Wide debate has recently started about whether the Irish language is ‘dying’. Apart from a minute number of every day speakers, Irish is soon forgotten once you hand in your Paipear 2 in the Leaving Cert.
It’s seen as our native language, yet 99% of people nationally speak English on a 24 hour basis. We have a national Irish television channel which has poor viewing figures and no major televised event.
For 12 years, students are forced to endure the studying of a language that they barely end up with any significant grasp of. The ‘gra’ of the language is firmly lost in the midst of making Irish a compulsory subject. The cupla focal that inevitably end up etched into our minds, are how to ask to go to the toilet and how to bless ourselves.
Your comprehension of Gaeilge has little to absolutely no bearing on 95% of job interviews, either here or abroad. Every day post-school, our so-called native tongue becomes less and less native.
Optionalising the language will revitalise and rejuvinate it. It’ll bring new vigour into what is basically a defunct language. So many people reject Irish as a desireable language because they’re compelled to learn it. Give the people a choice, and the people who love it, want to learn and use it, will grab it with both hands and run far.
Realistically, it’s not a useful language, it’s not going to exactly help you in business or entertain your friends on a foreign holiday, but it should be kept alive. Making the Irish language optional will ensure the buoyancy of its legacy will keep it alive and well for future generations to come.