More Irish than the Irish (Part I)

As a secondary school teacher, I have taught international students who are not actually obliged to learn Irish (once they move here after eleven years of age), but actually start to learn the language… why? Because they are actually INTERESTED! Wow! And I don’t often see such enthusiasm. When they pass out the Irish students in language acquisition (which generally doesn’t take too long) the resentment among the others becomes very apparent.

One student recently informed me: “Irish is our language. They (i.e. immigrants) shouldn’t be allowed to speak it.” A case of misguided nationalism (and thinly disguised racism), I think. Believe me, if an international student wants to learn Irish and speak it, I am more than happy to help out. The Irish refuse to speak it and use it. The aforementioned student seems to come without all the emotional “baggage” that the Irish-born student is usually laden-down with. Why should I object? I’d quite happily swap a couple of disgruntled Irish students for a dozen ‘immigrant’ students, who are eager, enthusiastic and seem to take a pride in acquisition of the language that I rarely see elsewhere. If Irish-born students have an objection to this, that’s their problem. With each passing day, I am more and more convinced that the future of the Irish language lies increasingly in the hands of ‘immigrants’ settling in Ireland and their young children who will study Irish here in school.

Advertisements

14 Responses to More Irish than the Irish (Part I)

  1. Too true! It sometimes feels that with each passing generation we give up a little more of our Irish heritage and language… but no one else can use it either! We become precious of the language… for the wrong reasons. Language is meant to bring people together and unify them… not to divide in racism. Here’s to anyone who adopts the Irish tongue!

  2. Fearn says:

    Tá os cionn 150.000 eachtranaigh sa tír. Cé mhéad acusan a bhfuil foghlaim na Gaeilge idir lámha acu, meas tú?

  3. aonghus says:

    I’ve come across this dog in the manger attitude too – and it is risible.

    A (light hearted) view on why immigrants should learn Irish here:

    http://www.cainteoir.com/Default.aspx?alt=an_cheist_is_leadranai_ar_domhan

    “Ní féidir bua a fháil sa rása seo, is cosúil, ach éalú ón rása go hiomlán. An bealach éilithe atá agamsa ná Gaeilge a labhairt le daoine chomh mór agus is féidir. Dúirt mé ag an tosach go n-aithníonn daoine gur eachtrannach mé chomh luath a osclaím mo bhéal – ach, is i mBéarla amháin a tharlaíonn sé sin. Ar chúis éigin, ní tharlaíonn sé chomh minic céanna agus mé ag Gaeilgeoireacht. Ceart go leor, níl mé ag iarraidh a mhaíomh go bhfuil mo chuid Gaeilge chomh foirfe sin, tá sé an-éasca aithint nach cainteoir dúchais mé. Ach tá an oiread sin mo dhálaí féin, cainteoirí dara láimhe, le fáil i saol na Gaeilge nach gcuireann sé sin iontas ar éinne. Agus leis sin, seo chugaibh cúis eile gur fiú dúinne, an lucht thar sáile isteach, an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim: chun ceisteanna amaideacha a sheachaint.”

  4. Colm says:

    The future lies with any one who speak the language, be they Irish or otherwise. I welcome anyone with an interest in Irish wholeheartidly but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the youth of Ireland (there are so many young enthusiastic speakers these days in the cities) just because a handful of immigrants have an interest in our native tongue.

    I love speaking Estonian and French but my real grá is for Irish and I don’t believe that immigrants can have that same grá for Gaeilge.

  5. aonghus says:

    \quote{don’t believe that immigrants can have that same grá for Gaeilge.}

    Cén fáth?

    Seo liosta dhuit:
    Kuno Meyer
    Carl Marstrander
    George Thomas
    …..
    Agus inniu:
    Ariel Killick
    Alex Hijmans
    Michal Boleslav Měchúra

  6. Donal says:

    I agree with Colm in that the future lies with anybody who is happy to speak the language. We have such baggage against the Gaeilge – people are amazed to hear somebody conversing in Irish but immigrants speaking their own language is run of the mill now. However, I don’t believe that we have exclusive rights to having grá for the language.

  7. Amber says:

    Greetings! I just came across you here while surfing, and I am excited to add you and your feed to my daily reading.

