Thursday, August 26, 2010

Urgent letter..

A letter signed by 29 community groups, organisations and Summer Colleges in the Donegal Gaeltacht, which is the second biggest Gaeltacht District in the country with about 30,ooo inhabitants, has been published in the Donegal Democrat,(see also Donegal News Editorial at bottom of page!) Irish Times and Gaelscéal (Irish).

This letter puts on paper the very real anxiety of this large community concerning the recent publication of the recent Department of Finance Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010-2016 and reccomending the full implementation of the proposals made by the Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee Report (ironically published in the same week!).

A copy of the letter (an English version of which is reproduced below) has also been sent to the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste.

    A chara,

    The recent report from the Department of Finance, Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010-2016 is a source of great concern to us in the Gaeltacht.

    If its proposed State capital expenditure cuts are implemented, the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Gaeltacht Development Body, Údarás na Gaeltachta will effectively cease to exist by 2016 when we will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Is this a fitting tribute?

    "According to The Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht (2007) commissioned by this Government, there is a linguistic crisis in the Gaeltacht at present, even in the strongest Gaeltacht areas: “The unambiguous conclusion of the survey on young people is that, without a major change to language-use patterns, Irish is unlikely to remain the predominant community and family language in those areas with the most widespread and inclusive Irish-speaking networks (ie Category A Gaeltacht districts) for more than another 15 to 20 years.”

    This problem must be addressed immediately before it is too late and, consequently, we are asking that all of the proposals made by the Houses of the Oireachtas Joint Committee Report recently regarding the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language be swiftly accepted and implemented. These proposals have all-party agreement and we believe that their adoption would be a more appropriate expression of our self-belief in our identity as a nation in the lead-up to 2016 rather than the Department of Finance proposals.

    We, Donegal Gaeltacht community groups, accept that we are currently in a very poor economic climate and that cuts are needed in State expenditure, but the preservation of Irish as a living community language in the Gaeltacht cannot be made conditional upon global economic conditions.

    Is muidne,

    ÉAMONN Mac NIALLAIS, Guth na Gaeltachta;
    SÉAMUS Mac GÉIDIGH, Coiste Paróiste Ghort a Choirce;
    BRÍDÍN B Nic CHEARÁIN, Gaeltacht Bheo Fhánada;
    GRÁINNE Mhic GÉIDIGH, Coiste Ban Tí Thír Chonaill;
    BRÍD Uí DHONAILL, Coiste Áislann Rann na Feirste;
    MÍCHEÁL Mac GIOLLA, Coiste Áislann Chill Chartha;
    NÓIRÍN Uí MHAOLDOMHNAIGH, Easbuic Comharchumann Oileán Árainn Mhór;
    SÉAMUS Mac RUAIRÍ, Coiste Forbartha Anagaire;
    SÉAMUS Mac BRIARTAIGH, Comhairle Pharóiste Chill Chartha;
    CAITLÍN Uí LAIFEARTAIGH, Coiste Pobail Eascarrach;
    SIOBHÁN Ní CHURRAIGHÍN, Coiste Forbartha Theileann;
    MÁIRE Ní CHOMHAILL, Coiste Forbartha Dhobhair Teo;
    MÁIRE Uí CHEALLAIGH, Coiste Sheáin Bháin, Baile na Finne,
    MÁIRE Mhic NIALLAIS Comharchumann Forbartha Ghaoth Dobhair;
    AODH Mac LAIFEARTAIGH, Coiste Céim Aniar, Na Dúnaibh;
    BRIAN Mac CUINNEAGÁN, Lár Comhairle Paróiste Gleann Cholm Cille;
    MÁIRÍN Uí FHEARRAIGH Comharchumann na nOileán Beag;
    BRIDGET Nic GAIRBHEITH, Comharchumann Oilean Thoraí;
    ÉAMON Mac GIOLLA BHRÍDE, Cumann Trádala Tionscail Ghaoth Dobhair;
    RÉAMONN Ó CIARÁIN, Coláiste Gael Linn Bhun an Inbhir;
    PÓILÍN Ní DHONNCHADH, Coláiste Gael Linn Mhachaire Rabhartaigh;
    DAITHÍ Ó MUIRÍ, Coláiste Mhuire, Loch an Iúir;
    MÁNAS Ó LUATHAIRE, Coláiste Árainn Mhór;
    SEOSAMH Ó GALLCHÓIR, Coláiste Cholmcille Gaoth Dobhair;
    Dr SEOSAMH WATSON, Oideas Gael Gleann Cholmcille;
    MÁIRÉAD Uí BHRÁDAIGH, Coláiste Chill Chartha;
    NIALL Ó SLUÁIN, Coláiste Rann na Feirste;
    SEOSAMH Ó DUIBHEANNAIGH, Coláiste na Rosann, Anagaire;
    COLLEEN Nic AODHA, Coláiste Bhun a Leaca,
    C/o Doirebeag, Leitir Ceanainn, Co Dhún na nGall.

Donegal News
27 August 2010
"The Irish Language
The Irish are not good at presenting a united front. Differences of opinion, personality clashes and pure bloody-mindedness have sunk many a good cause. As the old saying goes, the first item on the agenda is a split. Therefore an open letter signed by individuals from some thirty businesses and organisations should be treated seriously. This week we publish such a letter which was sent to the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste from interests in the Donegal Gaeltacht. Providing detailed figures they claim that if cuts are imposed then the Department of the Gaeltacht and Údarás na Gaeltachta will be extinct by 2016, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. The letter writers argue that while all departments are facing cuts, the Department of Community Equality and Gaeltacht affairs' budget will be slashed by over 70% at a time when the Irish language is facing it's most serious challenge yet.

