On reading an advanced copy of “The Revival of Irish – Failed Project of a Political Elite” by Donal Flynn, I was reminded about the failed attempt by the Irish education system to instil in me a working grasp or a love of the Irish language.
It is not easy to be loyal to a language when it was difficult to learn and never used outside the classroom. Nevertheless I managed to attain a D grade in Pass level Irish. This meant that when I repeated my Leaving Certificate I did not have to sit Irish again. The second time around my grades went up a notch in every subject thus allowing me to get into my choice of third level education. It is very possible that if Irish had not been compulsory in the first place I would have been let loose on the world a year sooner.
Every day in the news another sector of Irish society is crying out about the cuts the government have made in response to the austerity measures currently imposed on our economy. But not one voice looks back at the time and money spent translating signs and documents into a language which is not used by its own country.
Donal Flynn’s book highlights the efforts of each successive government to continue “The Revival” and discusses the various voices who have been silenced when they dared to publicly announce the detrimental effects that the teaching of Irish has had on the literacy of our nation.
If the down grading of the Irish language means that our country’s literacy problems can be better addressed then I support this. These much needed funds could be diverted into areas of Health and other public services.
I do not object to a continuation of the teaching of Irish in schools but if the compulsory focus was taken away and we were taught it in conjunction with the cultural side of our history I feel that a more genuine affection may be nurtured.
Anyone who has an interest in Ireland becoming a self-sustaining nation in an increasingly global-focused world needs to read this book.