aren’t. We make 1st years learn poetry as well, so we have that expectation of 12 and 13 year olds. Irish is a chore for kids. They do Irish because they have to, not because they want to so that makes retaining information in your brain a lot more difficult. Peig and the like have to go. English lit is a standalone leaving cert subject. Perhaps Irish lit could be as well. The language syllabus should be for teaching people how to speak a language they’re not fluent in. As others have said, I came back from my detest gaeltacht trip at 14 almost fluent. Got more in those 3 weeks than the subsequent 4 years in school.

        1. ReproBertie

          Peig’s long gone.

          There’s little to be gained by teaching poetry to a class that struggles to hold a conversation. Irish Lit as a subject for the leaving would make a lot more sense.

        2. Medium Sized C

          It doesn’t assume fluency.
          English assumes fluency.

          Again, its only a chore if its made a chore.
          My point through all this is the kids, their families and their environment make it a chore.
          If kids don’t engage with it, it is a pain in the hole.
          If the parents, family etc make it out to be a useless pain in the hole the kids don’t engage with it.

          I’m not giving answers here, I’m just saying its way more complicated that “Irish is taught wrong”.

          1. ahjayzis

            As a kid at the time, listening to a 90 year old rural woman acting the part of a Eileen ag teach go dti an disco le Pol – in a 60 a day voice and all the charisma of a hospice, don’t you dare blame me for thinking of it as a dull, joyless language! ;o)

            Even it’s packaging is piss poor. It should be SOLD. There’s nothing appealing about how it’s taught or presented.

            Again, you can’t just blame the kids forced to do it for not delighting in it.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            “My point through all this is the kids, their families and their environment make it a chore.
            If kids don’t engage with it, it is a pain in the hole.”

            So children don’t react well to how Irish is taught and that’s *their* fault? We’re talking about *children* here, not grown adults. Different standards apply when it comes to assigning responsibility.

          3. Medium Sized C


            Is it the English teachers fault that you can’t read English?

          4. Medium Sized C


            “My point through all this is the kids, their families and their environment make it a chore.
            If kids don’t engage with it, it is a pain in the hole.”

            “you can’t just blame the kids forced to do it for not delighting in it.”

            You are selecting one factor and accusing me of reducing it to that.

            But I’m being selective……

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            Nice. And it depends. If someone’s job is to teach me to understand something and I don’t understand it after the lesson, it’s up to the teacher to rectify that at first glance. If the teachers methods work on the vast majority of students but not me, then the problem will probably rest with me. So, how many fluent Irish speakers do we have then?

        3. LW

          They also do maths and english because they have to, not because they choose to. English lit is not a standalone leaving cert subject, it’s a separate paper on the same subject, any more than paper 2 of Maths covers a standalone subject. And the Irish paper is structured the same way

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            People speak English and can work out how to add and subtract before going to school. We think in maths and English all the time. We don’t think in Irish so you need to teach that differently if you want people to actually retain the information in their brain. As it stands, learning it is like trying to jam a square peg in a round hole. We’re asking people to just learn a list of words that don’t mean anything to them. And English lit was definitely a separate subject to English when I was in school.

          2. LW

            Must be a while since you were in school so horse. People can work out how to add and subtract before going to school? Savage. No need for school at all sure, cancel the lot!

      2. Pip

        There should be a redress fund you could apply to, attaching a copy of your Leaving Cert results, to go some way toward getting the value of those P E I G hours back. And a bit on top for those of us who endured Bullaí Mhártain, freisin.

  4. Funster Fionnanánn

    Token Irish.

    Making it compulsory. That’s worked, so do more of that.

    It’s dead lads, let it go.

    1. Tish Mahorey

      It’s nowhere near dead. Nowhere near it. Just because you can’t speak it, you throw rocks at it.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        It’s brain dead. They need a committee to come up with new words to keep pace with new words we use in English and it usually just involves putting a fads over at English word. It’s on life support but I do think we should keep the life support on.

