Labhair Gaeilge Liom (Speak Irish with Me) - An Invitation to Conversation
Labhair Gaeilge Liom... Is é Gaeilge teanga na h'Éireann. Labhraíonn a lán daoine Gaeilge, usáideann rionnt daoine é gach lá.
Speak Irish with Me... Irish is the language of Ireland. Lots of people speak Irish, some use it everyday.
Ireland is a country which has a complex relationship with our native language. Like almost any colonised country, one of the first things to come under attack is the language. Through out all of the repeated invasions, reconquests by Britain and the famines that followed, many people made the hard choice to sacrifice their cultural identity just so that they, or indeed their children, might have a better chance at surviving.
The evidence of this is not hard to see when we take a look through Ireland's history books, from the soup kitchen relief aid that groups from Britain provided...but only if you converted to their Protestant religion, to the horribly bata scoir or tally stick, which a school child wore around their neck and has a notch cut into it each time they spoke Irish. At the end of each day the child was beaten for every notch they had incurred. In most cases this practice was instigated by school or parents without direct mandate from the British Government, but when the controlling powers ensure that the only prospects a person can have lie outside their own oppressed country, a parent would want their child to have whatever advantage they could to mitigate the enforced disadvantage inherent in their birth nationality.
Still, there is much to be said for the resilience of the Irish people in face of adversity. The language survived. In the places furthest from the influences of the colonisers, the people retained their native tongue, and when the years of oppression finally came to an end great efforts were made to revive the language to its former position.
Unfortunately, 100 years on from the declaration of our republic our language has not as yet recovered. In fact according to the records held HERE at Ireland's Central Statistics Office, only 39% of the population were listed as being able to speak Irish in the 2016 census, and less than a half of one percent of the population were speaking Irish every day.
Yet percentages and statistics can only tell you part of the story. That 39% of the population is in fact 1.7 million people. Every day there are folk engaging in the use of our native language, either in education but also in social settings with events like Pop-Up Gaeltacht during heritage week, Irish speaking clubs holding weekly breakfast mornings, to the amazing podcast Motherfoclóir.
Who knows, with all of the passion of our people behind the love of our launguage, maybe we can move the numbers in positive ways. I know that I try every day to say some words as Gaeilge, in Irish, even if it's as simple as Is maith liom cáca milis, I like cake, or is grá liom thú, I love you.
Maybe wearing this t-shirt will be the invitation to conversation as gaeilge and we can all do a little bit more for teanga na h'Éireann, the language of Ireland.
Buy the t-shirt HERE