Monday 19 March 2018

Declan Lynch: The real world beyond the Magic Door

Irish is not 'part of what we are' in the way that we actually live our lives, and it never will be, writes

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

WHEN Prime Time reporter Katie Hannon was interviewing me for her excellent feature on the state of the Irish language, there was a moment when it seemed that we had passed through the Magic Door. Through the Door and into that other world where you can hear the strange music.

It went something like this: Katie had suggested to me that perhaps the GAA is an environment in which the Irish language is used more frequently than it would be in other areas of Irish life. To which I replied that the captain of the winning team in the All-Ireland final may indeed use a bit of Irish at the start of his speech – roughly the same bit every year, it must be said – but after that it's usually English all the way. Because GAA players, like the players of any other sport in this country, generally speak English, which is the language that most Irish people speak.

And at that moment we had gone through the Magic Door. Because here I was stating something that was utterly obvious and absolutely undeniably true, and yet in these debates about the Irish language I am usually "opposing the motion". Going against the heartfelt views of the majority, such as the 1.77 million Irish people who say in the census that they can speak Irish, though they obviously cannot speak Irish in any meaningful sense.

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