THE GAELTACHT AND IRISH: Dying, or in need of an emergency operation?

Is alt den chéad scoth é seo! Ba mhithid do dhuine éigin sin a rá! Caithfear an cheist a chur, áfach, cad chuige a lig stáit na hÉireann don chur chuige chomh naimhdeach sin i leith na Gaeilge? Is maith liom an phointe ag Diarmuid, gur tharla seo i stáit “neamhspleách”. Céard is neamhspleáchas ann? Ní hé neamhspleáchas aigne atá i gceist le stáit na hÉireann. Tá sé ar nós Stockholm Syndrome, an meon seo in aghaidh na Gaeilge. Ba mhaith liom iniúchadh éigin a dhéanamh air seo. Tá suim mhór agam in iar-choilíneachas. Bíonn gach uile duine againn ag strí le tionchar an choilíneachais ar an dtír s’ againn…

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Diarmuid Breatnach

Maps showing the decline in the Irish-speaking areas, the Gaeltacht, during the life of the Irish state Maps showing the decline in the Irish-speaking areas, the Gaeltacht, during the life of the Irish state

“Irish is nearly dead as a spoken language.” A shock ran through the Irish-speaking community at the news…. but although the after-shocks reached linguists afar …. the news caused but a small ripple in Irish society at large.

It should have been big news. In only nine decades of the existence of the Irish state, the Irish-speaking areas had shrunk by 90%. This seemed to herald the imminent death of Irish as a spoken language – a language that, albeit shrunk to being the mother-tongue of small minority of the Irish population, had survived almost a millennium of colonial occupation and a consistent policy to replace it with English.

The loss would be greater than Ireland’s alone – this is an early Indo-European Celtic language of more than four thousand years of…

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