        1. Funster Fionnanánn

          Forcing people to learn a language that isn’t used widely is actually mad. Make it optional and see the real interest in this glorious and beautiful language.

          Culture is great. Forcing culture down people’s throats is third reich activity.

          1. Nigel

            The Irish government failed abysmally to keep Irish alive as a living language. Despite that it is still here and still being used. i do not particularly feel like conceding any ground to the grey pinched bureaucrats who were so stupid and inflexible in administering the curriculum by finishing the work they started. I don’t know if it can be saved, but have we learned nothing about the difference between value and cost, let alone the cost of just giving up on something because it’s difficult or because it implies there’s some worth to our country and our culture beyond wealth and that’s just embarrassing and we’d all prefer bland homogenised US-centric cool. I understand that people’s relationship with Irish is a difficult one thanks to the educational system. i can’t understand how anyone would so blithely cheer the death of something so intrinsic and unique to us.

        2. ReproBertie

          Languages steal from each other all the time. The French for internet is internet. The English for rendez-vous is rendezvous.

          There is an effort made to go to the root of the word rather than just sticking a fada on the English word which is why, for example, the Irish for internet is idirlín.

        3. rotide

          They already have this Moyest. There was an update to the dictionary a few years ago to address all the new internet-y things.

        4. ahjayzis

          Biúró is the Irish for Bureau.

          I mean god forbid we use a loan word, we best mangle the f*** out of what is already a poxy loanword.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            That’s a perfect example of what I mean. There aren’t enough people thinking in and thus expressing themselves through Irish for it to be considered alive, imo, and this results in abominations like that.

          2. ahjayzis

            It just seems totes inflexibly academic. We all mangle English in quirky ways in every day life. Irish seems so unforgiving by comparison, it’s either right or it’s wrong. Miss a (silent!) h or g and you’ve fupped it up.

          3. mildred st. meadowlark

            The French Academie loathes imported words, slang, or anything else that might dilute the purity of the French language. Similar rigidity and inflexibility. Utterly ridiculous. Language is organic, it’s constantly changing and evolving, and that’s necessary.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            That’s because nobody speaks it naturally and thus colloquially and relaxed. It *has* to fit a formula. If that word you cited could speak it would agonisingly cough out the words ‘kill me’ before mustering just enough strength to point a finger at a suspiciously placed rifle in the corner of the room.

          5. The Real Jane

            Or else it’s an attempt to render the word ‘bureau’ as pronounacble using Irish orthography. For those who were asleep during Irish class, the Irish alphabet doesn’t have exactly the same letters as the English alphabet and we use accents rather than double vowels. This can look like a pathetic attempt to mangle a word if you don’t think about it, of course.

          6. ahjayzis

            Yes, this is why we pronounce it Bag-wet and Bureeeee-o, Crokweh Monsewer and Creep in English.

            Because Irish exists in a vacuum and to speak it, one must forget ever hearing another language

            Its not bloody Japanese, France is our nearest neighbour but one, I’m sure even the most isolated of speakers can manage baguette, crepe and bureau.

  5. Calerz

    Agree it should be taught as a foreign language but from research done sending too many people to the Gaeltacht only dilutes the native Irish been spoken there. The strategy in Gaeltacht’s is too preserve what little Irish language they have left – not to swamp it with thousands of non native beginners or learners.

    1. ahjayzis

      If you reduce the flow of students to a trickle their local economy will collapse and they’ll be moving for work to English speaking areas though, no?

    2. Medium Sized C

      I find that very hard to believe.
      Can you point me to this research?

      Do kids just hear a few irish college students and suddenly start aping them instead of speaking the language they were raised in?

  6. Murtles

    I went on a 3 day Irish Language course about 5 years ago for Adults. I learned more in the 3 days than all my years in National and secondary school. Emphasis was on speaking the languages in groups no matter how much or little you knew and everyone thought back then that if it was taught like that in schools, people might actually come to like speaking Irish.

    1. Nigel

      The way irish is taught is horrible, but as a result of it, most Irish people have more Irish in them than they realise.

