Everything you think you know about the Irish language is wrong. It isn’t your teacher’s fault you don’t speak it. Billions of euros are not spent every year on its promotion. Replacing Irish with English has not been an economic blessing for Ireland.
As a historian of languages and someone who learned Irish as an adult, Caoimhín De Barra offers both academic and personal insights into Ireland’s complex relationship with its national language.
This book explains why most people don’t learn Irish at school, where the deep hatred some have for the language comes from, and how people who want to learn Irish can do so successfully. Drawing upon the history of other minority languages around the world, De Barra demonstrates why current efforts to promote Irish are doomed to fail and proposes a radical solution for how to revive An Ghaeilge so it can again become the first language of the Irish people.
“Finally, a sensible book about the Irish language. The activists for the restoration of Irish should quote liberally from its pages and hopefully it will ignite a whole new debate. If we lose our language we have nothing. A mere 100 years on from a revolution nurtured by Gaelic speakers we have lost the plot. This book has restored my faith.”
– George Hook
Caoimhín de Barra is a Cork man lecturing in history in the United States as Assistant Professor of Irish Studies in Drew University. His first book, The Coming of the Celts, AD 1860: Celtic Nationalism in Ireland and Wales was published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2018.