The Irish language community is well used to the slings and arrows
Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh agus bhur gcéad míle fáilte isteach chuig the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.
Well, what a week it’s been in the history of the Irish language - not in a good way, but not in a bad way either.
Tá an Ghaeilge i lár an aonaigh - the Irish language is centre stage and although the most recent comhchainteanna - mutual talks didn’t come to a satisfactory conclusion, tá mé cinnte dearfa - I am totally convinced that an Irish language act will come, sooner rather than later.
And while the act is important to copper-fasten the rights of Irish speakers, I believe that the real future of the Irish language is in the hands of its speakers.
I have never, ever, ever heard anyone say they learned Irish le cur isteach ar dhaoine - to annoy people.
It takes a long time and a lot of obair mhaslach - hard work to become fluent in a language and there are easier ways of annoying people than learning a language.
Talk of Sinn Féin “politicising” or “weaponising” the language is laughable given the history of what the English were happy to call conquest (concas in Irish) and their subsequent attempts at extirpating Irish, a process continuing from the Tudors to this very day.
I have always thought that, beyond the political sphere, there is another level where people from all backgrounds, both here and abroad, feel themselves enriched by learning Irish, whether they live in the Newtownards Road or in the Bronx or in Fulham.
Irish language centres are open to all but they don’t bang a drum about how nicey-nicey and trasphobal - cross-community they are. They just invite people in to have a look at what the language has to offer with the promise it will be fun.
You will hear “tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge” - I am learning Irish all over the world and more likely than not, “tá mé ag baint suilt as” - I am enjoying it.
You will also hear a lot of Protestants say that their eyes have been opened to the richness that surrounds them by learning Irish.
You will not hear any of them say they have been turned into rabid republicans by learning Irish. As Linda Ervine says, you can say “Ná Géillimis” - No Surrender as easily as “Tiocfaidh ár lá” - our day will come.
There has been a lot of white noise surrounding an Irish language act and the level of aineolas - ignorance about the history of the language is appalling if understandable.
How many people know that the first book in Irish published in Ireland was Aibidil Gaoidheilge agus Caiticiosma - An Irish Alphabet and Catechism?
The book was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I.
It was produced in an attempt to convert the Irish to Protestantism but when the bíoblóireacht- proselytisting didn’t work she sent 17,300 men, the largest army to leave England during her reign, to further persuade Ireland.
So the Irish language
The Irish language has survived anti-Irish reachtaíocht - legislation such as the statutes of Kilkenny (1366), Henry VIII’s Act for the English Order, Habit and Language (1537), wars, plantation, partition and still she survives. The time has finally come for her to be cherished.
Tá an Ghaeilge i lár an aonaigh (taa un gaylick i larr un aynee) - the Irish language is centre stage
comhchainteanna (coe-khyntchana) - mutual talks
tá mé cinnte dearfa (taa may kintcha jarafa) - I am totally convinced
le cur isteach ar dhaoine (le cur istyakh er geenee) - to annoy people
obair mhaslach (ubber waslakh) - hard work
trasphobal (trass-fubble) - cross-community
concas (conkiss) - conquest
tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge (taa may e foelim gaylicka ) - I am learning Irish
tá mé ag baint suilt as (taa may eg bwintch siltch iss) - I am enjoying it
Ná Géillimis (naa gaylamish) - No Surrender
Tiocfaidh ár lá (chuckee aar laa) - Our day will come
aineolas (anyoliss) - ignorance
aibidil Gaoidheilge agus Caiticiosma (abajil gaylicka agus catakisma) - An Irish Alphabet and Catechism
bíoblóireacht (beebloreakht) - proselytisting
reachtaíocht (raakhteeakht) - legislation