    2. Medium Sized C

      This is important.

      You chose to do that course.
      You actively engaged with it.
      Did you do that in School?

      I know I did better in subjects I wanted to learn when I was in school.
      At the time I didn’t want to learn Irish. I very much regret that decision now.

  7. Clampers Outside!


    Welcome Gaelgoirís to the year 2016. You failed miserably in teaching the language as a first language and now it will die because of your stubborn insistence on teaching it like a first language.
    The really funny thing is, and yes, it is funny, is that after decades and decades in failing to get more people speaking Irish in real numbers, and being told the system is failing, time and time again, the arrogance of the Gaegoirís insistence on keeping it taught as a first language and teaching it as such, have effectively destroyed its chances.


    I think I broke my schadenfreude meter!

    PS – I’m not celebrating it’s death. I’m celebrating the failure or arrogant gaelgoirís for helping destroy what they purported to save. It could have been something fun for far more people, but nah, they ruined it by making people hate it in bigger numbers than loved it. Bunch of fupping idiot gaelgoirís going against common sense only have themselves to blame for the loss of the Irish language. It is that simple.

    1. Tish Mahorey

      Clampers, you are a Galwegian right?

      I assume you’re from the city and therefore at the coalface of English meets Irish where attitudes can harden one way or the other.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        Technically, I’m from the gaetacht. Once you go over the bridge (by the Spanish Arch) from town, of Galway City, and enter The Cladagh you are in the gaeltacht. So yeah, on the borders or some such.

        1. BobbyJ

          I thought the city part of the Gaeltacht began somewhere in Knocknacarra (excluding Menlo, Castlegar, etc)?

          1. Clampers Outside!

            I’d go out as far as Furbo, for a ‘real’ gaeltacht as it’s not until you reach Furbo that you start getting people speaking Irish in numbers.
            But technically, it starts once over Wolfe Tone bridge (the one by the Spanish Arch/Jury’s Hotel)

    1. Paul

      same difference between immersion and submersion in this sense as going for a nice swim and being waterboarded.

  8. Tish Mahorey

    Only ignorant anti-intellectuals cheerlead the death of a language.

    The fools, they know not what they do.

    So luckily there are those who do value it and know why it matters and can save it’s destruction from the cultural knuckle draggers.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Learning a language is hugely beneficial. Of course it is. Even any language. But, shoving what is technically a foreign language down peoples throats from a young age has only worked negatively towards a child’s view of learning a language. That’s a fact. The kids leaving schools with hardly a word after more than a decade of being taught is absolute proof of that failure. Especially when compared to how fluent many are after learning other languages for less than half the time.

      Unfortunately, as opposed to your “luckily”, “there are those who do value it and know why it matters” but are too damned blind with out dated ideas of nationalism to teach it in a manner that would benefit more people, and are ruining any and all hope of saving it as a result.

      “Only ignorant anti-intellectuals cheerlead the death of a language.”… I would even say that those who push what is already known for decades to be the wrong way to teach, but still advocate to keep teaching in that manner are very much responsible, and could be classed as cheerleading the death of the language, for their intentional refusal to update and accept the truth about the state of the language and how it’s methods are failing everyone. The guardians / gaelgoirís are responsible for the state of the language today. It is that simple.

      1. Tish Mahorey

        I don’t agree with the way it’s taught, definitely not. I learned mine in the Gaeltacht. I hated it in school before that. I became near fluent after just two trips to the G/tacht. I went a total of five times.

        And it should NEVER be linked to nationalism. That’s a serious mistake.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          Sending persons to a Gaeltacht costs a lot of money, and if seen as a way to fix the current problems by the gaelgoirís then it will only really further distance more and more people from learning it because they cannot afford to go to a gaeltacht.

          Gaeltachts won’t be a solution for the poorer who tend to already struggle in education. Gaetachets are not the answer for all, only those with a few bob to spare.

