On asking a friend from a Gaeltacht why there was a reluctance to engage in Irish with non-native customers in shops, I was taken aback with the reply: “Why should we give free lessons in Irish to anyone”.

It’s time to realign our approach to the survival of the native tongue. We focus on the Gaeltachts, but in essence have turned them into cash-cows for their inhabitants.

There is more Irish spoken in greater Dublin than the combined Gaeltachts so perhaps it’s time Raidió na Gaeltachta changed its name to Raidió Na Gael. Time to open full-time studios in Athlone, Blanchardstown, Belfast and Waterford.

Let’s break up this cosy cabal and spread our language – it’s not just the preserve of the western seaboard.

John Cuffe,


Gaeltacht Irish (Irish Times letters)

Pic: Highland Radio

109 thoughts on “Fadaland

          1. Bertie Blenkinsop

            Go raibh maith agat. :)

            * whispers *

            That’s “thanks” Clampers :)

  1. Anomanomanom

    Could not agree more. My Irish is very bad, so I went there in my 20s, so not a child, to help improve it. Biggest bunch of A-holes iv ever met. Not helpful at all. It’s a pity the way Irish is not thought, it’s not thought as an actual language in school

        1. mildred st. meadowlark


          Makes my blood boil. It’s Sacrifice. One R only.

          1. ahjayzis

            In a Chicargo accent.

            My skin crawls when people replace -ight with -ysh and -ent with -entch. Goodnysh. Formation of Governmentch

            Mary Wilson on RTE is the WORST at it.

          2. classter

            Accents change, get over it.

            We have adopted a foreign language wholesale as our own, it is a little bit late to be getting protective about ‘American’ accents (which have often been influenced by Irish accents in the first place).

      1. Cheech

        My Irish is limited to stupid penis-related statements and asking to go to the jacks, but are you asking me to get the lad out?

        The weather’s grand for it, in fairness.

  2. Clampers Outside!

    Well, duh…. Gaelgoirís won’t give up their assumed superiority for the monoglots. And remember, if you cannot speak it by the time you leave school, it’s not the systems fault, it’s because you are thick as a Connemara heifers sh*te according to the O’Cuivs of this world.

    Take the language off these gimps, they’re killing it, not saving it !

    1. ReproBertie

      They don’t have the language for us to take it off them. Nothing they do in the Gaeltacht will impact on my speaking Irish at home nor will it increase the opportunity for me to speak it on a daily basis outside the home.

      The future of Irish is in the hands of anyone and everyone with an interest and willingness to use it.

      1. ahjayzis

        And also in the hands of the education system, which seems intent removing any joy or fun from it with a view to destroying it over a timeframe of about two centuries.

        1. ReproBertie

          Sadly the idea that learning should be fun is missing from the education system. Thankfully TG4 has a sense of humour and fun for all ages.

          1. mildred st. meadowlark

            Speaking of TG4, has anyone seen the latest Ros na Run ad campaign? Creepy as fluich!

      2. Clampers Outside!

        They’re the ones pulling the strings in how it is taught in schools. If you can speak it at home, well done, for those that cannot the system is at fault. Clearly it is not working.

        So again, it IS the gaelgoiris who are killing it, through incompetence and blind arrogance.

        1. ReproBertie

          I’m not arguing with you Clampers. I’m just saying we can defeat the British empire by ignoring it. Ar agaidh linn!

          1. Clampers Outside!

            When it gets shoved in your face as some sort of failing, why wouldn’t I? And knowing that that same arrogant attitude will be continued to be foisted upon kids today, then why the hell wouldn’t I give out about it. It’s clearly, and plainly, and proven to be an extremely wasteful, inefficient, and stupid way to teach a second language.

            Argue all you want, the truth is the truth. You cannot argue with the results that are the fact that the majority cannot speak it after 14 years of teaching it.

            That’s a failure in any language.

  3. 1980s Man

    Instead of opening a new comments section here, just link to a previous post about the Irish language. It’s always the same predictable responses.

    1. pedeyw

      I can’t wait for the one about how it doesn’t make any money and we’d be better off teaching german or something.

