Is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Béarla cliste - Broken Irish is better than clever English.

The Irish language is a living native tongue spoken on the island of Ireland. It has grown and changed as language does over time, but it is still in danger of being lost.
As a colonised country brought under the rule of the British empire, the speaking of Irish was as close to being an illegal act as the foreign rulers could manage.

English was declared the official language of the country and was used for all official matters. This made it necessary for people to be able to speak and understand English in order to fulfill any official capacity forcing an immediate language barrier between positions of power and the people of the island.

Now a language that had existed for centuries, with its own rich history, lore, and stories was suddenly a hindrance. Parents knew that their children, struggling in a forcibly disadvantaged system, would need to do whatever it took to better themselves. By this mixed control of positions of authority, military might, and economic power, the British empire was able to force natives of any country they conquered to abandon their culture in order to survive.

One of the primary examples of this was installed by a state system of primary education introduced in 1831. This installed a targeted form of corporal punishment. Children attending school had to wear a stick on a piece of string around their necks. Each time they used Irish, a notch was cut into the stick. At the end of the day, they would be physically punished according to how many notches they had on their stick. The "tally stick", or "bata scoir" in Irish, represented one of the terrible things that the state did to its children.

Today Irish still lives as Ireland still has a number of local areas known as  'Gaeltacht' where the Irish language is the main language used but it is still in danger. As such any time even a few words as gaeilge (in Irish) pass our lips we are each of us doing something to keep it alive.

Is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Béarla cliste - Broken Irish is better than clever English.

 

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