Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lá Mór na Gaeilge

Right now in Derry, Northern Ireland, 10,000 duine ag siúl ar son na Gaeilge. An estimated 10,000 people are marching in solidarity for Irish Language today. Lá Mór na Gaeilge. Wanted: Language Rights, Human Rights! "There is no other country in the world where people are considered eccentric for using their own language." Ar iarraidh: Cothrom na Féinne #LáMórNaGaeilge Wanted: Language Rights, Human Rights! Follow #LáGaeilge on Twitter. West Belfast is An Ceathrú Gaeltachta. Many republicans in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, learned Irish while in prison. Tír gan Teanga, Tír gan Anam. Time for the British to get out of Nothern Ireland. A nation once again! An Gaeltacht Nua. Maith thú!

In Northern Ireland, the Irish themselves are a minority in their own country (about 40%—vs 60% Protestant, pro British)) and, as such, they are treated as second-class citizens. But the times they are a changin.' This 1989 article notes the resurgence of Irish. "The recent revival, many scholars say, is the most significant because rather than remain a pet cause of the intelligentsia, it has woven its way into the fabric of the working class, particularly those of West Belfast, Ireland`s biggest ghetto."

Agus as sin go hAlbain! In Northern Ireland there is still a faction strongly against supporting Irish. "29% of people were "against" Irish language usage in Northern Ireland, with 17 per cent of that "strongly against it." Muller agrees: "We're still seeing the working of a deep-seated, long, ethnic conflict in the north of Ireland, and that's why the issue of identity, and of language, is still capable of raising people's emotions."

"It's the same story in Scotland – even if the overall numbers of Gaelic speakers are decreasing, thanks to an ageing population of native speakers, Gaelic-medium schools have become a popular option. No schools are required to teach it, and there's no move to make it mandatory, but Minister for Scotland's Languages, Alasdair Allen, commented "the number of people who speak Gaelic is around about 60,000, and the population is quite scattered…Thirty or 40 years ago, no one would have heard Gaelic from a teacher; you've gone from that to a situation where about a third of primary kids in the Western Isles have their education in Gaelic units. Despite what you sometimes read in some papers, Gaelic is not actually that contentious. There's broad public support."

What did I have, said the fine old woman
What did I have, this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel

But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, who fought to save my jewels
They fought and they died, and that was my grief said she

The song is interpreted as an allegorical political statement regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. The four fields are seen as the Provinces of Ireland with Ulster being the "field" that remained part of the United Kingdom after the Irish Free State separated. The old woman is seen as a traditional personification of Ireland herself (see Kathleen Ni Houlihan). The words spoken by the woman in Makem's song are taken directly from "Cathleen ni Houlihan", an early play by W. B. Yeats.

"But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers;
My fourth green field will bloom once again," said she.

I'm connected up with Irish Tweeters and GoogleTranslate is my friend. I usually can read tweets as Gaeilge, but can't answer, except for simple stuff. Irish is not an easy language. Russian's easier. At least the prepositions don't conjugate!

And may the roads rise up to meet you. Just make sure that the wind that is always at your back, isn't broken. Downwind's a btch.

1. Open Google translate. (
2. Input some dots (…………….).
3. Select “Japanese”.

4. Click “Listen”.

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