Friday 20 September 2019

Let's just call the whole thing off

Stock photo
Stock photo
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

We have a lot to learn from our Northern brethren. Not just our quaint nationalist friends, but their unionist brothers and sisters as well.

In a world that is becoming increasingly homogenised, in which our kids talk in American accents, in which Irish people consume a diet of English sport and American movies, where high streets the world over are becoming identical, they steadfastly cling to old, unique ways of doing things. They are like vinyl record-collecting hipsters in their quest to hold on to authenticity. And they like a beard as well.

There is a real danger that the great British tradition of a big shaven-headed lad banging a drum and more lads marching around in bowler hats would die out if they didn't keep it going up North. You don't see those poncy liberals in London marching around playing the flute any more, do you?

They are forgetting all about true Britishness in their rush to embrace bloody multiculturalism, ethnic food and foreign cinema.

And what about us? Our nordy brethren put us to shame with their commitment to the Irish language. Take the big news of Ireland 2040 (Eire 2040) last Friday (de hAoine). Did anyone even make a squeak about the fact that there was not a separate piece of legislation in there to deal with the Irish language? In the North, that would have been the government gone for a year, maybe more. But then, as much as Leo and his posh boys pay lip service to an gaeilge (Irish) you suspect the only dead language (teanga marbh) that bunch of private-school-educated internationalists might suggest resurrecting is Latin, out of affection for old Mr Carruthers, the jolly good sort who taught classics.

And unlike when Mary Lou (Maire Lu) trotted out her warmed-up, rehashed old guff (raimeis) last weekend, when our Government trotted out its warmed-up, rehashed old guff on Friday, there wasn't so much as a rousing "tiocfaidh ar la" ("our day will come") to finish it.

So poor are we in our commitment to our first language that we almost laughed when we heard that a government was unable to be formed over compulsory Irish. Even when Sinn Fein assured people no one would have to learn Irish against their will, as a people who had a stilted fluency in a language we never use beaten into us but whose fluency in any European language can tend to be limited to "Una cerveza por favor" ("pionta mas e do thoil e"), we marvelled that this conversation was really still going on.

We watched, astonished, as a place that hasn't had a government in over a year and that is hurtling towards a possibly devastating existential crisis in the form of Brexit (Sasamach), seemed to be tearing itself apart over putting largely redundant Irish translations on road signs.

And on they go. Sinn Fein weaponising the language with its demands for a stand-alone law (a so-called tiocfaidh ar law, which translates into unionist as martial law).

And should we be surprised, really? You say tiocfaidh ar la, I say curry my yogurt, let's call the whole thing off.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss