Does Ireland exist? Is there such a country as Ireland? This question occurs to me more and more as time goes by.

There is certainly a large island to the west of Britain which is denoted by that name. The greater part of it is occupied by a theoretically sovereign state with its own flag, postage stamps, and international sports teams.

But is this really enough to make a country? What distinguishes the Irish from the rest of the world, at this stage? If we took away the bilingual street signs, what evidence would there be of Ireland possessing a separate culture or way of life?

Was this what all the fuss was about? Were the United Irishmen, Fenians, Young Irelanders, Irish Volunteers, and the writers of Our Boys magazine striving towards the Ireland of Aldi and Lidl, Burger King and Starbucks, rappers on Grafton Street, and Black Friday sales?

If pride in ourselves and gratitude to our forebears isn’t enough for us to cultivate some kind of national distinctiveness, surely we should have the decency to put on a show for the tourists? Tens of thousands of Irish-Americans come here every year, full of starry-eyed eagerness for the “old country”. Diaspora Irish from all over the world make the same pilgrimage. They expect gentlemanly fist-fights in pubs, fiery red-headed colleens, and twinkly-eyed hunks in Aran sweaters sitting on stone walls dispensing folksy wisdom. They get hipsters in sushi bars and blue-haired social justice warriors instead. What a let-down it must be for them!

How can we make Ireland somewhere again? 

Well, here is one proposal: it’s time for us to start speaking Gaelish. On the model of Spanglish, it would be a cross between Gaelic and English, even if that meant speaking English with a peppering of Gaelic.

When the Irish state was established a hundred years ago, one of the central aspirations of its founders was to revive the Irish language as the language of everyday life. This didn’t happen, to put it mildly. Within a few decades, it became obvious that the revival of the Irish language was not really a top priority for any political party, nor indeed for the public. Bread-and-butter issues soon replaced the lofty cultural and social goals that had fuelled the Easter Rising and War of Independence. Even the practice of politicians starting out their speeches in Gaelic before inevitably switching to English was soon retired, for the most part

Irish is a headache to learn, for most people. There are people who pick up the intricacies of the modh conníolach and the tuiseal ginideach like a pocket picks up lint. For many of us, however, they remain lifelong mysteries.

And even when we have enough Irish to risk a conversation, there are other obstacles. Suddenly launching into a stream of Gaelic can cause distress and consternation to those around you. I’m aware of this reaction in myself. Although I fully support the revival of the Irish language (in principle) my immediate reaction to hearing Irish spoken is a strong desire to run away. (In his book Lapsed Agnostic, John Waters— who raised his daughter to be Irish-speaking— mentions a similar dread of encountering Irish language speakers.) Besides, even if you power through this awkwardness, it can be hard to find someone in your daily routine who can and wants to speak in the first national language.

Of course, it’s almost unthinkable to speak Irish in a group, other than a group designed for that purpose. Try it at a dinner party— taking off all your clothes might be less dramatic, depending on your circles.

So perhaps the answer is to start smuggling Gaelic words into the English we use, to make Hiberno-English ever more Hiberno.

Why not? Most people in Ireland have a smattering of Irish. They know what a cupán tae and a cáca milis is. They can tell their toin from their uileann. Indeed, it’s not unknown for Irish people to throw in a Gaelic phrase such as “dún an doras” spontaneously.

Why not do it more often? Our twenty-first century is (they tell us) all about cultural fusion and cross-fertilization. Why does the traffic, in this regard, always have to be in one direction? Why can’t the native pervade the foreign, for once?

The best part of creating an Irish-English creole is that it would be a linguistic Wild West. The grammarians and lexicographers would have no authority here. Nobody would chastise you for a missed séimhú or an adjective on the wrong side of the noun. Inevitably, if the thing prospered to any extent, the scholars would come along and start noting patterns and unspoken rules. But that would be a small price to pay.

We could have conversations like this:

Pat: I see that amadán Varadkar was on the telefís again telling us all to get our instealladh.

Mike: And why not? We all have a dualgais to get the instealladh.

Pat:  Ná bí ag caint! I’m brónach to see you’re taking the Kool-Aid too.

Mike: Is dócha you’re a conspiracy theorist anois?

Pat: I’ll give you a buille san phus if you don’t dún do bhéal pronto.

