The radio this lunchtime was hopping with excitement; China had chosen Ireland as the only European stop on on a world tour, and not since the Celtic tiger, had there been such optimistic frivolity on a panel show. Potential trade links and investments were discussed along with suggestions to replace the Irish language being taught in school with Mandarin! I kid you not!
Apart from the fact that Irish is our native tongue, there are many reasons why I cringe at such attacks on the Irish language. It is not the languages fault that we aren’t all fluently conversing as gaelige. Does anybody talk of scrapping maths because we don’t all come out of school mathematicians? of course not. Subjects develop intelligence in various areas, and not everybody has an aptitude for maths, or Irish etc. I have always been grateful that I had the chance to learn Irish at school.
The purpose of teaching Irish and English is to develop bi-lingual language skills from a young age, which lay the foundations and Neurological pathways for further language learning in the future. Whether that language be German (all the rage when West Germany was uber prosperous, before the wall came down), Japanese or Mandarin.
So to conclude, leave Irish alone, it’s grand, a lot of people fought and died, campaigned and dedicated their lives for the Irish language and Culture, so don’t dismiss it or drop it on a whim. I know so many people who would love to get the chance to speak as gaelige arís agus tá súim mór agam chun a dheanamh.