Gaeilge: A Radical Revolution

Caoimhín De Barra
ISBN 9781782189077

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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 to revive An Ghaeilge so it can once 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

About the Author

A native of Blarney in Co. Cork, Caoimhín De Barra lectures in history in the United States as an assistant professor at Gonzaga University in Washington. 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.

Additional Information

Extract featured on RTÉ (2019)

Gaeilge: A Radical Revolution- Read an Extract

Reviewed in The Irish Catholic (2019)

Why is Irish not our spoken language?

Author interviewed by (2019)

‘You often hear that the Irish language is badly taught in our schools but that is not true’

Author’s article featured in The Irish Times (2019)

Hebrew’s revival has lessons for the Irish language

Reviewed in Spectrum Magazine (2019)

Gaeilge: by Caoimhín de Barra

Author interviewed in The Irish Catholic (2019)

Give your children the gift of Irish

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