Although my tongue might have occasionally strayed towards my cheek in the writing of this article, I don’t think it’s a completely ridiculous proposal. The revival of Irish is a Herculean task, and it’s obvious that this generation is not going to succeed at it. But cultivating Gaelish might make us sound a little less like the latest episode of Coronation Street or The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Posted by Maolsheachlann Ó Ceallaigh

17 Comments

  1. I’m all for throwing the cúpla focail into every day life, but in no way should this ever replace learning the Irish language itself. If you are serious about nationalism then you should be willing to take the time to learn the language, there are plenty of resources available on the internet to help beginners and those struggling to remember what they can from school.

    Reply

    1. Maolsheachlann 01/07/2021 at 9:42 pm

      I’ve made big efforts but fluency eludes me. I don’t see that Gaelish and Gaelic should be competitors, though.

      Reply

      1. I certainly think your proposal has its merits, more Irish being spoken will be of course be a good thing, it will help keep the language alive in the popular consciousness, provided it exists alongside and not instead of, efforts to actually preserve the spoken language. It’s true that irish is a difficult language to achieve fluency in but it’s doable with persistence. I found that doing the course on Duolingo, generally exposing myself to as much Irish language content I could find on YouTube and elsewhere as well as using foclóir.ie/teanglann all helped very much and I can now say I’m fluent with some confidence.

        Reply

  2. Well phog mo thoin,thats about the most sensible suggestion to get an gaelige spoken somewhat gach la in a long time.

    Reply

    1. Maolsheachlann 02/07/2021 at 11:33 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m rarely called sensible! 😆

      Reply

  3. The Real Fianna 01/07/2021 at 10:43 pm

    Gaeilge should be spoken by all of Eire. If there was a real genuine nationalist government, it would seek to immerse the whole island in the restoration of a beautiful language. All media should be in irish, all television in irish, all sports broadcasted in irish, all newspapers in irish, all radio in irish, then there will be no choice but to learn it.

    The begrudgers would say its not needed in the modern age, i disagree, i think it is more needed than ever.

    I don’t think Gaeilge goes far enough though, it would be even better if the Goídelc (Old Irish) was brought back too. All the myths and legends made into more tv series, and movies and done correctly with the correct casting with the actors and actresses fitting the physical description of how the old ancestors looked like.

    And guess what? in the old legends, the women and men were described as having snow white complexions, bright red lips, sometimes blonde hair was described as being gold, sometimes hair was described as being the colour of a raven, and with blue eyes described as the colour of a winter evening sky. Such features were appreciated by the celts, and were important enough to be spoken about by the old celts. The old celts must be racists according to the lamestream right? Do they need to be adding some diversity there?

    Oh wait, of course if one were to switch on the lamestream state broadcaster to gain an insight into the old legends, you would be greeted with an african cuchulainn.

    Not very accurate as the legends say he had a shade of red or blonde hair and was described as being very light. Why the innaccuracy? Why would they be so desperate to paint a picture of cuchulainn to suit modern globalist culture? Are the old myths racist now too? do they need an extra layer of some diversity on them? An extra layer of some gayness maybe?

    There needs to be professional historical accuracy in such matters and the myths should be created in a accurate way. Judging by all the ancient bog bodies and the myths, i don’t think there were any black or dark coloured people in Ireland back then, and cuchulainn was not described as being african. There is no evidence to support such an idea.

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    1. Maolsheachlann 02/07/2021 at 12:02 am

      The Formorians were pretty swarthy.

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      1. The Real Fianna 02/07/2021 at 8:03 pm

        Greetings Maolsheachlann.

        The formorians were not a real people though. They represent the primordial darkness of winter.

        The Fomorians were the gods who represent the harmful destructive powers of the natural world, they personified, darkness, death, blight and drought, winter etc.

        They were viewed as monstrous beings, not people in a human sense.

        The tuatha de Danann, were seen as the opposite, the balancing sun giving life. The warm spring, the summer, the harvest.

        Norse mythology is similar, dark elves, dark dwarfs etc, It does not mean the scandinavians are dark.

        When you interpret mythology, you have to see it in a metaphorical way to gain an insight.

        If you are pushing at a narrative where irish tribes were swarthy, where is the evidence? The bog bodies were white.

        Reply

        1. Maolsheachlann 02/07/2021 at 11:27 pm

          I was just being facetious. I agree folklore and mythology shouldn’t be co-opted to the PC agenda. I don’t care about skin colour myself, I think culture is the locus of nationality. Beannacht Dé!

