Ireland in Irish

Éire (Ireland) in Gaeilge (Irish)

Éire (Ireland) in Gaeilge (Irish) by Jordan Engel

It is really difficult to find a map of the island of Éire (Ireland), without political borders, in Gaeilge (the Irish language). The most noticeable feature of this map (conspicuously absent) is the line that divides the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland. The border was created in 1921 by the British. In the 300 years prior, the British Crown had been colonizing Éire, confiscating land and granting it to settlers from Britain.

Gaeilge speakers are now a minority on their own island, and most of the places are now better known by their English names. This map imagines a unified island in its native language.

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3 thoughts on “Ireland in Irish

  1. As siocair, how perfect an example of the colonised you are. Internalising the colonial narrative, and making economic arguments for culture.

    Texbook.

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  2. How utterly devoid of reality are you? We are not in need of “decolonisation”. Northern Ireland is part of the UK because the majority of people who live there want it to be. It’s called democracy. The Republic of Ireland is an independent sovereign state separate from the rest of the UK because that is what the majority of people who live there want. That’s democracy too!

    We speak our own language: English. To say that we speak someone else’s language is tantamount to denying us the right to call our own native language “ours”. We (and by ‘we’ I mean 98%+ of the Irish population (in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) speak English. My first language/native language/mother tongue is English because that is language that my parents spoke to me in, and it is the language of my extended family, my school, my community and those of all of the past generations of my family going back hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s like that and that’s the way it is. It is we, the Irish people, who speak English. There is no point in opening up some sort of cosmic cash machine that gives you the option of turning back the clock to a time shortly after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

    Much of the greatest works of literature in this very language were written on this very island by people from this very island. To ignore, belittle, brush over or in any other way minimalise that contribution to the cannon of world literature is to choose to inhabit a parrellel universe unrecognisable to the overwelming, vast majority of Irish people.

    Catch yourselves on! Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man are never going to be Gaelic-speaking again. “Why?” I hear you think. Because we want to speak to our children in our own language (English) which is the language that we more freely express ourselves in. There is no financial or economic attraction, or benefit, let alone imperative for switching from our own language (English) to learn a second language (Gaelic) to a level of fluency that only few master so as to render ourselves capable of speaking to our own children through that medium.

    What would you have us all do?
    Do you want to force more than six million people to learn another language, ban their own and force them to speak their new second language (which they probably won’t be able to speak very well) to their children? Would you force anyone with any drop of “foreign” blood to leave the island? Or would you only force into exile those of foreign extraction who dissagreed with you master plan? But, what about those (the majority of the population) who don’t have any/very much foreign blood but who disagree with your project for the master Irish race?
    And whilst we’re on that subject: Would you force most of the populations of Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas “back home” to Africa, Asia and Europe? What a grostesquely racialistic way of looking at the world. What on earth would you do with the English population? Many would be forced to emigrate to Scandinavia, many to Germany and the Netherlands, as well as France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales … and that’s only mentioning those who can traces some of their roots back to those neighnbouring parts of Europe.

    What a fanastically zero-sum way of looking at the world. Thankfully the planet is slightly more diverse than that. But diversity doesn’t mean that anything goes. Words have meanings. Placing a map of Ireland (with a scattering of placenames that the vast majority of us, the Irish people, do not use) on a list of places to be linguistically decolonised is almost laughable. Irish independence was secured through bloody violence nearly a century ago (at the time of typing). In international terms Irish democracy, dispite initial economic hardships for several decades, has blossomed and successfully avoided the pitfalls of many other European states in the twentieth century dug out by extremist right-wingers or extreme leftists. And Northern Ireland is where it is because the overwelming majority of its people peacefully voted for the cross-community power-sharing arrangements for a Northern Ireland that would maintain its position within the UK in 1998.

    We don’t require decolonising. We speak our first language (English) in our own communities, with all our friends and families. English is undoubtedly the world’s lingua franca. English is my native language. (I have one great-great-grandmother who was alive at the time fo the 1901 census whose first language was indeed Irish. But we are not the same people – just because we are related and because I am one of her descendents. She chose to speak English to all her children. The fact that she spoke Irish at all shows her for the rarity she was even in her own time.) It has served me well in the past and shall do so in the future.

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    • The only reason the majority of people in Ireland speak English is that when England invaded Ireland they stole our language and decimated all things irish

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