The writers quote from what is known as the The Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht which concluded that Irish could be the minority language in the strongest gaeltacht areas within fifteen years.

Even for non-Irish speakers this should be unacceptable. Is the present ruling generation to be the one that allowed Irish to die in the gaeltacht because of an economic crisis? That is the stark question facing not only the government but our society. The answer must be a resounding no.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The fado & Protestant culture

There's an interesting article in today's (17 Aug 2010) Irish Times by Torlach Mac Con Midhe, Idir an Fado agus an cultúr Protastúnach (Irish) {Trans: Between the Fado and the Protestant culture}

Fado by Jose MalhoaAn article by Alan Titley in the same paper started him thinking back to his youth when he travelled to Canada to study. Strangly enough his memory is not so much meeting and interacting with North Americans but with meeting those from South America, refugees from the fall of Allende in Chile, or from the "dirty war" in Argentina as well as Mexican, Venuzuelans, Columbians and Peruvians.

He found that these people enriched his experience far more than the dour North Americans. They were full of fun and energy. They were singing, dancing, eating, drinking, laughing (though the story at home was often tragic) and they played football. He found he could mix with them and that they respected him. He was able to sing "Ar an loing seo Phaidí Loingsigh" and recite "Tháinig long ó Valparaiso!" with out self consciousness. He could participate. He was welcomed.

One of the Argentinian girls, Rita, said to him, "You know, we have no friends among the Canadians! The only English-speaking friends we have are the Irish!" He notes that he had the same problem himself. There was no life or vigour to be found except in these exuberent Latins.

He reflects that in the recent past Irish emigrants have departed for the most part to the English speaking dominions and former colonies. However prior to that they went to the countries of Southern Europe. Though we are an Atlantic people rather than a Mediterranean, although we share that with the Portuguese, we have a "Catholic" tradition in common.

He muses that the empires sent colonists to their territories, and they either decimated the original populace leaving the descendants of the colonists in power. However in Ireland something else happened. The empire made colonists of the native people. They were gifted with the language and culture of the British. They were colonists in their own land. But at the same time it is impossible to deny that there are still "native traits" to be found in these colonists. For this reason they are a split, divided people in themselves.

He quotes Faust “Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,” (Alas, Two souls reside in my breast!). We have the soul of the colonist and that of the Gael in our breast and they do not sit well with each other.

He concludes with a stark question. "I believe that this is sometimes realised by the Irish language community (lucht na Gaeilge) but I wonder is it appreciated by the English speakers!"
By the way the Fado, in the article title, is a type of music from Portugal, learned, understood and appreciated by the author, not a million miles away from our own Sean-Nós styles. (see pic)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Significant Revision of the Recognition Process for Post-primary Schools announced.

Gaelscoileanna Teo. has welcomed the Tánaiste’s (pic right) statement of 28th July 2010 announcing a significant revision of the recognition process for post-primary schools.

The criteria for judging applications to establish post-primary schools will be agreed under the proposed new framework. This will ensure the transparency of the decision making process for new schools at Departmental level.

Referring to the implications for Irish-medium post-primary schools, Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, Chief Executive of Gaelscoileanna Teo. commented , “We warmly welcome the revision of the recognition process for post-primary schools and we believe it’s timely in light of the recent review of recognition criteria at primary level. We are confident that this proposed revision will facilitate post-primary provision and satisfy the needs and justifiable demands for Irish-medium education at post-primary level”.

The need for any proposed school to be able to cater for diversity in its pupil population is amongst the criteria already cited by the Tánaiste. Irish-medium schools cater for diversity in provision on grounds of language/religious ethos and they cater and welcome pupils from every linguistic, social and academic background.

With regard to Irish-medium Units within English-medium schools ní Ghréacháin cautions “While we welcome the proposal to provide Units to cater for the demand for Irish-medium education in cases where there is insufficient demand for an independent Irish-medium school, it is vital that consultation between ourselves and the Department continues with a view to reviewing and comprehensively developing the existing model of the Irish-medium Unit both in both concept and approach. Clearly, the Unit model can cater for demand to an extent, , however the current model has many challenges to overcome. We would greatly welcome the opportunity for consultation with the Department on the development of a new model and on the criteria for founding Irish-medium post-primary schools going forward”.

The Tánáiste intends to form a consultative group in the Autumn which will prepare a set of proposals with regard to the recognition of post-primary schools. These will focus on the need for school places to be made available for an extra 67,000 pupils by 2024.

Ní Ghréacháin congratulates the Tánaiste for undertaking this process and states “...we are committed to co-operating with the Tánaiste and the Department of Education and Skills on this all-important issue and we are greatly looking forward to playing a central role in the challenge of putting the most effective education system into operation. We would advise that the Tánaiste ensures that a representative with specialised knowledge of the needs of Irish-medium schools be present on the Consultative Group ”.

Gaelscoileanna Teo. is the national co-ordinating body for schools teaching through the medium of Irish. It helps parents and local groups to set up new schools and supports the established all-Irish schools. There are 169 primary schools and 38 secondary schools currently providing education through the medium of Irish.