I’ve Nothing Against Irish Speakers, But…


From the illustrated Ulysess by James Joyce

Colm Ó Broin writes:

If you don’t believe there’s prejudice in Ireland against the Irish language and Irish speakers consider that people working in the national media have…

1 Denied the existence of the Irish language

“You see, the truth is there IS no Irish language. There was a bunch of dialects Dineen tried to turn into a language as a nationalist plot.”

Sarah Carey, 02/10/2017

2 Described the Irish language as gobbledygook

“The bilingual street signs in Dublin are just a bit of English and a bit of gobbledygook to most people.”

Malachi O’Doherty, Belfast Telegraph, 17/11/2015

3 Stated that English is superior to Irish

“I’m being excoriated [what’s the Irish word for excoriated?] for saying that English is a superior language to Irish. Which was tactless [what’s the Irish for tactless?] and a digression anyway. [Irish for digression?] But it is actually true. Try going round the world on Irish.”

Malachi O’Doherty, 21/02/2018

4 Described the name Mac Gearailt as an “absurd Gaelic confection”

“Garret FitzGerald is clearly Anglo-Norman, no matter the absurd Gaelic confection that he occasionally translates his name into.”

Kevin Myers, Irish Independent, 15/04/2011

5 Described an Irish language song as gibberish

“Somehow chanting pretentious gibberish is now considered to be cutting edge but it’s not and it never will be.”

Ian O’Doherty, Irish Independent, 03/10/2015

 6 Associated the Irish language with rich people

“Even now there is a class bias within the Irish language. At many Irish language primary schools in Dublin the favoured form of transport is an expensive SUV”

Anne-Marie Hourihan, The Times, 15/02/2018

7 Associated the Irish language with poor people

“I had a real visceral dislike for Irish back then…It was the language of poverty and submission”.

Ian O’Doherty, Pat Kenny Show, Newstalk, 14/06/2016

8 Used English words taken from other languages to criticise Irish words taken from other languages

“I am hurt by the reduction of Irish, the oldest spoken literary language in Europe, to phonetic translations from the relative newcomer, English. Who gains from the translation of ‘buggy store’ into ‘stóras bugaithe’? Anyone who wants to make fun of the Irish language, that’s who.”

Victoria White, Irish Examiner, 2015

9 Falsely claimed that no new Irish words have been created in 100 years

“When there is no intrinsic word or phrase in a language for anything new to the world in the past hundred years or so, that language is not alive.”

Emer O’Kelly, Sunday Independent 05/11/2006

10 Falsely claimed that the Irish language is dead

“So even though the language is dead – Erse is a hearse is how I have heard it described”

Kevin Myers, Irish Independent, 26/01/2007

11 Falsely claimed that Irish language schools are exclusively middle class

“Gaelscoils don’t exist most parts of the country. And where they do, their appeal seems to have little to do with Irish language. More to do with exclusively middle class (non working class, non immigrant) environment.”

Eoin Butler, 08/10/2016

12 Compared Irish language schools to the racist apartheid system

“While I appreciate the language, I abhor the educational apartheid that goes along with it.”

Kate Holmquist, Irish Times, 09/12/2008

13 Suggested Irish language schools “weed out” children with special needs

“The department’s own audit showed few children with special needs in Irish-speaking schools – so are Irish-language schools weeding these children out?”

Kate Holmquist, Irish Times, 09/12/2008

14 Described Irish language schools as “nationalistic Irish language nonsense”

“I’d create inclusivity by abolishing exclusivity. No religion, no private schools and none of this nationalistic Irish language nonsense, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the ultimate barrier in the Irish education system”.

Sarah Carey, Irish Independent, 22/01/2017

15 Associated Irish language schools with snobbery and racism

“The snobs (Na Snobi) are those who reckon that sending their kids to a gaelscoil is the only politically correct way to keep their kids away from the lower classes. (They are not wrong.)…Of course, sending your kids to a school where the parents must speak Irish could be seen by some as a form of racial segregation. Na Snobi are at pains to point out they are not racists.”

Pat Fitzpatrick, Sunday Independent, 02/06/2014

16 Described the growth of Irish language schools in South Dublin as “sinister”

“Apart from its straightforward careerist aspects, among the things we did not hear about the gaeilge during Seachtain na Gaeilge was the sinister development whereby the ruling class are sending their children to the Gaelscoileanna in unprecedented numbers — south Dublin, the land of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, is full of them.”

Declan Lynch, Sunday Independent, 13/03/2011

17 Associated teachers in Irish language schools with Sinn Féin

“In recent weeks Sinn Fein fielded candidates who came across like gaelscoil teachers, while in Belfast a senior republican was declaring that they still had access to their own army.”

Declan Lynch, Sunday Independent, 01/06/2014

18 Associated Irish speakers with IRA terrorism

“if you think there’s been some gross hypocrisy over the language thus far, just watch how dirty it gets when the Gaelgoiri and the ‘cultural republicans’ of post-terrorist Sinn Fein face the prospect of losing their precious shibboleth.”

Kevin Myers, Irish Independent, 23/02/2011


19 Compared Irish language activists to the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban movement

“The guardians of ‘language rights’ as prescribed in the Official Languages Act have gone at the language like the Taliban went at Islam and left nothing except lumpen duty and legal threat.”

Victoria White, Irish Examiner, 24/09/2015

20 Compared Irish speakers to Communists

“But don’t hold your breath waiting for a quarter of a million language-Stakhonovites marching into the 2033 sunset, Gaelic spanners in hand, chanting Erse verse.”