  4. smolach

    What a piece of crap, sure they don’t engage with irish speakers in shops either, you would be hard pressed to find a shop worked with Irish in the Gaeltacht. Set up your own radio station if you want one and stop feckin whinging about it.
    “The future of Irish is in the hands of anyone and everyone with an interest and willingness to use it.”

    I like this!! am sick and tired of telling folks we don’ need money poured into the Gaeltacht to “save” the language, its up to us to speak it and share it with our children,
    What we need in the Gaeltacht are Jobs, not necessarily gaeilge jobs just work so we can stay in the Gaeltacht and earn our living and speak Irish to each other if we flippin want

    1. ReproBertie

      Did you know Peig Sayers were heavily censored to remove references to women drinking, fighting and any level of sexual activity? Their puritan attitude took anthing of interest to teenagers out of the book. Ochón, ochón.

  5. fluffybiscuits

    Ihe a mpempe unyi , n’aka na ha adịghị eme ihe na Irish ọkà okwu na ụlọ ahịa ma , ị ga- ike dakwasịrị ịchọta a shop arụ ọrụ na Irish na Gaeltacht . Melite gị onwe gị na redio ma ọ bụrụ na ị chọrọ onye na-akwụsị feckin whinging banyere ya.
    ” The ọdịnihu nke Irish bụ nke dị n’aka onye ọ bụla na onye ọ bụla na mmasị na njikere iji ya. ”

    Nke a masịrị m!! m arịa ọrịa na ike gwụrụ nke na-agwa folks anyị Don ‘ mkpa ego wụsara n’ime Gaeltacht “ịzọpụta ” asụsụ ahụ, ya ruo anyị na-ekwu okwu ya na -agwa ya na ụmụ anyị ,
    Ihe dị anyị mkpa ná Gaeltacht bụ Jobs , ọ bụchaghị gaeilge ọrụ dị nnọọ na-arụ ọrụ otú anyị nwere ike ịnọ na Gaeltacht na irite anyị dị ndụ na -ekwu okwu Irish onye ọ bụla ọzọ ma ọ bụrụ na anyị flippin chọrọ

    1. Bertie Blenkinsop

      F – Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

      A – Arms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?

      S – Speech – is their speech slurred?

      T –Time to call 999 if you spot any single one of these signs.

  6. Junkface

    Only in Ireland could the educational system fail to successfully teach their own language. For what 90 odd years now?

    I learned more French in 2 yrs of secondary school then I did Irish over 10 years.

    1. Kieran NYC

      Apparently it’s all our fault and the only intelligent people in Ireland are Irish teachers.

      Get As in Maths, English, Science? Nah, you must still be thick if you can’t speak Irish.

      1. LW

        I’d be surprised if there was a substantial number of people pulling in As in Maths, English and Science but failing Irish

      1. Bertie Blenkinsop

        Maybe he watches Allo Allo and is amazed that he understands every word :)

  7. bubbleandsqueak

    TG4’s top ten programs from March 2016

    GAA BEO 2015 – 2016
    GAA Inserts 2016 : Buaicphoini Setanta
    Rugbaí Beo Guinness Pro 12 2015 – 2016
    Laochra Gael 2016
    The Chieftains – 2016
    Glór Tíre 12
    Glór Tíre 12 – 12 Beo
    Under Siege
    Under Siege 2
    Séamus Begley & a chairde

    A lot of guff gets spoken about TG4 doing a great job ob a smaller budget than RTE but the fact that the 8th and 9th most popular programmes in the month of March were Under Siege and Under Siege 2 are massive indications that it’s a serious waste of money.

    1. ReproBertie

      The fact that the 8th and 9th most popular programmes on TG4 in March were Steven Seagal films is a massive indication that there’s a lot of love for Steven in Ireland and maybe one of the Tv stations should consider a Seagal Season.

    2. Rugbyfan

      I would venture that the matches are watched with the mute button on and Michael Corcoran on RTE radio on in the background!
      Other programmes would have English subtitles too so agree, a waste of money and would be far better to shut down and increase Irish content on RTE to keep the minority happy!

      1. ReproBertie

        You’d be 100% wrong then as RTÉ radio don’t have live coverage of the Pro12 and when TG4 show the HECNua it’s delayed coverage so there’s no Michael Corcoran to listen to.