    I am an American mutt scrabbling for a culture not wrapped up in capitalism, with the majority of my blood being of Irish descent. I live in Virginia, and I have been head over heels in love with Gaeilge since I first heard it spoken on film. But it is so hard to find a teacher here!

    I suppose I have no excuse now, with the internet. Still, nothing beats a face to face conversation. Guess I’d better get a webcam.

    Yes. I want to learn the language that makes me weep to hear it!

    Be Well!
    ~Amber

  8. Adam says:

    As someone with very little Irish I’m contradicting myself in saying this but you waive all right to have an opinion on the Irish language when you refuse to learn it.

    I also think you waive any right to opine on how Irish is taught when you take any kind of elitist attitude to it (be it that foreigners can’t learn it, or that there’s a difference between a native speaker and a fluent speaker).

  9. Fearn says:

    Sílim go bhfuil sibh ag déanamh ró-mhór den a dúirt an dalta/dailtín seo: “Irish is our language. They (i.e. immigrants) shouldn’t be allowed to speak it.”
    Ciníochas? Ní dóigh liom é, sa ráiteas seo ar aon nós.
    Níl ann ach : Ní maith liom an Ghaeilge, agus nílim chun a foghlaim agus ní maith liom daoine nach ndéanann an rud chéanna.

  10. […] had never been to Ireland, was conversing in fluent Irish. It put me in mind of a recent post on Maria Horan in which she discusses the future of Irish and foreign speakers of the language. The Korean man was […]

  11. “Irish is our language. They (i.e. immigrants) shouldn’t be allowed to speak it”

    A leithéid de sheafóid. Is léir gurbh fhearr an Ghaeilge a chur ar fáil do na hinimircigh, nó teastaíonn uathu, mar inimircigh, cló le nósanna na tíre nua. An té nach gceadódh dóibh eolas a fháil ar ghné chomh tábhachtach de chultúr na hÉireann agus an Ghaeilge, níl sé ag déanamh leas na teanga ná leas na hÉireann féin.

    Tá cuidiú ag teastáil ón nGaeilge, na “gallant allies” ó thíortha eile a ndearnadh tagairt dóibh i bhForógra na Cásca.

  12. I don’t believe that immigrants can have that same grá for Gaeilge.

    Le cead duit, tá mo chuid Gaeilge níos fearr ná do chuidse, agus mise i m’eachtrannach dearg dubh – níl mé, fiú, i mo chónaí in Éirinn..

    Níl aon chúis ann nach dtabharfadh inimirceach grá don Ghaeilge. Bhí mé i dteagmháil le daoine ar an Idirlíon a raibh cónaí orthu in Éirinn – Polannaigh, cuir i gcás – agus iad ag rá go raibh suim acu sa Ghaeilge ach nach raibh a fhios acu cén áit a bhféadfaidís í a fhoghlaim.

    Maidir leis na hinimircigh ó thíortha níos faide ar shiúl ná an Pholainn, tá mé suite siúráilte go dtuigfidh, abair, na Cuirdínigh tábhacht na Gaeilge, agus a dteanga féin faoi chois ag na Turcaigh agus na hArabaigh.

  13. mariahoran says:

    Thank you to everyone who commented.
    Panu, I think you need to read the post again, as the comment “Irish is our language. They (i.e. immigrants) shouldn’t be allowed to speak it” was a quote from one of my students and thus, an idea that the article was attacking. I think it is great that people are learning Irish… wherever they are and whatever their level. Colm is right!
    Thanks for the RSS Amber!

  14. I live in Australia, and am born of an Irish father and a Welsh mother. My grandfather spoke Irish, but bitterness within the family and his death before my birth, prevented the language being passed on in any way. I am eager to learn it, as much for another reason then my background. Here in Australia there are as many immigrants as “Australians” and all take tremendous pride in speaking their native tongue along with english, a pride I am sadly without. I’d love nothing more than to come to Eire and learn the language, but financially this is unrealistic for me. The students that complained of foreigners learning Irish should be ashamed! They themselves are speaking English! Why then should they be allowed to speak english without being english by nationality themselves?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: