Friday, June 03, 2011

Clare Island Gaeltacht / Gaeltacht Chliara

Congratulations to those on Clare Island who are considering how to reacquire Gaeltacht status for the island (Irish Times, August 21st, 2010, "Could Clare Island be the next gaeltacht?"). It's a bold goal, and one that should be supported wholeheartedly by the Mayo community and the state. Let it be known, however, that this will require considerably more than promoting traditional arts on the island or making a Gaelscoil of the island's national school.

The Irish language has virtually nothing to do with traditional music, for example, unless people consider both a throwback. Regarding education, surely the entire history of schooling in the state is enough to demonstrate that the working language of a school has absolutely no effect on the languages spoken in its catchment area.

In fact, the real work needs to be done at home. To make a viable Gaeltacht of the island, a significant portion of the island's population must decide to raise their children in Irish. This is a major decision, and right now, there's not a lot of official support for Irish-speaking families outside the Gaeltacht (the magnificent parents' organisation Comhluadar, now seventeen years old, is a private entity).

While support is sparse, however, it is there, and with careful development of the community it is possible, but it would need the wholehearted support of the island's population and a collective decision to change the household and community language of the island within a single generation (which is how long it took the island to convert to English).

Can this be done? Why not? Ádh mór ar phobal Chliara ina bpleananna.