I’ve spent a lot of energy the last couple of years increasing my command of the Irish language; I’ve even blogged in Irish a couple of times. I graduated with a diploma last year and I’m currently working towards a degree. Sometimes people ask me why I bother learning what is essentially a niche language. Read some of the historical quotes below to find out:
Tá neart oibre déanta agam ag foighlaim Gaeilge i rith na blianta seo caite; bhlagáil mé trí Gaeilge fiú cúpla uair. Bhain mé diplóma amach anuraidh agus tá mé ag iarraidh céim a bhaint amach faoi láthair. Uaireanta iarrann daoine orm, cén fath go bhfuil mé ag foghlaim mionteanga? Léamh na ráitis thíos chun an fhreagairt a fháil amach:
"All Englishmen and the Irish dwelling among them must use English surnames, speak English, and follow English customs. If any Englishman, or Irishman dwelling among the English, use Irish speech, he shall be attainted and his lands go to his lord till he undertake to adopt and use English."
- Statutes of Kilkenny, 1366
"We may conceive an hope that the next generation will in tongue and heart and every way else become English; so as there will be no difference or distinction but the Irish sea betwixt us."
- Sir John Davies, 'A Discovery of the True Causes Why Ireland Was Never Entirely Subdued', 1612
"..it hath ever beene the use of the Conquerour, to despise the language of the conquered and to force him by all meanes to learne his."
- Edmund Spenser, A View of the State of Ireland, Published 1633
"It would be a noble achievement to abolish the Irish language in this kingdom, so far at least as to oblige all the natives to speak only English on every occasion of business, in shops, markets, fairs, and other places of dealing: yet I am wholly deceived, if this might not be effectively done in less than half an age, and at a very trifling expense; for such I look upon a tax to be of only six thousand pounds-a-year, to accomplish so great a work. This would, in great measure, civilize the most barbrous among them, reconcile them to our customs and manner of living, and reduce great numbers to the national religion..."
- Jonathan Swift
"The common Irish are naturally shrewd, but very ignorant and deficient in mental culture; from the barbarous tongue in which they converse which operates as an effectual bar to any literary attainment."
- William Shaw Mason, Royal Irish Academy, 1822
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