The Irish language in Ireland is not and for a long time, has not been recognised by the general population as a viable way to communicate day-to-day or in social settings. Apart from in small pockets such as Gaeltacht regions, Colleges and Universities it is regarded as an irredeemable, insignificant part of the Irish culture and history. While it can only be said that the Irish language is overall in decline (while strong and vibrant where it is used and respected) I truly believe that the people of Ireland have an unmissable opportunity to ignite a lasting revival.
I think the main problem faced by Irish is the perception people develop of it in their school years. Children are taught words and phrases in the abstract, they don’t see the language being used in everyday life apart from place names on signs and maybe the odd ‘focal’ thrown into casual conversation. This is hardly sufficient incentive to learn a language as a child. We learn a language to communicate, not to know the words and the rules of grammar. I believe it is absolutely essential in the teaching of a language that the student has access to immersion in the language or at the very least the opportunity to use it outside of the classroom. Especially because Irish is the native language, it is imperative to its survival that it is elevated to a country-wide level of social acceptance.
The next century will no doubt be filled to the brim with newness but how special would it be to bring the spine of the country’s history back into our own lives and more importantly the lives of our children? Do we want to be the generation that let the embers of the Irish language dwindle and fade to forgotten ash? As Millennials, we have access to more information and more public platforms than any generation has had before us, and the freedom of opinion to express ourselves in whatever way we see fit. If we could use Irish on these platforms it would eradicate the stoic formality most people associate with Irish.
Irish is something that every Irish person has at least some understanding of. It is fact that, generally speaking, people are used to and almost expect fun, comfort and enjoyment in their leisure time. Free Ranganna Comhrá available at community centres, GAA or sports clubs and other venues in each parish in the country, perhaps taught by Third Level Irish students as part of their course for credit. After-school groups and activities trí Ghaielge for children from playschool to Leaving Cert should be introduced, along with social events for teenagers and adults in local communities and also in urban venues. The primary message I want to relate to you is that Irish can be fun, and this is quintessential to its survival in my opinion.
Let me know what you think, does Irish stand a chance? Do you want it to? Head to the contact section to give me your thoughts.
Slán go fóill,