Grá don Ghaeilge/Passion for Irish
I’m passionate about Gaeilge and have worked in the Irish language sector for over 20 years. Irish, for me, is not a hobby, it’s a way of life. And I feel that it’s something to be shared, as it belongs to everyone, regardless of religion or background.
A quick internet search will show that I tick a few rather unexpected boxes. As I’ve said more than once, Irish belongs to everyone…
Faoi Ian Malcolm/About Ian Malcolm
Inspired to pick up Irish by my father – who had a cúpla focal – I didn’t get the chance to formally learn the language at school, but was forever inspired by the Gaeilge all around us in our placenames, surnames and even in the way we use Irish in our everyday lives without knowing it.
Eventually, I did a course in Beginners’ Irish and fell in love with the language all over again, going on to take an A-Level, graduate with First-Class Honours in Irish and Celtic and achieve a doctorate for my research into the attitudes of Protestants towards the language.
Since then, I’ve been active in the Irish language sector:
- A regular contributor to Irish language media, including RnaG , TG4 and Raidió Fáilte
- A member of the RTÉ Authority
- A frequent writer and blogger on language and cultural issues, including Ulster-Scots
- An editor with the Irish terminology database téarma.ie
- A lecturer/tutor and speaker at events concerning language and cultural matters (in Irish and English)
As someone from a Protestant/Unionist background, I’ve always felt it important that those who share my cúlra have the chance to learn Irish, or at least find out more about the wonderful language that surrounds us in our everyday lives.
That said, it’s equally important that everyone, from every background, has the chance to share and enjoy our beautiful and ancient tongue. Even if you fell out of love with Irish at school, you can still rediscover áilleacht na teanga (the beauty of language).
Is linn uilig í – Irish belongs to us all.
The Irish language has for too long been a hostage to political fortune, embraced by many Catholics and nationalists but shunned by most Protestants and unionists.
History reveals that this was not always the case. For centuries, Protestants engaged with Irish on their own terms, sometimes for academic reasons but often because it was their everyday language and an integral part of their lives.
Understanding this complex past is a first step towards appreciating where the language stands today and why it is cherished by one community but rejected by the other. But is it possible that Irish can again be embraced by everyone in the 21st Century?
The hidden Irish of placenames, surnames and even the way we speak English has the power to bring the language to life in a way that everyone – regardless of background – can identify with.
I cover all of these themes in depth in Towards Inclusion: Protestants and the Irish Language, explaining why Irish became associated with one ‘side’ and exploring ways in which it can again be shared and enjoyed by everyone.
After all, Irish – like any other language – is just that. A language! But perhaps now it can again become a language for all.
Towards Inclusion is available in PB (£9.99) and HB (£14.99).
Use the Contact form if you would like to order a copy.