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Irish in the North? What about Irish in the south?

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Incredibly, of all the issues that plague the political sphere north of the border, it’s the proposed Irish Language Act that is reportedly keeping Stormont shut down. Whether this is really a critical issue for Sinn Féin and the DUP or merely an exercise in points scoring is unclear but, either way, it is proving to be a major barrier to progress.

A poll carried out during the week on behalf of RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live revealed that 54% of people in the south of Ireland believe that the Irish language should be protected in the North. 23% said it shouldn’t and 23% said they didn’t know.

I wasn’t overly surprised by the percentages but it did make me wonder: how many of those people who feel Irish should be respected elsewhere actually respect Irish themselves?

It seems to me that certain people only care about Irish when someone else tries to mess with it. Like a child with an old toy that they never use, as soon as someone else starts playing with it they want it back.

We’re quick to mock Americans who mispronounce Saoirse Ronan’s name, or British people who say Taoiseach incorrectly. It’s no wonder that we know the right pronunciation of Taoiseach. It’s the only Irish word many of us utter from one year to the next.

In fact, worse than merely abandoning it, many Irish people actually treat our native language with contempt. How many times have you heard someone saying that they hate Irish, before blaming it on “the way it’s taughtä”?

I’ve never bought that excuse personally. I’m not saying the methods used to teach Irish are perfect; they weren’t in my day and I’m sure they certainly weren’t in generations past.

I used to teach English as a foreign language in Asia and my Irish colleagues and I would often reflect that if we were introduced to Irish the way our students were introduced to English – in an entertaining manner and with a focus on practical conversation - we’d all be fluent Gaelgeoirs.

But blaming the schools is a cop out in my opinion. It’s a societal problem. As a nation, our attitude towards languages is terrible - being native English speakers is a crutch that we insist upon using. The simple fact of the matter is that many of us think we can get away with just speaking English, so why bother learning anything else?

Catalan history and politics are not too dissimilar to ours. Franco’s regime banned the use of Catalan, just as the English outlawed Irish. In Catalunya, they can “get by” on Spanish if they want but, instead of shunning their own language, they embrace it.

The majority of countries put Ireland to shame. Many Europeans are at least bilingual, if not trilingual or quadrilingual. Are they smarter than us? Do they have some innate ability to learn multiple languages? Or is our outlook flawed?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on my high horse here. I’m as bad as anyone else when it comes to speaking Irish, and I actually don’t mind languages. My Spanish is okay. I didn’t hate German in school and I picked up some Chinese when I lived in Beijing. The sad thing is, since finishing my leaving Cert I’ve probably used all of those languages more than I’ve used Irish, and I’ve lived in Ireland for the majority of my adult life.

How tragic is that?

So, for those people who think Irish should have special status in the North, it’s worth noting the following: Irish has special status in the south. It’s in our schools, in our courts and on our road signs. If none of us can be bothered to actually speak it, what’s the point?

 

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Killarney centre stage for Pride Festival

The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage. Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July […]

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The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage.

Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July 17 to 21.

The organisation’s flagship Party in the Park event will be held again in Killarney House and Gardens, following the Pride march in the town centre on July 20.

This year, in solidarity with the people of Palestine, Kingdom Pride in Kerry is inviting the people of Kerry to come to show their unity by bringing Palestinian flags and kites to the march, and to the Party in the Park.

“Pride is a protest for human rights all over the world. Here in the Kingdom, we have been so lucky to receive tremendous community support from our allies and supporters, and we see the struggle for liberation of all peoples as a united cause,” said Daniel Quirke, chairperson of the organising committee.

“Our events have always welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, or nationality. We truly believe that together we can create positive change through caring for and loving one another. This year is no exception, and we look forward to helping to highlight the Palestinian cause, and to bringing people together to keep generating positive change for all people.”

Events will take place in Cahersiveen, Listowel, Killorglin, Tralee and Dingle, and include an Irish comedy night with Áine Gallagher, an Irish-language movie screening, yoga, sea swimming, poetry and storytelling, bowling, pitch and putt, a lively drag night at the INEC, and plenty more for people of all ages.

“We do our best to keep tickets as low-cost as possible, and we have lots of events that are totally free to attend. It is important to us that people can share Pride with us, regardless of income. Especially with the rise of the cost of living putting a strain on people’s pockets.” added the chairperson.

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A weekend of Live Music, Fun and Entertainment, at FleskFest 2024

The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event. “It promises to be […]

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The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event.

“It promises to be the festival weekend of the summer, an event you don’t want to miss out on. Last year’s Festival was a fantastic memorable experience for our community, a time to get together and celebrate,” said festival PRO Seán Daly.

Organised by Glenflesk GAA, FleskFest 24 will take place at the Barraduff Community Field next week.
There will be a fully licensed bar in the Fest Marquee, some amazing live music on The Big Stage, food trucks and much more.
Glenflesk GAA club’s biggest fundraiser of the year includes a new-for-2024 Texas Holdem Poker Tournament on Thursday night.
Weekend highlights include old-time waltzing, jiving and polka sets with Paudie McAuliffe and Paudie Coffey Band on Friday,
On Saturday, the new Well Flesk event will take place.
“A morning of self-care and wellness at Flesk Fest featuring masterclasses in yoga, pilates, mindfulness, spinning, fitness sessions, workouts, firewood sauna and ice pods with a range of experienced and qualified instructors,” added Daly.
Leading local musician Johnny Courtney and Friends, Sam and Ina, The O’Donoghue Sisters, Reigning All Ireland Champions Glenflesk Ballad Group, and The Border Boys will take to the Big Stage over the weekend.
Sunday is Family Fun Day with children’s entertainment and disco and the All-Ireland Hurling Final Live on the Big screen followed by music with Thingamajig.
The festival will finish with a Sunday evening session with the Meadhbh Walsh Band.

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