A letter in response to “What’s the Irish for ‘do not resuscitate’?” 9th Dec.
Your recent article was not only inaccurate, but extremely offensive to the thousands of Irish speakers who speak a language you not only show no respect for but seem to know little about (most clearly expressed through your labelling of Irish as “dead”).
I am not a native speaker. I would love to be; however I am just a humble student of the Irish language, someone who doesn’t get to use it as often as I would like, but who nonetheless speaks the language on a more or less fluent level, reads in Irish, watches TV in Irish and listens to Irish language music.
Without even considering how offensive your description of Irish as a “hobby” must be for native Gaeilgeoirí, let me tell you how it is offensive to me. I don’t consider my second language a mere pastime. It is something that is an inherent and important part of my identity. It is something that binds me to a strong community in Ireland; the community which I am a part of when I speak to my friends in Irish, read blogs in Irish, go to Oireachtas na Samhna (or any other festival or gathering where the passion and ability of people to speak Irish make you wonder why we can’t achieve a bilingual Ireland), or any time that I get to experience that strange and potent affinity with another Irish person that comes from sharing a pride in the Irish language.
Clearly Irish holds nothing of this importance for you, but please don’t presume to put your hollow views in the rest of our throats claiming that “most people are sick to death with the juvenile posturing of the Gaelgeoirí Grenadiers who think that everyone should be as interested in a dead language as they are”.
There’s a whole (exciting, rich, revolutionary) culture alive out there, and just because you’re not a part of it doesn’t give you the right to claim that it is without worth.
Irish is a language in a precarious position. But she’s not dead yet. What she needs is a government that upholds its promises to protect and promote it, and not cynics who see languages in economic terms instead of what they are – instruments that carry a whole history of a people.
Another thing that jars in your article is your belittling of Seán Ó Cuirreáin’s resignation as a result of him being “peeved” that not enough civil servants speak Irish. Don’t you understand that it is much, much more than that? That this is the frustration of a man charged with protecting the Irish language being met with only non-action from our government? And what a blow his resignation is to Irish speakers as they become more and more marginalised in the country that claims their language as its “first official language”?
To be honest, an article portraying such views is not that surprising coming from the same journalist that suggested that grass growing and paint drying are more interesting topics than the situation in Northern Ireland (“Okay &Ndash, What’s Good for the Goose” http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/ian-odoherty/their-house-their-rules-or-is-that-racist-29493656.html). It is disappointing nonetheless.
A normal way to sign off a letter to a fellow compatriot would be “Le meas”, but after reading your article, Mr O’Doherty, I am afraid you inspire nothing of the sort in me.
Áine Ní Chathaláin
Cantankerous soul and Gaeilgeoir Grenadier
Cheers to An Sionnach Fionn for pointing out another nugget from the dastardly O’Doherty –
- Acht na Gaeilge: The Non-Appearance of the Irish Language Act (eurofree3.wordpress.com)
- Crisis in Irish-speaking community following resignation, warn activists (irishtimes.com)
- 50,000 Irish language terms on EU database of nine million (irishtimes.com)
- Ruairí Quinn rejects claims that Irish language services have been damaged (irishtimes.com)
- When The Last Speaker Of Irish Is Dead They Will Rejoice (ansionnachfionn.com)