Kevin Myers, Irish Independent, 15/03/2013

21 Compared Irish language activists to Neo-Nazis

“I’ve been writing about the futility of the state’s language-restoration programme almost my entire professional life, and the outcome has been threefold. One, vilification by brainless Gaeilgeoir skinheads, yawn. Two, the language is deader than ever. And three, the state money spent promoting this doomed language remorselessly rises.”

Kevin Myers, The Times, 06/09/2015

22 Compared Irish language summer colleges with concentration camps

“It’s that time of year again, when schools try to tempt youngsters into signing up for a few weeks in one of the Gaeltacht’s vast network of concentration camps…sorry, summer camps.”

Eilis O’Hanlon, Sunday Independent, 09/05/2010

23 Compared the Irish language to the Islamic hijab head covering

“A cúpla bliain ó thinn I wrote that the Irish language was our equivalent of the hijab, the headscarf worn by orthodox Muslim women as a badge of identity and compliance, a figleaf to cover a web of unacknowledged weaknesses.”

Anne-Marie Hourihane, Irish Times, 05/03/2012

24 Compared the Irish language to bird that became extinct 350 years ago

“We pretend that Irish is our national language and lavish hundreds of millions a year on trying to revive what is a linguistic dodo.”

Irish Examiner Editorial, 11/05/2012

25 Compared an Irish-speaking football team to fundamentalists and Nazis

“He said, look guys would you go and speak English, because everybody we do know, on this island does speak English. Not everybody on this island speaks Irish…this is fundamentalism. You vill learn the Irish and you will do it right, ja?!”

Paul Williams, Newstalk Breakfast, 21/09/2016

26 Wrote that “the Gael” is dishonest

“The one true function of the Irish language today is that it demonstrates the vastness of the dishonesty of the Gael, and the piety that is his calling card.”

Declan Lynch, Sunday Independent, 08/04/2012

27 Associated the Irish language with “mucksavagery”

“The Irish language’s unpopularity is rooted in the kind of mucksavagery with which it is surrounded. It has become the international language of cute hoorism, the babbling soundtrack to a world of strokes, chips on the shoulder and fast ones.”

Diarmuid Doyle, Sunday Tribune, 19/12/2004

28 Compared an Irish language school in the Gaeltacht with a mosque in London frequented by Islamist terrorists

“The school has set itself up as a kind of Finsbury Park Mosque by the sea.”

Irish Examiner Editorial, 17/10/2007

29 Associated Irish speakers with the sexual abuse of children

“The vast majority of us cannot hear that language being spoken, in any context, without also hearing some distant echo of physical and sexual and psychological abuse”

Declan Lynch, Sunday Independent, 23/08/2009

…Or to summarise, I’ve nothing against Irish speakers – they’re just inferior, extinct, dead, poor, rich, snobby, dishonest, fundamentalist, savage, sinister, racist, terrorist, Sinn Féin-IRA, Commie, Nazi child sex abusers.

Colm Ó Broin is an Irish speaker from Clondalkin, Dublin and a member of Conradh na Gaeilge. Follow Colm on Twitter here.

148 thoughts on “I’ve Nothing Against Irish Speakers, But…

    1. Cu Cullan

      Why, after c.100 years, a society wide rebellion and massive state/school support, do 90% of the population not only not want to use, but actively do not want to use it. Stopping slagging each other off for a moment (fear not we’ll come back to that) why is that..?

      1. Tuskar Rock

        Because the self-doubting – if not self-hating – colonial cultural cringe which impelled the Irish to abandon the Irish Language in the first place, under the delusion that doing this would earn them a status and respect denied them by the coloniser, hasn’t gone away, you know.
        Daniel O’Connell, ‘The Liberator’, once said “The superior utility of the English tongue, as the medium o all modern communication, is so great that I can witness without a sigh the gradual disuse of Irish.”
        Well, The Liberator was deluded. Majorities in Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and other countries can speak perfectly good English bur oddly haven’t abandoned their native languages.
        The Irish people took O’Connell’s message to heart; but did anyone, in particular the British people, think more of them for doing so? Nope; it merely earned them universal derision and even greater contempt, as they tried to wrestle English into a shape that fitted their valued culture the better.
        Conned again poor sods. As were the Welsh (“Look you”) and the Scots (“Hoots mon”). Colonised, but never quite good enough, nor regarded as equal. No surprises there.

  1. CoderNerd

    Learn it and speak it if you so desire.
    If you wish your children to speak it, send them to Irish speaking schools.
    I don’t think it should be a mandatory subject though. I hated learning it, wasted many hours trying to study it and can get a few sentences out after over a decade of primary and secondary school education. Many, many wasted hours. Add religious studies in there too.

      1. Cillbot

        It has nothing to do with intelligence – back in the day it was drilled in to you with huge force and everyone I know resented it – and it had no practical application – I can speak a bit of it but I dont think its useful in any way shape or form unless I want to exclude people form other nationalities when Im speaking. Anyway arent you both lovely Topsy and Gringo

      2. John

        What a stupid reply. I did well in the Leaving. Did well in English and German. Have a good job but came out of school with no functional Irish. Got a D3 at ordinary level. I had terrible teachers.

        Now I’m back learning Irish and loving it. I’m even organising Irish speaking events in Cork for speakers and learners to meet and chat. The ability to learn the language was always present but I was hamstrung in school due to the Irish curriculum and the teachers not abke to teach it in a way that worked for me. All I remember is sitting in class learning poems and never actually been given the opportunity to chat in the language.

        I do not agree with the original poster though. It should be mandatory but taught correctly.

        1. Robert

          Where in Cork did you learn it? I hoping to do the same but there’s not many places around offering beginners courses.

