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'This is an English-speaking business' - Young Gaeilgeoir told to stop speaking native language in Irish pub


A young employee of The Flying Enterprise pub in Cork was told to stop speaking Irish at work because "this is an English-speaking business".

Cormac Ó Bruic, who comes from the Kerry Gaeltacht, explained that he had been working at the bar for eight months and used to chat to fellow members of staff in Irish before the owner told him to stop.

“He was shouting at me and banging on the table, because I stood up to him and told him I wasn’t going to stop.  He told me then to go back to work, but I told him that I couldn’t,” Cormac told RTE Raidió na Gaeltachta yesterday. “I couldn’t go back working for that man after him saying that.”

Cormac said that Irish was mainly spoken among staff but that they would speak Irish to customers if they had it.

“Lots of customers would tell us that it was lovely to hear the language spoken, especially to hear young people using it in Cork,” he said.

In a statement to Raidió na Gaeltachta, owner Finbarr O’Shea that requiring staff to speak a certain language was similar to having a dress code for the pub. He stated that English is the working language at The Flying Enterprise because “it’s a hospitality business.”

In a letter to Cormac, his employer said he had had complaints from customers who said they couldn’t understand the staff, but Cormac stated that he doubted customers couldn’t understand him because he spoke English in the pub as well.

Cormac never returned to work despite that, saying “In my mind I have to stand up for the language, I love it and that there are still people who don’t want to hear the language at all, I can’t understand it.”

Speaking to independent.ie, Cormac said the management had never mentioned complaints from customer before he received their letter with his P45.

"I always spoke English to every single customer but kept the option to speak Irish open if they wanted to. I would even speak a few words in Spanish to Spanish speakers who came in and they were delighted, so I don't see why anyone would have a problem."

Cormac decided to leave the job because he had a principled objection to being told not to speak Irish. "The thing I'm most proud of is where I come from and my native language."

Online Editors