        And you call yourself rugbyfan.

        1. Rugbyfan

          Sorry Repro I was thinking of RTE covered Irish internationals and HCup on Sky/ BT to put Corcoran as he is excellent. TNG would generally be turned down for newstalk if covering away games etc. Otherwise I’d be in the RDS.
          My error!

  8. Clampers Outside!

    I failed every Irish exam from the day I entered secondary school until the Leaving Cert, in which I achieved a D in pass.

    Was I thick? I don’t believe so, there were four grades of class in 1st, 2nd & 3rd year and I was in the top class from the start each year… except for Irish.
    I got seven honors in the Inter, but failed Irish, and cried going home with the results… I cried because of Irish. I thought I’d be killed. Thankfully Ma and Pa Clampers had more sense, and told me to forget about the Irish result. So, I did.
    There are many, many kids that go through that and the only reason they do is because of how idiotic those that teach it and promote how it is taught really are.

    Now, I don’t care about being called a whinger, a moaner, a monoglot, thinko, or whatever because I know I’m not. I know the system failed. Proof of that is in the fact that I am in….. a majority. And now I can laugh at the language being killed off by those who purport to be saving it :)

    1. ReproBertie

      The language isn’t being killed off. Quite the contrary.

      The language is taught as if it was the first langauge of the students. It’s not and it should not be taught that way. It seems to be impossible to get the powers that be to admit that.

    2. LW

      Clampers I’m sorry for your bad experience in school, and doubly sorry that you seem to blame a language, and people who speak it, for same.

      However, you’re not in the majority by a long shot. For the last 3 years, the number of students studying higher level Irish has increased every year, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the whole. Of those studying higher level, around 90% are getting an honour, and the total passing is greater than 99%.

      Looking at ordinary level, which around 50% opt for, 75% of which are getting an honour, with 96% passing.

      Finally we come to foundation level, where student numbers have dropped (again both proportionally and in absolute terms), and we get an honour rate in the 72-78% rate, with around 95% percent total passing.

      Since 2011, 40% of the marks for the leaving cert have gone for the oral. Therefore we can say with a reasonable level of confidence that lots of people are able to speak Irish leaving school.

      I personally feel that a lack of opportunity to use your Irish outside the school setting is the reason people don’t feel comfortable speaking Irish – they never get the chance. However things are happily changing in this regard, with increasing social opportunities in Dublin, Cork and Galway that I know of.

      Finally, for anyone who would like an opportunity to speak Irish in a social setting, there’s an Irish language festival in June, Raveloid, details at

      figures from state examination commission:

      1. Clampers Outside!

        They are finally changing it…. well done to them for catching up with reality, but no one gets awards for having finally used some cop on. And that doesn’t excuse the decades of failure.

        The fact that these ‘growth’ figures are there after changes like “40% for oral” only proves my point though…. doesn’t it?

        Thanks for the update. Good to hear, lot more to be done.

        1. classter

          ‘well done to them’

          Who is ‘them’, clampers?

          This is the thing that drives me mad about Ireland. We blame all problems on some amorphous others – the govt / society / current irish speakers / the British / the EU / etc.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        The “majority” I am in. You can take a cohort from school today, but will they be speaking it in a few years?

        I am in the “majority” in that the “majority” do not understand or use it after 14 years for each of us being taught a subject incorrectly. That’s a fact :)

        1. LW

          Ah Clampers, you’re like a dog with a bone. I thought you meant the majority failed. Alright so. The numbers passing and getting honours actually remain fairly consistent going back along, almost everyone passes, and the majority get an honour at their level. When the MAJORITY are getting such good grades, how can we say the subject is being taught incorrectly?

          If you take someone at a similar distance from their school leaving age as you, who hasn’t used algebra since leaving school, do we judge maths teaching a failure when they can’t solve a quadratic equation, much less differentiate or integrate it? No. The problem is not solely with the teaching, I think one of the problems is not thinking about something for 10,15,20 years and expecting to be an expert in it.

          I’ve seen people who haven’t spoken Irish in 20 years, and foundation level students gone from school 5 years, go to Irish nights, nervous at first and convinced they can’t speak Irish, having conversations in Irish by the end of the night. You’d be surprised at what’s lying dormant in your head.