          1. John

            I learnt it in Gael-Taca in town. I had a teacher called Eoin Ó Súilleabháin who was savage. He works in Gaelscoil Peig Sayers and he gives classes up there as well. There were all sorts in the class, more non-Irish people than Irish people too so it was a real beginners class. Other Irish speaking primary schools probably offer the same.
            After that I did an intermediate course with Gael Chultur again in Gael-Taca. http://gaelchultur.com/en/courses.aspx?idc=89 The course material from Gael Chultur was excellent but the teacher Mary was terrible. She thought primary school Irish in the 70’s so her teaching style was everything people complain about when saying it’s “taught all wrong”.
            I hear the teachers of the classes in UCC are much better so I’m hoping to do one of those this year.
            Anyway undeterred after Mary I did a week long immersion course near Dingle with http://www.oidhreacht.ie/ and it was amazing! Hung out with a few Russian lads for the week who were learning Irish for the craic. Weather was savage. Pubs were great craic, all in Irish. The locals were very helpful and it really spurred me on. I’m going back this year for a more advanced course.
            At the moment I’m watching TG4, listening to podcasts in Irish, reading the news headlines on nuacht on the computer, and lashing into Duolingo on the phone. Also I’ve started an Irish speaking lunch group on Mondays in town. http://sosloin.ie I found that speaking it was the easiest way for me to learn. Reading books and stuff is useful but boring for me. Where as I’d chat away all day using the bit of Irish I have. I don’t have a lot of tme in the evening as I’ve young kids so lunch time suited me best.
            Beir bua a chara!

          2. Andy Moore

            Tá tú an scríobh an samhail le is Mise . NG in Irish 1984 & been slowly picking up again . An Sheabhac is an foclóiraigh , ná Dineen !! Corca Dhuibhne abú >>

      3. CoderNerd

        I was bright enough to be able to hold a conversation in French having spent far less time studying it.
        Your witty response, along with your mate Gringo, exemplifies your own level of intelligence.

        1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

          Actually, you almost certainly understand a great vastly more Irish than you know. As an Irish speaker I had a different experience because I was dreadful at French, but when I went back to it as an adult I found I knew a lot more that I thought. One of the websites I use is Francaiseauthentique and you will see there, ( in French) that, generally, many of the issues relating to the teaching of Irish as a second language in school are quite common with the teaching of second languages globally.

  2. Ollie Campbell

    Trouble is the article is in English because otherwise no-one would understand it.
    It’s why any TG4 matches in my local are always shown with the volume turned down and,wherever possible,an English commentary on the radio.
    It’s a dead language which Irish taxpayers waste billions paying for just to suit a few turnip heads in West Ireland.

    1. Tony

      Finally – a completely fresh take on the whole thing. Nobody ever says this in forums about the Irish language. Mind blown

      1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

        The article is in English because its an English language forum. Quite a number of the contributors clearly understand Irish but are being polite to you and others who do not. On the one hand some of you are complaining about when we speak Irish and others are complaining about when we do not.

    2. Zaccone


      If a determined minority want to learn and speak Irish more power to them. But it should be on their own coin and time.

      No more mandatory Irish for 12 years in school wasting both state money and students’ time. The experiment has been tried for 90 years, its clearly not working.

      If it was made optional the many many people who don’t want to learn it could spend their time on something more worthwhile to them. But it would also mean the classes of kids taking it would actually be made up of kids who really want to learn it. That would make a huge positive difference for them.

      1. Medium Sized C

        Except the reason kids don’t want to do it is because society constantly tells them that they are being forced to learn it, it is useless, it is dead and that education is only for getting jobs. People like your probably-well-meaning self tell them that it has no worth so the don’t see it as worthwhile.

        And you have no proof that what you say is true. All you know is that less people would have exposure to the language…. Hardly seems like a good thing for the language. Most kids don’t do much better in German or French, despite the popular lie that there is something different about learning verb tables in German as to in Irish. They are just more likely to try.

        As an aside why do we always say 12 years and then talk about secondary schools? You don’t get optional German in primary school, you don’t learn poems, you don’t study grammar….

        1. Globally challenged

          What part of society tells them that it is dead and useless? Every day, from 8am until 4pm, school age kids are completely pushed that Irish is a first language, being forced to use it as a Lingus Franca to communicate with their teachers for basic tasks, which puts it on a par to Latin in baby booners schools (without the beatings). Once out of this environment, it is never used. Ever. Not between friends, not at the shops, not anywhere. And yet this article highlights instances where media has issues with how Irish is being used and abused by different elements of gaelgoir communities in serious and satirical ways in an effort to look like there is a them and us, and one side is bullying the other. There isn’t, it’s just a waste of resources. Like teaching latin.

    3. Bernie

      Ollie/David, it would still be our first language if it wasn’t for the English oppressors and their heinous, barbaric war crimes in Ireland, same story the world over. Wales (yes, the Welsh had their language beaten out of them too) India, Africa etc. Top it all off by landing the planters over and give them priority over the indigenous population in employment, white collar jobs, education, housing etc.
      While the situation has slowly improved, for the Nationalist population in the six counties, it is still not as it should be. Things are more fluid, politically, of late and there is the hope that fairness and equality will prevail in all avenues of life, in the not too distant future.

      Éire Nua.

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        Your points are well made, Bernie. Nonetheless, despite all the past injustices, English is a convenient and ever spreading language. It would be hard to find a corner of the earth where it isn’t spoken. I understand the grief over past atrocities, and the desire to preserve identities but, let’s be practical.

        1. Bernie

          Sheik, I agree that English is convenient and practical. The decline in the use of and interest in our own language is a tragedy, so sad.

          1. johnny

            Bernie,the Irish peacekeepers used it to great effect in Lebanon,like Navajo was used by the US in WW2.
            The IDF and SLA eventually recruited Gaeilge speakers to translate the communications.

          2. Bernie

            Thanks for the link, much appreciated, Johnny. So true, Irish history is riddled with chameleons and turncoats.