          Reply

          1. The Real Fianna 03/07/2021 at 12:29 am

            Speaking of the globalist agenda,

            In the marvel Thor movies, they got Idris Elba (african descent) to play the god from norse mythology, that carries a horn, that he uses to warn the other gods of of any invaders that would seek to enter valhalla.

            In the mythology that god is known as a Shining God and having the whitest skin.

            If the source material says he was white, then why have him cast as a black man?

            It seems nothing is sacred as regards to the expansion of the globalist agenda and the kalergi plan, they attack even the mythology and twist it to suit the agenda at play.

            Why are they so interested in mixing all the races? Why push it everywhere? Why are they pushing it on ads?

            They want no differences? they want no independent nationalism, they want everyone to have the same globalist culture, to look the same, act the same, be the same, and obey a one world government. The BORG!

            They call that diversity? Sounds like a plan to rule everyone under the one flag more like. Why the need for so much centralisation? What are they up to there? its in plain sight.

            Mcdonalds and one world government, one culture to rule them all. Like tolkien, one ring to rule them all.

    2. Katzenellenbogen 03/07/2021 at 7:45 am

      Good idea, yes, why not! If the Israelis could promote and put through Iwrith, why not make Gaelic (and Gaelish as a first step) a success story?

      Reply

      1. Maolsheachlann 03/07/2021 at 10:51 am

        Katzenellenbogen, modern Hebrew is often presented as an example of a successful linguistic revival. So it was, but there were unique conditions in that Israel lacked a lingua franca for all the new immigrants.

        I would love a full-blown revival of the Irish language and hope it happens one day, perhaps when people have become more disenchanted with globalism.

        Reply

  4. Paul O'Marcachain 02/07/2021 at 7:26 am

    Alt suimiúil ar fad. Really liked this article. For me the spread of “Globish” has been apalling. Trying to prevent my own kids sounding like they’re from southern California requires daily effort.

    I think the promotion of Hiberno-English on steroids is a great idea. It would certainly help make Irish much less daunting as it’s less pressurised. I also don’t see it as a threat to an Gaeilge, in fact l think a reinvigorated HE would only assist the Irish language in the long term.
    Sin ráite, Gaelic with a strong peppering of English would be my personal preference as it would give Irish the dominant position in the equation.
    We need to utilise our colonial tongue to promote our native & work towards the extirpation of Globish from the island. Bia for thought indeed!

    Reply

    1. Maolsheachlann 02/07/2021 at 11:31 pm

      Go raibh maith agat, Paul! Yes, I wasn’t suggesting Gaelish should be in iomaíocht with Gaelic. But let’s face it, the tromlach mór of Irish people will never speak pure Gaelic, at least for the foreseeable future.

      Reply

  5. The Real Fianna 02/07/2021 at 10:25 pm

    Speaking of the english language itself. It is truly a language made up of all sorts, french, latin, germanic, norse, you name it. More words are added to it too every year. It is a globalist language you could say.

    No Irish man should have an inferiority complex towards it, speak it all you want, just because it is the official language of Britain. An irish man with irish blood speaking english is still irish. An asian or a african man speaking Gaeilge does not make such a person as having celtic ancestors.

    As for Britain, it is made up historically of Celts (Ancient britons) Saxons (Germanics) Scandinavians (vikings) and probably the romans too made an impact there.

    You could say, that many englishmen are not speaking the correct language of their ancestors. Old Saxon sounds absolutely nothing like english. If you only know modern english, there is no way you could possibly understand old english (saxon tongue.

    Modern english is a pretty ugly language anyway, it is too methodical and robotic in my opinion, and contains loads of latin words. The church clearly destroyed the saxon tongue.

    Reply

  6. People may want to read “The Broken Harp” by Tomas Mac Siomoin. It explains our hostility to our native tongue.Also, why a revival is unlikely. It is a short book, but very intersting

    Reply

  7. Why settle for a burger when you can have steak instead,

    We should all just learn the fucking language and it becomes our separateness, our cultural difference,

    And nobody owns it so it’s open to all on the island,

    When looking for what distinguished the gunmen of the IRA in Cork in the War of Independence from the wider population and indeed from the general republican community it was found that the guys who prosecuted the struggle, as in, did the shooting, bombing, killing and dying had taken Irish as an extracurricular activity in the schooling system of the time (1911 census).

    That was the statistically significant ‘Correlation coefficient’

    If one were to have a representation of what was the typical IRA activist in Cork in 1920 looked like, well it would be – an Irish speaking drapers assistant.

    Reply

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