          I’d also like to know who’s shoving your inability to speak Irish in your face? Have you got a particularly aggressive Gaeilgeoir neighbour or something?

  9. Enn

    Why though. WHY. Why didn’t I learn it? I tried and tried. I was an Irish geek. And yet I left school utterly clueless, with relatively good grades in everything else.


    It’s like it’s cursed or something.

    1. classter

      It wasn’t cursed for me.

      On a serious note, most subjects at Leaving Cert can be completed successfully by rote learning & without much real engagement or understanding of the subject. In fact, there is often an outcry after an exam because the paper didn’t allow the ‘slogger’ get his/her B+ / A-.

      The problem is that Irish is old enough & complicated enough & yes taken seriously enough (it includes bits on history, poetry, etc.) that it can’t really be crammed. If you float through our education system, a system which is design to churn everybody through, you can easily do pretty well & never really receive shock to the system until you come up against honours Irish. (Even then, it is not really that high a standard).

      How many of your wider social circle can explain what a binomial distribution is or do integration by parts (fairly basic stuff!)? Or speak anything other than pidgin French? How many can read a historical text & perform a reasoned critique?

      The system we had has gotten us so far. But we really need to push on now. Continually blaming ‘how Irish is taught’ is to miss the point.

      1. Enn

        Good point. Our Irish classes were all cramming. I requested to see my (dismally graded) Irish paper after the fact and couldn’t understand most of it. And I’d written the thing three months earlier. At the moment I’m looking into getting a hasty TEFL to get the fleck out of here and to be perfectly honest I haven’t the first clue about the science and nuances of my mother tongue either.

        Now that I think about it this is rather chilling.

      2. Tony

        It is something to do with how people feel about Irish and its relationship to their identity. Other minority languages associate themselves with a cause or a movement such as Basques, Catalonians or Jailgoiri in Belfast. Here, where we have independence, people are at a loss as to why they should speak it. Being stripped of their nationalism during th troubles didn’t help, or the brainwashing of centuries that it is the language of the peasant. Glad to say I suffer no hangup regarding the language and speak it every day. Time to move on and make sure our kids dont suffer the neurosis of their parents.

    2. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      We’re not taught grammar properly: I mean English grammar. Irish grammar is fairly tricky so not to have a grasp of the concept makes it more difficult to learn the language.
      I was taught English grammar in primary school to a level that was about as good as you could get. I forget it all, but I remember it helping me learn Latin. Sadly, my Irish teachers didn’t have a proper grasp of grammar either so my Irish didn’t improve. We spent a lot of time learning German grammar and French grammar, never Irish.
      I’ve used the word grammar too much and am feeling dizzy.

  10. meh.

    In my experience:
    I completed the Leaving Cert in 96 and got a C in honours . I didn’t like the subject but it was a test that had to be done so that was that. I failed French thus show I don’t have a particularly strong linguistic aptitude.
    From that point on I thoroughly forgot everything but I always had a yearning to learn it.
    Fast forward 20 years – my kids are in a school learning irish. It’s not an Irish school but they are trying a program wherein half of the junior infant classes are taught exclusively through Irish. We decided to apply for this option for our kids more-or-less on a whim and the project was deemed successful enough to continue the program to 1st class.
    Now, I speak Irish every day in the house. I speak it badly but it’s there. I found that I have quite a large vocabulary but my syntax and verbs are all over the place. My kids are 5 and 7 and typically answer in English but know what I’m saying. The wife thinks it’s good but has no interest – which is fine.
    I read the kids’ books and found the structure coming back to me.
    And now there are so many apps that it is much easier than when I was a kid. There’s cartoon videos all over youtube as well as every recent hit song being covered by some choir as gaeilge.
    And although I’ve no recent experience with 2nd level Irish I know that it’s no longer only Peig Sayers and I think it’s unfair to keep coming back to that as an example of the poor way Irish is taught.
    A positive example is “Yu Ming is ainm dom” – a great short movie featuring Frank Kelly that is used on the syllabus now.
    Long Story Short – As an adult, the only thing stopping me from learning Irish is myself. It has nothing to do with however good or poor the teaching system was in the 90s.