        2. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

          Irish is a language and as such it is no better or worse than any other language. It just happens to be our indigenous language. All languages are amazing, and all are part of the cultural, intellectual heritage of mankind. Minority languages are disappearing at an ever increasing rate being replaced by a small number of dominant languages such as English, Spanish, Arabic etc. Apart from this bilingualism has been shown to bring many cognitive benefits so preserving minority languages is a good thing and especially for those that do it. Unfortunately this leads to accusations of elitism, snobbery etc against speakers of minority languages, including Irish.

    4. Colm Ó Broin

      You are making my point that prejudice exists against the Irish language & Irish speakers!

  3. Rob_G

    I’m sure if one were so inclined, they could find a list of media soundbites about how great Irish is. That’s the thing about having an independent media – people publish their opinion on all sorts of things; some of it considered and measured, some of it less so. I am not certain that 30 negative comments about the language appearing in the media over the course of 11 years really indicate a deep and pervasive ‘gallgeoir’ prejudice against the language…

    1. SOQ

      Have you ever stared at the text speak of a 15 yr old? Egyptian tomb symbols much? Language evolves. The moment you say it is fixed it dies, especially now in the information age.

      1. Rob_G

        Really? The entire tone and tenor of the article suggested to me that that was what you were going for (and I appear not to be only one).

  4. Kdoc

    My greatest regret in life is the fact that I can’t speak my own language – I’m envious of those who can.
    Now a senior citizen, I made a couple of attempts to learn it, but found it beyond me.

    1. Pip

      Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
      That Irish grammar should so mirror Latin grammar is ridiculous.
      And the things they never told us – seomra/chambre, bog/bog (turf), feirm/firm, ceannaigh/canny…

      1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

        The reason Irish grammar has some similarities to Latin grammar is that Irish was first written by monks whose written ( if not spoken language) was Latin. The matter of word borrowings from one language to another is fascinating. Indeed, about 30% of modern French nouns are similar to English words. In many cases the words have probably originated in a different earlier language. Unraveling the history of words and terms in whatever language is fascinating and a great way to learn about the day to day history of the past, not taught in schools. This is part of the rich heritage of Irish as part of the Indo/European family of languages.

  5. Kolmo

    Those quotes are the lashing out at those who refuse to partake in their willful ignorance and self-imposed monoglotic rantings, it’s a sub-conscious attempt at deflecting from their own linguistic illiteracy by denouncing Irish speakers as the mass-murdering, ditch-dwelling xenophobes. I have neither murdered anyone, or have the desire to and I have happily lived in a number of non-English speaking countries, developed relationships with people in their respective languages and continue to develop business in other countries. As someone who attended 12 years of all-Irish education, this echoes the moronic nonsense spouted at us by other kids on the bus or walking down the street on the way to school, more than once, surprise has been exclaimed that I could working in a career in engineering design, presumably under the misapprehension that my basic education was somehow retarded by having to think in a language other than English..
    Imagine seeing media organs of any other country vomiting these opinions out as if they were valid arguments against a rich and ancient language, to take them seriously would be an acceptance of illiteracy and willful ignorance as pithy and considered opinion.
    I’d hazard a guess that those quoted cannot converse in any other language other than English or have lived anywhere other than in the Anglo-sphere.

    1. Bear

      Kolmo, I would agree with your guess, and suggest further that these people have no exposure to the scientific or engineering industries.
      Many studies have demonstrated that bilingualism/multilingualism provides many cognitive benefits – which is greatly beneficial in professions such as Engineering, Medicine, Mathematical Sciences &c. When I did my postgraduate studies I was required to pass language tests in two “scientific languages” – i.e. two out of English, French, German and Russian.
      Working in an English speaking Engineering organisation in a country in which English is the only official language, in my team of 12 I am the only one who grew up speaking English at home. The engineers learnt English either at school, university or upon migrating. The languages spoken include Mandarin, Belorussian, Ukrainian, Russian, Hindi, Arabic, Persian and Welsh. No one questions the competence of these engineers, and none are embarrassed by their own language and have passed it on to their children.

  6. postmanpat

    Don’t worry about it, Its just a hobby language that speakers relish holding inane conversations in whenever they rarely encounter each other while both secretly scoffing at the mistakes of each others grammar. Like school teachers used to do while hovering at the class room door when the kids were preoccupied with some copy book exercises. I had 12 years of that kind of thing and that was quite enough thank you. Years later I still roll my eyes when a couple of Irish speakers, while among a group of people break away from the group conversation and start showing off to each other, its just impolite and kind of pathetic. If everyone can speak English then what’s the point except just to show off?

    1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

      That’s rampant prejudice, literally complaining about Irish speakers speaking Irish to one another where they can be overheard by others. As a practicing Gaelgoir you speak Irish to some people and English to others, if you stop speaking Irish to someone out of ‘politeness’, eventually you get out of the habit and in fact most Irish speakers end up speaking English to most other Irish speakers, most of the time just to be polite to non speakers, leading to all this nonsense about Irish being a dead language. Even when 9 of 10 people in a group are Irish speakers there is an expectation that everyone should speak English !.

