Sunday, 30 October 2011

Tír gan Teanga, Tír gan Anam

Dé Domhnaigh 30 de Mhí Dheireadh Fómhair 2011

It can be noticed that I feature some of the Irish language on my pages. Although I do have a few Irish speaking personal friends on my social networking sites, including a couple Native Speakers, why else would I put it up if no one else can understand it, especially if the English is usually featured beside it? Well I received my GCSE in Irish courtesy of Belfast's Ceathrún na Gaeltachta, and it's becoming a strengthening 2nd language of mine, that I choose to include in my personal sites. My teachers have also emphasised the need to live a language, and extend it further from the classroom. So...

"Why would a yank want to learn Irish?"

Well other than knowing if people are talking about you in the Gaeltacht, and being able to tell someone else off who doesn't know their national language that calls you a foreigner, there are further interests. Even though I'm a born and bread American, I also happen to be a Gaelic Polytheist, and have an affinity for traditions associated with Gaelic culture on a personal, and religious level. Although Gaeilge-Ársa, and Sean Gaeilge would have been the languages of pagan Ireland, Modern Irish is a living continuation that still carries the ancient's mindset. Besides, I'm a Traditionalist, so what better way to do my part to preserve traditions native to the land in which I currently reside.

"But no one even speaks it."

Even though Irish is an official language of the Reublic of Ireland, and an official recognised regional language of the United Kingdom, English remains the dominant language of the island outside of the small Irish speaking bilingual districts of the Gaeltacht. Although it's mandatory to learn in public schools in the ROI, few other than native speakers continue its use outside of the class room. As a modern Western society Ireland is, some even believe the language contributes to the stigma behind traditional Irish culture, due to old, negative stereotypes .

With this said, it's believed 1 out of every 10 students forced to learn it actually develop a passion for the language, which has lead to an increasing number of Urban speakers outside of the Gealtacht. In Northern Ireland, Belfast itself has the highest concentration of Irish speakers outside of the Gaeltacht, currently with 44 Naíscoileanna(nurseries), 32 Bunscoileanna(primary schools), and 2 Mheánscoileanna(secondary schools) that teach specifically through the medium ship of Irish. It has it's own Gaeltacht quarter, An Cheathrún Gaeltachta, and with community radio stations such as Raidió Fáilte, and spreading Irish culture centres like An Chultúrlann, and An Droichead, it's easier now to become familiar with the language than ever before. Because of this, Irish is a language that I hear and use on at least a weekly basis, and can be heard anywhere in na Ceathrún Gealtachta, that also extends to Bank Square in the City Centre.

Outside of NI, and the ROI, there has also been an increased interest in the language in countires such as England, the USA, Canada, Australia, and France. Many people from these countries can be found online trying to learn the language on Irish networking sites. This may be because of these country's history of diaspora Irish immigrants, and
as a matter of fact, it was in my home town of St. Louis, MO that I first heard the language spoken. This all makes for a promising future(hopefully) for an teanga Ghaeilge.

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