We had our final Irish class of the year last Tuesday. Since last September I’ve been travelling over to Ionad Uibh Eachach, off the Falls Road, with my friends Hugh and Dessie. They’re in their seventies, I’m in my sixties, and I’d like to think that our presence in the Beginners’ Class for Irish is a sign of a thirst for knowledge and a love of a beautiful language rather than the triumph of hope over experience or plain buck stupidity. We usually meet for about half an hour before going over to the class, so we can copy each others’ homework (sort of) and again each Friday afternoon, to chat and mull over some of the material we’ve been issued in class. It’s all very pleasant and if there’s a drawback, it’s that the chat is so enjoyable, we don’t always get as much hard-core work done as I’d sometimes like. Let’s be brutal here: if we don’t learn quickly, we’ll run out of road.
But here’s a question: why is it that there isn’t a single Protestant/State school here that offers Irish at any level? I’m afraid the answers that spring to mind are not particularly complimentary of my Protestant fellow-citizens.