  7. Dr.Fart MD

    this is horrible. . . however, as someone with very little irish and an interest in getting better, i heard some lad at the headstuff lectures a while ago talk about Pop-Up Gaeltachts. Despite his brash and aggressive nature i was curious, and saw perhaps an opportunity to brush up. I was wrong. He made it very clear that this was for people with exceptionally good irish and no one else. one girl asked could you go if your irish was only alright and he said no, bring someone who’s good, and made it clear they wouldnt want to talk to someone with poor irish. that was a question i was goin to ask. i had another, which another lad asked “where’s the best place to learn irish”, i was eager to hear incite to this because ive tried a few books before but they were bad. he resonded “i don’t f***in care” .. lovely. He even a few times referred to irish speakers as irish, and people who dont, not irish. eg. Alison Spittle asked him how do you say “will ya shift my mate” in irish, and he said “us irish wouldnt use language like that” jokingly, but also sayin “us irish” as if she wasnt irish. also, at the start of the talk he said about when theyre in bars talkin irish and someone says “ah its lovely to hear” as theyre passing, it drives him mad. like he was hoppin on the stage sayin that. he was a total and utter b**ll*cks. I dont know why he did the talk, it wasnt to promote it, he was basically saying “im in this little club and you’re not allowed in. bye.” only with a lot more cursing and shouting.

    what im gettin at is, people who speak it often have a snobbery about it, and are very exclusionary.

    1. Bernie

      Dr. Fart MD, the clown you were dealing with clearly had issues, he may well have eaten himself by now ;-)

      There are a number of online Gaeilge courses, so much easier to work at your own pace with a subject like Gaeilge. As someone else mentioned previously, there are decent podcasts too. BBC Irish Language Lessons is a good site to look at.

      1. Dr.Fart MD

        It is true. I talked about it with my friends i went with and we all heard you say the same things. I didn’t imagine them, or just make them up to discredit some random dude doin a talk one night. i remember those particular things you said, they stood out for me. That girl asked could someone go if they had only alright irish, you said “no, unless you bring someone who is good” and that dude at the end asked where is the best place for him to go learn irish and you said “i don’t f***ng care” .. i think you were tryin to have like a 90s cool guy attitude or something, but it was aggressive and rude and i dont even know why you were talking about pop up gaeltacht when u pretty much said no one can join. when someone from cork asked would u be bringing it to cork, you said you told them to “f**k off and do it themselves” , which is such a rude response, they didnt know, and then you wouldve put them off by being an a$$ to them.

      2. Dr.Fart MD

        I didn’t make it up to discredit some random dude in a lecture. it is true, and you were a horrible f***er.

        1. The Guy From That Lecture

          You’re lying. When a girl asked about resources for learning (and it was a girl, not a ‘dude at the end’), I said “I don’t know, I’m not a f**ing teacher”, for a laugh, and then gave her details of Duolingo, Lingua-App, Gaelchultúr and Conradh na Gaeilge, even Áras Chrónáin out in Clondalkin.

          I didn’t say “bring someone who’s good”, I said where possible bring someone who has the same level of Irish as you – because it’s not a class, it’s a night on the piss.

          And no-one asked if I would be bringing it to Cork, I told the story of how people across Ireland didn’t get that it was an open-source concept and not a service I would be providing. You’ve basically taken an anecdote I related to you and transformed it into me being rude to someone in the audience.

          You’re lying.

    2. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

      I can understand your frustration but there are two sides to this. People who are learning or improving their Irish need supported settings, .i.e. basic conservation which allows them to make progress, but others who have acquired a level of fluency like to converse at a higher level, leading to full fluency. So we need to cater for all levels. If one is serious about learning any language, including Irish, one develops cluasthuiscint, i.e. understanding much faster than conversational ability so it actually a great idea, in fact its necessary to listen to good speakers. Having tried it myself in both Spanish and French, this works very well and its amazing with some effort how quickly you start to understand words and phrases. There are probably some Irish language b**ll*cks out there, in fact there surely are as in every walk of life, but please don’t let them deter you.

    3. John

      I can’t speak for the Pop Up Gaeltachts throughout the country but I’ve been to a few in Cork and my Irish is shite. Everybody was very nice and helpful and willing to speak to you in English if you were stuck. I’d say ignore that lad and just tear down. I went on a night that I knew the lads were in town so if it was crap I’d just leave and meet them. I’m happy to report it was far from crap and the lads had to do without me that night as the Pop Up Gaeltacht people moved onto a late bar after that with me in tow.

  8. Emily Dickinson

    Every kid I’ve ever discussed this with flat-out hates the subject. I have a nephew doing the LC this week and he’s deliberately tanking Irish, doing the absolute minimum necessary to scrape a pass, focusing his efforts instead on other subjects where it’s easier to clock up points. The very few people I’ve encountered who embrace the language tend to come from homes where Irish was spoken, or from Gaeltacht areas. Those who want to keep the language alive need to figure out a better way to teach it.

    1. It’s real

      Horse manure

      I know several kids who speak fluently not from gaeilgeoir families and because they are intelligent and bright not retarded as you clearly are

      1. postmanpat

        Problem solved so. We just need a super serum in inject into our kids brains to make them all super intelligent. Then they can excel in all sorts of useless languages.

  9. Starina

    ““Even now there is a class bias within the Irish language. At many Irish language primary schools in Dublin the favoured form of transport is an expensive SUV””

    Hourihan needs to get TF out of Dublin then and see the Irish speakers beyond the Pale. Idiot.

  10. Imya

    The problem with Irish is the way that it’s taught in schools. We learn it from the age of 4 – by the time we hit our teens we should be practically fluent. It should be re-examined and taught properly as a language, ie, by people speaking to each other, not learning poetry. After 2-3 years doing german in secondary school it was better than my irish. Makes no sense whatsoever.

    1. Rob_G

      Part of the reason is probably that, for the majority of pupils, they will have no use for Irish once they finish school. Difficult to convince kids to devote a significant portion of time to becoming proficient in a language that there will be no practical applications for once they walk out of Irish Paper II of their leaving cert.

      1. Cian

        Yeah, but the foundations should be laid in primary school – long before the kids are aware of the ‘practical applications of what they are learning’.
        The (primary schools) teachers should be spending 1 hour a day only speaking Irish.