          That said, fair play for you (and your Mum and Dad) that it worked for you Tish

      2. Pip

        Well said, Clampers.
        It’s sad to see kids struggling – or more frequently, not bothering – all the way up to Leaving Cert with something that for most is pretty useless/unnecessary. Likewise for the ‘teacher’.
        At a very deep and real level, you know from a young age what is of value to you – spiritually, psychologically, financially even. You apply this.
        Maurice Gnáth.

        1. The Real Jane

          Yeah, so-called languages and so-called teachers are all rubbish, man. The Wall, guys. You should listen to it.

          Also, I am 14.

    2. Rob_G

      It’s actual insanity spending about one fifth of school-time from the ages of 4-18 teaching a subject that has no usefulness one the pupil has left school.

      (I’m a Gaeilgeoir, and have had cause to use the language once in my working life).

      1. LW

        It’s nowhere near a 5th, ridiculous statement. Have you had cause to use fractions much?

        1. ahjayzis

          People use fractions all the time. How much of my salary is the rent on this place. How much of my tenner will go on that sandwich and what am I left with. Bad example!

          1. LW

            I was questioning his facility with them based on the use of the 5th, not the usefulness of fractions

  9. Eoin

    Bang on Clampers. Firebrand language demons teaching it in schools haven’t helped either. I was there for the tail end of corporal punishment in schools. And it was ALWAYS the Irish teachers who dished out the most of it. ALWAYS. And our dying language is a direct result of that.

    1. Medium Sized C

      That is a remarkably self-centred view on the world.
      There are generations of kids who have been through schools since corporal punishment stopped.
      Did they not learn cos you were hit?

  10. kellma

    Irish is a beautiful language and as someone who speaks many languages, I would say that it has particularly difficult grammar. I love that I can speak Irish and I love that my children can too but yes I agree, the way it is taught is not working. It’s sad that the plain truth has been ignored, over and over again. My children go to a gaelscoil and not a bother to them because they live it instead of having it shoved down their throats by rote…

    1. ReproBertie

      One of the biggest issues facing Irish is the lack of opportunity to use it outside of schools. I have no idea how that issue could or should be tackled but it would probably be better off if opportunities grew organically rather than more government interference.

  11. mildred st. meadowlark

    It’s amazing that our native language has even survived when you consider how hard the British tried to eradicate our culture and religion. It should be cherished as part of our heritage, and taught in our schools, but not as it is now.

    1. Nigel

      We emulated the British in many ways, even inadvertently, and slowly killing off the Irish language has been one of them.

      1. Tired old refrain

        In France the provincial languages were killed off deliberately as a unifying tactic e..g Occitan etc

        it was a perfectly valid tactic for the British to take to reduce the amount of bureaucracy

        we live in a different sort of world now though

        I agree with Nigel that it takes a special form of self loathing to try and eradicate one’s native tongue on the grounds it doesn’t get you a job in Big Pharma, Google or Facebook

        But I also agree with Drogg that a mandatory requirement is counter-productive and distasteful

        1. ahjayzis

          Pedantic point, but;

          How many generations of my family have to have English as their mother tongue before it’s my ‘native’ tongue?

          I mean is English native in England yet or is Brittonic still in?

          1. Nigel

            I’d say even if Irish died out completely as a language, English would never be the mother tongue of anyone who isn’t English. It will always remain a vestige of Empire.

          2. Tired old refrain

            I don’t think it’s pedantic at all ahjaysiz

            That’s why I spoke to it not being mandatory

            It may not be your native tongue (and that’s fine) but as I recall some contadictory features of official census figures etc is that most people still proclaim to speak Irish
            hence it’s our native tongue (or one of them)

          3. ahjayzis

            Ah come on Nigel, haven’t we made it our own? It’s not some creole we’re speaking, we’ve contributed disproportionally to the richness of the English language, it’s not disrespecting Irish to acknowledge and celebrate that.

            Haven’t Irish authors and poets contributed enough to it to count as cultural ‘buy-in’?

