IS ROSITA BOLAND REALLY NECESSARY? by Donal Kennedy

 

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Well may you ask “Who is Rosita Boland?” and “What is she good for?”

She’s awfully pleased with herself for asking the question in THE IRISH TIMES  – “IS IRISH REALLY NECESSARY?” . She’s a bit of a fixture at the paper I think of as “THE STRUMPET CITY CARRIER”, many of whose staff I classify as  the “Tara Street Walkers.”   As, God help me, I have frequent recourse to that paper, I should be alarmed that it wants clients criminalised and those that solicit considered innocent.

I see from Wikepedia that Ms Boland is a graduate in journalism from Harvard and that she has published volumes of poetry. I believe that, as  Benthamite Utilitarians, Lord Macaulay wanted to demolish the Taj Mahal, and Daniel O’Connell would have been happy to see Irish disappear. The Taj Mahal survived, because it would have been more expensive to destroy than to leave standing. The Irish people perished in their millions as food was exported under the bayonets of British troops because, as one of O’Connell’s well-fed sons exulted that they would rather see their children starve than deprive the landlords of their rents.And the Irish language almost died out.

Music, Art, Poetry, Literature and Drama mean nothing to those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, and they would say that they are not necessary.They would be wrong, for without them we would not be human.

To live in Ireland and have no knowledge of Irish is like being blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. On the DART a few months ago on the South Side I appreciated the sense in having the stations designated in Irish and English. As a born Northsider I’d heard of Glenageary but learned that it is a corruption of GLEANN NA GCAORACH – the Glen of the Sheep. Some years ago at the top of a hill in Co Carlow I saw the meaning of “CARNEW” which might have been a garage sign. Its real name is “CARN AN BHUA, one to  recall ancestral huzzahs, for it means “THE CUP OF VICTORY”, commemorating some feat of arms or legs in olden times. If such names don’t stir your blood you are scarcely human and certainly lacking a poetic temperament.

 

 

 

5 Responses to IS ROSITA BOLAND REALLY NECESSARY? by Donal Kennedy

  1. Sherdy June 1, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    Aren’t we fortunate in Ireland, all the same, to have quite a few alleged intelligentsia like Rosita, who are perfectly capable of condemning themselves out of their own mouths, without the least help from anyone else?

  2. Iolar June 1, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

    “I’ll be talking after my death, my good gentleman..”

    Is buaine port ná glór na n-éan/Is buaine focal ná toice an tsael.

    A tune is more lasting than the song of the birds/and a word more lasting that the wealth of the world.

    Peig Sayers bidding farewell to W.R. Rodgers in Daingean Uí Chúis.

  3. Peadar Tóibín June 1, 2016 at 6:51 pm #

    N THE IRISH TIMES (Monday 30 May) Rosita Boland asks the question: “Can anyone truthfully say that the Irish language is necessary?” It’s a question that regularly appears in elements of Ireland’s media. It appears much less in my experience among the general public.

    Gaeilge logo

    In 2015, Millward Brown surveyed 2,000 people on their attitudes to the Irish language. The results show an overwhelmingly positive view towards the Irish language. For example:-

    72% believe that Irish-medium education should be available to those who wish to avail of it;
    70% of the population believe that services through the Irish language should be available to those who seek them;
    61% agree that the state should do more to support the Irish language.
    The question posed by Rosita Boland is based on a negative utilitarian premise that unless a language is necessary it no longer has value. The same question could be asked ‘Can anyone truthfully say that language diversity is necessary’ or ‘Can anyone truly say that Yeats or Picasso are necessary?’

    Rosita Boland also states: “I do not like having my national identity pinned to a language I never use and cannot speak.” Here we find the resentful motivation for the article. Irish-language activists find this motivation odd.

    SF Gaeilge

    We live in a state where, at best, the Irish language is suffocated with hollow, meaningless platitudes and at worst is actively drowned by governments refusing status, funding or even to provide services through Irish to Irish-speaking taxpayers. That this resentment would reside with an English-language speaker when English is pervasive and experts state that Irish has only 15 years left as a living language in the Gaeltacht is bizarre.

    The question posed is actually a non-question.

    No one from the Irish-language community states that an individual’s Irish identity is purely determined on grasp of the language.

    However, given that Irish is still the living language of tens of thousands of people, that Irish has been spoken in this country for thousands of years, that most places within the state are only English speaking for four or five generations out of the last 80, that Irish still resonates in our personal names, place names, speech patterns and that its our unique contribution to the diversity of global languages, it’s a nonsense to deny its relevance in our collective identity.

    The Irish language has a long history of the highest-quality literature, poetry, music and culture. If we collectively lose the ability to speak it, these cultural jewels become invisible and inaccessible to us all. Irish was the language of light in the European dark ages. Internationally, language is also though not uniquely a marker of identity and independence. The French simply would not be as French if they spoke English. The Italians would not be as Italian if they spoke English.

    It was said “Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.” Many believe that language is the framework of thought. If so, the relentless push towards English language uniformity that sees the language diversity of our planet corrode reduces not only our identities but our intellectual diversity.

    Séamus Ó Fianghusa

    Séamus Ó Fianghusa, an American of Korean and Irish origin, learned Irish in the US in six months from tapes. Only after becoming fluent did he have an opportunity to speak Irish to another Irish speaker. When asked on Irish radio how he could learn the language in six months when thousands of Irish don’t learn it despite 13 years of study, Séamus replied “Motivation”.

    Irish is never going to be for every one. It doesn’t have to be, but our individual and collective motivation will be the deciding factor on whether our generation is the last generation to speak our rich and proud tongue or the first generation to see a real rejuvenation. The choice is ours alone.

    ● Peadar Tóibín is the Sinn Féin TD for Meath West and the party’s spokesperson on Regional Development, Rural Affairs

  4. ANOTHER JUDE June 1, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    The lesser spotted Self Hating Irish person is still, unfortunately around. From the Geldof to the Bono, their squawking can be heard.

  5. Ciarán June 2, 2016 at 8:25 am #

    Tá sé mo teanga agus is breá liom é! I’m not a fluent gaelgóir but my son is being taught through Irish medium and we use Irish every day. It is alive, well and important in our lives and I fully intend to return to classes to learn more. I know a fair few Irish speakers and I refute any suggestion that it is irrelevant. Irish may not be the language of business today, but oh does it possess so much more. In my part of Derry city the anglicised name is Galliagh. This derives from the Irish ‘Baile na gCailleach’ which translates in English to town of the old woman. Which has more richness poetically and culturally? English is the language of England. Yes it has global resonance but nowhere else does it impact on the cultural heritage of the countries that speak it. By which I mean for e.g. Swindon, derives from the old English swin= pig, don= hill. Pig hill becomes Swindon. That is where the difference lies. That is where a language makes a land and its people part of it. Irish is as important today as it was before English was ever spoken here. Sin é a dhaoinse!