        1. The Old Boy

          One of the great problems with this is that, outside of the Gaelscoileanna, the standard of Irish among national school teachers is generally woeful. I spoke to a recently qualified teacher who told me that, with some exceptions, the attitude towards Irish was overwhelmingly negative; it was seen by many of her contemporaries as a subject to be endured, to pass by a cram and a scrape, to rote-learn just enough to get past a cigire. She was assigned to do her work placement with a teacher who had qualified in Scotland and lacked even the most basic competence in the language.

          1. Pip

            A secondary school teacher tells me of the negative attitude towards Irish even among those who choose to study it at third level, with a view to teaching it. Having Irish as part of one’s degree studies is seen as useful leverage to get a post. An indifferent Irish teacher is born.

        2. TheRealJane

          I think there’s a problem with parental attitude as well. I expect there are a number of parents passing a negative opinion on to their kids before they’ve a chance to form an opinion either way.
          For example, I have a sister in law who would be quite hostile to Irish for all the kinds of reasons mentioned on this thread. We were at something or other and her senior infant child asked what the Irish was for something and she just shrugged and said “don’t know”. No encouragement or engagement, which would be the opposite of her with regard to his other school subjects.
          Now, people can think what they want, but like it or not, kids can be hampered by their parent’s attitude.

    1. yep

      I once saw a cyclist break the lights belting out Amhrán na bhFiann. They still haven’t found the body.

      1. QuixoticMe

        Actually laughed out loud in the office. Many thanks for brightening up my otherwise awful morning and simultaneously unsettling my work colleagues

  11. Friscondo

    As someone who’s kids go to an Educate Together school on the same campus as a Gaelscoil, the difference in attendees is embarrassingly stark, as is the premium SUV count. The contrast really does stand out when seen side by side. And it’s not in South Dublin, either.

      1. Friscondo

        You have one school almost exclusively white ethnic Irish, with parents who drive mostly premium cars. The other is diverse in its ethnic and socio economic attendees, which is actually much more reflective of the country we live in, ironically.

        1. Ina.

          I went to a private school. My sister still attends there. It’s English speaking, not a child in it that’s not white ethnic Irish. Mercs all over the place. Same, indeed, with the Educate Together school in Ranelagh, it’s a Merc showdealer there at pick-the-kids-up time.

          1. Friscondo

            Yeah, that’s because it’s in Ranelagh and reflects the demographic of the area. My point is the Gaelscoil beside my kids school does not reflect the demographic at all.

  12. Harry Molloy

    The incentive is wrong but the language is beautiful. Removing compulsory status at second level will do wonders for it.

  13. Termagant

    What really grumbles my bumble is when you’ve got your average hip SoCoDo twenty something who learns irish (or tries) and changes their Facebook name to the gael equivalent while simultaneously fully embracing culture-diminishing open borders one-world multiculturalism and opposing anything vaguely nationalistic. It’s a frame of mind that I just can’t square with.

  14. rotide

    Would you like some salt and vinegar to go with that giant chip in your shoulder Colm?

    It’s painfully obvious you spent an inordinate amount of time combing op/ed pieces for anything negative said about the Irish language. You could trawl Ian O Dohertys and Bel Tel pieces for quotes about Hockey or Salad and get exactly the same result.

    A lot of wasted effort to prove nothing

    1. Colm Ó Broin

      I proved that there is prejudice against the Irish language and Irish speakers!

      1. The Old Boy

        With respect to your position, which I largely agree with, you’ve quoted professional obnoxious prat and Gael-hater Kevin Myers five times and professional self-hating Ulster Catholic Malachi O’Doherty twice.

        I think Rotide has a point here; the same method could be used to “prove there is prejudice” against any other thing, place or class of people who are generally respected by the public at large.

      2. rotide

        Thanks old boy, that was my point.

        Colm, You haven’t ‘proved’ anything whatsoever without any underlying information about the amount of columns examined, frequency of mentions of the irish language etc etc

        You’ve proved you can use ctrl-f . Well done.

  15. SOQ

    I’ve Nothing Against Irish Speakers, But… there is a carriage on the 4:50 Dublin to Belfast enterprise most regulars avoid like the plague. It’s not spoken but shouted, all of whom are most likely shinners. They use it as a political shillelagh to beat all around them on the assumption that nobody understands what they are saying. Yes dear.

    They are more responsible for it’s north of the border decline than the DUP could ever be. Not nice people.

    1. John Joseph

      Irish pretty much disappeared in the north before the 1920s, and what little was left disappeared under the Unionist regime.

      Obviously you don’t like having to share a space with these Irish speakers, I’m not clear whether it’s because of the language they speak or because of their politics.

      Either way it says a lot more about you than about them.

      1. SOQ

        It’s state funding. Like religion, study it in your own time.

        Ironically, that will be the best thing to ever happen to it and hopefully give the daily commuters to from Dublin to Dundalk and Newry some peace. Although given the clowns concerned, I doubt it.

        1. yep

          I agree with a discussion on it being compulsory in schools but a referendum?

          Also, the funding question is extremely important because I have no idea how much help it receives related to other spending, what it is spent on or heard any grown up conversation on the merits of such funding. I doubt many people have.

          I think a referendum is maybe a bit much. Petition for a debate in the Dail? Reasonable start.

          1. yep

            I would be on board with that but the remit would need to be defined.

            Education? 100% behind.

          2. Cian

            A referendum would be required because the constitution says that Irish is our primary language , and AFAIK, the irish version takes precidence id they differ.