            Aren’t Joyce, Wilde, Yeats and co. all part of our heritage as much as the sagas and songs?

            I’m not displacing Irish, but it is conceivable that we have two ‘native’ languages, we are not a pure-blooded Gaelic race speaking a foreign language.

  12. fluffybiscuits

    We need to change how language is taught in schools and start focusing on other languages too like Arabic, Chinese or Hindi. Irish is not useful at the moment but it could experience a revival like Hebrew!

      1. ahjayzis

        OH dya remmeber their old president, him what was top dog in Young FG?

        He was a swoonmeister.

        And I’m ALL for right-wing, survival of the fittest ideology in the bedroom



  13. Mourinho

    The gaelscoil’s are solving this are they not?
    More young folk speaking Irish now that at any point I can remember.

  14. Darwinator

    Peig was illiterate, she narrated the book to an English man Maurice Flowers, he wrote it out and presumably tidied it up as best as he could. I cycled around Slea Head many years ago and stopped at Dunquin graveyard where I was told Peig is buried, I found her grave there and pissed all over it, it felt like revenge.

  15. Cromuel

    They’re right. The reason Conradh na Gaeilge/Gaelic League was so successful in the 1900s was that it used ‘An Modh Díreach’, teaching the language through conversation and in the language rather than through translation, and it made it fun, with a whole-cultural approach including social events, buns and tea, Aeríochta, céilidhe, etc, etc.

    One teacher, for instance, had inner-city Dublin kids with very little education chatting to each other in Irish within three months of starting once-a-week night classes – and this in a day when ‘education’ through the inner city national schools was a haphazard thing for half-starved children.

    Irish-language cafes in class, talking about what kids are interested in, with treats to eat, music, dance, etc – that’ll get kids speaking and loving it. Someone needs to tell Irish teachers that their grans were right when they said you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

  16. Eliot Rosewater

    Y’know, the way that the language is taught in schools is grim enough, but reading through the comments here about ‘usefulness’ is on another level. Learning shouldn’t be about what is useful in order to make a buck once you leave school.

    But if we have to subscribe to this idea of ‘usefulness’, then learning Irish is, actually, the best way of getting a grip on getting some understanding of two languages. People talk about how much more useful French or Mandarin would be, and while they’re right, you’ll never be able to get any notion of immersion (which is usually considered the best way of becoming in any way fluent) doing a two hour class every other week. And yeah, the ‘immersion’ into Irish isn’t the best, but at least you have it there if you’re interested.

    Besides the fact that any ‘usefulness’ of French, German, Mandarin or whatever you learned in school is going to get you exactly as far as token communication if you ever do go to these countries. Even people I know who studied French in university would be hard pressed to present a business plan to a native French speaker. You will only be able to do that if you live in the country for a few years (and you can do that without learning the language in school). If we had proper dual-language understanding, it would make the initial transition (if we were to emigrate to one of these countries) much, much smoother.

    Having said all that, the way Irish is taught has to change. It might work for a small percentage of people, but it doesn’t seem to work for the rest of us. Interestingly, if you check out any of the Irish courses that are available, nearly all of them focus on conversation as the key. Bad grammar? Doesn’t matter. Introducing English terms if you don’t know the Irish word? Ignore it, and move on (sure they do this in Gaeltacht areas in Connemara nearly as a rule). This should be the first step in primary school for at least the first few years. I remember (trying, failing) learning the modh coinníollach when incredibly young. I don’t think we had even covered that tense in English so I just gave up at that point. I had no idea what the teacher was talking about.

  17. bubbleandsqueak

    1.77 million people said they can speak Irish in the last census.
    77,185 said they speak Irish on a daily basis.

    To me that’s a whole lot of people who can speak Irish choosing not to.

    1. Rob_G

      A straw poll among any sampling of Irish people anywhere other than Conradh na Gaeilge or Club na Muintreoirí will show that to be untrue.

      Self-reported data can be very unreliable; like the polling before the UKgeneral election that showed Labour and Tories neck and neck, and then the Tories romped home.

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