    1. Enn

      This is lovely. I find language learning so intimidating, which is kind of sad, since I’m a writer and use English at length every day to express myself. I’ve always felt, though, that if I had kids I’d want them educated through Irish to have that fluent access to a language that is not technically being ground into them for strategic/employment purposes. People say ‘Irish is useless’ but it is that aristocratic superfluity that, I suppose, potentially makes it an intimate thing.

      That said I had a German boyfriend for years and, while I taught him every major Irish slang term, I never learned any German beyond asking for directions to the bathroom in the flughaffen or whatever. This reflects poorly on me, I realise.

  11. Kdoc1

    I’m embarrassed that I can’t speak my own language. I’m struggling trying to rectify that situation and I’m using the free online course Duolingo, it’s a great help.
    Incidentally, I have visited Clifden, the capital of Connemara, several times and I have never heard a word of Irish spoken there.

    1. Tony

      Clifden?? Why would you expect gaeltacht there?? Connemara is not all gaeltacht. Only Southern Connemara. Clifden hasn’t heard Irish in years.

      1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab


        Clifden may be the ‘capital’ of Connemara, but An Spidéal is the capital of An Gaeltacht.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          I never know what they’re saying. The accent is very far removed from Gaeilge na Mumhan or whatever it’s called. Munster Irish (to me) is spoken quite like English. The rest all sound BONKERS.

  12. Tony

    Honestly, could someone explain to me why its ok to talk about Irish speakers and Catholics with language which if used about any other minority would be considered one of the isms or phobias? Serious question. Not that I expect anyone to have the balls to tell the truth.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      You make it sound like you have the answer but aren’t telling us. GO ON!

      1. Pip

        Yes! From his contributions above, Tony seems to see the picture very clearly I’d say.
        I wonder what folk thought about learning Irish in, say, 1910…

          1. Pip

            Thanks Tony – you motivated me to read a bit….
            Hadn’t known that in the 1880s only around a dozen schools actually taught Irish, and Douglas Hyde spoke critically of the almost complete Anglicization of Ireland.

          2. Tony

            It was an exciting time of gaelic and cultural revival. The Irish found their voice again and eventually lead to the independence of the state. Perhaps after having achieved that, people felt no other use for the language.

    2. Tony

      Hey Im great with the language. Just wondering why others feel its ok to be so derogatory and racist and why others do nothing about it.

        1. Tony

          Who wants to be a victim? Certainly not me. Please answer the question. Why is it tolerable to abuse Irish speakers and Catholics in a way that wouldn’t be acceptable for any other minority.

          1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

            Who tolerates what?

            You don’t seem to be tolerant yourself of those with views opposite to yours.

            Where do you guys get off with your victim-blaming guff?

          2. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

            What’s the question again? What you said made absolutely no sense whatsoever so I’m thinking perhaps I misunderstood it.

            Are you seriously equating the criticism of Irish speaking fanatics with the oppression of minorities like travelling people, gays or asylum speakers?

            I just want to be absolutely sure that’s what your point is as I’m reticent to label you a moron without prima facie evidence.

          3. Tony

            Have a look at the comments on this and other threads about Irish speakers (fanatics and others) and Catholics. Would the same tone be tolerated with travellers, gays, immigrants or coloureds? In my opinion it wouldn’t, and I was asking why it is.

          4. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

            Can you give some examples? I don’t have time to trawl through hundreds of pages of other peoples crap.

          5. Tony

            Of course you dont. So why are you accusing me of victim blaming?

            “Where do you guys get off with your victim-blaming guff?”

            And on a more personal level- Why are you so angry?

          6. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

            You can’t even give one example? Not even one?

            Even Anne quotes sources and references and she’s a total fool.

            You’re lower than Anne. That’s not a compliment.

            Go away now you clown.

  13. SB

    I lost all support for Irish when my kid wasn’t allowed into the local Irish school because we don’t speak Irish at home. That’s one sure way of ensuring you don’t expand a language, by dictating that it only remains in the same clique. I’d have thought it should be the opposite, trying to introduce Irish to houses where it’s not spoken. Today, I’d rather my kids learn Spanish or another language that will actually be useful to them. I’m tired of the superiority complex of Irish speakers.

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