  16. Disclosure: Non-reader of "Meanwhile at the Disclosures Tribunal"

    Ironically, more people *than ever* try to speak Irish with each other. It’s just we cannot understand each other. There’s the “official” Gaeltacht brigade Irish with all the grammar and none of the modern, urban vocabulary that’s needed.
    And then, there’s the “urban”, street Irish, almost a Pidgin lingua with all the modern vocab and slang but none of the obsession with the grammar, and wouldn’t know a Séimiú from an urú – or care.

    Never the twain shall meet.

    Just ask Dara Ó Briain: https://twitter.com/daraobriain/status/922062188226973696

    PS: Will “Sé-Mé bata” do for “Selfie stick”? – asking for a friend used it in the Irish Leaving Cert this week.


    1. Rob_G

      I have heard regular Gaeilge spoken outside of a classroom on a handful of occasions; I don’t think in all my years I have ever heard this “street Irish”. Maybe I don’t hang out on the right streets.

      1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

        No your right. As an Irish Speaker, who does speak it on the streets with family and friends its revealing how many people comment, usually, positively, on the fact that they rarely hear it spoken outside the classroom. More people seem interested in speaking it however, when they get a chance as quite often, a shop person or bar person will respond in Irish when they hear you talking Irish to your friend as a way of letting you know that they would like you to do your business with them as Gaeilge.

  17. david wall

    Imagine actually reading the Indo comment section on a regular basis. Jaysus the amount of ill informed, lazy, mediocre cant. Nice compendium.

  18. Elron

    This is where the fascist liberalism of broadsheet reveals its sham hypocrisy. If any of the statements above were said about any minority, they would be tripping over themselves to show their compassion and their care. But they are silent here which only goes to show that their liberalism is just another manifestation of their self loathing.

  19. Sheik Yahbouti

    It pains me to yet again point out the obvious, but what is a ‘living language ‘? In essence it is the language spoken in the home, the market place and the workplace -daily and consistently. What is being contended for here is the preservation of, and reintroduction, of an all but defunct language. I am long past the age when I can be compelled to use it, nor do I wish to be a Navajo Code Talker for some crappy army. So do as you please.

    1. Johnny

      Sheik-unless you have have a Digicel phone (they probably listening in) communications these days are scrambled or to bring you up to date encrypted.
      Didn’t the Christian brothers in Synge Street after running out of young boys to rape and beat,switch it to coed and fully emersed Irish-i heard it went from a dying school to packed with a waiting list,gosh I can still hear the screams when I walk by…
      I’ve a few friends (yeah I have some)who attended the German school in Dublin,all attended Uni’s,most speak multiple languages,crediting their education in another language with quite bit of their success,the silver spoons didn’t hurt either.
      The mandatory nature off it hasn’t worked,it’s time to rethink the somewhat waste off rescources at secondary level,I think the requirement to be fluent in it for Gardai/Army has been relaxed ?

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        Friend, where to start! There are so many fruitful subject for discussion in your one post! I have no clue what the Gardai or the Civil Service require but I do know that the Law Society still require a pass in an Irish Exam to study as a Solicitor. I’m not trying to impose on anyone else, I can only say that I’ve been able to check back to my Great Grandfather and he and his family, and the successive generations are listed as being able to read and write – in English. I’m 67 years old and have not felt the need for more, although through travel I’ve acquired decent French and a fair smattering of Spanish. If I’m honest it’s this phoney Darby O’Gill harking back to a past that never existed that offends me the most. Just as an example – ‘craic’ – former crack – a word taken from the North of England where it was common in the 18th and 19th centuries. The ballad groups didn’t sing “the Craic was mighty in the Isle of Man”. Look at some documentaries from the sixties and seventies about Fleadh Ceol which might feature ‘Irish dancing’. You won’t find many long legged young wans in velvet mini dresses and waist length red,wavy hair, I promise you. It’s all a load of bunk.

        1. Colmán

          Decía que no hablas nada de Castellano. El gaélico es una lengua muy amable y hermosa y un solo hablante puede haber olvidado más sobre la cultura de lo que tu y todos los hablantes de inglés en Irlanda sabrán nunca. ¡Y no olvides que Darby O’Gill era un Irlandés que habló inglés como tu y tus abuelos!

  20. Cuairteoir

    Dería que no hablas nada de castellano. El gaélico es una lengua muy amable y hermosa y un solo hablante puede haber olvidado más sobre la cultura de lo que tu y todos los hablantes de inglés en Irlanda sabrán nunca. ¡Y no olvides que Darby O’Gill era un Irlandés que habló inglés como tu y tus abuelos!

  21. Sophie Emerson

    Irish was in no doubt oppressed for many years. But to say that is still the case today would be false. Irish takes up a criminal amount of time on our school curriculum. Suggesting to people that the subject should be made non mandatory is often met with people taking a very personal offense. Students spend hundreds of hours into a poorly taught subject with most coming out of the school system with only a very basic knowledge. If the language is truly still alive, relevant and useful to the young people of Ireland the the Irish language advocates should have nothing to fear from making the subject optional, at the very least at leaving cert level.

    1. Colmán

      Irish in the educational system and abuse of the language community are two completely different questions. But be careful of your use of words or are you also aiming for a career in Ireland’s tabloids? “Criminal”? What is criminal is that children attending Irish language schools have to use sub standard text books, be taught in damp mobile huts, and that their parents must set up their own schools and then wait for decades before they receive recognition.

      Regarding the state-sponsored, old-fashioned Victorian colonial-era Catholic English schools in Ireland – I couldn’t care less what you do.

