CULTURE AND BARBARISM by Donal Kennedy

  The survival of the structure and most of the artistic and cultural treasures of Notre Dame is heartening. And listening to and watching the Parisian, other Frenchmen and women, and commentators
from all over the world, was inspirational. Christians and other believers together with unbelievers and devout atheists lay claim to
that Cathedral, proud to belong to the human species that created it.  

Within a few hundred metres of Notre Dame is another Gothic Jewel, the Sainte Chapelle, deconsecrated and long neglected after being
used to store junk after the Revolution. It’s within the Palais de
Justice and can be visited, for a fee..   The Basilica of St Denis
contains the remains of 43 Kings and 32 Queens of France. If, God
forbid! Notre Dame were to be totally destroyed, Paris would still be worth a trip by discerning visitors, as well as mass tourism.   And France has many more gems to delight Saints and Sinners.  

What has Ireland got that is unique?  And three times as old as the Cathedral of Notre Dame?  It has got the Irish language and the
oldest literature North of the Alps.  Greek and Latin lore was being passed on in Irish, and the Judgement of Paris and the Horse of
Troy were known of in Ireland before the first bricks of Paris
(France) or Troyes were baked or laid.   But who with influence in
Ireland gives a traithnin about Irish? .Something around a half of
one percent of RTE programmes are in Irish, according to a recent
report. In the Gaeltacht I’m told few doctors or nurses, or bankers
can converse with their patients or customers in Irish. Some years
ago  in a legal action  both disputants, from Leitir Mor, needed
translators to instruct counsel and communicate with Judge and
Jury. And a Minister of Education, Gemma Hussey  (who had run her own Language School in Dublin), recalled in her Memoir, how, on
taking up her portfolio, she met her senior civil servants “who had
impenetrable Irish names.”  

Ms Hussey is but one of the philistines and barbarians within the
Pale. But she does have a way with words. A way like that of Mrs
Malaprop. Describing a visit by the American feminist Betty Friedan to Dublin, where she addressed some hundreds of Irish women
disciples, Hussey recalled how instantly she held them in the palm of her hands – “It was a SEMINAL moment!”    What Balls! What
Spunk!  
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