  22. Colmán

    Alt maith ó Cholm Ó Broin ansin. Sílim go bhfuil sé tábhachtach an comhrá a thoiseacht faoi seo agus daoine a chur ar an eolas faoin damáiste atá á dhéanamh acu. Amanna sílim go mbíonn daoine ag iarraidh díoltas a bhaint amach ar shean-mhúinteoir dá gcuid agus iad ag ionsaí na teanga. Ní thuigeann daoine go bhfuil siad ag gortú daoine lena focail bhaotha.
    Is cosúil gur bunchuid den fhadhb an Ghaeilge riachtanach ag leibhéal na Ard-Teiste. Tá seo ag dó na geirbe ar chuid mhór béarlóirí sa tír. Go pearsanta ní shílim gur cheart do aon ábhar bheith riachtanach don ard-teist. Agus b’fhearr i bhfad go mbeadh na múinteoirí díograiseacha Gaeilge ag obair sa Ghaelscoileanna, áit a bhfuil siad ag teastáil go géar, ná a bheith ag iarraidh an teanga a theagasc do scaifte nach bhfuil a hiarraidh.
    Ag amharc ar chuid de na tráchtanna anseo is léir go bhfuil na páipéir i ndiaidh dul i bhfeidhm ar mhuintir na tíre. Cé go gcreidim gur seandaoine don chuid is mó atá in éadan na teanga. Agus is dócha go bhfuair siad sin óna dtuismitheoirí nó seantuismitheoirí a bhí beo le linn do na Sasanaigh bheith i gceannas ar an tír.
    Maith é Colm Ó Broin as an taighde seo a dhéanamh. Duine ar bith a aontaíonn leis na tráchtanna thuas is léir gur lucht mí-rúin iad. Tá súil agam nach mbeidh siad chomh diúltach sin go deo.

    1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

      An mbeadh duine éigint sásta seasamh lasmugh de cúpla Gaelscoil i ndeisceart BÁC agus comhaireamh a dheanamh ar an líon na SUV’s i gcomparáid le gluaisteáin eile i gcomparáid agus an ‘taighde’ a fhoilsiú ?. Sílim go bhfuil miotas eile tagtha ar an saol.

  23. Siobhan

    The English made their mark in the Rising.I won a scholarship in Irish a long time ago and there is nobody to.

  24. Bob

    Cónra na Gaeilge!

    It’s a joke and I admit I needed a dictionary to check the spelling.
    (No spoilers please, leave it to people to look it up themselves if they’re interested)

    Fair play if you speak Irish and even better if you can speak it well, but considering how many of us Irish can barely speak English properly forgive me if I don’t much enthusiasm for the incoherent Béarlachas that too often passes for Gaeilge.

    I do think learning another language and learning it early helps people to gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of language in general. I’m more disappointed that Ireland is not more multilingual, I thought by now we’d have more than just tourist information offered in French or German or Polish etc.

    1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

      Its a good joke, although we have some way to go on that one.
      Your comments on Béarlachas are interesting, those fluent Irish speakers you speak of who don’t show enthusiasm for ‘Bearlachas’ are otherwise known as ‘Irish Language Fanatics’ but to be fair, the great majority are happy to make the effort to help those who are at the learning stage. Ligh dom leithscéal a ghabháil mar gheall ar an chuid eile.
      I couldn’t agree more, with your sentiments on language learning in general, I would like to see more encouragement for any family where one or both parents can speak another language fluently to pass it onto their children. As an open trading economy we need, for instance to, engage with our recent immigrants, to foster their mother languages onto another generation. Lots of interesting and useful things have been learned from the Gaelscoil experience, we should use this experience to empower more children to be multi-lingual in the future. Unfortunately quite a few immigrants are choosing not to impart their mother languages to their Irish born children, and this is a loss for all of us.

  25. Jim Dunckley

    As a Welshman I’m always astonished to realise that Wales is the only Nation in the British Isles where bilingualism is some kind of norm. And yet bi- or trilingualism is also the norm for most of Europe. Why is it so controversial to have two or more languages? By all means use English as a lingua franca if that’s what you’re comfortable with. But don’t lose your native tongue. A tree without roots is nothing more than a log in someone else’s grate surely…?

    1. Rob_G

      Woah woah woah woah – woahhh. Cool it there with your ‘British Isles’, there, Taffy – we, unlike the Welsh, kicked out the English, mainly because we no longer wanted to be a ‘Brirish Isle’.

      Also, I think that you are over-stating your other arguments – the only time I have ever heard Welsh spoken in Wales was on television, and while many people in northern Europe can speak English, often quite well, I don’t think they would claim to be bilingual (or trilingual) in most instances. Also mainly places in Europe are mostly monolingual – including in countries they have more than one official language – Spain, Belgium (certainly Wallonia), etc.

      1. Séamus Ó Drisceoil

        I have been in parts of Wales where the language is spoken on a daily basis on the streets. Unlike Ireland, the School Admissions Policy in Wales stipulates that Councils must provide Welsh Language education to all children whose parents request it. By contrast in Ireland, people have had to fight to open Gaelscoils, leading to too few Gaelscoils being over oversubscribed and from there to accusations of ‘elitism’ against Gaelscoils. On the question of monolingualism, I feel that mono speakers of dominant languages seem to be increasingly hostile to speakers of minority or ‘different’ languages. In some of the regions you mention, however, such as Wallonia, Northern Europe generally, etc bilingualism is the norm since just about everyone speaks two or more languages effectively.

        1. Rob_G

          As I understand, opening any type of school in Ireland can run into difficulties (I understand that people looking to open Educate Together schools met a whole load of problems). One possible issue with opening Gaeilscolieanna could be finding enough teachers with sufficient Irish language skills to staff them.

          – it sounds like you have never actually visited Wallonia; in almost 5 years in Belgium, I can count on one hand the number of Wallonians who could speak Dutch. The example of other countries ‘on the continent…’ is often trotted out by Gaeilgeoirí to illustrate that other countries are full of bilingual speakers switching between languages with interchangeably; however, more often than not, the reality is quite different.

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